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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Secret Service



When you are backing a singer or a soloist it's like being part of the Secret Service. You don't see secret service agents staring at the wall and looking bored EVER! No, because their mission is CLEAR; they are to protect the President AT ALL COSTS, even if it means sacrificing their own lives. Mind, heart, intuition, breath, EVERYTHING is focused on the protection of the President.

IT IS THE SAME WITH MUSIC; EGOLESS SERVICE TO THE MUSIC AND TO THE MUSICIANS. Bradford Marsalis remembers what Coltrane's drummer ELVIN JONES had to say about this.
"a lot of younger musicians were hanging around with Elvin Jones, and they were talking about, ‘Man, you know, you guys had an intensity when you were playing with Coltrane. I mean, what was it like? How do you play with that kind of intensity?’ And Elvin Jones looks at them and says, ‘You gotta be willing to die with the motherfucker.’ They started laughing like kids do, waiting for the punchline, and then they realized he was serious...."


The AWARENESS needs to be resilient and flexible enough to maintain awareness on the execution of an instrument and feel (holding your own), while at the same having an awareness of the entire band as ONE UNIT (giving your all).

I tell my students that it is the drummer's DHARMA to be the OCEAN for JESUS to walk on. This requires a balanced ego, massive intuition, dedicated practice, and LOTS OF LISTENING AND RESEARCH. Peter Erskine says in the new DRUMHEAD magazine,
"Imagine, the rhythm section is a bright blue background and the soloist cuts a brilliant red diagonal stripe across it, it makes no sense for us to turn red"

RHYTHM SECTION = OCEAN
SOLOIST = JESUS WALKING

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Silence, Stevie Wonder, Transcendental Meditation, Lord Shiva, Timelessness and the Role of the Drummer in the Universe!



The experience of experiencing time is immensely varied. You can listen to a song lying on your back in your room, or you can drive over three miles listening to the same song. In the same three minutes at light speed it's possible to travel 33,480,000 miles. That is why philosophers have reduced the body to dust and why the Hindus have Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction. Everything will be destroyed, except the uncreated consciousness of the destroyer. Similar to the Buddhist concept of Emptiness. Except in Buddhism emptiness is empty of Itself.

It is the responsibility of the musician and especially these days, the drummer, to BE and ASPIRE TO BE, a master of the entire field of time. Elvin Jones said,"That's what the drummer is supposed to do: keep the time. If you can do some thing else besides that fine. But the time is essential. That's non-negotiable." I heard that Victor Wooten can keep time at 4 BPM. An old friend of mine recently had a dream and posted this on my Facebook wall,
"I had a crazy dream you were in a battle with a Rastafarian drum god, and each beat would string through tree branches. In the end it seemed you won by tapping the drum only once every 6 minutes exactly. Dude, what? I'm totally serious."
A beat every six minutes is .01 BPM. But what about the rhythm of the moon; a cycle that most women are attuned to? 1 Beat every 28 days = 2.4801587301E-5 BPM. Or the Earth around the sun; 1 Beat every year = 1.90258751903E-5 BPM. The mathematics of the universe are astonishing in their precision. The stars are a navigation tool! JESUS!

Because the field of time is impossible to master if you are ONLY externally driven, it is vitally important for musicians to fathom the INNER silence of their own minds, and probe the depths of consciousness to arrive at the SOURCE OF TIME; the non-changing field of pure consciousness. Having access to timelessness is the freaking Holy Grail for drummers!!

Stevie Wonder knew that when he wrote "Jesus Children of America"
Say
Tanscen
Transcendental
Dental meditation
Meditation
Speaks of
Speaks of inner
Inner preservation
Preservation
Well...
Transcendental meditation gives you peace of mind
Peace of mind
It is much deeper than peace of mind. Peace of mind is the bare minimum for an artist of the New Paradigm. The light of inner silence is the fountainhead of all creative energy of the universe available to you in your own MIND. Timelessness is not a theory, it's a physiological process of lowering the metabolism until the breath stops altogether and you are sustained by the purity of your silent AWAKE consciousness alone.

The beautiful thing about Transcendental Meditation is that it is about INTEGRATION. It is about establishing that silence and peace of mind so that you are more powerful and masterful in your daily life. As a musician having access to that silence and (whole note) rest is the reference point for understanding and mastering the whole field of time.




The Living Masters

What if Meshell Ndegeocello asked you to play drums with her band? What if Prince asked you? What if D'Angelo asked you? What if Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, John Scofield, John Medeski, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Flea, Dr. John, Maceo Parker, Soulive, Victor Wooten, Stevie Wonder, Method Man? What if Michael Jackson asked? What if you asked him and he said yes? It doesn't matter if you don't play drums, whatever instrument, whatever trade.

These are some of many names that would get me seriously delirious if any possibility of drumming with them were to come my way. Find the living people in your life that you know would get your heart pumping wildly and make your head scream with excitement and feelings of unworthiness if you were given the opportunity to collaborate with them.

Pick one living hero-master.... for me that is Ms. Ndegeocello. If you had one week until an audition to join his/her band what would you do mentally, physically, emotionally, on your instrument, off your instrument, to FILL THAT ENORMOUS HONOR AND RESPONSIBILITY TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY? How would you respond NOW if a master approached you and needed your service?

Now align yourself with that excitement and joyous burden. That is your path. You are WORTHY without any doubt. Anyone is worthy who says they are! Get ready to battle, love, and serve the masters. Do it! We are all in the same band......period!




Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Freedom to Create: Having a setup

David Lynch wrote a book called "CATCHING THE BIG FISH." It's Lynch's equivalent to THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS. There is a chapter called "HAVING A SETUP." This chapter talks about how crucial it is for an artist to have a studio, a place that is prepared with the tools and square footage to put your ideas into the ACTION and CREATION. He says,
It's crucial to have a setup, so that, at any given moment, when you get an idea, you have the place and the tools to make it happen.
I'm posting this quote today out of pride, because my band, the Evangenitals, just put money down on a lockout studio in Silver lake. In addition to being able to rehearse 24/7, I will also be able to teach drums and tabla there. Most importantly I/WE will have a setup, a place to execute ART. (double meaning?)

One thing about drummers is that their "PROCESS" can be insanely annoying to neighbors who don't understand why you would want to practice straight eighth notes on a snare drum for one hour straight :) The crux of my mission statement is through music to facilitate "THE EXPANSION OF LOVE AND HAPPINESS IN EVERY LIVING BEING." Coltrane himself said it's about UPLIFTING PEOPLE.

That was my heartache about the drums; "out of context" when you are trying to rope a complex pattern into music, the process can be ugly, loud, and hard on the listener. Now that I have a studio with 24 hour access 7 days a week I can play as loud as I need and experiment with every possible dynamic and idea (screaming into megaphones etc :)) without the danger of invading someone's sanctity. That is a beautiful thing. That is freedom. The freedom to create. FIND IT!




Hunger and Practice

Don't have any standard for yourself for how much you are supposed to practice. Try making a regiment that is ridiculously within your means. And pretend like you are in first grade. Take your favorite piece and just commit to the bare daily minimum.

IT'S LIKE STOKING A FIRE!!!!! If you put too many logs on you'll put the fire out. If you put too few logs on it will go out too. In the same way if you stuff your face when you eat you'll get sick. It's same with music, granted there are thresholds you can push through!!! It is important to keep your fire alive and hungry. As your appetite and ability increase you'll be able to EAT more.

And same with a fire you start with small logs and then when it's HOT you add the bigger logs. Take simple pieces and practice them ONLY for the SAKE OF THE SHEER JOY OF PLAYING THEM not with the intention to improve.

Because if your purpose of practicing is ONLY to improve, then the feeling you'll get from it is the feeling of WANTING TO IMPROVE but if you use joy as your weapon for practicing then you'll breed more and more of that hunger and ecstasy for more practice.

Be simple. Don't judge your ability. Keep stoking the fire. Free yourself from any future oriented restraints and focus on the joy of music, because ONLY THAT will propel you forward!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Follow Your Bliss with Balls (excerpt from a letter)

Keep your mind OPEN
HAVE FUN
HONE THE CLARITY OF YOUR PURPOSE

It really is a survival skill to follow your bliss
and expand your comfort zone with bliss as the basis
push yourself but completely without strain.

take a dance class
anything that teaches you how to feel the drums in your body
playing from your heart
it's about dancing
and being primal and GROOVING


INWARD AND OUTWARD VIEWS

To cling to oneself as Buddha, oneself
as Zen or the Way, making that an un-
derstanding, is called clinging to the inward
view.

Attainment by causes and conditions,
practice and realization, is called the out-
ward view,

Master Pao-chih said, "The inward view
and the outward view are both mistaken."


Pao Chih also says THE ZEN POCKET READER,
"Just seek nothing at all, and afflictions will naturally fall away"

These are my new favorite quotes.
Allow yourself to grow naturally without getting in the way of yourself.
Don't strain. Just be blissfully faithful and take CREATIVE ACTION.
Spontaneous Discipline.

Having said that I have recently made a spreadsheet for myself that has every category of what I would do in an UNLIMITED AND PERFECTLY IDEAL DAY.

from
Brushing Teeth
to tabla to drum books
CONCERTS:PERFORMING, ATTENDING, REHEARSING
rudiments
tabla solo
rebounder
to education from books films You tube blogging
fitness
and I have ZERO obligation to the spreadsheet
it is just my cosmic blueprint
reminder of what I continually return to putting my attention on
set as an intention to blossom in its own time with Easy Effort.

If you're having trouble focusing it's because your heart isn't open fully or the stakes aren't high enough.

I remember one saint Ramakrishna didn't attain enlightenment until his Guru stabbed him in the Third Eye with a piece of glass after several suicide attempts.

You are undertaking the path of the warrior so anything you can do to strip away the BULLSHIT
Dance
Yoga
Running
Singing
Free writing
Reading
Films
LISTENING TO ALL KINDS OF MUSIC
anything that opens your heart
VOLUNTEER
SERVICE
COMMUNITY
FRIENDS
AMENDS
LOVE LETTERS
TEMPLES
MEDITATION
SHOULDER STAND
MEANINGLESS WORK
TOTALLY RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
LAZINESS
INSANITY
make up parameters
buy a stop watch and say
"okay for fun I'm going to play the simplest exercise I know for two hours straight with zero improv"
or
"okay today I'm only allowed to practice for ten minutes"
find ways to STOKE YOUR PERSONAL FIRE
You MUST REALIZE THAT YOU ARE YOUR ONLY TEACHER
and THAT EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING IS YOUR TEACHER
EXPERIMENTATION
write a love letter in tabla speak
FREEDOM IS WHAT EVERYONE SEEKS
FIND IT IN YOUR ART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
IMPROVISE
DON'T IMPROVISE
TAKE RISKS
JOIN A BAND
USE GARAGE BAND
VIDEO TAPE YOURSELF
TAKE SELF PORTRAITS
YOU GOTTA GET IN DEEP
FIND THE ECSTASY OF INSANITY
THAT IS THE LIFE OF THE ARTIST
REVISE
FAIL
FAIL AGAIN
FAIL BETTER
STAY UP ALL NIGHT
DON'T LET ANYTHING DISCOURAGE YOU
EVERYTHING IS A GOOD OMEN DIRECTLY FROM GOD
FOLLOW YOUR BLISS WITH BALLS AND MASTERY WILL BE YOURS IN TIME.



SELF PORTRAIT WITH PETAL FROM PUJA TO GURU DEV ON MAHARISHI'S BIRTHDAY, JANUARY 12TH, 2009.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hunting for Jesus

This morning I AM AWAKE VERY EARLY after going to bed VERY LATE. Al Green's song "Jesus Is Waiting" is playing in my head before I got up and now in my headphones. Here I sit guided by a strong predisposition to write. As'f this article has already been written. (As'f is my new favorite made up word :))

Last night I glanced at an article in a newspaper at DENNY'S (full moon :)). It was about how the Boone & Crockett club of Missoula, Montana had recently given their concurrence that the world's largest antlered Bull Elk is now dead and is a new world record for big game.

This morning in an ordinary epiphany I connected the Al Green song with this dead elk. What is the aggressive thirst to nail down forms; to control rather than to allow? This must be why so many artists either wind up insane, dead too soon, or religious. Once the inability to attain anything with FORM dawns as a reality, then the formless eternity of God is the next logical hunt.

I have mentioned before in this blog my theory of THE CROSS; the VERTICAL or INNER aspect of art which deals with spiritual practice and fulfillment; the HORIZONTAL or OUTER aspect that deals with knowledge and skill in action. But I found the third and crucial element, THE INTERSECTION, in this amazing piece in THE POCKET ZEN READER translated by Thomas Cleary.

INWARD AND OUTWARD VIEWS

To cling to oneself as Buddha, oneself
as Zen or the Way, making that an un-
derstanding, is called clinging to the inward
view.

Attainment by causes and conditions,
practice and realization, is called the out-
ward view,

Master Pao-chih said, "The inward view
and the outward view are both mistaken."

Pao Chih also says in this book,
"Just seek nothing at all, and afflictions will naturally fall away"




Saturday, January 3, 2009

Outside the Box

This video was sent to me by my good friend George Foster. Even though this is "inside the box" It is a direct charge to LET YOUR BLISS LEAD YOU TO THE ECSTASY OF GOD AND TOTAL FREEDOM OUTSIDE THE *&%ing BOX. That is the charge to all musicians and artists, or as Eminem says "Lose yourself in the music the moment you want it you better never let it go..." :) Find your edge!

viva la "CISSY STRUT"

FREE TIBET,
David Hurlin



PS Here's Scofield's version
PPS Here's John Mayer's version
PPPS Here's the version by the guy who wrote the song
PPPPS Here's the crazy Oriental Allman Brothersesque Fusion Incredible version WOW
PPPPPS Here's New Orleans funk group Galactic's version

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