For this loop I decided to take the opposite approach to producing. The “Costanza Method” of recording, if you will. As I’m sure most of you already know, effects and audio processing are typically applied during the mixing process, after all of the tracks are recorded. However, for this session, I applied a variety of sonic sculpting tools to the master bus BEFORE recording a single note. Sure, I checked the levels to make sure everything was copacetic, but I wanted this random stack of effects to play a leading role in the creation of my loop.
What you hear in the mp3 below is the exact same thing I heard in my headphones as I was recording and ultimately, dictated what I played. The signal chain; absurd amounts of compression->massive Whitesnake-style reverb->super fast and tight gating->crazy stereo delay with pitch-shifting.
What sounds like a pretty busy groove (and a bad acid trip from the 80’s), is really just me playing a very minimal 4 bar phrase with a tom fill at the end. It’s the 16th note delay that fills up the rest of the track, precisely bouncing around the stereo spectrum due to the abundance of gating applied to the entire track. Had no gates been used, this loop would be messier than a groupie at a Monsters of Rock festival.
I’m not referring to the lame Sting song (ok ok, I admit I like it… relax), I’m talking about the seven days I just spent on vacation in Mexico. Without going into too many details (most of which, I can’t really remember anyway), my wife and I just returned from a much needed getaway to Tulum. A place where the sun is hot, the beer is cold and the tacos are cheap. In other words, my Heaven.
To celebrate the return from my seven day vacation, I decided it would be appropriate to record a series of loops in 7/8. Here’s a two measure snippet from today’s session, the rest of which, will be made available to my loyal and extremely good-looking subscribers on April 1st (not a joke).
After a long, stressful day, some people tend to wind down with a few drinks. Others find solace in working out or smoking crack. And me? Well, I find that nothing helps me kick back and relax like turning on the dry ice machine, inverting a few splash cymbals and playing some overindulgent fusion. There’s really nothing like the sound of 32nd notes on the hi hats to take the edge off.
Today’s loop is a two bar snippet of the hour long fusion session that was unfortunately caught on tape (and you can bet your permed mullet that the rest of the tracks will be included in Volume IV). It’s actually one of the more restrained moments of the entire recording. With two snare drums, an over the bar fill and a five stroke roll somewhere in the middle, it’s enough notes to properly fit into any mid-90’s GRP release.
While cleaning up my studio and preparing for the big move, I stumbled across a folder of notes and lesson materials from my Berklee days. Inside this folder was everything from Max Roach solo transcriptions, to South Indian rhythmic cycles, to 4-way independence studies. Flipping through the pages of sheet music was like stepping into a time machine and being transported back to the grimey, unventilated practice studios on Mass Ave. Awh, the good old days.
While taking a closer look at the contents of the folder, one page of handwritten transcriptions jumped out at me. Quintuplet based grooves?? It took me a few minutes, but I finally remembered the source of the music. It was from one of my lessons with the great, Casey Scheuerell. I studied with Casey during my last two years of college and learned a tremendous amount from him. Not just about drumming, but also about the music business as a whole. We spent just as much time talking during our lessons as we did playing on the two kits he had set up in his office.
You Zappa Heads and prog-rockers will enjoy today’s loop. It’s geek funk to the fullest and should probably never leave the confines of your own studio. Loosely based on the above transcription from my lessons with Casey, it’s a 4/4 groove with quintuplets on the hi-hat and a 2+3 rhythmic phrasing. To make things easier for tracking to a click, I actually recorded this as a halftime groove in 5/4… just listen to the shaker for the 8th note pulse. Anyway, I’d like to see someone try to dance to it. Let the math rock begin.
I’ve been busy prepping for the big audition and haven’t had much time to blog …. BUT I did hit the record button whilst working out some hot licks. Billy, are you listening??
This loop is actually a scientific experiment to see how many notes I could squeeze inside of one measure. Go ahead, try to write a song to it. I might need to add a new category called “ridiculous”. For now, this will reside under “wanking”.
Recently I’ve been digging through my collection of albums on the ECM label. It’s been a refreshing change to the over-compressed (then compressed again to mp3) music that’s usually jammed into my eardrums throughout the day. ECM records tend to have a very distinct, clear and present sound that are particularly complimentary of cymbal work.
Several of my favorite drummers have recorded on albums produced and released by ECM. The two that have probably influenced my playing the most are Jack DeJohnette and Peter Erskine. I highly recommend checking out Jack’s work on the Keith Jarrett trio albums or Peter’s 1992 record, “You Never Know”.
Today’s loop is inspired by all of those great ECM recordings. It’s also a great opportunity to fine tune my overhead mics (and play fills over the bar line).
wank (wangk) Chiefly British Vulgar Slang
tr. & intr.v. wanked, wank·ing, wanks
As a noun, denoting a clever technique or person or the result of such cleverness. May describe (negatively) the act of drumming for drumming’s sake.