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Global Drum Project Tour
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Acoustic Interloper



Joined: Jul 07, 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:48 pm    Post subject: Global Drum Project Tour
Subject description: Real-time acoustic instrument processing.
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Originally I thought to post this under Schmooze or maybe Events, but I think the
lead page has enough to say about a compositional/improvisational approach, that it belongs here. Some out takes:
Quote:

But "Global Drum Project," for which Hussain shares leader credits with Hart, is sonically the most audacious enterprise to date, taking full advantage of sampling technology to make the music sound like worlds more than just four drummers hammering out complex rhythms together.
"What that means," Hussain explained, "is that in real time, without having to do any postproduction or preproduction, we are able to alter how our sound appears onstage and make our instruments appear to morph into something other — like a tabla becomes a rhythm guitar or a piano. I can play melodies of as many as 18 or 21 notes (on my drums.)
"So now we are looking at the instruments with a different eye," he continued. "Instead of just playing age-old repertoire on the instrument, now the instrument is part of the creative process. That's an exciting place for me to be. In India we believe all instruments have a spirit. When you talk to an Indian musician, like a tabla player, who is going onstage, and you wish him best of luck, he will say, 'Let's see what the instrument wants to say today.' It's important for us in India that the instrument participates, and that's where we have gotten with the present version of the Planet Drum sound — now we have a huge canvas of melodic, rhythmic, harmonic possibilities that we are using."
. . .
"The spiritual element is in the reverence that we all have for our traditions," he [Zakir Hussain] said. "When we approach our instrument, that reverence, that awe, that respect for what it represents is very apparent in the way we use this technology. We won't accept just anything that appears out of a knob that morphs the sound. It has to be something that has more than a trace of what the natural, organic sound is. That must come through. The audience must see what the source was and where it has gone from there. The reverence does not allow us to have just a free-for-all with the technology. It is very important that we harness what the technology has to offer, with the instrument being the source of the tonal world that we are going into."

Acoustics instruments as a primary signal source & primary FX driver is right up my processing alley Smile
Happily, Linda found us two tickets in a almost full front section of the Keswick Theater October 22, even though that event is not listed on the ensembles main web site. I had given up because it looked like I couldn't make any of the concert dates.

Anybody else from Philly area going to this one?

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one finds oneself counting,
one knows not what,
notes in a stream, steps in a forest,
years in a life, items in a list of todo's;
counting,
planning,
always getting ready to come down on the one

Last edited by Acoustic Interloper on Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2007/09/13/082207.php


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dewdrop_world



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oh, WOW. October 11 in Washington DC.

If anybody here doesn't know the Tabla Beat Science stuff (Zakir Hussain is a driving force in that project too), it's really a must. Very fine stuff.

I also have a CD of a tabla duet between Hussain and his father, Ustad Alla Rakha - kicks almighty ass, phenomenal playing. Gets even crazier when they start scat-singing the rhythms.

James

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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Did you make it to October 11? The Philly show is this evening, can't wait!

Here is an interview snippet from Mickey Hart
Quote:
"The dream was always to do extreme processing, not necessarily in the studio, post production, which is the way it's usually done," says Hart. "You play something and then you take it and put it into some marvelous space, but in this case I've been playing with these marvelous machines.
"The robots that we are playing with now are smart enough for us to really dance with and have an intelligent conversation with. That's the difference between this CD and "Planet Drum." It's really a dance between the archaic world and the world of the digital domain. So this is like a really vivid dream. This is lucid dreaming in rhythm land."

and
Philly Daily News
Quote:
Q: The new album seems a bit of a departure. How did it come to pass?

A: I wouldn't call it a departure. It's more an advance. I consider myself a work in progress. What's happened is, the machines have gotten smarter. The vision was always to take the percussion into extreme zones. This was the time. There are no standard synthesizers on it - no generic boxes from Japan. And it's very much a live adventure, using very sophisticated spatial processing. The art and challenge is to do it differently every night.

Q: Can you explain that in more detail?

A: Sure. We have the capabilities to sample and hold. If I play something and like it, I have the ability to make it repeat, multi-layer it. I have reverberants, delays, chorus and chaos generators, all kinds of cool stuff to play with. We also introduce snippets of short wave or AM radio, found-sound voices that are in and of the moment. We also have samples in the machinery that we can trigger, with a computer operator to help put this stuff out, be it the voice of Olatunji to field recordings from Papua New Guinea.

Q: Are these recordings you've found as a curator/archivist at the Library of Congress?

A: No, that's a whole other subject. These are audiophile recordings I made myself over there, which was really a challenge. And the money from the recordings goes back to them, so this is a kind of roundtrip. You have to honor the tradition. The Endangered Music Project, which I'm director of, that's what it's all about. Money goes back to the societies that spawned the music, and the kids there pick up on that. Not only do they get the music back, but now they feel it's worth something. It's a wonderful handshake that the Library of Congress is also engaged in.

Reporting back in a day or two . . .

_________________
one finds oneself counting,
one knows not what,
notes in a stream, steps in a forest,
years in a life, items in a list of todo's;
counting,
planning,
always getting ready to come down on the one

Last edited by Acoustic Interloper on Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Review of last night's concert . . .

if ONE can roll the accents
if one CAN roll the accents
IF one can roll the accents
if one can ROLL the accents
if one can roll the ACents

then TWO can ROLL the accents
and THREE can REally ROLL the accents . . .
so FOUR can FInally ROLL and WEAVE the ACcents ALL aLONG

layers

layers on
Layers

layers on
Layers On
LaYeRs On
LAYERS

layering and weaving

1. start with four seasoned virtuoso percussionists steeped in years of euroamerican, indian, latin american and nigerian traditions

this remained the primary layer through the night, four expert percussionists interweaving

2. weave in a wide assortment of traditional and ad hoc percussive timbres: tablas and congas and drum kits and talking drums and prayer bells and marimbas and gourds and tree trunks and shakers and toys and percussive strings

3. season with delicate real-time processing driven by a fifth performer behind two laptop keyboards to the rear of the stage

--------------------------------------------------

The effect at times was like being on the edge of a dream state, although never quite falling into it, which was OK with me. The FX processing was a very light touch, generally lighter and more obvious to someone with some experience, than I might have expected. When it worked its best, it helped move the music into the slightly surreal edge of dream space, where the instruments sounded somehow different, instrument voices transforming in real time. But, mostly, the FX were more like seasoning than they were like catalysts.

Most of the concert was not like being on the edge of a dream state. Zakir Hussain was the most adept at moving it to the edge of consciousness alteration, but for the most part it was four virtuoso percussionists interweaving rhythms and accents using a wide array of sounds. Something of a master class. Not a bad way to spend an evening!

A friend originally from India and I were observing a scene in Pittsburgh last week, where a crumbling old stone foundation hung off the back of a patched and reinforced foundation built into a hill, atop which stood a building with a couple generations worth of additions. We discussed how it is a short term (< 200 year) equivalent of what India is like, layers of structures built on top of previous layers going back into antiquity. This concert was something like that -- percussive traditions built, incrementally, across centuries, with a light layer of 21st century sound processing on top.

_________________
one finds oneself counting,
one knows not what,
notes in a stream, steps in a forest,
years in a life, items in a list of todo's;
counting,
planning,
always getting ready to come down on the one
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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A much more detailed interview with Mickey Hart on this project showed up here.
_________________
one finds oneself counting,
one knows not what,
notes in a stream, steps in a forest,
years in a life, items in a list of todo's;
counting,
planning,
always getting ready to come down on the one

Last edited by Acoustic Interloper on Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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dewdrop_world



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Super busy here, not much time to go into it, but I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities in this event. Long stretches scarcely rose above the unfocused drum jam. To hold attention for that length of time, there really needs to be a more purposeful directing of the audience's attention (occasional ornamental outbursts didn't quite do it for me). Zakir Hussain and Giovanni Hidalgo got some solos, which helped, but poor Sikiru Adepoju never really got to shine, and suffered from the fact that the low pitch of his drum didn't cut through the other sounds well.

There were many, many engaging and wonderful moments, but I couldn't escape the thought that Mickey Hart is not quite as strong a creative personality as Bill Laswell (the mastermind of Tabla Beat Science).

Sorry to be a party pooper...
James

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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

dewdrop_world wrote:
Sorry to be a party pooper...

Oh, not at all! Glad for a chance for some dialog. After all,
Acoustic Interloper wrote:
. . . generally lighter and more obvious to someone with some experience, than I might have expected . . .mostly, the FX were more like seasoning than they were like catalysts . . . Most of the concert was not like being on the edge of a dream state . . .

aren't exactly gushing. I went in to study certain things, found some present, others missing, with not a lot of surprises. I would have expected it to be more trance inducing, given the buildup, but Hart was bouncing around on the surface a bit too much. My wife recalled some interminable drum solos from Grateful Dead jams years ago, but as I recall, back then, as now, it varied from evening to evening. (After my son & I had attended several amazing concerts by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones in 2002-2004, we took my wife to see them in fall, 2004, for a pretty low energy performance by the same people on the same general body of material -- sometimes it's just a low energy night.) The last time I heard Zakir Hussain was with the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (along with ChucK, of course!) at Princeton in April, 2006 -- I believe he was doing a residence there -- and overall his performance and the sophistication of the ensemble performance got higher grades that night. I had no problem hearing Sikiru -- small hall and the mix was well balanced -- and I'm not sure it's strictly Hart. I have a couple of the Tabla Beat CDs, and Laswell on other things, and I don't know that I'd generalize or compare. The energy in this performance was higher in the first set than in the second -- when my legs stop moving in a percussion concert, something's leaking out -- some of that may have been loss of novelty, and some may be better compositions used in the first half.

My particular interest in this thing was processed acoustic sounds, and there are a couple of things worth analyzing about the other night's performance:

1. The best of the FX treatment, near the beginning of the night, did manage to catalyze and move the instrument sounds off the ground. It was like listening to familiar instruments and then have them become strange and different in an indefinable way. That is the dream-like bit. This is what they were going for with the FX (as I read the interviews), but they didn't pull it off consistently, and they mostly pulled it off at the beginning. I am probably spoiled by electro-music in Cheltenham, by the way, along with other occasional concert exposure. In any case, I got to diff what was more compelling from what was less compelling (non-catalytic seasoning), score 1 for learning.

2. The compositions, or foreground/background mix of the improvisations, was similarly uneven. This was always an issue with a lot of fusion music, too: a lot of virtuoso playing, sometimes thin compositions or improvisations.
I think some of this may come from having 4 virtusos from 4 distinct traditions try to do a 'fusion' of the 4. For example, I've certainly heard Zakir 'rock' more in other contexts, likewise Hart in the Dead, and I am sure Giovanni could have opened up more in a Latin band. This kind of experiment loses some of both a) cultural context, b) timbres and harmonic/melodic contributions of other cultural instruments. Other musicians from within a given context would have supplied other 'body parts' to the respective musicians' percussion, but in some sense this was like having a lot of different hands (or something) without the other body parts.

So, a partially successful experiment, in my estimation, and one from which I can take away a few things.

1. First of all, I can still see more interesting potential processing of acoustic instruments (hear it in my head actually) than I heard the other night, although near the beginning of the show they pulled it off nicely. So, I have something to contribute, a niche!

2. Second, I am trying to get my own music to be a natural extension of musical activities going on in my own back yard. Appalachian modal meets modal jazz with a life's worth of rock'n'roll listening tossed in at the edges, and now with some minimalist and electro influences blended in. This isn't a fusion of 4 or more cultures' traditions, this is an organic extension of a local tradition. Extend where the pieces line up. Bluegrass borrowed from modal folk music, jazz and pop. In my case, modal folk music is borrowing from modal jazz & minimalism. Think globally, act locally? Local tradition.
That's fundamentally what I take away from this, a few more puzzle pieces to figure out next moves in filling out the space. All pretty analytical, I guess. Entertainment, not as much, but as I said in the review, that's OK.

More grist for the musical mill Very Happy

And now, back to our regularly scheduled operating system kvetching Twisted Evil

_________________
one finds oneself counting,
one knows not what,
notes in a stream, steps in a forest,
years in a life, items in a list of todo's;
counting,
planning,
always getting ready to come down on the one

Last edited by Acoustic Interloper on Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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dewdrop_world



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is really hard to read -- could you shorten your URLs? That is, put the full URL inside the brackets of a url= tag, and then a shorter description between the url and /url tags (like the display text in an HTML a.../a tag).

Thanks,
James

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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

One last reference,
a review of the CD, pretty much in line with the concert. An excerpt:
Quote:
Yet, the whole affair is restrained, more lounge-like and overly percussive and electronic than rhythmic. Hart and Hussain fail to define a new paradigm to explore this global trough of sounds, ultimately falling into the same pot that holds the rest of the genre. The musicianship is spot on, spectacular at times, but the duo seems more concerned with the mood than letting the musicians showcase their skills.

I expected to be blown away with this CD given the performers involved (Nigerian legend Babatunde Olatunji, Nigerian talking drum player Sikiru Adepoju, Puerto Rican conguero Giovanni Hidalgo and others). Instead, a relaxed sound dominates, one more suitable for a dinner party than a freak out. Hart and Hussain are certainly capable musicians – every single note along with the mixing and production on Global Drum Party testify to that – but this is not the party I was expecting.

_________________
one finds oneself counting,
one knows not what,
notes in a stream, steps in a forest,
years in a life, items in a list of todo's;
counting,
planning,
always getting ready to come down on the one
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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It's interesting to compare this 'World Music' approach of fusing 4 virtuosos from 4 distinct musical cultures, with Steve Reich's perspective (Writings on Music - 1965-2000) on these matters from around the time he composed "Drumming," just after his trip to Ghana to study Ewe Tribe drumming. (I just listened to both CDs of Drumming last Friday while driving home from Pittsburgh through torrents of rain on the PA Turnpike; I was never so glad to get into the tunnels under the mountains, to get out of the rain for a few minutes.)

From a 1970 interview with Michael Nyman:
Quote:
NYMAN: You're not interested in taking over the sound of the music and incorporating it into your music?
REICH: What I don't want to do is to go and buy a bunch of exotic-looking drums and set up an Afrikanische Musik in New York City. In fact what I think is going to happen more and more is that composers will study non-Western music seriously so that it will have a natural and organic influence on their music.

and from a 1971 essay on DRUMMING:
Quote:
The question often arises as to what influence my visit to Africa in the summer of 1970 had on "Drumming?" The answer is *confirmation*. It affirmed my intuition that acoustic instruments could be used to produce music that was generally richer in sound than that produced with electronic instruments, as well as confirming my natural inclination towards percussion. I chose instruments that are all now commonly available in Western countries . . . tuned to our own tempered diatonic scale, and used them within the context created by my own previous compositions.

The comment about electronic instruments bears the timestamp of 1971, although Reich's bias certainly resonates with what I am trying to do. And Hart hasn't just borrowed the instruments & sounds, he's promoted the musicians (and supported their musical cultures somewhat via his Library of Congress work and sending a % of CD sales back to the sampled musicians), helping to launch World Music as a pop genre with the original Planet Drum. (Although many of us were listening to what would later be called 'world music' at places like the Philly Folk Festival back in the late 60's & early 70's.)

What I align with most within Reich's comments is the basic folk process of taking some musical DNA without taking sounds and culture wholesale. I'm looking for ways to expand the palette of what is at its core Appalachian folk music, which was at its start was already a fusion of British Isles folk music and West African-American folk music (the banjo and the accompanying rhythmic syncopation having come from West Africa), and move it forward another step.

_________________
one finds oneself counting,
one knows not what,
notes in a stream, steps in a forest,
years in a life, items in a list of todo's;
counting,
planning,
always getting ready to come down on the one
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Oskar



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Now, THIS I'd love to see! cheers
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