(on facebook? go to www.joshuavt.com for the full post)
* this post is part of a project called Special for You, my homage to the amazing Soundway compilation “Nigeria Special – Modern Highlife and Afro Sounds 1970-76*
A common phrase you hear is that imitation is one of the highest forms of flattery. You also hear a lot in the art world about appropriation of certain aspects of another culture into your own work and how that can be morally wrong, and insulting. In times like these (what am I 80? jesus) when we have access to information about any kind of culture/art/music etc, it’s really hard not be constantly bombarded with non western influences, and it’s only natural and good that these influences show through in what we do.
More then once I’ve had a link up to the Soundway Records site, in reference to the insanely good world music (if I was living in China, would Neil Young be “world music”? Because it’s from another country?) compilations that they keep releasing. All of the discs are amazing in their own particular way, but one, the Nigeria Special – Modern Highlife Afro Sounds, and Nigerian Blues keeps me coming back for more. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is lately, and to help do that I’m trying to get as inside of the music as I can. Because I’m a drummer, the best way to do that is to focus on the percussion, of which theres more then plenty of. It’s one thing to listen and note take, but it’s another to actually play along to try and let the ideas soak in the muscles a bit more. It’s a whole other way to learn to essentially try to re-create the tracks from the album in my own way. I’m lucky enough to have home recording capability and a place where I can make some noise, so why not try to be part of the music I love in any way I can?
For a number of reasons, the biggest being musically, what I make won’t really sound that much like the record. The feel is INCREDIBLE on this stuff, and there’s usually anywhere from 3 to probably 6 people playing percussion on everything, interacting together and pushing ( or pulling) each other along. It’s not quite as exciting to do it by myself, but even from today I’ve learned a ton drum wise and recording wise, so this is good, no? There’s 26 tracks on the album, and I’ll keep doing this until I have them all. Then will I be an african drumming master? Shit no. But I’ll have played and learned from some of my favorite recordings, and made a whole bunch of rhythm tracks that I can potentially use for countless other things. Here’s the first, called Ayamma by the Anambra Beats. I wish I was in a band with a sweet name like that.
and here’s what I did
And when you put the original and mine together HOLY SHIT it sounds nothing like it. I can’t find any info on this band on the internet, but the way they lay waaaaaaaay back on everything is incredible. Humbled. Bitch slapped by an over 40 year old recording.