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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Foot Stomping at Tangier in Los Feliz

I would like you all to know that prior to my leaving the house tonight I did the exercise that I recommended of sitting behind the drum set and not playing. Holding my bright green Mike Balter 22R Rattan Vibe MalletsI DID NOT PLAYING ANYTHING FOR ONE HOUR. I timed this exercise to the second with my SPORTLINE stopwatch. As a matter of pride, I didn't even play one note after the allotted hour was over, just got up and basked in my increased energy and independence.

Now I am at Tangier in Los Feliz for the Cousin Junebug show. Luckily they have not started yet because I took many a wrong turn and had to endure a WAMU ATM hunting fiasco in order to get the cash to gain entry into the night....club.

After being silent for an hour, sitting to watch live FUNK music seems like a luxury, and I am more attentive than ever because I know in every moment, the miracle of revelation is available. It hits: The almost ubiquitous power of music to make people move. Foot stomping is that miracle for me tonight.

Most people gravitate towards quarter notes. The excited ones have at least one leg doing eighth notes. The guy in the front is speeding through 16th note triplets with his right foot like Geena Davis' rapid-fire vegetable slicing in The Long Kiss Goodnight after the clouds of amnesia lift and she remembers that she is an assassin.

I have a particular fondness for the people doing eighth notes in a completely different tempo than the music and/or the imperfect eighth notes shifted between left and right legs with no apparent mathematical pattern as to when they shift; mid measure, on beat, off beat, struggling, post-shift, to realign themselves with their concept of pulse.

Both feet on the ground, only the left knee bending on quarter notes is another valid reaction to James Brown and the Meters. As is the popular right foot planted, eighth note left leg fidget. Or the decelerating quarter into some mutant relative of the triplet into awkward silence. Or during "Pass the Peas" the impossible-to-maintain uptempo eighth notes. Or the totally avant-garde epilepsy where Merce Cunningham is set free by John Cage into a realm of internal rhythm that is purely independent of the environment.

I'm having so much fun relating all this stuff to the way of the Samurai that I can't help but quote Musashi again to conclude this fantastic evening of Funk and the magic of the human desire to dance/twitch :)

From the Wind Scroll in The Book of Five Rings


In Martial arts, speed is not the true Way. As far as speed is concerned, the question of fast or slow in anything derives from failure to harmonize with rhythm....In the art of dance, if a poor singer accompanies the song of a skilled singer, there is a sense of lag, which results in haste. Also, when "Old Pine" is played on the drums, it is a quiet piece, but in this case too, someone who is unskilled will tend to fall behind or get ahead. And while "High Dunes" has a rapid tempo, it is wrong to perform it too fast.


1 comment:

  1. honored that our show inspired this... that exercise of sitting at the kit for an hour without playing seems like an incredible way to work on self-control in your music (and life which of course music isn't independent...)

    -j

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