The Smith's Journal - July 2010

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Apentema and kpanlogo setup

Tags: Drumming

Tonight I set up three apentema and two kpanlogo drums altogether, propped up slightly on wedges giving much better sound. Then...

  1. Light the candles!
  2. Light incense...
  3. Play amazing microtiming grooves for many hours!
  4. ???
  5. Away with the spirits :-)

WOW, this is why I got into drumming - deeply shamanistic vibes, which I fear are scared away by djembe egotism :-/ The magic is with me, but goes away when I stop playing the groove, just like Jaki Liebezeit talking in the BBC Krautrock documentary that I watched again last night, saying that someone (possibly tripping) came up to him and told him to "just play monotonous beats!". I wish I could play for longer but I'm tired and it's now 1am!


Summer hols

Tags: Music, Studio, Computers

Great. I'm on holiday for six weeks :-) This is a stay-at-home holiday in my studio, which is the best place on earth for me! It's wonderful after being overworked at all the schools in the land last term to finally have some quality time to focus on my own projects again.

I'm in deep hack mode with my computer network and am currently re-installing Fostex PM0.4 monitors from the studio control room into my Computer Room so I can have quality sound everywhere :-) I'm going for walks and living a nice quiet hermit lifestyle, with the occasional foray out to teach my weekly drum class. I hope to be able to record some music before term starts again, and am enjoying having time to practise drumming and piano.

Melodic drumming

Tags: Drumming

Drumwise I've mostly been playing my new apentema+kpanlogo setup of Ghanaian peg drums (think five congas tuned in a melodic scale :-) I just retuned them to these pitches:

Bb Ab G F Eb

...where G is my main central drum, with higher pitches to my left and lower pitches to my right - this is the opposite way round to a piano/xylophone, but better suits right-handed drumming with low notes on my on-beat hand and high notes on the offbeats. It makes for great melodic patterns which are primarily in G minor with a flattened 2nd. Then I hit on a major discovery: CHORDS! A whole new vista of melodic drumming has opened up to me...

My two bougarabous have also befriended this setup now that Paul has built metal hoop stands for them. So now I am really spoilt for choice.

My key area of current research is The Mesmeric Effects of Cyclic Polymetric Ostinati Across Multiple Drums.

I also discovered a fabulous new flammed rhythm technique for single drum playing, superimposing slaps of varying intensities over flammed tonal patterns = Very cool!


Seeing double

Tags: Drumming

Craig relayed some hectic drumming exercises over the phone to me from Oz the other night. I tried a two-bar pattern with doubles and got it in the end, but felt it's perhaps a bit far into the deep end for me yet. So I've started practising simpler doubles to begin with before I move onto the hard stuff. Initially I found playing two repeated notes with one hand almost impossible, after being so used to djembe technique which rarely calls for this, but even in a short time the improvement is rapid and exciting! :-) Here's a nice pattern for three drums (A, B, C from left to right) where each hand plays two notes in turn:

rr ll rr ll rr ll rr ll

My practice didn't stick with this for long however, since I fell into some stunning new grooves which are like cocaine to me, but luckily less expensive! Sheer heaven to play and hard to stop. One in 5/8 and then a variation of my favourite 12/8 microtimed loop.


Tags: Drumming

A long-term obsession of mine is microtiming and just getting really deeply into a trance-inducing groove. I've been playing around with subtle changes in beat spacing, pushing and pulling, and their effects. Great stuff.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Licence © The right to copy is left with the user copyleft Malcolm Smith 2010-01-02 - last updated 2010-09-08