"People who make no noise are dangerous."
--Jean de La Fontaine

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A New Year, A New Tambourine

I apologize for the long dry spell between posts. I promise I have a ton of new topics to discuss and new gear to demonstrate. Please stay tuned.

I thought I would share some thoughts about a few of the items I received during the holiday season for my first post of 2017. The first new piece of gear is a wonderful Meinl 10" Double Row Super Dry Studio tambourine. The tambourine is fashioned from a wooden hoop, hammered brass jingles, and a goat skin head. This is not a tambourine for everyday use. The triangle shape of the hammered brass jingles make this particular instrument extremely dry. I think this instrument would sound fine in a studio setting, but I am much more excited to use it in percussion set-ups in both classical and pop genres. Check this tambourine out if you get a chance. It is relatively cheap as far as tambourines go and would make an exciting addition to any growing tambourine collection.


I was extremely fortunate this Christmas. I snagged a metal LP vibraslap in a bargain bin because it was too cheap to pass up. Unbeknownst to me, my parents were given a wooden LP vibraslap by one of their friends. No one was exactly sure make of it, but they knew I would know how to make it work. It was an exciting surprise. It's not every day that someone gives you a vibraslap. A slap maybe but no vibra... 



Like I said above, I have more posts on the way including one about some new plates I picked up over the last few months. I'll post soon. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Steven Schick Lecture -- On the Bridge: The Beginnings of Contemporary Percussion Music 2/13

I was searching around the internet today and found this beautiful lecture by Steven Schick. If you don't know Schick's work, you should, as he is one of the premiere classical percussionists working today. I will admit that I do not always subscribe to Schick's philosophy on music, but what he presents here is enlightening and entertaining. It is also a beautiful example of percussion performance.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

19" Istanbul Agop 30th Anniversary Ride Cymbal

I am in love with the 30th Anniversary line from Instabul Agop. They look great, sound amazing, and they have an exceptional feel while playing. I had been considering picking one, or several, up for sometime. The problem is that they are so expensive. I know they are worth the money, but it's difficult to scrape that kind of bread together these days.

The stars aligned and I was finally able to pick one up. My plan was to purchase a 22" that would have the Tony Williams/Elvin Jones thing. You know, that perfect ride sound we are all looking for. After trying a few, I could not leave this 19" plate. I got home and immediately wished I hadn't bought this cymbal. It didn't sound anything like it did in the store. I was pretty depressed. So, I reluctantly took it on a big band gig and used it as a left side ride. The cymbal blew my mind. It had tons of stick definition, I could crash it when I needed, and shoulder crashes sounded like Tony. (I didn't, just the cymbal.) After the gig, I hung around and played a little and found the cymbal to be just ordinary again. This made me smile because the best ride cymbals I own are ones that don't seem to sound that great but when mixed with music, they suddenly become the perfect cymbal. It's like they know when it's time to work. I have since used this cymbal in country, blues, and rock situations where the cymbal sounds great. In a small group, the cymbal is really magical and blends perfectly with a piano. I even tempted fate and used this cymbal as a suspended cymbal in a classical setting and it was perfect. I haven't found a playing situation where it doesn't sound great. This cymbal is the closest to that classic old K sound I have heard from a modern company.


Monday, July 11, 2016

It Started as a Small Snare Solo...

 A friend asked me to play a simple snare drum solo for a production of Shakespeare scenes he was directing.  I thought it would be a lot of fun and agreed. As we talked, I mentioned the possibly of adding a couple of sound effects during another scene that involved witches.  I was already going to be there so adding a couple more instruments wouldn't be a big deal. After I received the entire script, I proposed the idea that I could play during the entire show. I would be a one man orchestra. The idea really intrigued me because I got to be both a composer and a Foley artist. As I began to imagine my part, I kept adding instruments. I had to play for roughly an hour and a half by myself so I wanted different colors to use throughout the show. It wasn't until I started loading the car that I realized I may have gone too far. Here are some pictures of my setup.


Here is a list of the instruments I used for this gig:

12" x 14"     Leedy Marching Snare Drum
14" x 30"     Leedy Concert Bass Drum
10" x 14"     Ludwig Vistalite Tom
8"   x 12"     Ludwig Accent Tom
14" x 20"     Pearl Championship Series Bass Drum with Pedal
                   Humes & Berg Pack and Roll
20"              Remo Alessandra Belloni Tambourine (Not Pictured)
28"              Paiste Tam Tam
12"              Royce Proline Hi Hats
6"                Burma Bell
15"              Wuhan Tam Tam
18"              Wuhan China
10"              Grover Copper Double Row Tambourine
                   Latin Percussion Cricket
                   Meinl Spin Spark Shaker
                   Strand of 8 Mali Bells
                   Brass Ship Bell
                   5 Graduated Temple Bowls
                   Vaughncraft Alto Log Drum
                   Vaughncraft Bass Log Drum
                   Small Rasp
                   Large Rasp
                   Carroll Sound Mark Tree
                   Owl Shaped Ocarina (Not Pictured)
                   Baritone Ukulele (Not Pictured)

                   Snare Drum Sticks, Bass Bow, Gong Mallet
                   Brushes, Rubber Mallets, Yarn Mallets, Dreadlocks, 
                   Triangle Beater, Timpani Mallets





It was a fun setup to create. I will admit that moving it in and out of the theater could have been easier but I'm pretty glad I had the opportunity to perform such a unique gig. Stay tuned and I promise the next post will return to talking about some new equipment I've gathered in the last few months.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Recent Set-Ups

I mentioned in a previous post that I would show how I use some of the instruments discussed in this blog. Last month was a particularly busy one for me and the set-ups below are from a few of the jobs I had to play.

This first picture shows a larger collection of instruments which I used to play a joint recital with a trombonist. As you can see in the picture, I have a set of three LP Giovanni congas and a Yamaha five octave marimba. Unfortunately, the marimba isn't mine. 


This is the business end of a set-up for a composition called Rebellion by Stephen Rush. It's not my entire set-up but this is most of it. For this set-up I used two Ludwig toms, two Lp Matador timbales, a Pearl Championship series bass drum, Musser Century vibe, a pair of LP Giovanni bongos, and five brake drums. You'll notice the bass drum has a cool set of legs holding it up. Look for more on that in an upcoming post.


Here is a front view of the set-up. I also used a marimba which is not pictured. Well, it's actually pictured to the right but not in the place I actually played it in the set-up. 


This set-up is for another gig I had last month. This is the type of gear you bring when no one is going to see you and you don't want to move much. This is my Gretsch 18" Catalina bass drum with matching snare, a LP Matador conga, Sabian Legacy hi hats, and a Grover tambourine. I also used a shaker which you can't see. This set-up was used to back a choir on a couple of gospel numbers. 



Monday, April 11, 2016

Meinl 18" Celtic Bodhran



My town has a small music shop that mostly sells used instruments on consignment and ephemera for weekend warriors. It's not a place that typically caters to my interests, but I try to stop in and buy a snare head or pair of brushes just to support my local economy. About a year ago, I dropped by and found this Bodhran laying on the counter. I couldn't imagine how it ended up in this shop but it peaked my interest. It turns out, it was ordered by a customer who never picked it up and was on sale. I had no plans of buying the instrument, but when I found the asking price was $50, I couldn't say no.



I know very little about Celtic/Irish drumming and I am by no means an expert on how to play this instrument. That being said, I think this is a fantastic instrument. I have used it on several occasions, some trying to fake my way through Irish music and others that were less traditional. I have found this instrument to work in every situation I needed it.

The Meinl 18" Celtic bodhran is made from Siam oak and the head is a high quality goat skin. The instrument is really well made and the internal tuning system is fantastic. The head tunes up quickly and has a wide range in which the drum sounds good. In the picture, you can see the tuning wrench, which is attached by Velcro to the shell. This is a nice idea, as that little wrench could easily go missing during a gig. The tipper (stick) that comes with the drum is well balanced and feels great in my hand. Again, I don't know any better, but I think this is a quality instrument for any person who casually plays Irish music or who needs a versatile frame drum.