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For the past couple months I’ve been slowly and sometimes painfully working through a classical guitar method book. The reason for this isn’t because I have visions of myself mastering the classical style and changing my career to nylon string soloist, but because I wanted to take some more responsibility as a musician to music.
To be honest, it’s easy to be a drummer sometimes. If a band leader or artist comes to me with a brand new tune that has tons of chord changes and a complex harmony, but all they want is a straight rock beat ( think boom crack boom boom crack), it’s admittedly going to be a lot easier for me to play then for the guitar player in the band. That isn’t to say I’m not going to do my best to make it feel as good as possible and insert my own sensibilities to shape the tune, but on a straight up harmonic and reading level it will be simpler for me to get it right the first time. Having been out of school and playing drums professionally for quite a while now, I found that my abilities to communicate ideas on a musical level to other musicians had all but gone away. The minute I’d try to bring in another musician to work on a piece I had recorded or was writing, I realized that I could barely tell them what key the tune was in let a lone what chords I was playing. I’m lucky enough to have a crowd of unreasonably talented and creative people in my musical community, and they deserve better goddamnit.
So, this summer I started plunking away whenever I could at a method book of pieces and exercises. I found that for some reason I’m drawn to finger picking and quiet playing, maybe because I bash away like an angry ape for so much of my usual musical time. It’s coming along quite well so far, and the best part about it is I’m having fun. It’s nice to practice an instrument that 1) doesn’t drive your neighbours or girlfriend totally insane 2) allows you to hear yourself playing a song 3) requires no lugging of giant instruments and metal up or down any stairs. There’s some really pretty pieces of music I’m coming across, and all the skills of reading, sensitivity, dynamics, and time are totally transferring over into my drum playing, and vice versa. Anything you do musically feeds everything else. Here’s a piece that I was learning this week that I find very dark and simple, but really quite nice.