Sunday, December 29, 2013


Virtuosity is not a good or a bad thing.
It's a tool to be used when necessary.

Virtuosity can have the effect of making one transparent and predictable.
It immediately shows that you have been educated.

Modern education can be a form of enslavement
so it's a dangerous card to have at the foundation
all of the time.

Technique is the rational mind
important like seasoning.

Absence of technique, like a child, like an animal.
Empathy for the environment as a moment.
The ear in the heart.

Language is not a conquest
Neither is music.

Clarify your intentions for playing
and the techniques and empty spaces will arrive
of a greater unity than is commonly accepted
or expected.

Remove the walls of the zoo
and see how the instinct is reborn.

Friday, September 27, 2013

David Hurlin Drum Solo (September 2013)

Here is my drum solo opening up for Chimney Choir at Cafe Paradiso.  I'm very grateful to Glenn Chumley for videotaping.  I would recommend listening to this on high quality speakers or headphones at a moderately loud volume for the best effect.  Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Imperfect Looping

In the name of true perfectionism I am obsessed with imperfection. Especially since music, and drumming in particular, is so easily seduced by the charm of neat, knowable math.

I came across a Moby video loop on Vine.  Vine is an awesome website/mobile app where you create and involuntarily edit video in real time from your smartphone and end up with a 7 second video loop that plays forever.  Moby said about his loop, "Not sure if this works... more weird sound than visual,"

Immediately I had the desire to drum to it as Moby's singing head was looping ad infinitum and there was no discernible place that the loop was supposed to start over. So I recorded an arbitrary slice of the infinite loop and improvised a solo over it.

My favorite moment and I'm so grateful that I caught this (literally) is when, I lean over to pitch bend the floor tom and due to the short length of my headphones, I yank the condenser mic off the mantle it is sitting on. In the middle of drumming I catch the mic with my left hand, and keep soloing with my right hand.  I hope I can pull that off live someday.

Imperfection and Perfection together like phases of the moon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Glock Revelation: Learning the Melody

Last night I had a simple and empowering experience. Instead of waiting around, while the Apocalypso Tantric Boys Choir's new track "Preaching to the Choir" was being figured out by James and Eric, I decided to learn the header also, on the Glockenspiel.

It made me realize how much time I have been wasting because I thought of myself only as a drummer. This is a seriously huge revelation. Learning the melody gave me a deeper window into the form, and consequently intimacy and command were both amplified.

I might even get to play the Glock on the outro. YES!

Then after rehearsal you can really let your hair down.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Thoughts I had tonight while contemplating,
"What makes a drummers different from each other
and different from computers?"

OK there are infinite number of patterns possible.
So even if you were to play your entire life for 24 hours a day
you would be lacking thoroughness almost one hundred percent.
In other words James Tate's "The Oblivion Ha-Ha."

This is one possible antidote to ego-driven virtuosity.
Speed and complexity can be sad and kinda pitiful
if the delivery is too earnest
or if light speed is forgotten for a bit.

This is where dimensionality comes in.
Conquering seems to happen by staying where you are
rather than strong-arming  knowledge
into an attainable intellectual realm like what zoos do to animals,
that infinite lust; water-bottle-wielding mirage chasers.

Knowledge needs to be grokked
at the level of silent intuitive action
while letting go of ownership.
Dropping through and into infinite knowledge
cross referenced through the rainbow-origin
of all emotional states and spiritual illuminations,
(Milford Graves talks about playing different emotions
on different limbs: feeling-polymeters)
That center of the wheel omniscience.
Time Itself blah blah blah.

But in addition to knowledge
there is context, timing of delivery,
stand up comedy rhythms.
Harold Bloom, to paraphrase,
said the common denominator of all bad poetry
is that it is too sincere.
This is a naivete of context.

Aka your spilled milk is funny
if there is a meteor about to land on you.

Aka Brubeck's "Take Five" would be thrilled
to cross dress as a waltz for a night.

Aka the intelligence to quote "Stars Wars"
in "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

OK so there is vocabulary
and then there is poetry and fucking magic.

Awareness, sensibility, and fearless intuition
make infinity applicable instead of useless.

These are what allow your whole voice to blossom
toward the tangible. Lightning and thunder etc.

Below is the video where Professor Graves
talk about different emotions on different limbs.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Voice

I think the voice is the most intimate instrument, meaning it's so innate it's not even an instrument. I guess the heart and the drone of the nervous system would be in the same category, but the voice is audible to other people and it is through voice that we communicate our children and to others.

I think this is why singing, and the other instruments that emulate the voice, the violin, the slide guitar, the flute are so emotional and can have such an impact on the heart.  The instruments I find to be the most emotional are the ones that have not been compartmentalized by frets and note categories.

That is why it must be that when I hear Derek Trucks, and other masters of the entire string, I feel like crying and actually do cry most the time. Like the voice they can get to all the hard to reach places in the heart and in the body because they command the entire range of frequency.

Talking drums, tablas and other such cosmic membranophones are worth researching. The ancient cultures knew the power of all the in between tones.

This video has inspired a really exciting nocturnal practice session. I was experimenting with harmonics on the cymbals and on the drums by holding my finger on the surfaces the same way you would get a harmonic out of a guitar string.  I can't believe I didn't think of it before.  I will post a video as soon as I get a better way to record the low end.

But for now check this guy out. The drums are every instrument.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Music Education

I had a revelation this morning. As I am writing a blog about drumming I think a lot about music education. I was thinking about the majority of instructional drum videos out there. So many of them are the equivalent of a writing teacher coming into class and saying,

Good morning class. How many of you want to be the best speller you can be? It takes practice. Here is how you spell "Apple." A P P L E. Now once you have figured that out let's see if we can spell "conformity."

It's subversive to be poetic. It cuts against knowledge itself towards the supreme darkness of Being. New words, new spellings, and the whole gamut of human life from suffering to emergence into the light. We need to empower musicians to rise above vocabulary, spelling, and recitation, and into the field of the terror and joy of innovation and romance with sound.

Friday, August 16, 2013


There is the desire to sound good.
The desire to control the expression
so the notes occur on an area that is
intellectually understood in advance.

Licks, grooves, scores, charts, notes etc.
Or as Milford Graves calls it
Standard Organized Music.

A conceptual framework somehow legitimizes
and proves knowledge of rhythm and melody,
an execution of a predetermined structure,
or an improvisation projected onto a predetermined structure.

It's like "Oh he is repeating himself therefore he knows."
It's safe. It's a form of GPS. It has its pleasure and limitations.
Groove. It's OK have structure sometimes but how deep are the roots?
If the roots are not deep "music" can become imprisonment.

The foundation is built upon breath and the feeling of the intention.
Fear and vanity keep people on the surface and afraid of violating the structure.
Conversely if you are at the center of the wheel you are omnipresent and timeless.
You are time, keeping it or not keeping it is redundant.
You can't reach the center without breath and relaxation.

Control without balance is FASCISM
Letting Go without balance is NIHILISM
and both together are TAOISM or SURFING

Lose Control in the name of gaining it.
Weave these domains together.
Sure practice MASTER Studies and Stick CONTROL
but then also get out the machete and do some bushwhacking.
How are we going to become strong and fearless if we only mow the lawns
and don't forge new neural pathways.

These new pathways come about by making music
at the level of silent intuition and openhearted innocence.
By stumbling into methods and sounds that are unknown
and possibly uncomfortable and awkward.

Falling and flying and failing.

The axiom in creative writing
"no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader"
Lovemaking requires no GPS.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vantage Point

I have a gigging kit and a kit that stays set up permanently in my living room. For my show on Friday night I took the snare drum from my permanent setup with me. Today I got on my drums to mess around with some African Claves from Billy Martin's book but my snare drum was still in its case in the van.

I decided to use this as an opportunity to move toward sound and away from musical dependencies and habits. Expanding intimacy with drumming itself rather than with a drum set, with sound itself rather than with music, with the act of drumming rather than with what I am drumming.

I walk around the town playing on mailboxes, road signs, thrift store objects, telephone poles, benches, buckets, cups. Anything that looks like it might have a song I check to make sure. So why doesn't that extend to the drum set as much? Habit? Comparison? Expectations? Musical taste? Fear? I think the main thing is there is no preconception about a mailbox or a five gallon water jug. There is not an extensive library, in the exalted annals of music history, of mailbox and water jug recordings and techniques.

These found-percussion trysts are innocent encounters with sound. There is no, "am I doing this correctly?" because there is no "correct" way to play a mailbox or a water jug.  The obsession with technique and perfectionism, as it correlates to the learning of an instrument, is only useful if it does not tamper with the ability to innocently experiment with your instrument stripped of all historical and musical context.

That is why I didn't go and get my snare drum. I did a practice session and some soloing minus the snare. It completely changed my relationship with the toms.  It changed the way I thought about melody and drumming. The grooves were wilder and simpler. Africa came to visit or vice versa. When you change vantage points your vision and your knowledge expand.

Set up your drum set backwards.  Use only floor toms.  Remove all your cymbals. Do a solo blindfolded. Drum in the forest. Video tape yourself and play it backwards.  Duct tape your right hand to your heart and drum with your left. Do anything to break your dependency on your instrument in order to increase the chance of entrance into extra terrestrial innocence where intuition and sound converge in the melted heart.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Four Arm Drumming

I just had a wake up call on the drum set. I've been putting a lot of attention on the expressive side of drumming, drumming as a language, drumming out of time as a rainstorm aka I'm John Cage and Merce Cunningham at the same time etc, mischievous ANTIDOTES and joyful FUs to the institution of airbrushed-smooth jazz-perfectionist-I'm looking at myself in the mirror while I over rehearse laptop karaoke-purgatory timekeeping of Swiss watch salsa as a whipped mule of general business-school of drumming. Even though the metronome is a demon there is still a place for Him on the altar as we all must enter the volcano together.

In other words even though a large chunk of my time is spent outside the suburbia called music and into the wilderness called Sound Itself,  I still am always hungry for techniques that make my experiences in all three worlds more pleasurable, competent, and primed for  unlocking the greatest possible power and surprise in the world of innovation and proficiency when I am at the drum set.

Today I realized that so much of my playing is handcentric. I think many players have this, let's call it PPS (Practice Pad Syndrome). I know all the American rudiments and can rock the first 1/3 of Alan Dawson's rudimental ritual over a samba but even still all the focus is on the hands. So today I got rid of one stick and pretended like my right foot was my other hand.  I did the seven stroke roll (and some other and eventually why not all the rudiments?)


I know this is common knowledge but thinking of the feet as 3rd and 4th arms unlocks so much.  It turns common and sometimes boring sticking patterns into grooves and unlocks the feet as soloing and integrated voices of our four limb arsenal. Water the root to enjoy the fruit. For real.