January 2017 Album Update!!

Much time has past since my last update, and much has changed since then. Time for another peek into my twisted music-making process!

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The latest update with the new album is this: I scrapped three of the 10 pieces, and am beginning to write one more piece to fill in that space. Yes this will push the release back by a few months, but also yes it will be a much better result because I’m taking my time with it and not letting anything slip by. However: all of the pieces are finally named, including this new one and the album itself. More on that later.

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Some more good news is that everything else is pretty much finished! Cello session is scheduled for this coming Saturday (weather permitting) and I’m really excited to work with this person! The mixing and editing process has been long but productive, and I’m absolutely thrilled with how it sounds both as a percussionist and an audio engineer. I was also given some great mix advice from family & friends that has really helped to make everything much more clear and fit together like a puzzle. I even had the privilege to hear these mixes on some really nice monitors, too! There is one piece in particular that is sounding INCREDIBLE! It really raises the bar for the other ones, so I’m putting extra attention into making sure that every section of every piece is up to those same standards. I’m confident at this point that it will come across that way to the listener too!

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The latest thing to be added was a few layers of kalimba on two of the pieces, which REALLY filled out the space in the mixes and goes well with the Hang, marimba, and vibes that have already been recorded. It went so well that I might see if it’ll fit with another piece or two. I’ve been recording with the Catania 12-note board kalimbas exclusively for their warm, full, resonant tone (and ease of re-tuning!). Sad to hear that the guy who makes these wonderful instruments recently closed up shop and retired, but my three kalimbas (different tunings) are still in great shape and should last many more years to come!

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I’m also very excited to say that I recently started to make play-through videos of each of these pieces. The first video is almost finished, and might actually be the first full piece that I debut(!!!). I’m sure this will be another long and crazy process, but I have some really great help with it (thank you, Jen <3), and it’ll be a great addition to the album to have this visual aspect of it too. Hopefully it will even open some doors to discussions on technique, instrumentation, etc. Look for those videos on Facebook and a brand new YouTube channel soon! Until then, you can check out a preview of this first video HERE!

 

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Large Drum Sets vs. Small Drum Sets

All “size matters” jokes aside, there is a lot to be said on this subject. I think there is a different mindset that comes from playing large, small, or “alternative” drum sets. And PLEASE keep in mind that the modern drum set is only about 100 years old anyway, so the “standard” drum sets that we see today could very well change within the next few years if we keep our minds open. My prediction is that we’ll soon start to see more “multi-percussion” set ups rather than the regular ol’ 5-piece preconfigured kits that are sold so frequently and not questioned today.

Back to the topic at hand, growing up I always knew I was a Large Drum Set person. To clarify, I’m talking about 6+ piece kits vs 4- or 5-piece kits. And even on a 5-pc, putting the rack toms off to the side of the bass drum rather than right over it scores some points with me (I call that an “extended 4-piece” kit). I learned a lot from watching Mike Portnoy, Simon Phillips, Neil Peart, etc., and adapted my playing style to incorporate that in there because it was flashy and exciting. But at some point I felt that I needed to reinforce the basics – not just rudiments in this case because they should be a standard practice for all drummers, but HOW to play on a Small Drum Set – to lay back and focus on the simplicity of The Groove. Obviously there can be some VERY impressive ideas expressed on a Small Drum Set like THIS, while many Big Drum Set players can become stuck in their ways or sound “contained,” despite their intimidating setups.

So where is the middle ground? I find that once you find Your Sound, you can really develop it further by experimenting with alternative drum setups. For me, I set up my Large Drum Set with symmetry and geometric patterns in mind. I think this keeps it fresh and lets me explore more possibilities than I would be able to do on a standard out-of-the-box 5-piece kit. It also allows me to see fills and patterns as shapes and to work within a certain shape or start there and expand upon it.

Coming from the Large Drum Set background, whenever I get a chance to play on a Small Drum Set (I’m talking 4-piece), I feel that I can sit back, relax, and just PLAY. I also find that the less “stuff” I have around me, the more I LISTEN to the other players or even myself. I’ve taken this approach back to the Large Drum Set, and have seen my compositions become more focused and less about hitting everything on the kit in each measure. And so when I do go for that 6″ tom or effects cymbal, it has more “meaning” than it would otherwise.

I’ll leave you with this: