ABOUT FEMALE DRUMMERS
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TRACY & THE PLASTICS
CONTRIBUTORS FOUNDER | PUBLISHER | DA BOSS Mindy Seegal Abovitz (email@example.com) OPERATIONS WIZARD Rosana Caban (firstname.lastname@example.org) HEAD DESIGNER (MAGIC HANDS) Marisa Kurk (email@example.com) REVIEWS EDITOR (AUDIO SLEUTH) Rebecca DeRosa (firstname.lastname@example.org) HEAD ILLUSTRATOR (CURATOR OF WEIRD) James Douglas Mitchell (email@example.com)
MINI BEAST WRITER
BRAIN TRUST Caryn Havlik, Kiran Gandhi, Rony Abovitz, Emile Milgrim, Candace Hansen, Lisa Schonberg, Allan Wilson, Cati Bestard
PHOTOGRAPHER / WRITER
BARCELONA GUAPA Shaina Joy Machlus
DESIGNER (JR. MAGIC HANDS) Charlotte Elise Brewin TECH SECTION EDITOR Mickey Vershbow WEB MANAGER Maura Filoromo SHOP TOM TOM Susan Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org) WEB CODERS Capisco Marketing NYC DISTRO Segrid Barr
EUROPEAN DISTRO Max Markowsky PORTLAND DISTRO Shanna Doolittle WRITERS Rachel Miller, Shaina Joy Machlus, Rebecca DeRosa, Ash Kayser, Freda Love Smith, Keeli McCarthy, Mindy Abovitz, Joe Wong, Kat Jetson, bo-Pah, John Carlow, EMi Kariya, Lucy Katz, Jonna Lofgren, Josefin Ahlqvist Lyzwinski, Riot Child band, Josefina Pukitis, Julia Ivansson PHOTOGRAPHERS Melissa Melvin Rodriguez, Alex Bonney, Xeno, Stefano Galli, Finding Charlotte Photography, Gabrielle Steib ILLUSTRATORS Jee Young Sim, Sophia Bruno, James Douglas Mitchell, Eva House (@evahouse_), Erica Parrott, Elly Dallas TECH WRITERS Morgan Doctor, Kiana Gibson, Rene Jarmer, Kellie Rae Tubbs, Debbie Knox-Hewson, Kristen Gleeson-Prata, Lorena Perez Batista, Rene Jarmer MUSIC & MEDIA REVIEWS Lia Braswell, Caryn Havlik, Rebecca DeRosa, Anna Blumenthal, Gabrielle Steib, Matthew D’Abate, Mindy Abovitz, Tarra Thiessen, Attia Taylor, Lola Johnson GEAR REVIEWS Rosana Caban, Mindy Abovitz CROSSWORD Candace Hansen COPY EDITORS All of us this time CORRECTIONS FROM ISSUE 23 We are so sorry we misspelled Simone Odaranile's name last issue! And Dayeon Seok! Please forgive us. MERCI BEAUCOUP All of you, Rob Macinnis, Christina Martinelli, Jade Thacker, Chris Monk, Geezush, Ima, Shamai, Rony, Shani, E.B., Aba, Saba, Savtah, Monkey, Easton, Zoe, Angel, Kate Ryan
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THIS PAGE Photo by Christian Gregory of Drum Baby
Tom Tom Magazine ® is the only magazine in the world dedicated to female drummers. We are a quarterly print magazine, website, social media community, irl community, events, drum academy, custom gear shop and more. Tom Tom seeks to raise awareness about female percussionists from all over the world in hopes to inspire women and girls of all ages to drum. We intend to strengthen and build the fragmented community of female musicians globally and provide the music industry and the media with role models to create an equal opportunity landscape for any musician. We cover drummers of all ages, races, styles, skill levels, abilities, sexualities, creeds, class, sizes and notoriety. Tom Tom Magazine is more than just a magazine; it’s a movement.
PHOTO BY L AUREN KALLEN FOR WEWORK
Letter From the Editor
As a drummer, especially in the early days, I struggled a lot with timekeeping. Keeping time back then, as I was building my skills as a drummer, meant a commitment to a tiny new gadget called a metronome. I powered up my new gadget ideally once a day to build my secret and invaluable skill that was only noticeable when I didn’t have it. I grew to love the ticking sound and my confidence grew alongside my ability to keep up with it. Now, and as a growing business person, time has taken on a whole new meaning. Time means persistence and perseverance and tends to move a lot slower (somewhere around 60 BPM). I initially thought that most of my goals with the magazine would have been achieved by now. The fact is, they haven’t yet and all of this time has passed.
My re-commitment to this project and its ideals is my new march. Our new beat and the toughest metronome to follow yet. Similar to the trusty metronome, when you find your footing and keep steady, you become an integral member of the band. This is the part we are looking forward to in time. This issue is themed Time and touches on any and everything that a drummer encounters regarding time. We talked to drummers all over the world and got their take on the subject. We had a wonderful time putting this issue together and we hope you love it as much as we do. All the way from Brooklyn, NY…
Love & Drums,
Mindy Seegal Abovitz Publisher/Founder/EIC
Gabrielle Steib photo of New Myths
Get down and dirty with this Time themed crossword puzzle.
DAPPER DRUMMER TYGAPAW Dion McKenzie is a Brooklyn based dapper producer. .
MINI BEAST: EDUARDA HENKLEIN This six-year-old can drum the best of us under the table.
CLOCKING IN: SARA BOYD Senior Portfolio Manager Sara Boyd talks the business of drumming while holding down a 9-5.
ACT OF PRACTICING
Keeli McCarthy breaks down her routine.
TACOCAT Behind the scene with Tacocat
RECIPES FROM THE ROAD This time it's chocolate peanut butter crispy rice treats.
HARSH CROWD They called themselves that to break down the walls
GUIDE TO STOCKHOLM Six of Stockholm's most promising drummers map out their favorite spots in Sweden.
METRONOMES THROUGH TIME By Rachel Miller
MISS EAVES Beat making on your own terms
CHITRANGANA RESHWAL India's pakhawaj pioneer.
CHARAN-PO-RANTAN Sisters, Japan, gypsy camp, rock.
TRACY & THE PLASTICS A conversation with Wynne Greenwood on time's plasticity
FROM YOU TO US WITH LOVE
Tom Tom Magazine reviewed our record and said to listen to it "while having a ceremonial glitter fight with your cat on a moonlit beach and regretting nothing." Day made.
So great to connect with you! I'm a big fan of your magazine, even though I'm too uncoordinated to play drums with all of my limbs. I think what you all do is awesome. Keep up the excellent work, and I look forward to your upcoming issues that are yet to come.
—Sarah F of See Gulls
Cheers! :) Hi Mindy,
Hello, I Ioved the Touring Issue. Couldn't stop laughing at some of the articles about picking the right vehicle to go on the road. As well a lot of good advice on things I learned the hard way. Also it just feels good in your hands. Love the choice of paper or stock or whatever you call it. Looking forward to future issues. Let everyone in the office know to just keep it up, don't stop doing what you're doing. Stay the individuals that you are. Take care, Alan M
Hey Tom Tom Magazine crew!
I occasionally read Modern Drummer and other drum mags but after nearly 20 years, one starts to get tired of all the same drummer bro-tech articles and editorial direction. These days Tom Tom Mag is more where I’m at. Just more interested in reading about female drummers making beats and waves in an area long dominated by males. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on some PC rant about it; drums are universally great for everyone and I love drumming with anyone. But the pendulum needs to swing and I’m happy to support the great women out there swinging it.
It just crossed my mind today that awhile back I had made these granny drummer drawings and I thought this would be the perfect place to share them. I hope the granny drummers make you smile. Thank you for being awesome!
—Elly Dallas (Danville, CA)
We love your magazine. Thanks so much for all you do for drummers!
I thoroughly enjoyed your talk at the Apple store the other week. A publication for female drummers or female artists or female anything is still seen as "niche media" or a secondary market. It's narrow-casting and marginalizes the stance of women. The phrase "niche media" is almost a euphemism for lacking significance — as if all things female will be seen as niche until they are seen as equal. I'll step off my soapbox but just wanted to let you know how deeply your thoughts sat with me. Cheers, Angela T
Hi, I know I speak for many others when I offer heartfelt thanks for the part you all and Tom Tom Magazine have played in this industry. Sincerely, Heather Sloan (DePauw University Music Library & PAS World Percussion Committee Member)
CONTACT US 302 Bedford Ave PMB #85 Brooklyn, NY 11249 firstname.lastname@example.org @tomtommag
TOM TOM MAGAZINE
By Candce Hansen Illustration by James Mitchell
ACROSS 1. Multiple rhythms played simultaneously. 4. Playing something slower. Also a popular show at a football game. 6. Slang word used to describe music that does not swing or groove. 8. 5/4, 7/8, What we call time that is the opposite of #14. 10. A recurring pattern of stresses or accents that provide the pulse or beat of music. Notated in the beginning of a compositions by #2. 12. You can’t hear it, but you can count it. Sometimes louder than words. 13. If Cher could do this, she “could find a way.” 14. What we call common time like 4/4.
DOWN 2. Two numbers that look like a fraction at the beginning of a piece of music. 3. A type of music popular for experimenting with time. 5. Something invented to audibly keep time for musicians. 7. "If you’re lost you can look and you will find me.” 9. Playing something twice as fast. 11. A kind of time popularized in Jazz music.
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THE FINEST IN ELECTRONIC DRUMS AND PERCUSSION
For more info visit: RolandUS.com/V-Drums Image location: BEDROCK•LA
by Erica Parrot
ABBY JUANITA RODRIGUEZ
How does operating a flower farm feed your drumming and vice versa? Playing music in the wild is unlike any other. I am blessed to have the space that I do to invite other music and earth lovers to play sounds which, no doubt, delight the earth. I praise the capacity of my hands daily; for the seeds and bulbs they sow, and the beats and bells which follow suit. If you are a truthful listener, you will mind the percussive quality of winds through the poplars, the rasping of the birch bark in a western wind, the sea of golden rod ushering a beat like a watering coastal body. There is no doubt a song of the world, each and every day. If I ever need auditory inspiration, I only need to walk into the pasture, be still, and listen until the joy waves in.
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GABRIELLE STEIB by Sophia Bruno
How has time affected your drumming? Time has emotionally affected my drumming. I started playing in high school with my best friend Kendall, and in college I drifted apart from it when she passed away because she encouraged me to drum in the first place. She was a great drummer, and I lost aspiration to play for a while, but playing reminds me of her and I want to perform and record things we never got to finish. What is your favorite time signature and tempo? 6/8 because it was the first one I learned and it brings me back to my roots and Vivace tempo makes me feel alive.
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FAMILY: MY TWIN SISTER
Interviewed and shot by her twin brother and fan: Ash Kayser
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Jas Kayser became a musician the moment she touched a stick with a cymbal, dressed as a clown. In the crowd, I wrestled with other primary school students to catch sight of Jas play. My original thought, laughter; being her twin brother I assumed this the appropriate response to my junior of two minutes waving her hands wildly in the air. But as I glanced around the room, I saw the brows of every teacher raise as they imagined the astounding musical journey this bright spark may take. At 16 Jas joined the Purcell School of Music in London, where she continued with classical percussion, but jazz became her main focus. As well as attending the NYJC summer school and all female ensemble she also joined the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy, an academy which groups together other young musicians with the purpose of inspiration, collaboration and all-round awesome gigs (I’ve been to a few and they are truly brilliant!). Last summer Jas went
back to the academy, but this time as a mentor for the younger students, teaching and sharing with them all the things she had learned up to this point. During her time at Purcell she reached the semi finals of the BBC Young Jazz Musician and achieved a full tuition scholarship to study a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production (CWP) at Berklee College of Music, Boston. Boston by the way, is an incredible city. I visited Jas for a week during summer and seriously loved the little jazz gigs and inhouse jamming that went on. Whilst in Boston she toured America, playing drums in an Indie Rock band labelled The Furies, of whom she continues perform with. They just released a new EP ‘Omens.’ But when Jas isn’t busy jamming or cramming in time to complete CWP projects, she’s back home in Dorset winding me up and making sure I know that it’s my turn to hoover the stairs.
When did you realise you wanted to be a musician? When I realized I wasn’t good at anything else! ;-) Who would be in your dream band? Everyone in Beyonce’s Sugar Mama band. Which album changed your life? Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters; coincidentally, it was my first jazz purchase. What’s your current phone wallpaper? An accidentally blurry view from the Brooklyn Bridge in the evening. What’s your most overused word? I say the word ‘swell’ way too much. Which musical era would you wish to go back in time to experience? Which artists would you want to hear play live? 1960s, Miles Davis’ second quintet! (Drummer) Tony Williams is the man! My favorite jazz albums were mostly recorded in that decade: Bill Evans, Freddie Hubbard, others... Where are you happiest? When I am on stage with a band.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Terrace Martin, Esperanza Spalding, Jack DeJohnette, Luther Vandross, Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Kendrick Lamar, Vinnie Colaiuta, Brian Blade.
What’s a typical week like for you at Berklee? Ridiculously fun, lots of jamming, watching fellow friends’ gigs, having too much homework, and trying to squeeze practice into every free minute.
Which living musician do you most admire? Terri Lyne Carrington
What would your top tip to younger female drummers be? Don’t compare yourself to male drummers; actually, don’t compare yourself to anyone.
What is your most treasured possession? My yellow Dr Martens boots, as they are no longer available to buy. What would your superpower be? To be able to play every instrument like a beast. What did you want to be when you were growing up? An athlete. Before music, I was actually a really good cross country runner! Kelly Holmes was my sporting hero. Are there any perks to being a female drummer? Even though people complain about the lack of female musicians, and the lack of respect for those musicians, it is something that helps you stand out in certain situations. I think I just make the most of it.
How important is image in jazz music? Generally, it’s the least important aspect, although [ jazz musicians] do have a reputation for always looking casual or quirky. How do you get better at tempo and timing? Playing along to records gives you a more natural sense of keeping time, because with some music, like jazz for instance, a song doesn’t really stay exactly the same speed from beginning to end. That is not a bad thing, though; it is natural and feels right. What do you think your greatest opportunity has been so far? Receiving a full scholarship at Berklee. I S S U E 24 : T H E T I M E I S S U E
Name: Dion McKenzie Age: 31 Hometown: Mandeville, Jamaica W.I. Lives In: Brooklyn, NY Neighborhood: Crown Heights Past Project: MY M.O. Current Project: TYGAPAW
by Mindy Abovitz Photo by Xeno
TYGAPAW (Dion McKenzie) is a multidisciplined producer and DJ based out of Crown Heights, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. Her Jamaican ancestry and upbringing fused with her 13 years living in New York City have heavily influenced the music she makes that she’s dubbed sultry club. We love the ways she makes music and think her style is mega-dapper. Read on to find out more about this promising producer, her curated dance nights and her curated style! Who is your fashion icon? Queen Nefertiti. How do you get your clothing inspiration? I'm definitely influenced by my beautiful black sistas and 90s pop culture. What gets your attention? Monochromatic outfits. It's hard not to notice someone who is dressed in the same color scheme from head to toe. What gear are you using right now? Ableton Push, Novation Launchpad XL.
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What’s your favorite outfit? Black jeans, Dr. Martens or sneakers, with either a turtle neck crop top, or an oversized vintage sweatshirt, with my mother's gold necklace. If it's a cold day I'll throw on my bomber jacket. What is your hair inspiration? Time and change. I'd been perming my hair since I was 13, so when I turned 30 I cut my hair to make the transition from a perm to natural. Basically, I didn't want to cause any more damage to my hair. I kept some length on the top though, for good measure. How do you pick your outfits out for a show? Comfort is very important. If I'm not comfortable in what I'm wearing, I'm not wearing it. How did you get into beatmaking and producing? I've had the desire to make music for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until after I graduated from Parsons (School of Design)
that I made it a priority to learn how to play an instrument. I picked up the guitar, taught myself how to play, and things just progressed from there. I played lead guitar in a band for a few years, which really trained my ear. Then I got Logic and messed around making beats with it. But it wasn't until I got Ableton from a friend, and taught myself how to use it, that I started to develop my sound. Who would you like to work with? The list is long. But I really want to work with M.I.A., Rizzla, and all of Qween Beat. What is your favorite venue to play in? Trans-Pecos in Brooklyn. How would you Gender neutral.
Any designer you’d want to collaborate with? Telfar.
Illustration by @evahouse_
I always have so much fun interviewing for this magazine. It has opened my world up to meet so many amazing young girls drummers that I may have never been introduced to. This interview was especially exciting because I started playing drums at about the same age as Eduarda and I feel like we have a lot in common. Both of our Daddy's didn't know how to play drums but still figured out a way to help us get better. We both had early success on television and we both have the support of our families to help us find our way in this crazy music world! Just watch her face in her YouTube videos and you can see how much she loves what she does. Her smile to me is just more proof to the power and beauty of music because anyone at any age can get lost in it. Step into my world for a few minutes as I introduce you to Eduarda!! Love, bo-Pah
How long have you been playing drums? I began playing on in 2014, when I was four years old. Now I am six years old and I play more than 30 songs. Why did you chose drums? My parents gave me a toy drums when I was 4 years, but I’m didn’t use. One day I took it into the living room, without anyone’s help. So, my parents asked me 'Who brought the drums here?' And I answer, 'Mom, I brought the drums here, and I want to play.' Then, I began playing some rhythms, and they liked very much. So my dad tried to give me lessons, but he didn’t play drums. And I got to play everything with coordination, and I very liked to play drums. What is your favorite type of music to play? I like rock’n’roll, but I play others rhythms too. (For example: reggae, samba…) Who is your favorite drummer? My favorite drummer is Neil Peart, ‘cause he’s an amazing drummer, and plays the drums with emotion, passion, and plays difficult musics with perfection. Where have you played drums at? I played with national artists of Brazil in TV programs (Brazilians), for example, Lulu Santos, Claudia Leitte, 16
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Wanessa, KLB, Thaeme & Thiago and Edson & Hudson. I already played in Drums Festivals, like: Girls On Drums Festival 2014 —Curitiba (Paraná,Brazil) at theater Paiol and the second edition of this festival at theater Célula in Florianópolis (Santa Catarina, Brazil.) This year I traveled to Italy and played at the Mediterraneo Hotel and I also played at Island of Capri, at a wedding. What brand of drums do you play? I play my Odery Costum Drums, that I got off of Legendários program, a national TV program (TV Record). This drum is unique, because there aren't any more like this and it's exactly how I wanted. It’s pink, with stickers of princess Elsa and Anna (Frozen Movie), and it’s beautiful. Do you play with a band? No, actually I play with the artist's bands when I play with famous people, subbing for their drummer, they lend me their bands haha (laugh). I’d like to have my own band to play with If you could play drums with anyone in the world... Who would it be? I’d like to play with AC/DC, I love them and their music’s made me famous. The first song that I learned to play was Back In Black, and I liked it a lot.
Where is your dream place to play drums? I would like to play drums at Disney Land with Minnie and Mickey. It’s my dream. What's your favorite treat to have after you play drums? I love drawing, playing with my dolls and games on my iPad.
I WOULD LIKE TO PLAY DRUMS AT DISNEY LAND WITH MINNIE AND MICKEY. IT’S MY DREAM.
Há quanto tempo você toca bateria? Eu comecei a tocar bateria em Fevereiro de 2014, quando eu tinha 4 anos. Hoje, com 6 anos de idade eu toco mais de 30 músicas. Por que você escolheu a bateria? Meus pais me deram uma bateria de brinquedo quando eu tinha 4 anos, mas eu não usava. Um dia, eu à levei para a sala de estar, sem a ajuda de ninguém. Então, meus pais me perguntaram: Quem trouxe a bateria para cá? E eu respondi: Mãe, eu trouxe a bateria aqui, e eu quero tocar. Então, eu comecei a tocar alguns ritmos, e eles gostaram muito. Meu pai tentou me ensinar alguns ritmos, mesmo não sabendo tocar bateria. E toquei tudo com coordenação, e gostei muito. Qual é o seu tipo favorito de música para tocar? Eu gosto de tocar Rock’N’Roll, é o meu tipo favorito de música. Mas eu toco outros ritmos também. (Por exemplo: Reggae, Samba...) Quem é o seu baterista favorito? O meu baterista favorito é Neil Peart, porque ele é um baterista incrível, e toca bateria com emoção e paixão. Ele toca suas músicas, que são muito difíceis, com perfeição.
EU GOSTARIA DE TOCAR BATERIA NA DISNEY LAND COM A MINNIE E O MICKEY. É O MEU SONHO.
Em que lugares você já tocou bateria? Eu já toquei com artistas nacionais do Brasil em programas de TV (Brasileiros), por exemplo, Lulu Santos, Claudia Leitte, Wanessa, KLB, Thaeme & Thiago e Edson & Hudson. Toquei também em Festivais de Bateria, como: Girls On Drums Festival 2014—Curitiba (Paraná, Brasil) no teatro Paiol e a segunda edição deste festival no teatro Célula em Florianópolis (Santa Catarina, Brasil.) Este ano eu viajei para a Itália e toquei no Hotel Mediterraneo. Também, na Itália, eu toquei na ilha de Capri, em um casamento.
Qual marca de bateria que você usa? Eu toco na bateria Odery Drums Costum, que ganhei do programa Legendários, um programa nacional de TV (TV Record). Esta bateria é única, porque não há outra igual, ela foi feita do jeito que eu sempre sonhei em ter. É cor de rosa, com adesivos das princesas Elsa e Anna (Filme Frozen), e é linda. E eu uso também, para ensaios, uma bateria Pearl. Você toca com uma banda? Não, na verdade, eu toco com as bandas dos artistas famosos, no lugar do baterista original. O baterista me empresta sua banda haha (risos). Mas, eu gostaria de ter uma banda para tocar comigo. Estamos à procura de uma.
Se você pudesse tocar bateria com qualquer pessoa no mundo... Quem seria? Eu gostaria de tocar com o AC/DC, porque eu os adoro e suas músicas me fizeram ficar famosa. A primeira música que eu aprendi a tocar foi "Back in Black", e gostei muito. Em que lugar você sonha tocar? Eu gostaria de tocar bateria na Disney Land com a Minnie e o Mickey. É o meu sonho. O que você mais gosta de fazer depois de tocar bateria? Eu adoro desenhar sobre as coisas que vivi no meu dia-a-dia, brincar com minhas bonecas e jogar jogos no Ipad.
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THOUGHT: THE ACT OF PRACTICING by Keeli McCarthy
Name: Keeli McCarthy Age: 39 Hometown: Glendale, AZ Lives In: Seattle AZ Drum Set: Roland TD-1K Sticks: Vater Rock Fav Drum App: Metronomer.com Fav Food: Mighty-O donuts I practice one hour each day. Twenty minutes devoted to rudiments on the snare over various patterns on the bass and hi-hat feet. Thirty minutes practicing things I’ve learned either in my bi-weekly lessons or that I’ve picked out of a book of R&B/soul grooves. Then ten minutes of free play. But before I can begin playing, I must set up my kit: five minutes to arrange the two sheets of plywood on my bed. Lift my electronic kit onto the plywood, hook in my pedals, hoist up the old kitchen chair, plug in my headphones, pull out my sticks and sloppy sheets of notation. Climb up, sit down, and begin playing. Wobbling on my bed, my head almost hitting the slanted ceiling, I can be mostly assured that my downstairs neighbors will not complain about the thumping of my bass and my pedals. The obstacles to being a drummer in a tiny attic apartment with sound sensitive downstairs neighbors feels almost invigorating, like a practice in nimbleness, in tenacity, a daily love letter to the act of playing. I came to drumming as a serious endeavor at the age of 39, and that number throws people off. We are accustomed to musicians who get their start as scrappy youngsters, who pick up trashy kits and splintered drum sticks and draw from a core of youthful vigor to eventually blossom into accomplished, mature musicians. When I was 31, I took my first lesson and bought a secondhand kit, but my devotion did not last the year. My partner at the time was obsessive and solitary, an accomplished musi-
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I FUMBLE, AND I YELL OFTEN IN FRUSTRATION, BUT EACH EVENING I COMMIT TO PULLING OUT THE PLYWOOD, I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT BEAUTY. cian, and I think I saw drumming as a way to worm into his world and communicate in a way we didn’t as a couple. Inevitably, he had little desire to join in with my instrument, and the disappointment stung; my desire to play didn’t withstand the shame of being a beginner next to his towering ability. I quietly sold my kit and continued with other artistic pursuits. People ask me what kind of drumming I do. I variously tell them I play motorik, second line, or fractured soul/R&B. Or try to explain the gut deep voodoo mysteries of strange time signatures. But this is all speculative: right now I am a beginner. I am putting in the time to learn that which will determine what kind
of drummer I will be some day, but these hours of practice could end up producing an extremely mediocre drummer who still can’t play a really good snare roll. The act of practicing is not necessarily a creative one; it is an investment in future creativity. I read somewhere that it takes approximately ten years or 10,000 hours of playing to an expert level of performance. I ache when I read those numbers. I ache to move past the beginner stage of developing limb independence and bass pedal speed. I ache to play with freedom and fluency. But there is a certain humble beauty in being a beginner and practicing as an investment in the musical language. I fumble, and I yell often in frustration, but each evening I commit to pulling out the plywood, I acknowledge that beauty. My relationship to my drums is something I don't recognize from that first time around. Time has shown me what I want to gain out of playing an instrument, and the hours I put in feel like a slowburning prelude to something magical that I trust will burst forth some day. I see glimmers of it every so often when I play something that feels so right it brings tears to my eyes. I think I’m in this for the long haul, but I can't really know. Each hour I commit to being (and becoming) a drummer feels valuable, and I can’t see myself losing that sense any time soon.
WITH SENIOR PORTFOLIO MANAGER SARA BOYD by Mindy Abovitz Photo by courtesy of Sara's husband
“MY JOB IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM DRUMMING; HOWEVER, BOTH REQUIRE EXPERTISE, TIME COMMITMENT, AND PRACTICE.”
Name: Sara Boyd Age: 57 Hometown: Branford, CT Lives in: Denver, CO Current Job: Manages investment portfolios for individuals, foundations, and other organizations Title at Work: Senior Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager Education: BA Economics, MBA Finance Work Hours: M-F (9am-6pm) Current Band: Blues Ensemble
How do people at work react when they find out you’re a drummer? They’re quite amused. It doesn’t fit in with their image of a senior portfolio manager.
Have you ever felt like you had to choose between your job and being a drummer? All the time. I spend too much time on work and too little on playing music.
That’s funny! Does being a drummer help you balance your job? It gives me some sanity and mental balance, grounding, an outlet for getting rid of frustrations, and a hope for more creative balance in the future.
Do you ever hide that you are a drummer, or hide that you’re a financial professional? Yes to both. They’re two different worlds and constituencies. Occasionally there’s mutual ground, but only in a small percentage of situations.
Is your job at all similar to drumming? How do the two compliment each other? My job is very different from drumming; one is creative and full of expression, the other is not. However, both require expertise, time commitment, and practice.
How do you switch gears from work time to drum time? I like to do warm-ups, such as those in the Stick Control for the Snare Drummer book. And when I practice at home, I like to have a drink as I’m drumming.
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TACOCAT Photos and interview by John Carlow (Finding Charlotte Photography) Tacocat is Emily Nokes, Bree McKenna, Eric Randall and drummer Lelah Maupin. Hailing from Seattle Washington, the band’s sound has been described as both surf and power pop, with catchy songs clocking in at around 2 minutes. The band has toured the US and Europe on their two albums, most recently popping up north of the border to play Rifflandia Festival on Vancouver Island in the summer. Tom Tom caught that show and talked with Lelah Maupin shortly after. Here’s what unfolded. Lelah, how did you first come to play drums? When I was 15 I used to hang out at this girl’s house. We liked to hang out there cuz her parents were cool. Janae Carter. One day her dad came in the room and asked me if I was Steve Street's daughter. I said “yes” and he said, “Come in here I want to show you something.” He was a drummer. He took me into the drum shed or something outside and said “I bought your dad's drums when he died, I want you to play them.” I was really freaked out. I was so scared to sit down and try and 20
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play the drums in front of this dad stranger. I didn't really care that much that they were my dad’s old drums. He died when I was six and I don't remember him. I declined and hesitated, but he insisted. So I did it. And it was realllllly cool. He also insisted on giving me free drum lessons. That was tight. So I guess technically I've been playing for 16 years, but I didn't REALLY play drums until Tacocat formed when I was 23 in 2007. Did you ever take lessons from anyone besides your friend’s dad? I took them from the aforementioned Chris Carter, but only until a paying student took my slot. I took them again in Seattle from an incredible spitfire of a human named Mike Pedersen. He's a metal drummer. He has a long red beard and shiny bald head and only wears really messed up Converse and beer-themed pajama pants under his denim cut-offs. He also talks exactly like a pro wrestler and doesn't have a cell phone. I love Mike.
Name: Lelah Rose Maupin Nicknames: Peep, Pepuh, Wewah, Reruh, Ederdud, Bbgirl, Maup, Mauptop, Fleeflar, Flar, Puffy, Baby Mia, Bebutt, Psychedellic Warrior BBs, Space Princess Age: 31 Born in: Longview, Washington Current home: Spruce Haus, Seattle, Washington Band: Tacocat Past bands: The Sallie Maes, Salt and Pepuh, Ex-Girlfriend, The Hot and Readies, Leezus Fav take out place: I pretty much only order Vostok Russian dumplings because they only have a $5 minimum delivery fee and it’s pretty close to my house. But I also REALLY love dumplings. Of any kind. Never met a dumpling I didn't like.
THE TRUTH ABOUT LELAH MAUPIN IS THAT I AM A HORRIBLE SHOW BOAT, HAM, WHATEVER YOU CALL IT, AND I'M STUCK IN THE BACK, BEHIND A BUNCHA (BEAUTIFUL) STUPID DRUMS, SO I WANNA WEAR SOMETHING THAT STANDS OUT. ALSO, IF YOU'RE GONNA BE ON A STAGE, BE ON A STAGE. IF YOU'RE GONNA PUT ON A SHOW, PUT ON A SHOW.
Tell us about your drum kit... When I saw my drum kit in the used section at Guitar Center when I was there just to buy a cheap drum throne, I had a melt down. I started pacing around being a weirdo trying to figure out how I could own them. I knew I had to own them. I was with my boyfriend at the time, and I just had to ask him. I had horrible credit and he didn’t. He said no. Then he said okay we'll flip a coin. The coin said yes. So he flipped it again (haha). Yes again! He got some stupid Guitar Center credit card and I got my drums. They're pink sparkle Slingerlands from 1958 and they're easily the most beautiful thing I own. I spent a long time after we broke up paying him back, but that was fine. I like Pro Mark sticks ’cause they're slightly lighter than others and I'm ALL about Guitar Center's weird janky brand Sound Percussion or whatever for hardware ’cause it’s LIGHT. I hate bulky, heavy, expensive hardware. Besides, I'm going to lose it all on tour eventually.
True. True. Tell us about your dapper outfits behind the kit! Well the sad truth about Lelah Maupin is that I am a horrible show boat, ham, whatever you call it, and I'm stuck in the back, behind a buncha (beautiful) stupid drums, so I wanna wear something that stands out. Also, if you're gonna be on a stage, be on a stage. If you're gonna put on a show, put on a show. You have their attention, show them something. So I guess, I just wanna wear as much loud colors, prints, and sequins as possible. As long as it won’t make me too hot. It's very hot when you're a drummer. That is hilarious. What’s in your music collection? I used to collect records but my little brother sold them all for drugs. I guess I just don't really have a "music collection" anymore. I listen to music all the time though. I don't really like doing anything without music on. Shower. Get dressed. Drive. Sleep. I have a music collection related goal: to make a stupid long playlist of every song I love. Every favorite song. In one place. Amazing. Someday. I did make a weird sorta lame version of this
dream playlist for work. It's every song that I like that is "appropriate" to play at work. It's not like the best thing in the world, but I am kind of proud of it. It's a Spotify playlist called "Stuff" if you'd like to check it out. Do you have a memorable story from a gig? That time I fell OFF the drum throne ’cause it was too short and so I put, like, a folded up pizza box on top of it or something. Not stable. Or that time in Tucson when they kids in the crowd made a human pyramid. Or that time in New York when like nine of my exboyfriends were somehow at the show and before we played "Spring Break Up," I dedicated it to all of them and then everyone got mad at me. Or like the first time we played SXSW and we had some ridiculous NOON time slot and we showed up hungover to like a blue tarp gazebo in a parking lot and played horribly to the band we were on tour with and maybe one other person. Or when we played Sasquatch. That was just magical. Sounds so magical. So… why do you think a drumming magazine for women a good thing or do you not? For some reason that I have yet to figure out, drums are some kind of boy's club. When people learn that Tacocat is three girls and a dude they have said, “Oh let me guess, that guy’s the drummer.” What the heck is that all about? I mean, everybody knows the music world is sexist, but that is changing. A drumming magazine for women is one of the coolest things I can think of. It's a very important thing to be represented and celebrated. How is the Seattle music scene? I've been saying this a lot lately. I feel like the Seattle music scene is finally back. It'll never be like what it was in the 90s (I mean, I’m just spitballing, I wasn't here, I don't REALLY know, but I have a feel) but I think it's finally relevant again. It was really just not... it, when I moved here in 2004. Back then it was all generic garbage save for a few special bands and then beard rock took over a few years later. WOOF. But I feel the magic in the scene again. Bands like "S" and Gazebos (I saw both tonight) and Chastity Belt and Childbirth and Boyfriends, and Lisa Prank, and Pony Time... I could go on. Also I've been timidly exploring Seattle's sort of burgeoning electronic music scene and I don't really know a lot about any of that stuff, but I do know that something is happening. The scene has its sparkle back. What would you give as advice to aspiring drummers? Just keep going. It’s like learning a different language. It's a struggle and it feels weird and you know you're doing it wrong until that one day when you open your mouth and something flows out you and realize that you just conjugated all your verbs perfectly without even thinking about it or trying. It's the best feeling.
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DEATH VALLEY GIRLS By Kat Jetson Photo by Stefano Galli
Death Valley Girls are the music equivalent of buckled, black boots and worn-in leather jackets—a danger attraction dated 1977 that’s living hard in 2015. Mean guitars drip reverb and precision freak-outs over kitten vocals that wail to the rumble of Laura Kelsey’s drums. Their sound is a perfect marriage of the shimmer of Pop and the dirge of Pysch—making a beautiful noise that careens the edges and takes you on a beautiful, desert-hot trip. This is L.A.’s happening, and it freaks us out! The love is big, so we posed a few of our favorite drum Qs to the lady behind the set of traps, and this is what she had to say. Laura, what’s your first musical memory? Gyrating hips. I was obsessed with Elvis as a kid and I used to dress up and dance to “Little Sister” in my living room for my parents. How about your first memory of a drummer or drums specifically? My older brother, Bradley used to make drum sets out of empty butter tubs and random lids when we were super young and play along to Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix records. He has had a huge influence on me musically and he is also the coolest. 22
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Talk about your first drum kit. How did you procure it? Do you still have it? When I first started playing in my old band The Flytraps I had only been drumming for about six months and I didn’t even own my own kit. Kristin Cooper (The Flytraps bassist) had an old junk kit that she found on the side of the road that she let me have, and I ended up using it for a good chunk of the time I played with them. What’s the first song you learned? "Sleep Tight" by The Flytraps. What song represents your idea of drum greatness or perfection? “Security” by Otis Redding. Who’s your favorite drummer? What question would you ask them? So many! Bradley Raper, Al Jackson, Jr., Patty Schemel, Bill Ward, Moe Tucker, Bill Ward, Nick Knox, Charlie Watts, Emily Rose Epstein, Mike “Applesauce” Musselman, Danielle "Dani" Osborn, Evan from Wand. I would like to ask all of them, “Are you experienced?”
Do you have a warm-up song? “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. What’s the best drummer joke you’ve heard? Everything that Bonnie Bloomgarden (Death Valley Girls singer) has ever said to me. What’s the best thing about being the drummer? Bonnie Bloomgarden. What’s the worst thing about being the drummer? Bonnie Bloomgarden. In one word, describe your drumming style. Kid-esque. As a drummer, you pretty much have the best seat in the house. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen from the stage? I kinda really only pay attention to my friends onstage while I’m up there. Lastly, and most importantly, where’s your drum key? Floating around in my bag somewhere with its friends.
RECIPES FROM THE ROAD: CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CRISPY RICE TREATS by Freda Love Smith Illustration by Jee Young Sim
INGREDIENTS 1 cup brown rice syrup 1 scant cup crunchy, salted, unsweetened peanut butter 1 teaspoon umeboshi plum vinegar* ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1-2 ounces dark chocolate (I like 85%) 3 cups crispy brown rice cereal *Umeboshi plum vinegar is a byproduct of pickling umeboshi plums. More importantly, it’s a salty/fruity/tart miracle ingredient that makes everything taste livelier. Available in Japanese groceries and natural food stores.
STEPS 1. Oil a 9 x 9-inch pan. 2. In a heavy pot over medium heat, warm the brown rice syrup and peanut butter, stirring frequently, until mixture starts to thin a little and bubble gently. 3. Stir in the umeboshi vinegar, vanilla, and chocolate, stirring constantly until the chocolate melts (1 or 2 minutes). Turn off heat. 4. Gently stir in crispy brown rice cereal until the cereal is totally coated. 5. Immediately spoon into oiled pan. Let cool at room temperature. Slice and serve, or wrap individual pieces for later.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats Yields 4-8 servings
I always used to go on tour with a set of rules for myself about healthy living: no cigarettes, only two drinks a night, no sweets, no fast food. Of course I strayed from my vows from time to time, paying the price when I did. But too much deprivation on the road can be a problem too if you end up feeling sorry for yourself. Here’s a solution: pack a treat that will indulge your inner naughty child without wrecking your health. Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats hearken back to those marshmallow goodies from your childhood kitchen, except the ingredients are more wholesome and they taste better. And not only will they please your inner child, they’ll please your gluten-free girlfriend and your vegan bass player. Everyone can keep their health vows without feeling deprived. I S S U E 24 : T H E T I M E I S S U E
HARSH CROWD: DONT ASK THEM
B Y M I N D Y A B O V I T Z & C A R Y N H AV L I K P H O T O G R A P H S B Y M E G WA C H T E R
The band Harsh Crowd met at New York City’s Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls in 2013. The camp sets up girls on day one, who previously have never met, and give them a week’s worth of training to become adept at their instruments and write a song as a band. At the end of one week, the Rock Campers perform their song in front of an audience and then the girls all go back to their respective schools and sometimes fall out of touch with each other. Harsh Crowd is an exception to that rule. All the girls happened to live in or around NYC and shortly after forming the band at Rock Camp, the band got invited to play the Willie Mae Rock Camp Benefit Gala at Gibson. After that show, they kept getting booked for more shows, and continued rehearsing every weekend. And then they recorded an EP “Don’t Ask Me,” collaborated with the artist Mirah at the Ace Hotel’s 5 at 5 series and now, well, they are onto bigger and better things every day. We had one of our photographers, Meg Wachter, photograph them at their rehearsal space at the Willie Mae Rock Camp Head Quarters.
OUR BAND NAME HAS BEEN A COMFORT TO ME. I’VE TAKEN A LOT OF RISKS DURING THIS EXPERIENCE. AND HAVING OUR NAME BE SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN’T REALLY MESS WITH. —DEA Willow: vocalista and guitar Rihana: bass, keyboard and backing vocals Dea: guitar and backing vocals Lena: drummer and backing vocals
A Drummer's Guide to
Drummers Map of Stockholm 3
3 6 2
5 2 1
3 1 1
2 2 1 3 2 4
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A PRESTO HISTORY OF THE METRONOME by Rachel Miller
The history of most inventions starts with the impulse to control chaos. A task is made easier, more efficient—an arrowhead simplifies hunting, a can opener makes not hunting much easier—because chaos is somehow momentarily managed. Same with the metronome. Forever, we’ve been looking for ways to manage time by gathering it into beats, swings, calendars, rhymes, and any quantifiable meter we can muster, but it consistently baffles and eludes us in return: anyone who works with a metronome can describe the primordial frustration they cause. A quick peek into the origin story of the metronome reveals extraordinary chaos (the irony!), including lots of horologists, some of them swindlers and geniuses, Muslim Spain, and Beethoven. Later, in Part II, we’ll tip-toe around the drummers vs. metronome debate, and the drummers will, as usual, share some insight into how moving through the chaos can be maneuvered elegantly.
PART I: THE HOROLOGISTS In the 17th century, people were trying their hardest to think about time and space in concrete ways. It’s mind-bending to consider now, in an age when time is so encapsulated and so strictly regulated, but then, time seemed more unhinged. Sir Isaac Newton eventually proposed the concept of absolute time, “the perseverance of the existence of things”, or, time is, always and forever. This became the quilt of universal understanding on which we imposed various paces, or ways of organizing time. About a hundred years later, this became a key element in the metronome sales pitch. But long before that, the first of several inventors of the metronome (time is popular) lived in glorious 9th century al-Andalus, now Spain’s Andalusia. His name was Abbas ibn Firnas, and he was an engineer, poet, and musician with a magical sense of time and space: a room in his house, mechanized from below, emulated the stars, clouds, and thunderings of the universe. He also built one of the first water clocks, attempted flight, and constructed a timekeeping, pendulumbased metronome. Christians wiped out Muslim Spain and mostly disregarded their contributions (a waste). And so, Christiaan Huygens gifted us with the pendulum (again) in 1656, and Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel invented the metronome (again) in 1814, both in Amsterdam. Winkel is also famous for the componium, a colossal music-making machine that, with rolling barrels, trumpets, drums, and organ pipes atop, randomly composed music. It was a hit; his metronome didn’t make it very far.
metronome), and that there’s a catchy alliteration in ‘Maelzel’s Metronome’. But essentially, Maezel’s success comes from his golden sales pitch. He wrote in his pamphlets: “The metronomic scale is founded on the division of time into minutes. The minute being thus, as it were, the element of the metronomic scale, its divisions are thereby rendered intelligible and applicable in every country: an universal standard measure for musical time is thus obtained.” He took Newton’s idea of absolute time and bottled it, sort of—he intuited and capitalized on people’s craving for organized chaos by actually selling them this new, universal way to think about time.
PART II: THE DRUMMERS
NEWTON’S IDEA OF ABSOLUTE TIME AND
BOTTLED IT, SORT OF—HE INTUITED
A study conducted by Harvard physicists explains what we know already, something immediately obvious to any musician who has played with a metronome. A human drummer lands 10 to 20 milliseconds ahead of or after a mechanical beat, making a wave of rhythm that reveals itself over time. Visually, it looks a lot different than the railroad of metronome beats; aurally, the wave is much more enjoyable: a majority of study participants agreed that a steady mechanical meter sounds heartless and phony.
AND CAPITALIZED ON PEOPLE’S CRAVING FOR ORGANIZED CHAOS BY ACTUALLY
Just a year later, the term frenemy was coined when wily German businessman and inventor Johann Nepomuk Maelzel stole his friend Winkel’s metronome idea in 1815 and, with a few modifications, including the organization of the scale, he patented it. (A couple years later Winkel stole Maelzel’s idea for the componium, so they’re practically even.)
Why? The physicists aren’t sure, but the study shows a correlation between human drumming patterns, our brainwaves, and our heart rate while we’re asleep; researchers also likened the natural drumming patterns to fractals, like the ones in crystals and ferns.
Even though it’s the product of human intuition, something is lost in the gears of the metronome. There’s no give and take, no looseness in the way a metronome operates—think of Mo Tucker or Meg White’s magically elemental, irregular drumming—the metronome would murder any sympathy and squash any power in their phrasing.
SELLING THEM THIS NEW,
UNIVERSAL WAY TO THINK ABOUT TIME.
Maelzel’s Metronome is the classic, coffin-shaped analog version still in use today. A combination of timing and champion swindlership contributed to Maelzel’s success. It helped that he patented the invention, that he was friends with Beethoven (a control freak, he adored the
We gravitate towards these human conduits of chaos because they bring an unkempt order; somehow, our brains are wired to be wary of perfection. In other words, think more like the inventor or the drummer and less like the ticking Korg, and all will be (mostly) well.
by Shaina Joy Machlus Photo by Melissa Melvin Rodriguez
Timing is everything when it comes to hip hop. And not just when it comes to creating beats, a lyrical flow, and rhythms that build, surge, and enrapture. Being a lady beat maker and rapper in an oceanic industry dominated by men and misogyny is, ehem, tough. Luckily the struggles of others over time has brought more lady emcees with more powerful voices. We talk to NYC feminist emcee Miss Eaves about what it takes to keep your head above water, how to get started in the rap world, what things have changed in the game, and the massive channel we still have to swim across Hi! Let me get a little Julie Andrews and start from the very beginning. Could you please introduce yourself ? My name is Shanthony Exum… my government name... but I am also a rapper who performs as Miss Eaves. Is Miss Eaves a pretty separate person from Shanthony? I am always Shanthony even when I am my stage persona Miss Eaves. But you're not always Miss Eaves? Just curious. There's a strong tradition with rappers choosing a different name and representation, so I would love to hear about yours. Well, I feel who I am on stage. What I rap about really reflects who I am as a person. For instance, my day job is as a graphic designer and Mrs. Eaves is my favorite font, so I named my rap act after a font, because that is what is important to me. So tell us more about Miss Eaves, when did you start rapping and why? I was always obsessed with performing. I started rapping when I joined a party noise duo in 2008. We would rap about funny things like Smurfs and trapper-keepers. When that project broke up I started performing as Miss Eaves and really stepped up my rap game, to talk about things that I am going through in real life. 38
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What type of things? In my most recent album, Black Valley, I discuss consent, the harsh beauty standards women are subject to, being type A, and Internet trolls. A very healthy variety. A lot of those have a feminist ring to them. Do you identify as a woman and also, as a feminist? I feel to be a feminist is to believe in the equality of the sexes. To believe in the human thread that connects us all. I am a woman, part of which is defined by my “biology” but the other part is a bunch of social constructs designed to keep women oppressed— feminism fights these constructs. So maybe it is better to say human, feminist, woman. Well said! And, has this mentality ever been difficult in the rap world? I have found a nice crew of feminist rappers here in Brooklyn but outside of that bubble I do feel the larger rap world is immersed in misogyny. So many misogynist tropes in lots of rap songs. For example the Madonna/whore concept is always prevalent. A woman is either wifey material or a whore. But sexuality is more complicated than that.
Yea, it really robs woman and all humans of the giant spectrum of sexuality. Do you think there's a difference in this sexism in mainstream vs. underground hip hop? I think it exists in both, but mainly because we live in a sexist society. So why wouldn't rap music be a reflection of the world we live in. Totally. And over the time you've been a rapper have you seen any change or progress in these areas? I have totally seen progress! I love that there are more and more dope female emcees coming on the scene. So you've seen an increase in female emcees?! Fantastic. Any ideas why? I really think the rise of the Internet and Twitter and Soundcloud has given more artists avenues for exposure, which is great. It allows artists who major labels deem as “unmarketable” to grow their audience and speak directly to the people. And you think this has given more women a voice? Absolutely! Women like me! It's not that there's less woman emcees out there, they just go unheard. Exactly. I think women are just as capable as men. But now we are hearing their voices more, which is amazing. What advice would you give to a girl or woman who wanted to be a rapper? What lessons did you learn the hard way? Don't be afraid. Your ideas are valid and they are what makes your voice unique. Art is most beautiful when it is honest and as long as you are standing in your truth no one can knock you down. For me that is the most important lesson: authenticity. I think it also makes for a more vibrant and interesting music scene. You've got your authenticity, you've got the drive to be a hip hop artist but how do you make the leap? Listening to other artists? Writing down lyrics? And how about finding your “flow”? I think everyone’s process is different so there’s no real way for me to prescribe that to someone else. But for me words are really important. Sometimes I just write and then apply that writing to a beat. How long have you been rapping and has this processed changed with time? I have been rapping for eight years now. When I hear things I made eight years ago at the very beginning I really can see how I have changed and grown. I think since the beginning though the lyrical content has always been very important to me. One piece of advice I would give is just rap even if it is over someone else's beat at first or over something simple. The more you do it the more you will develop your style and flow. And more recently you've started creating your own beats? Yes. I have worked with a lot of producers who have jerked me around… either by not finishing collaborative projects or not respecting my contributions… and I really want to have more control over my process. I have been taking classes with my good friend P. Kilmure and I am learning a lot about the technical aspect of beat making. My plan for this winter is to make beats and eat beets.
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Whoa, best plan ever. And what does starting to create your own beats look like? Tell us about your tool kit. Right now I am working primarily in Logic. I lay down the bass drum first and then build a melody around that. It is really cool to start getting my ideas down because the music I want to make is somewhere between, punk, dance, and rap. Can't wait to hear! For me there's such a strong connection between drummers and hip hop artists because we feel beat in such an intense and specific way. Both ourselves and our music are driven by these rhythms we’re creating, they’re a reflection of one another. I totally agree! How do you take that next step in bringing your beat and your lyrics together? I imagine it has something to do with timing, but it's this magical mystery to me. I feel that when I am making my own beats I am in total control. I can change the song composition around to really work with my words. That way there is a true marriage between vocals and music. So you're working with both at the same time? Shaping both timings together? Exactly. Or doing one at a time but being able to go back and revise either part that needs to be changed. And do you ever use anything like a metronome to keep on-beat and help with your timing? Or you're a human beat machine? Because I imagine timing is such a huge deal in so many ways. Ha! Yeah I totally need a metronome. Quantize is also my friend! Once I lay down the bass drum though I may or may not turn off the metronome.
And tell us who are less informed, what's quantize and quantization? Quantize is a way of transforming performed notes to a state with less imperfections. I am just playing the drum line on my MIDI keyboard, so there is human error. Got it. Us drummers know all about human error. But maybe there's less room for those errors in hip hop beats? I think sometimes when the beat is not completely in sync with electronic music it sounds bad. But with rock, human error sounds good and natural.
Photo: TNT directed by April Maxey
Ok, so here's what I've got from the Miss Eaves hip hop starter kit: get weird, write lots of lyrics, use Internet social channels, and a metronome, start trying to make a bassline with Logic, keep trying. Anything else you want to add? Donâ€™t be afraid to make mistakes. I feel when I let go of that fear that is when I get to the good stuff. Has that been your biggest obstacle to overcome? If not, what has? I think that is my biggest obstacle, and maybe that is what kept me from making beats for myself for so long. I was afraid that they would not be good enough and people would not take me seriously. I know now it is silly to compare my art to others because what I make is uniquely mine and that is what makes it cool! And do you think there's any pressure of being a woman added in there? I think I was socialized to feel I should make myself smaller because I am a woman. But I am really fighting against that and just going to proudly put my contributions on the table.
ART IS MOST BEAUTIFUL WHEN IT IS HONEST AND AS LONG
So where do you want your music to go in the future? And what do you hope Miss Eaves' music accomplishes? I want to continue to grow my audience: people who care about what I have to say and are interested in what I am doing. I do not need to be a mega star, I just want to be able to continue speaking my truth. Since I speak so honestly about many issues that affect women, my music can have a real impact and maybe help people feel less alone.
AS YOU ARE STANDING
That's a big deal! And what about the rap world in general? Where do you hope it goes in the future? And what needs to change in order to get there?
IN YOUR TRUTH
I hope more indie artists get their voices heard to diversify the conversation. I just say if people explore new music and share it with their friends, that is key. I know it is hard because there is a lot of noise and it is hard to separate good from mediocre but it would be huge if people continue exploring and supporting independent artists.
NO ONE CAN KNOCK YOU DOWN. FOR ME THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON: AUTHENTICITY.
So, you're calling us to action to find new hip hop artists? All independent artists! Everyone knows of a cool indie band/rapper. Just share with friends and spread the love around! Be your own trendsetter! Spread the love and take us out with some of your favorites right now. I'm really feeling Grrrl Party, my friends Hand Job Academy, and FXWRK, who is a producer. Cool! Thank you so very much for giving us some serious insight. Thank you it was fun talking to you!
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TOM TOM MAGAZINE
PAKHAWAJ PIONEER CHITRANGANA by Rebecca DeRosa Photo courtesy of artist Illustration by @evahouse_
Some have described Chitrangana Agle Reshwal as “shy and petite” which apparently contrasts with the “masculine” sound of the pakhawaj, an ancient percussion instrument that is an integral part of Indian classical music. I’d say from watching videos of Chitrangana, that she is not shy at all, but exudes the confidence of someone who is a master of her chosen art form. Girls and women were never taught to play the pakhawaj, but Chitrangana, coming from a long line of prestigious players, manages to sidestep gender roles. Now, she is India’s first, and thus far only, professional female pakhawaj player. However, because of her example and influence, this may be changing. Chitrangana graciously took the time to talk to Tom Tom about music and traditions from her home in Indore, India.
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You come from a long line of pakhawaj players and yet women traditionally don’t play the instrument. How did you convince your family to allow you to play? I was learning Kathak dance, classical Indian dancing. It involved quick matching steps to rhythmic patterns on pakhawaj. My elder brother was a third generation player and would play it for me to practice Kathak. Traditionally it was taboo for women to play pakhawaj, but my brother would allow me to play. When my father realized that what he thought were routine practice beats of my brother, were actually being played by me, he decided to train his daughter. Thus I became the first female player of this instrument. It reflects on how things have changed in India after independence. What is it about the pakhawaj that draws you to it? Deep sound and complexity of rhythmic patterns draw me in. Indian percussion matches tonic of singer or flautist or string artiste. The rhythmic patterns of string artiste and percussionist match or deviate from the common but never flout the pattern. The very joy of an ensemble is the divergence and union while maintaining discipline. Tell me about the compositions you play. Do you write your own or do you play traditional songs? There are over forty talas [a repeating rhythmic pattern]; some are popular, other are less played due to their complexity. The pakhawaj artiste is supposed to select one of these for a concert up to 60 minutes. I consider myself privileged that I was trained in two schools— Nana Panse gharana of my grandfather and Kudau Singh gharana of my teacher. I take care that I maintain chaste style of both schools distinctly in my performance. While synthesis sounds good in popular compositions, in classical it is purity that should be practiced.
IDEALLY, IT SHOULD BE THE LISTENER WHO HAS A PASSIVE CONNECTION TO MUSIC, THAT MAY ACHIEVE THE STATE OF TRANCE WHERE SAT (TRUTH), CHIT (CONSCIOUSNESS), AND ANAND (BLISS) BLEND IN PERFECTION.
Can you tell us more about the music you play? Most of the compositions are passed on by word of mouth, but there are historic as well as contemporary notations in written form. In modern times when students come for their lesson—one hour sessions twice or thrice a week—I give them notations in written form. When I learned, it was through sheer number of hours—eight to even 12. My teacher would teach the nuances of current tal even during meals. In such an intense methodology of teaching, the material gets permanently etched in memory and written notations are rarely required. For better understanding, I would suggest two essential books for all interested in pakhawaj—Bharatiya Sangeet Vadya by Dr. Lalmani Misra and Gharanas of Tabla and Pakhawaj by Aban E Mistry. Which time signatures do you commonly play? How is this different from popular Western music? Compound signatures are practiced in art music of the West but in popular music simple signatures with two, three, or four beats in a bar are employed. In Indian music there are as many uneven divisions as even ones. For example, in seven-beat Teevra the division is 3-2-2. DhaDinTa/TitKat/Gadi Gan In Dhamar, it is 5-2-3-4 that goes: Ka Dhi Ta Dhi Ta / Dha – / Ga Ti Ta / Ti Ta Ta – The magic of Indian music hinges on how the artiste approaches the first beat of tal.
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A reporter from The Indian Express describes seeing you go into a “trancelike” state while playing. Does it feel like a trance or meditation for you when you are playing? The artiste plays with deep concentration; at such moments the reality of external world ceases, but the connection between effort and effect is never lost. In a way the connection is so sharp that to others, the artiste may seem to have gone in trance. Ideally, it should be the listener who has a passive connection to music, that may achieve the state of trance where sat (truth), chit (consciousness), and anand (bliss) blend in perfection. I was told by a girl given to asthmatic attacks that listening to my music checked one such attack and she felt healed. Such a response is possible only in a sympathetic listener who allows oneself to respond to musical sounds. How do you connect with your audience? One has to play with sincerity and focus on material; the connection forms automatically. At times, I have to give pointers about the material that I’d be presenting. It is a saying amongst musicians, “don’t just talk, perform!” There is minimal communication before or during the recital. Actually, it is the material itself which provides variation and produces magic moments that sway the audience. When you are playing in an ensemble, are you are the sole time keeper? Or do you take your cues from someone else? While in a solo performance, pakhawaj takes the lead, in an ensemble the instrumentalist gives the cue.
Do you practice with a metronome? No. Beginners three decades back did use metronome. In India, there has been great innovation in supportive instruments. A musician-engineer G. Rajnarain has created a plethora of electronic instruments that are immensely valuable in practice and sustenance of Indian classical music. Which projects are you working on right now? Maintenance of current knowledge and improving oneâ€™s playing in accordance with tradition, is the sole aim of a classical artiste. Thus, unlike popular musicians who take up light compositions, classical musicians stick to tradition. If one participates in light music, he may lose respect of peers. Do you think that girls and women who see you play might be inspired to take up the pakhawaj? Do you think things are changing in classical Indian music? Yes. Girls are being encouraged in all unexplored fields; music is no exception. While this is good for bringing equality in society, at times some people are drawn to certain areas more out of opportunity than ability or talent. Such inclusions bring about more harm to original discipline. I know of some girls who received wide publicity initially, but did little to improve their knowledge and practice. One may find a girl with seven years of training in tabla impressing everyone as a 12-year-old but when she plays the
same music at 20, it limits the experience of audience. Three to four girls have started learning pakhawaj with me. Diversions in the age of Internet slow down the learning process. It is easy to fall prey to exhibitionism. Even then, I find that girls evince greater sincerity in the initial stage. Their later lifestyle may not be equally supportive. So if all young students are given music lessons for five to seven years, it would serve all. Is there anything else youâ€™d like to share with Tom Tom Magazine (the only magazine about female drummers)? I just wish that Tom Tom Magazine would reach young school girls so that they may know about possibilities in area of percussion. If any of them get interested in pakhawaj and are in position to invest a few years in learning this instrument, I would feel happy. It worries me that rising pressure on personal time may adversely affect traditional art-forms. Easily available digital archive however may help the learner to some degree but lacking a person-to-person training it would be difficult to match past excellence. I should also confess here, my gratitude for all in my family and among friends whose encouragement and consideration provided me with opportunity and time to perfect my art.
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by Emi Kariya (translated from Japanese) Opening photo courtesy of artist Live photos by Ayumi Sakamoto
The Wall Street Journal describes the band Charan-Po-Rantan like this, “Imagine an accordion-fueled soundtrack for circus performers dashing through a gypsy camp, on their way to a particularly rowdy bar mitzvah—by way of Paris. Then imagine costumes to match.” I got a chance to meet the sisters that make up the base of the band and their drummer, Fu-Ching, post performance at their New York City debut at the Japan Society. The concert was presented as part of Women on the Rise, a Japan Society initiative spotlighting women who are pushing boundaries in their fields. Charan-Po-Rantan show's at Japan Society was much deeper than just a great theatrical show. Their will to communicate beyond language was so powerful they had the audience laughing with joy the entire set.
What’s the most common formation for Charan-Po-Rantan? Charan-Po-Rantan is at its base, a duo between sisters Koharu Matsunaga and Momo Matsunaga. They often play with a band, such as in the three piece with me. It changes every tour and sometimes we’ll have a six piece tour with a violinist right after the seven piece tour and so on. How long have you been playing with Charan-Po-Rantan? Charan-Po-Rantan started 7 years ago but Koharu and I went to the same high school, Wako-Gakuen, and we’ve been playing since the first year there which is 11 years ago. We had a gypsy-style instrumental band. This band is quite theatrical with unique costumes. Is it difficult to drum in costume and in a theatrical way? The costume doesn’t stress me out much because there are ways to improve it for drumming such as sewing elastic bands onto hats to keep them from falling off. The difficulties arise when there are acts throughout the performance. Expressing each theme while drumming can be distracting, yet once you get used to it, that flow becomes helpful in carrying me through my playing. Do Koharu and Momo compose the story and strictly follow through it or is it mostly improvisational? [ Koharu & Momo ] It’s not as tightly composed as people think. We write cue lines and such but other than we mostly go with the flow. Basically, we have
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an overall structure we follow and improvise the content as things flow. We’re not capable of following a strict scenario and rather than trying to restrict ourselves we leave it loose and find that to be more simple. I saw your drumming with Fu-ching Gido and your drumming is more in the style of experimental jazz. Is jazz drumming your favorite style? Or are there other style of beats you like? Tell us about Fuching Gido. Is that jazz? No, it’s experimental. Fu-ching Gido a two-piece band with the British tuba player Gideon Juckes. I met Gido (Gideon) when Koharu invited him to play with Charan-Po-Rantan for one of our acts and I found his groove to be great to play with. But it took us a while before we formed our band because we are both shy. Years later, when I had another chance to play with him, we grooved so well again that we started this project. For this band, Gido knows so much music so I’m trying different styles with the music he brings. He sometimes teach me new style or I come up with something new I want to challenge but I hardly get used to them. In terms of style, I’ve never been very conscious of the style of drum beats. I mostly like drumming Balkan style beats and am also very fond of listening to soul and blues beats. I’ve gone through listening my Jimi Hendrix phase just like any high school kid but I found I am more fit for traditional Turkish and East European beats such as Balkan and Klezmer music. It felt really natural to me when I was introduce to them in our high school instrumental band.
ザ・ウォールストリート・ジャーナルはチャラン・ポ・ランタンについて 「パリのジプシー・キャンプを特に騒 がしいバル・ミツバー （ユダヤ人の男の子が13歳になる時に行われる成人式） に向かうサーカスのパフ ォーマーが駆け抜ける時の、 アコーディオンを機動とするサウンド・トラックを想像してみてください。 し かもそれに完璧なコスチュームで。」 と表現しています。 日本人女子のパワーは愛くるしいルックスと態度 に隠れてしまう事が多く、 それによって彼女達の計り知れないスキルから注意をそらされてしまいがちで す。 これは私がよく思う事で、初めてチャラン・ポ・ランタンというバンドを紹介された時にも間違いなくそ う感じました。今回、 ジャパン・ソサエティーの率先する 「上昇中の女性たち」 という各フィールドで新境 地を開いている女性にスポットライトをあてた企画の一貫で、彼女達三人のニューヨークでのデビュー ライブを見る機会をいただき、 チャラン・ポ・ランタン姉妹二人とふーちんにそのパフォーマンスについ て伺う事ができました。 ここで私が見た彼女達のコンサートには、パフォーマンスとしての素晴らしさだ けではなくもっと深いものを感じました。言語を超えて伝えようとする彼女達の意思の力強さは、全観客 を取り込んで一体となった笑いと喜びの世界を最後まで繰り広げて行きました。
チャラン・ポ・ランタン自体は２人。 バンド編成の時だけパーツが 加わり、 バイオリンもいたりしてアイリッシュ風な楽曲をする事も ある。他にも色々な編成でやってるけど、基本は二人。 日本ではそ ういった様々な編成で、頻繁に違うスタイルのツアーをしてます。 ７人編成でツアーをした後に、 バイオリンのいる６人でツアーした りとか２人だけのツアーもしますし、 それによって来てるお客さん はまるで違うものを見ているような気持ちになるので、 ツアーごと に構成を考えて臨みます。
チャラン・ポ・ランタンは７年前から始めたのだけれど、小春とはそ れ以前のインストのみのジプシーバンドを高校一年の時から一緒 にやってます。和光学園で同じ学校だったのでそれは１１年前か ら一緒ですね。
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There are all kinds of rhythm in the world and our heart beat is a rhythm as well. Do you think there are difference between male and female beats? I’ve never really thought of that. Although, I have imagined that it could be possible for your drumming to change after getting married or childbirth. I haven’t been through either. But that may not be only with rhythm and all musician may change in one way or another. So that may be unique to female experience but besides that, I’ve never been conscious of male/female difference. Many male drummers drum elegantly and female drummers, like Ms. Yuko Araki, drums super tight fat beats. I don’t think there are femininity or masculinity in drum beats. Most drummer have the same opinion as yours regardless if they are male or female. So why then do you think there are less female drummers featured in magazines even though there are so many talented ones? I wonder why! I did check out drummer magazines while I was in school and that is very true, female drummers aren’t in them. Are female drummers still not good enough? [ Koharu ] It’s not only drummers. I feel that treatment as a musician in general. Aside from our solo shows and sound guys we know, sound and PA staff at say, big festivals where there are a lot of bands playing, they slack on their jobs when musicians like us show up in our costumes. It’s obvious they’re not being considerate with our sound balance and they work in a style they never would with a male band or famous musicians. And then they come smiling after our show because we put on a good show. It might be more so in Japan but they assume we are some idol group without listening to our songs. Fu-ching, tell us what your dream drum kit would look like! I want to fly of course! I mean, it’s a dream kit so it doesn’t have to be real, right? I want to float, not like how some of those drummers get their drum set hung on pulley and spin around and stuff, I want
my set to float without gravity. I often wonder how it feels to play on this instrument that is so heavy to the ground. Especially while playing when I feel like my beats are getting heavy, I’m like “let me fly”! I think my beats would lighten up. What’s next for Charan-Po-Rantan and your solo activities? [Charan-Po-Rantan] We are starting to feel that our Klezmer gypsy sounds are better received outside of Japan then in Japan. Japanese audiences tend to judge us but I don’t get that impression in other countries and the atmosphere is more welcoming. Even with Japanese lyrics, people seems to get into the music more and seem to enjoy it more. So it would be great for us to tour overseas more especially as our own tour. We need more opportunity to play a longer set to really show the world of our music performance because the set times tend to run shorter at events. [Fu-ching] I individually want to play abroad more too. When I get a chance to jam with overseas bands, such as at Fuji Rock Festival, I feel the difference in the groove. It’s not good or bad, it’s just different and is interesting to me. Of course I’d like to play more sessions with Japanese musicians as well but like with Gido, the groove is simply different playing with people of other countries and I learn a lot. When I saw other bands play at SXSW, I felt a sting of defeat even though the festival was great and I had amazing fun. It’s not about good or bad but so many musicians had such cool grooves that I don’t have and that makes me want to experience all kinds of rhythms of the world and absorb all grooves.
このバンドはユニークな衣装を含むパフォーマンス要素が高い ですが、 ドラマーとしてそれ故の大変さなどありますか？
女性らしい」 とか 「男性らしい」 といった要素はあまりドラムに出て いないと思う。
衣装で苦労を感じたことは特にないです。帽子などはゴムをつけ たりして改善しているし、 そこにストレスはあまり感じません。 ただ 色々な出し物があって、演奏もしつつその演劇の様な雰囲気を出 して行くというのは気が散漫になるというか、 アレもコレもやらな きゃ！ってなるような所はあるけれど逆にそれに助けられていると いうか。 その抑揚を自分でつけていかなくても二人の書いたシナ リオに乗っていけば、曲も自然と歌えるという意味では慣れれば 逆に楽かも。慣れるまでは 「次これやんなきゃ」 とか、 ちょっと忙し いですけど。
殆どのドラマーは、 男性も女性も大抵の人がそう感じると思うん です。 では凄く上手な女性ドラマーはいっぱいいるのに、女性ドラ マーが雑誌等に取り上げられない理由はなんだと思いますか？
小春さんとももさんは二人が創り込んだストーリーにきっちりと 乗っ取ってライブに臨むのですか？それともライブはインプロビ ゼーション要素が高いのですか？ [ 小春＆もも ] みんなが思ってる程は作り込んでいないです。MCとかで忘れちゃ わないように、言わなきゃいけない事とか書いてたりするけど、他 は結構流れで。全体の流れは大まかに決めてあるので、 それに乗 りつつ、 かつその場その場の流れに合わせて行く感じです。 そんな にカチカチ決めていないし、逆に私達はカチカチだと出来ないで すね。 自由になりすぎちゃって、部分によってもっとシンプルにやっ た方が良かったような反省点もでてきたり。 ふーちんギドについて話していただけますか？ビデオを拝見した ところ、 エクスペリ・ジャズ風ですが、 ジャズドラムが一番好きな スタイルですか？他に好きなスタイルはありますか？ ジャズですか？いやジャズは叩けません、適当です。ふーちん・ギ ドはイギルス人のギデオン・ジャッケスというチューバ奏者との二 人だけのユニットです。 ギドさんと出会ったのは小春がCPに参加してもらう為にギドを呼 んで来たのがきっかけで、 その時にギドさんのグルーブがいいグ ルーブだなーと思って。 でもお互いシャイなため、 その時すぐにユ ニットを組んだ訳ではないんです。何年か後に私が別のバンドを サポートした時にまたサポートメンバーとして一緒になって、 やっ ぱりイイ！と思い、 周りのみんなにも押されて始めました。 フーチン ギドに関してはギドさんが色んな音楽を知っているので、私はトラ イをしているような感じ。 ギドさんにリズムを教えてもらったりと か、 自分で調べてみたりとか。 やった事の無い新しいジャンルにに 挑戦している訳でちっとも慣れてないです。
なんでなんだろうー？ドラムマガジンは学生の頃よく見ていまし たが、言われてみれば確かに女性ドラマーは載ってないですね。 まだ劣るんですかね？ [ 小春 ] それはドラマーだけでなく、私達もミュージシャンとして普段から 感じます。 ワンマンライブとかでPAスタッフが良く知っている人の 場合は別として、大きなフェスなど色々なミュージシャンが出るイ ベントの場合に、 オール女子の７人で衣装等着ているとPAの人 がちっとも頑張らない。音量調節にしても真剣に考えてくれない のが良くわかるし、 ミュージシャンが男だったり有名な人だったら 決してそうはしないだろうという仕事をする。 なのに私達のライブ が凄く良く終わった途端、 その同じ人がニコニコしてたりする。 日 本の場合特にかもしれないですけど、 曲も聴いていないのにアイド ルと思われたりしますね。 ふーちんさん、 あなたの夢のドラムキットを教えてください。 飛びたいですよね！だって夢なので実現しなくてもいいんですよ ね？キット全ても含めてファ〜〜ンて、飛びたい。 ステージを吊っ た状態で叩いている人とかいるじゃないですか、 クルクル回ったり とかして。 そういう事じゃなくて、 ズシっと重いドラムがふんわり浮 いてるってどう言う感覚なんだろうって思って。特に自分が「今私 のリズム重くなっちゃってるかも」 って思ってる時に、 「あー飛びた い！」 って思うんです。飛べたらこの今の重苦しいビートが軽くなる かなとか思って、 「飛ばして！」 っていう理想があります。 これからのチャランポランタンの活動、 また個人の活動やドラマ ーとして挑戦したいことは？ [ チャラン・ポ・ランタン ]
色々な海外の国でライブをしていると、私達のクルズマーサウンド やジプシーサウンドが日本よりも海外の方が受け入れ易い感じが するんです。 日本の視聴者は常にジャンル分けをするので 「珍しい 音楽」的な対応をされがちなのですが、海外の人は純粋に音を楽 しんでいて、 ウェルカム感もハンパない！日本語でも歌うようにな ってから海外に行った時には 「日本語で大丈夫なのかな」 と心配 したけれど、逆に全体の音をより楽しんでもらっているようです。 スタイルに関してはあまり自分のスタイルというのを意識していな なのでもっと海外でツアーとかできたら凄い嬉しいなって思うし、 いです。 かと言って何でも叩けるわけでは無いけれど。 ドラムビー ワンマンライブでやりたいですね。 フェス等ではセットタイムが短 トで好きなジャンルとしてはバルカン系のものを叩くのが好きで いので、私達の音楽の世界観をきちんと伝えられる長いセットが すね。音楽としてはソウルとかブルースが凄く好きですが、高校の できる機会をもっと増やしていきたいです。 時にはロックとかにもはまっていたし普通にジミヘンなどのルー ツもたどってきました。 けれど演奏にはやっぱり合う／合わないが [ ふーちん ] あるから、高校のインストバンドの時にクレズマーとかバルカンと フジ か、 そういったトルコや東ヨーロッパの伝統的な民族音楽に出会 私個人としても海外でやっていきたいって言うのはあります。 ロックとかで海外のバンドとセッションしたりする機会があるとグ ってこれはしっくりくるという感触を持ちました。 ルーブの違いを感じるんですね、 良い悪いではなくて。 それが面白 世の中には色々なリズムがあり鼓動もその一つですが、 リズムをと い。 もちろん日本の人ともセッションしたいけれども、 ギドさんも然 るということに男性と女性に違いがあると思いますか り、色んな国の人とセッションすると違うんですよ、 グルーブ感が。 だから凄く勉強になるし。SXSWで色々なミュージシャンを見た 私は意識をしたことが無いですけど、、 ただし私はまだ結婚もして 時も凄く楽しかったけれど、悔しくもあったんです。上手い下手で いないし赤ちゃんもいないので、 そういう経験をした人は何か変 はない、 自分には無い格好の良さがあって悔しいなと思った所も わるのかな？と想像してみたことはあります。 でもそれはリズムだ あって、 そういう意味で演奏さんだけでなく場所場所のお客さん けではなくてミュージシャンは皆そうかもしれない。 良い悪いでは からも受け取る物は大きいから、世界のあらゆるリズムに出会っ なくて、 そういう経験ができる女性ならではのものはもしかしたら て沢山、色々吸収したいです。 あるのかなとは思ったりしますけど、今現在は女子とか男子とか あまり意識をした事はないです。 男性でも凄く繊細な叩き方をす る人に沢山出会ったし、女性でも荒木ゆうこさんの様にものすご く太いビートをタイトに叩く方もいますし。 自分も含めて、 あまり 「 I S S U E 24 : T H E T I M E I S S U E
by Mindy Abovitz Photos courtesy of artist
Wynne Greenwood was just as cool, contemplative and quietly powerful in person as I remembered from seeing her live over ten years ago at the Trash Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Then, she was performing in her new band Tracy + the Plastics, an electro-pop solo project consisting of a Boss DR-5 drum machine, an Akai 612 disc sampler, and anything else Tracy, Nikki, and Cola (Wynne’s alter-egos/bandmates) felt like using. The performance was part music, part conversation and part performance art. When performing, Tracy provided the vocals while Nikki played the keyboard and Cola was on the drums. I had never seen anything like it then or since. Today, I am sitting across from her at New York City’s New Museum at the press preview of her solo show. The works in the museum are re-creations of Tracy + the Plastics, arguably Wynne's most well known project, and the one that turned me on to her work in the first place. The show, however, includes Wynne’s body of work post the Plastics, including “More Heads,” and is equally awe-inspiring. Below is the conversation Wynne and I had in one of the New Museum’s conference rooms where I drilled her about intention and the passage of time in her works.
How did you get your start as a musician? My parents had one of those old tape recorders when I was in kindergarten. There was this flurry of activity amongst my sisters and I around this tape recorder. I remember the fall of my five-year-old life it was the center of those memories. I made up my first song by placing the tape recorder on the window sill and walking up and singing a song about rainbows and rain and wanting to go outside and play. That is how I started down this path. My dad plays guitar and my mom plays music as well so there was singing when I was a child. There were also obligatory piano lessons and I played the oboe. All the coolest people play oboe. And then started I playing guitar when I was 14 and then drums shortly thereafter. Was it a drum set? I had started playing guitars with a friend of mine and we decided we wanted to add drums but neither of us had a drum set so we cobbled together drum like objects—a coffee can filled with beans and a shoebox filled with beans and we placed it on a sawhorse and strung up a garbage can lid to be a crash cymbal and I had wooden spoons. It was very DIY. I would love to see a pic of that set up! Did that ever evolve into a traditional drum set? Yes. It did. The next year I bought a friends orange drum set for $75. It was pretty ragged. When did you go from an acoustic kit to drum machines? The drum playing started between 93-95. In college, Sally and I got a Boss-DR 550 (Dr. Rhythm) in 1997 at Guitar Center in New Jersey. So Sally and I were in a band called Me Me America where I would make short silent videos and we would make up the soundtrack and play that live. That relationship of the disembodied band was the true origin of Tracy + the Plastics. When we stopped playing together it naturally transitioned to Tracy + the Plastics. Timing plays such an integral role in playing with your band mates (who are videotaped prior to the performances.) Did you slip back into that easily? Did you keep the same timing as your 23-year-old self ? Or did that change? There was a moment where I thought, “Why are you speaking so slowly?” It really was so natural. It felt like a coming home experience. The Plastics spoke very slowly and I have been thinking a lot about why and realizing that what that gave me on stage was a lot of time and space. Nikki and Cola speaking so slowly gave me so much time to get my bearings and to let things fall apart and to let the world of the stage be a place where I could be uncomfortable. That I could be inherent in all of that time on stage, that empty time, that time of waiting being in between the moments. The real moments. I got to kind of question, woah, why am I here and be really freaked out and then be OK. It was really cool. So wise to leave all that freedom for yourself. Thank you younger self. Good job. I felt like there was a similar timing effect with your newer work with “More Heads.” Very conversational, very real and very comical. Is any of that conscious when you go into these works or is that just how you see the world? I love that you are seeing the relationship between that new work and Tracy because I feel like it’s really there. The process of making those videos was similar in the way that it was pretty improvised. With Nikki and Cola, I would get into character and I would get in front of the camera and not necessarily know what they were going to say. So it was this real intuitive time of a kind of imagining. There was a 54
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lot of imagining that was happening simultaneous to the performing of those characters. I had to be speaking as Nikki while leaving space for the future Tracy to respond so it was this trippy process of simultaneously speaking in the present but then responding in the present to an imagined future conversation. So cool. And the last person to respond would be you. Would you keep the same response every time or riff ? Both and... For the re-performances there were things I had completely forgotten so I felt like I could totally make up things and it would come out different every time. There’s a lot of ways to make a joke. Like there was a new joke. If someone sets you up well… but with the “More Heads” it was not necessarily leaving space for a future conversation but an intuitive improvised voicing of the characters and I think that process of trying to be really present slows down my rhythm. You talked about politics changing since you started the project. Is there anything you felt you had to address now that has vastly changed since you started and / or is there anything you said or did in those first performances that you felt like I couldn't reconcile in the present tense? What is first popping to mind is gay marriage. Gay marriage was not legalized when I was doing Tracy + the Plastics. In one of my early practices for the re-performances, I was singing this song where we sing about getting married “you know it’s true I wanna marry you and lead a modern life no man just wife.” When I sung that again in 2014, I felt really different. Back then, I was singing about gay marriage when it wasn’t a possibility. So it felt more possible and more radical.
RAPID-FIRE WITH TRACY What percentage of your work is political? 100%. Do you like metal? Yes. Are you looking forward to getting older? Yes. Are you an optimist? Yes. How comfortable are you in making your work? I think the goal is that the work makes you uncomfortable, right? One of the goals for me is that the work teaches me and that necessitates that I don’t know and that I am uncomfortable. I am comfortable being uncomfortable. When are you least comfortable with your work? Does that make you least comfortable when you are done? When someone wants the work I am least comfortable. I was least comfortable with this exhibition not when I was first asked but the moment after I was asked. If you had to choose: words, visual art, or music which would you choose? You are on a desert island and you can only take one. Which one would you bring? (ghasps) I am trying to think of a smart answer that gets me around that. I choose their combination.
More possible to be different. I think gay marriage is awesome. I am a fan and supporter. And at the same time I don’t think it is the end all solution to living a different way. For anybody. A lot of queer resources have been put toward that agenda. There were things that back then I used to be able to use as building blocks. Like Cola would always say things like “get George Bush out.” They were easy indicators of our politics. Trying to insert complexity into these new re-performances has been interesting. And maybe not successful. Was anything lost for you in the updating of your works? Yea. It would be hard to articulate or pinpoint what it is. There is some part of the spirit lost because it was performance based. It was about people coming together to be in the same place for that temporary amount of time for a show, I am just realizing now that the audience energy is missing from these documents. Was anything gained for you in the updating of the works? Yea. What is coming to mind first is finding compassion and care for my younger self. I abandoned Tracy and the Plastics at the time. I wasn’t able to put it to rest or have a good break up with it. It was a pretty bad breakup. Did the band talk to each other after? No. But I was really able to gain some closure. Some real sweet profound closure with that project.
This project is over ten years old and you talk about how your politics have changed. How do you reconcile the space and time of those politics changing? These pieces are you and represent you. How do you compensate for the time? Do you say that was then? There are the facts of creating a piece of work that says this object may change with time. This is now this object and it exists through time. It will be changed by time. Knowing that is true for now and there will be outdated sentiments. That is OK. That it is a marker and it is important to let history be history. And let things be no longer present truths. Does it make you feel unsettled that this work can be relevant to so many people and it is your older work? That is part of the reconciliation and the closure I was talking about. I turned away from Tracy + the Plastics while people were actively seeking it out. It felt limiting to me. I moved on to explore different work and new work so for me to make a choice to come back to it was such a reckoning with that. I got to really embrace it again. I love Nikki and Cola and Tracy. Their spirit was so generous. How often do we need to reevaluate our art to best represent our politics? Constantly. It could be daily.
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BEX BURCH OF VULA VIEL
by Lucy Katz Photos by Alex Bonney
When Bex Burch was released from her two-year gyil building apprenticeship in the Dagaare region of Northern Ghana, the first woman ever to complete such a thing, she was given the name “Vula Viel”’ (Good is Good) and told by her teachers that “all that we have given you is yours, all that you have given us is ours.” It is in this spirit of exchange that she continues to build the gyil (a Dagaare xylophone with a distinctive buzzing sound whose keys are made from sacred lliga wood) and lead a band of some of London's finest musicians with whom she shares the name given to her in Ghana. I met Bex in London to talk about her fascinating story, and the chain of encounters, experiences and music that have helped shape her into the percussionist and woman she is proud to be today. 56
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Bex, thank you so much for meeting today, there are a lot of things I’m interested in speaking with you about, but can you firstly talk about how you became interested in percussion? It was in North Yorkshire, where I’m from. I was with a gaggle of boys, and this guy called John, who fixed the dry stone walls, wandered through with a djembe strapped to his back. He stopped and taught us these rhythms that used both sides of the body evenly, and we all ran home and practiced on pots and pans. I totally loved it and started having percussion lessons in timpani and snare drum, which I got really into and got better at very quickly; it’s just where I put my energy naturally. I went to Guildhall School of Music and Drama at 18 and I’m still reaping the benefits of that education. Just having to practice for eight hours a day and having the time to get it all down; that’s all in my arms now. The gyil is now a second study instrument at Guildhall, thanks in part to you! But how were you first exposed to Ghanaian music? It was all through the orchestral porter at Guildhall, Bill Bannerman. We used to have cups of tea between rehearsals, and he said that I would love Ghana, so I went with him. After that I took a year out during my studies, doing tenuous research for one of my teachers and travelling around to different areas in Ghana, researching the distinct music traditions in each tribe. That’s when I discovered the gyil and met my future teacher, Thomas Sagkura.
English can be very vague as a language, so many ambiguities, so many ways of saying “maybe,” “perhaps”— there doesn’t seem to be such a sizable space for apathy in other languages. What made you finally feel settled? Things were so difficult at the beginning, compared to when I was in the north learning the gyil. There, I wasn’t a different colour. At first I felt like a useless person and was treated at such, which was great because it meant I had to earn my responsibilities gradually, and I earned communication too as there were no books. I had some familiarity with the language and grammar, but I didn’t know any Dagaare, so I was mute. Eventually it seeped in like how a baby learns language. I remember the first time that my ears pricked up for a Dagaare word—and, it was the word for “friend!” It was a real moment for me and I started to be able to understand people. It took a lot of time.
THERE WAS THIS MOMENT WHERE I WAS ON A TRAIN DOWN TO BRIGHTON, WHERE I USED TO BUSK, AND I DID A FREE SCRATCH CARD AND
“WON” A MILLION POUNDS. I TRICKED MYSELF INTO THINKING IT WAS TRUE AND SAT ON THE BEACH AND PLANNED THAT IF I HAD THIS MILLION QUID I WOULD START A BAND. SO I
The theme of this issue of the magazine is “time”— what is the Dagaare people’s treatment of time like compared to ours? And how does this inform their percussive music? Well it isn’t based on the JudaeoChristian understanding of time, like ours is. It’s not based on time as having a beginning, middle, and end. Classical music has this structure too. Yeah, it’s a conceptualizing of time as something rigid and linear; it can be frustratingly limited and affects our perception of pretty much everything.
CALLED ALL THE PEOPLE I WANTED TO
Yes! What resonated with me about Ghana and the people there that their understanding of BE IN IT AND THEY ALL AGREED. WITH- istime is not like this. Even their language of time is different. We OUT THE MILLION POUNDS. The gyil was something that have so many expressions for the I felt like I needed more time passing of time and the wasting of with as I resonated so much with it and with Thomas. It’s really time, but there, instead of saying, “how old are you?” you say, “how powerful, complex music; all the asymmetrical patterns and the many years have you eaten?” Time is part of you and makes you offbeat, for example. When I finished at Guildhall, a scholarship who you are. I felt like that as I spent time there, every experience came up for conservatoire leavers, and incredibly fortuitously it was was getting into me, getting into my body and my arms and makfor percussionists only. I got it, so left again for Ghana, and Thomas ing me stronger. All the music I was making, even though I didn’t asked me to be his apprentice. Instead of having lessons, I learnt understand it for a long time, was making me stronger. That is how how to build the instrument. After two years, he passed me out of time works, we gain it, we eat it, and it becomes us. It’s cyclic. The the apprenticeship and I lived in my house that I built, and continmusic is like that too. The asymmetrical bell patterns are not perfect ued to build xylophones and farm my little piece of farmland. circles; they are repetitive but have these imperfections that keep them going and provide momentum. How did you adjust to Ghanaian culture? How difficult was it to do so? How were you received? What is the history of gyil playing within the Dagaare tradition? Did you know at this point you wanted to return to Ghana and spend more time with the gyil?
It wasn’t easy, but the whole thing got under my skin. It wasn’t unpleasant, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly I found difficult and that made me want to go back. So you weren’t exactly excluded from it? I think I excluded myself from it because it was difficult: the weather, the food, the language. The language is much more command based, so for an English girl, I just thought people were being rude.
It has a key role in funerals—they are amazing and a very serious ritual. The asymmetrical bell pattern has two different time signatures, and there is also an asymmetrical harmony pattern which is believed to send the spirit of the deceased into the ancestor world. The playing of the gyil is very important because dying is important; it’s the second most important thing you can do after being born, so the music is very powerful and if I didn’t play it right I would be kicked off.
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So the gyil players are held in high esteem within the community? It’s important but you don’t get a lot of money; like musicians here, they have a real responsibility, and get to share something with lots of people and although they are respected they aren’t monetarily respected. Being a gyil maker is a big deal and becoming part of a community in that way was very special. I had to learn it right; there was no messing around. As a woman and as a percussionist your role is to hold things together and take responsibility and pay attention to the notes, the time, the feel; if you’re blagging it, you’re losing it. There is an incredible sense of solidity to your playing, but also a real exuberance. Are you at the point now as a player that you can worry less about the technical aspects of playing and concentrate on the energy of the performance? How important is this balance? That’s why we practice, so we can have ownership of what we’re doing. It means that through the technical aspects, I can communicate the music. The acoustic note is like this tiny box with all this space around it and the silence is so much more than the note is. The mastery of that is much more important. In Western music we are totally obsessed with the downbeat, whereas actually there is all this other stuff, the space between the beats. When I was listening to the gyil recently, for the first time, I’ve found it far more lingering and haunting than any music I’ve listened to before, and I think that must be due in part to, as you say, to the spaces, the absences, in the music. Do all gyil players also build them? Very few do. Making the gyil is hard work and rewarding, incorporating the little bits of detail that you know no one will ever notice is incredibly humbling and it’s like alchemy. There are no lessons in playing either, and all the players are men. I am the only woman that has ever completed an apprenticeship. Did you ever consider staying in Ghana? It sounds like you had an incredibly fulfilling life… Yes, I had become important in the community and had friends of my own. I’d worked at staying there, and the things that I found hard at the start, like the food and communication, were things I loved. The reason I went was for the music, and it was magical. You know when you play together and something just lifts? That would happen every day. We’d finish work and play for about six hours; it’s what you want forever and it felt like everything was in place. But the reason I came back was because I didn’t have that here. All the everyday stuff is easy here, but the music wasn’t. I needed to come back and sort it out, and that’s what I’ve been doing! I was back for two years before I started playing again. It was a really hard transition and I just missed everything so much, but it was incubating time in my head for the music I’m making now. There was this moment where I was on a train down to Brighton, where I used to busk, and I did a free scratch card and “won” a million pounds. I tricked myself into thinking it was true and sat on the beach and planned that if I had this million quid I would start a band. So I called all the people I wanted to be in it and they all agreed. Without the million pounds. We rehearsed for 18 months before we played. There’s no blagging, jamming, or room for ego; it takes work and the sum of all the parts is amazing. Everyone in the band is like that, very humble, and they bring a very masculine energy and a lot of focus; it’s beautiful. What has the experience of sharing the music of the Dagaare people with the band and UK audiences been like? When I finished my apprenticeship I was given the name “Vula Viel” which means “Good is Good.” My teachers said to me, “all that we have given you is yours; all that you have given us is ours.” There was a real exchange between us, and a resonance with me
as a musician. There isn’t an ownership or a taking; I have a huge amount of respect for this music and what it means. In the Dagaare tribe, if you are at a funeral and you hear something you like, you go home and you learn it, perhaps changing some of the bass notes or something. That’s what I’m doing, and now we as a band are doing something else, the sound of the band isn’t just mine anymore. But there is a sense of ownership to your music, and it’s important to attain that because otherwise you can swim in the murky waters of cultural appropriation, which can happen when you take music away of its distinct cultural origins without thought. How did you find such a powerful sense of ownership in a music rooted in a culture so different from our own? And how are you retaining your relationships with the Dagaare people? Yeah of course, music shouldn’t be culturally segregated. It is so important to talk about where the music is from, and it’s so great to be sharing it at all. It’s quite a poor tribe though and the guys over there would love it to be them who were sharing it. It’s been important for me to know what to respect. I’ve lost a lot of friends since I left and I went back for Thomas’s funeral. There is such fragility to life, and part of grieving in Dagaare funerals is about you taking responsibility for your part in that person’s death; the people closest to the deceased get insulted the most, because they have the most to get out. But you come out the other side, it’s healthy and for the community, whereas here, maybe you carry that guilt around with you. It was a really intense but amazing process. I’m not Ghanaian and never will be. I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing, and that’s all anyone can ask of me. You said earlier about the impact of Westernisation on the Ghanaian people, and it is devastating and too difficult to talk about meaningfully here, but I suppose a small saving grace is that it can open up channels through which culture can be shared and celebrated. I am incredibly privileged to have done what I’ve done. It wasn’t lost on me that I was learning all of these things, and everyone there would want to come over here. But because they can’t leave, they have an amazing sense of community. I am more privileged than my female counterparts in Ghana who have to get married and have children even if they don’t want to. I’m trying to be an authentic white, English woman in my own country. People go away to “find themselves” but I think I came home to do that, I got a bit lost. You can get lost in trying to help other people before you help yourself. I don’t know the end of this story, but all of these things are already inside me and they will direct where I go and what I do; I feel like I’m doing the right thing right now.
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SLOW IS THE NEW FAST
by Kiana Gibson
All tech illustrations by James Mitchell
As drummers, we often feel so eager to master what we’re working on that we rush the process. We move too quickly through the material we’re working on, and as a result we tend to look over technique, which leads to frustration in the long run. Simply put—when we rush the process, our work doesn’t sound the way we want it to. Let’s break it down: Rushing the process is when a drummer looks for shortcuts in their playing. For example, a drummer may learn a new beat or rudiment and instantly try to play it as fast as they can. They’re thinking that fast is automatically better—but don’t put the time into building chops with good technique, and instead end up not paying any attention to how uneven their rolls or paradiddles are in the beginning. Most drummers think once they can play an exercise fast then they have mastered it. Here are three words for you: Slow it down! You’ll find that you may be able to play something fast, but the separation of notes is not quite there. The real challenge is in playing it slow, keeping track of the space between notes, and maintaining your tempo. As a drummer it is very important for each hit we play to be accurate and distinctive.
COUNT 16TH NOTES: 1 e and a | 2 e and a | 3 e and a | 4 e and a ADD ON STEP 2 KICK DRUM: 1 e and a | 2 e and a | 3 e and a | 4 e and a (Repeat) ADD ON STEP 3 HI-HAT (open and close high hat with left foot): 1 e and a | 2 e and a | 3 e and a | 4 e and a (Repeat) ADD ON STEP 4 KICK DRUM & HI-HAT: 1 e and a | 2 e and a | 3 e and a | 4 e and a (Repeat)
CHOOSE A PARADIDDLE*: While still playing Step 4 add a paradiddle. 1) R L R R L R L L R L R R L R L L 2) R R L R R R L R R R L R R R L R 3) R L L R L R R L R L L R L R R L As always you don’t need a kit to practice this one either. Just sticks and a practice pad. Once you have mastered an exercise at very slow tempos, the higher speeds will be much easier to develop. And finally, when it does develop, you will sound like a pro because you trained like one! 62
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APPROACHING THE ODDS
Understanding, Practicing, and Conquering Odd Time Signatures Whether it’s orchestral, rudimental, or drum set, having some exposure to time signatures other than 4/4 or ¾, which are the most common, will help you become the counting maestro that all drummers should be. Before we get too far, let me just say loud and clear: you must be the one who counts! You should aspire to be the drummer who knows where “one” is; you won’t be able to just vibe it out, feel it, or make eye contact with the rest of the band if you don’t know where “one” is. Chances are you may be the ONLY one in the band counting. Most of the time, we’re asked to play in the people’s time signature of 4/4. It’s even, it’s steady, you can shake your booty to it. Lots of rock, funk, disco, house, rap, and hip-hop use that repetitive 1,2,3,4 beat. It’s easy to feel. Even if you’re not counting, you still have to know where “one” is in 4/4. It’s basic and essential.
by Rene Jarmer
But what happens if you need to count to 5, 7, or even phrases in 6? The easiest thing to do is to emphasize “one”. Even in 3/4 time, it’s good to count off two measures of 3 (to get your mind around that you are not in 4) and say “one” louder as well as physically mark it so everyone around you can follow you. Below are some other tips I have picked up along the way. Good luck!
Begin by listening to some of the basic favorite rock songs with what I call “meat & potatoes” drumming in 4/4: AC/DC, Talking Heads, REM, anything with a nice steady beat. Count 1,2,3,4. Now start listening to some famous odd signature songs Mission Impossible (5/4)
Play a super basic 5/4 and 7/4 beat like the one below
All You Need Is Love - The Beatles (7/4 and later, 7/4 to 8/4) Money - Pink Floyd (7/4) Tom Sawyer - RUSH (1/2-time 4/4, middle section is the famous 7/4 jam) Eleven - Primus (11/4) Tarkus - Emerson, Lake and Palmer (introduction 5/4, and more...) Bastard - Ben Folds (4/4, 3/2, 7/4, 6/4, 3/4, 5/4) Pruit-Igoe (Koyaanisqatsi) - Philip Glass [mixes 9/8 (4+3+2), 4/4 (with 12/8-like triplets in forte section), 7/8, 6/8]
Now try to play to a couple simpler songs with 5/4 or 7/5 like Mission Impossible. Note on Mission Impossible: not all grooves have the snare on 2 and 4, even if they are odd. All the more to take you outside your comfort zone… keep counting and reading, and then let the groove sink in.
PL AY THIS
Take 5 - Dave Brubeck (Jazz 5/4)
Listen to basic songs in 3/4. Waltzes or Celtic music works or anything in 6/8 blues would work, but know that it’s not really 3/4, but 6/8 time: emphasis here is 1-2-3-4-5-6 with backbeat on 4.
Pick up any Frank Zappa record and it’ll be full of everything. Including some of the highest level orchestral musicianship that a progressive rock band can offer.
LET’S DEFINE TIME SIGNATURE: For example, in 4/4, the top number means how many notes per measure and the bottom number means what kind of note (1/4 note, 1/8 note, etc). In odd time signatures, combinations of 2 and 3 make up an uneven or asymmetrical count. Avantgarde genres like jazz, fusion, progressive rock or metal tend to use odd signatures to get a more angular sound in rhythm and that type of music isn’t as widely accepted in our pop-music culture, although there is a definite market for it. Occasionally, an amazing hit will sneak through and it’s so catchy, some people don’t even know it’s in an odd meter.
You are now on your way. It takes time to think odd. The more you listen, count, and practice, the easier it becomes. It could pay off! All the odd times signatures I’ve learned paid off recently when I was hired as a pit orchestra drummer for a crazy fun musical theatre show called “Putnam County Spelling Bee”. The composer had odd time signature grooves all over the place, and boy was I glad that I knew how to find one. Everything is basically broken down into 2’s and 3’s. Count it up and get your odd groove on. Don’t be afraid of the math, it can groove just as hard as 4/4. As for conquering odd signatures, it takes time (ouch…pun intended). Until next time!
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WHEN COUNTING TIME IS CRITICAL
It is no secret the drummer plays a vital role as the band’s timekeeper. That is especially true when counting off tunes, whether you are performing in an orchestra pit or a mosh pit.
It happens to us all. Despite our best efforts, the count is too slow or too fast and the expressions on your bandmates’ faces indicate trouble. You notice the difficulty they have executing a bass run or guitar riff and the song doesn’t flow like it did at the last show. In my own experience as the bandleader and drummer of a jazz orchestra, I must consider not only the execution of the music, but the correct danceable tempo, too.
So how does a musician become better at counting time? By internalizing specific metronome markings and using them as a count off guide. Just like any new skill, it takes some practice, but following these strategies will strengthen your inner time clock, keeping your bandmates happy and your audience on their feet. The audience will be grooving to your music, working up a thirst they’ll quench at the bar, keeping the nightclub owner happy, and securing a return engagement for your band no matter what style of music you perform. Now get practicing and good luck!
KEEP A WATCH OR CLOCK WITH A SWEEP SECOND HAND NEARBY This old faithful timekeeper is your first line of defense. By watching a sweep second hand, it is easy to count off 60 beats per minute. By subdividing the ticks, you also know 120, 180, and 240 beats per minute.
MEMORIZE SONGS AT KEY TEMPO MARKINGS Make a list of songs you can always sing in your head at a reliable tempo—the genre is not important. My favorite “go to” song for counting 120 beats per minute is “The Stars and Stripes Forever” march by John Philip Sousa. Marches were written with walking in mind and 120 beats per minute is a natural walking speed. When I need to count 90 beats per minute, I think of Katy Perry’s Roar. When you have a good candidate for a “go to” song, determine its tempo from an original recording. Once you have practiced singing with the recording, take a break for at least three minutes to clear your mind then try to sing it out loud, recreating the recorded tempo. Are you close? Too fast? Too slow? Listen to the original recording again, take a break, and keep trying until your memory of the tempo is reliable. Your “go to” songs will be different than mine. Select songs you know well and love, remembering it is typically easier to sing a chorus than a verse. Consider theme songs from your favorite television shows, because those are short songs you hear week after week after week, helping to lock them into your memory. Until you have your list of “go to” songs memorized, write it down. Don’t forget to take the list to rehearsals and shows.
PRACTICE WITH A TAP METRONOME Instead of going to the refrigerator, pay attention to the music played during commercial breaks. Make your best guess about the jingle’s tempo, then use a tap metronome to know for sure. If at first this seems hard, compare the music in the commercial to a single metronome marking—start with that natural walking pace of 120 beats per minute. Ask yourself, “Is the music in this commercial slower or faster than 120?” Concentrate on a single tempo marking until it is mastered. Try internalizing 90 beats per minute next and 150 beats per minute after that.
TOM TOM MAGAZINE
by Kellie Rae Tubbs
APPLY POLYRHYTHMS TO YOUR “GO TO” SONGS For performers who can achieve the polyrhythm of 2 beats against 3, the personal library of tempo markings triples. Consider “The Stars and Stripes Forever” again—snap your fingers in that tempo on one hand as the duple, then tap the triple in the other. One hand is marking 120 beats per minute and the other 180 beats. With 120 beats as the triple, the duple sits at 80 beats per minute.
TAKE DANCE LESSONS That’s right! Learn how to dance. Consider it an investment just like any other piece of equipment you need to play the gig. You don’t have to love it and you don’t have to be good at it; simply master the fundamental steps to understand how your body feels when it moves. Your body will quickly tell you which dance steps feel too slow, too fast, or just about right for any style you are learning. I have learned to dance the cha-cha, East Coast Swing, waltz, one-step, and the foxtrot to help me in my role as band leader of the jazz orchestra, but when I performed in a country band, I learned how to Texas two-step, three-step, and polka. If you’re playing country music, you should know how, too. Are you performing in a disco band? Then dances like the Hustle and the Car Wash are your new best friends! It’s not important to know all of the variations, but it is important to understand the range of speeds at which the basic foot patterns and arm movements are smoothly executed—regardless of the style or decade of music you are performing.
Until you have mastered time counts on the fly, let a metronome do the work for you.
BE FLEXIBLE AND ADJUST THE TEMPO OF A SONG ON THE FLY (IF NECESSARY) When you realize the count was not right, quickly work as a team to gradually adjust the tempo to one that is more accurate by gently leading the band faster or slower. Even if the correct tempo is not fully achieved, your performance will go smoother if a better tempo is reached.
USE A METRONOME AT THE GIG
BONUS PRACTICE TIP—ADD TEMPO MARKINGS TO DIGITAL MUSIC FILES Windows-based systems: · Right-click the MP3 filename and select “Properties” · From the “Details” tab, enter the beats per minute in the “#” field · Click “OK” to save · When Windows Media Player is open, sort your song list by the “#” column to see your playlist in ascending or descending tempo order Mac systems: · From iTunes, right-click on the filename and select “Get Info” · From the “Details” tab, enter the beats per minute in the “Track Number” field · Click “OK” to save
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GETTING COMFORTABLE PLAYING IN ODD TIMES by Morgan Doctor
There is pretty much no other way to get comfortable playing in odd times besides actually doing it – in practice and on gigs – on a regular basis. Being creative or even just relaxed in odd times without feeling like you are holding on for dear life might seem like an impossible feat, but with consistent effort it can begin to feel as natural as common time. When we first start playing in odd times, we have no choice but to resort to counting as a means of not getting lost. However, since counting can get in the way of being free and creative, here are a couple tricks you can do so you don’t have to count to know where you are in the odd time.
When you practice, instead of putting the click on every quarter note, make a clave pattern of the click. (see example below)
Use a melodic bass line that you can play and hum along with instead of a click when you are practicing.
Try sounding your groove instead of counting For example a five beat figure could be: 1 2 3 4 5 Do-Ah Vi-Da Do–Ah
1 2 34 5 1 2 3 45 t u ka t u k it a t u ka dek it a
Know how many repeating patterns of 4, 5, 3 or 7 can fit into your time signature so you can work with longer patterns that move over the barline —they can act as fills or solo parts, and almost like melodies within your longer phrases. 1 2 3 4 5 123 123 123 123 123 123 1 2 1
So in this example 6 ½ patterns of a three beat figure will fit into 5.
TOM TOM MAGAZINE
TRANSCRIPTION OF CHARLI XCX "GRINS" When playing ‘Grins’ live, I have dropped out the second snare hit in the main chorus groove to make the kick pattern stand out more, I have also added more accents on the hi hats. This groove works better live than the recorded version, because it sounds heavier and accentuates the quarter notes more. I’ve also varied the other grooves to suit a live arrangement better. Enjoy and check out the live video of us playing Grins live at Manchester Academy on March, 31 2015 for reference.
by Debbie Knox Hewson
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT I S S U E 24 : T H E T I M E I S S U E
You Look A Lot Like Me Don Giovanni Records / October 2015
Limbo Burger Records / October 2015
Fantasm Self-released / January 2016
New York native, Mal Blum, adeptly articulates what it takes to get through each hour of each day. Blum’s most recent album, You Look A Lot Like Me, confronts an inner and outer dialogue with humble precision that speaks to all the kids seeking to come out of their comfort zones. She exposes a sweet, humorous approach to the mundane and the vulnerable as if it were read out loud from her diary. Her stories move well with a steady rhythm section and a whaling guitar playing the role of her fearless companion. Fear awkwardness no longer with this well-spoken wanderer.
At first listen, Summer Twins’ Limbo is a light, fun, sugary record that might inspire you to give that hot pink nail polish a second chance. But after a few more spins, its complexity reveals itself. Beneath the dreamy, lush vocals of sisters Chelsea (guitar) and Justine Brown (drums), there’s a blue-eyed soul vibe that permeates the record. These songs are a nod to the best American music of the 50s and 60s. “Dreamin’” is pure Buddy Holly doused in surfy reverb, and “Ouija” has elements of 60s soul and girl group with a haunting organ line and equally eerie guitar part that’s hard to shake—not that you’ll want to.
Starlight Girls is a six-piece hailing from Brooklyn, New York. Their latest self-released and self-produced album is called Fantasm, and the title is much like the feeling you get while listening to it. Their song “Fancy,” is filled with the hi-hat/snare disco beat that you immediately hear and dream of teleporting yourself to shiny dance floor or hazy roller rink. You can’t listen to this song without feeling the need to dance in your tallest platforms and most glittery outfit. Besides being extremely danceable, the album is a collection of their best work so far. It is produced by their keyboardist, and singer, Christina B. I am mesmerized by the rhythm of this group. The band
Listen to this: while winding down from a long day of taking people’s orders. —Lia Braswell
Listen to this: when you need a soundtrack that’s perfect for both Good Sandy and Bad Sandy. —Anna Blumenthal
Listen to this: when you’re in Berlin and walking to a discotheque that hasn’t changed in sound or appearance since 1980.
Peaks New Amsterdam / November 2015
And Only the Melody Was Real Neurotic Yell Records / January 2016
The powerhouse trio TIGUE does wonderful things Matador Records, no virgin to the pulse of indiewith drones and interlocking insistent pulse-driven cool everything, releases the second opus from percussion music on their latest release, Peaks. Pro- the London-based post-punk revival band Savages, duced by Kid Millions & TIGUE, the eight tracks are much to the acclaim of fans and critics alike. The meant to flow together, like movements of a com- record, aptly titled Adore Life, unleashes its affirmed posed work, although the song form clearly bursts energy with “The Answer” and “Evil,” each song a through on numbers like “Mouth” and “Sitting.” The vessel for Fay Milton’s relentless drums, beating in Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based members Matt Evans, blood vein glory. Jehnny Beth’s vocals pull us into Amy Garapic, and Carson Moody sculpt all sorts of the band’s magnetic core; no loops, no synths on conservatory percussion sounds together in a very these tracks, only the wail of Beth, incarnating rock ’n’ roll way, with combinations of vibraphone Siouxsie Sioux with her vibrato croon leaves no and drum set, plus instrument creations like “gong- doubt to the listener: this band is all the energy of a prepared bongos,” as well as kitchen items (frying monsoon with the sun in full eclipse. pan, metal mixing bowl.) Listen to this: high on the euphoria of an Indian Not content to be background music, the sheer Summer, feeling the electricity of the sidewalk and range of timbres on the album is absolutely riveting, the heat in your heart; Adore Life is a demand, not each well-crafted tone spreading evenly across the a question. sonic spectrum. Plastic bags and shruti box never —Matthew D’Abate sounded so sweet.
Nothing seems to keep label owner and sole power force of Swahili Blonde, Nicole Turley, down for long. Her latest single, “The Diamond Room,” is out in time to get us excited for the upcoming LP to be released on January 22. The song enters through a hazy, dream-scene laser fight between the programmed drums and the sharp spits of synth drawing us into the seduction of her wisdom. We trail into a melodic nursery rhyme verse that turns into a whole new entity as soon as the chorus comes to reveal a nostalgic twist. The album is focused around “an intensely personal and powerful study of a breakup” that has been able to not only help her overcome the most terrifying aspect of letting go but succeeds in consoling all others who struggle to face the beginning of a new cycle at the end of a rough phase.
Listen to this: instead of beating two-by-fours and flower pots at the hardware store together with a few of your closest friends.
Adore Life Matador Records / January 2016
TOM TOM MAGAZINE
Listen to this: while throwing colorful, sheer fabric around your bedroom.
TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON
Famed Terri Lyne Carrington has been holding down the funk for years. Name the incarnate, find the source, this mind blowing drum talent has come in many forms since the early 90s, so it's not a surprise to find the sort of mega-talent roster on Carrington’s newest soul-crafted delivery The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul. The talented Natalie Cole, Paula Cole, Oleta Adams, Valerie Simpson, and yes, 80s ingénue Chaka Khan all accompany Ms. Carrington on this eclectic all-lady jazz ensemble. Reach into your heart and feel this; set the tone for your winter flings with The Mosaic Project.
This record by the London-based ensemble Vula Who wants to be famous? Who wants to die for Viel, whose name means “good is good” in Dagaare, art? Who do you think you are? Lady Bizness asks is a percussive delight! Their music revolves around all these questions and more with the best pottythe gyil, a large wooden xylophone from north Gha- mouthed raw riot grrrl attitude. The 2-piece outfit na, where Vula Viel founder, Bex Burch, appren- crafts Bikini Kill-esque shout-alongs with lo-fi proticed for three years. At times, gyil and sax share duction that complements the simple bad-assness ebullient, interlocking melodies while keys and gyil of the guitar riffs and drum beats. "Female Trouble" dance energetically together elsewhere. There is and "Catwalk" are the best examples of this and will just so much groove in the carefully choreographed leave you screaming your head off at this terrible patterns from Burch, George Crowley on sax, Dan world. Nicholls on bass synth/keys, and drummers Dave Listen to this while: getting over that asshole who De Rose and Simon Roth, plus vibes by Stephen read your journal while you slept and stalked you. Burke and Jim Hart. The tunes themselves are adaptations of traditional Dagaare funeral and recre- —Tarra Thiessen ational music, given to Burch by Thomas Segkura and the people of Guo; all are powerful and infectious—sure to make a body dance.
The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul Concord Records / August 2015
Listen to this: when you need to hear from the real women of soul, these ladies are here to teach you whipper-snappers a thing or two about what and where the groove really is. — Matthew D’Abate
Good is Good Self-released / October 2015
Who Do You Think You Are Self-released / August 2015
Listen to this: to feel how the power of communally beating things and dancing can transcend grief. —Caryn Havlik
THE NTH POWER
ABUNDANCE BOC Tapes and Records / November 2015
The Nth Power is brewin’ a hot soup filled with funk, soul, R&B, gospel, and rock. Tight snaps and cymbal flourishes of drummer Nikki Glaspie sets the jump off, and with a resume of Dumpstaphunk, Beyonce, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison, Chaka Khan, and Maceo Parker—you know the throw down is coming with disciplined, sick grooves.
CAT BEAR TREE
Why’d I Have To Get so High? Don Giovanni Records / October 2015
Settled In Our Hearts Self-released / October 2015
Wedged somewhere between the more psychofuzz experiments on Nirvana’s Incesticide album and, frankly, any Melvin’s record, Shellshag brings us their 5th 12 inch release, Why’d I Have To Get So High?
Settled In Our Hearts is the follow-up to Cat Bear Tree’s debut EP Let’s Share Hearts. It’s a powerful album that takes a different path than their debut and it’s something to hear. Zoe Konez is the lead singer and guitarist who has confident vocals and the right amount of emotion in them to tell their stories. Accompanying her is Claudia Mansaray on bass and Sarah Smith on drums. The trio made an EP that can reach in and grab the person you actually are but hide behind your online profile.
Aptly titled, this late 90s incarnated lo-fi slugfest duo drives downshift into sludge heaven, between Jennifer Shagawats’ pummeling drums and the On top of that are vocalist/guitarist Nick Cassarino static screams of John “Shellhead” Driver, Why’d I (Big Daddy Kane), bassist Nate Edgar (Groovechild), Have to Get So High? is thrashing nihilism. Brutalist West African drummer Weedie Braimah (Olatungi, post-rock oozes on “Sun, Moon, and Stars” and the Tito Puente) and keyboardist/singer Courtney raucously giddy “Rattletrap” keeps the pop sensi“Jay’Mel” Smith. Ira Schickman (Chaka Khan, Kylie bilities afloat in the mire. And yes, there’s even a Minogue, N’Sync) collaborated with the songwriting. track called “90’s Problems,” and anyone who surIf you’re a fan of Sly & the Family Stone, Jamirovived the abysmal turn of century can guess which qoui, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Marvin Gaye, you’ll get ones are those. down with this soulful eclectic release. Listen to this: while diving into a swimming pool Listen to this: while gettin' your weekend into gear, half full. Or is it half-empty? Either way, this rebecause TGIF! cord will leave you feeling dirty when you wake up —Lola Johnson poolside. —Matthew D’Abate
The vocal layering and circular guitars are reminiscent of early Bloc Party but there’s something different about the way Cat Bear Tree lyrics get in your face and force you to confront. Their song “Arm’s Length” starts off bare and stripped down like the calm before the storm and toms roll in to complete the sound that is almost a theme in their new album. Settled In Our Hearts is essentially about adult life and the battle you fight to stay in or leave a relationship. The three musicians pair their woes with a cool, calm and collected collection of songs that are all packed with drive and energy. Listen to this: After that long over-due break-up. —Attia Taylor
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HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL By Carrie Brownstein Penguin Random House / 2015 Carrie Brownstein has presented herself to the world in the past couple of decades as a renaissance lady. A sick guitar player, an incredible lyricist in the Olympian band Sleater-Kinney, and more recently, as Fred Armisen’s other half producing, directing, and acting in the satirical comedy TV show about Portland, OR called Portlandia. When her memoir arrived at our office I assumed it wouldn’t be dissimilar to her comedic peers’ recent autobiographies like Yes, Please by Amy Poehler or Bossypants by Tina Fey. Yet I was pleasantly surprised to find Brownstein’s book much deeper, better written, and more poetic than any memoir I have read this year. Trumping Kim Gordon in vulnerability and beating out Poehler in linguistic prowess, Brownstein’s book is revealing both in a melancholic personal way and in an honest band dynamic sense. Here is an excerpt from chapter five when she describes seeing Heavens to Betsy (Corin Tucker’s band pre Sleater-Kinney) live in her college town: “The noise they made in Heavens to Betsy was vicious and strange. It completely changed one’s notion of what it meant to be powerful on-stage. It was not about strength in numbers or in size. It had nothing to do with volume. It was about surprise. It was about knowing you were going to be underestimated by everyone and then punishing them for those very thoughts.” Her bravery comes through in yet another format—Carrie Brownstein is a writer as well. —Mindy Abovitz
WOMEN IN SOUND: ISSUE 1 By Madeleine Campbell Self-Published / Fall 2015 This 52 page zine features 15 interviews with role model worthy badass women who work in sound as producers, engineers, performers etc. Put together by regular Tom Tom contributor and noteworthy engineer herself Madeleine Campbell, I can’t contain my excitement for the furthering of this incredible and long overdue project. Each interview is in depth enough to peak my interest to learn more about the women and is accompanied by a hand drawn illustration of the artist. It may look like a zine but it reads like the beginning of an incredible encyclopedia worth saving on the shelf. — Mindy Abovitz
RED VELVET UNDERGROUND: A ROCK MEMOIR, WITH RECIPES By Freda Love Smith Midway Books / 2015 For a lot of us, food and music are intrinsically twined into our everyday lives. The same holds true for Freda Love Smith, the drummer from the Blake Babies, Antenna, and the Mysteries of Life. It was only organic that she write this rock memoir peppered with delicious recipes. She got her start in music and cooking at the same time—as a teenager she worked as a baker and listening to the Velvet Underground as she mixed the dough inspired her to take up the drums. The idea for the book stems from when she gave her teenage son cooking lessons before he went off to college so he wouldn’t live off Funyuns and gummy worms like most freshmen. The recipes are a mixture of family favorites, food eaten on the road (like from The Grit in Athens, Georgia), and macrobiotic food she enjoyed at the Kushi Institute after touring had run down her health. I appreciated that some of the recipes were vegan and super healthy, and then others were heavier and maybe not so healthy. Because, let’s face it, Mac ’n’ cheese would probably give you a heart attack if you ate it everyday. It’d be interesting if all rock memoirs included recipes. I don’t think I’d want to try Keith Richards’ though… —Rebecca DeRosa
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next-level music requires next-level thinking. The American Classic® Series from Vic Firth Anika Nilles | American Classic® 55A
©2015 Vic Firth Company
Photo: Stephan Nord
ALESIS SAMPLE PAD PRO
8-PAD PERCUSSION AND SAMPLE-TRIGGERING INSTRUMENT by Rosana Caban
The SamplePad Pro by Alesis is a new sample pad with a ton of features and a great price point ($299). It has 6 main pads on the surface, plus additional triggers (two) on the top of the unit that tend to be used as the cymbal or hi-hat trigger pads. The design is beautifully simple. Only four buttons take space on the surface that allow for complete control of the parameters in the menu screen. Each drum pad is backlit, and they glow when they are triggered, which is pretty rad for live performances.
You can connect the device directly to a computer via USB to easily expand your sound library. You'll have to get an SD card, but they’re available online for under $20. Once we loaded our own sounds on the SamplePad, we noticed that the processing time it took to change sound banks was a bit excessive if you need to change kits between songs in a set quickly.
We ran into some issues when we played the two upper pads on the Sample Pad Pro (the ones that are typically used as cymbal pads). We had to hit the pad within a specific sweet spot otherwise the pad wouldn't trigger a sample. The sweet spot was only about an inch wide directly in the middle of the pad, so if we weren’t very precise, we couldn’t consistently trigger samples. We also found that sometimes the upper trigger pads would trigger the wrong samples. If we intended on triggering a cymbal crash, sometimes a snare sample was triggered even though the pad with a snare sample was never touched. That could get annoying quickly. Overall the Alesis Sample Pad Pro has great features that you can't get from any other device in its category without paying over twice the cost. It would be a great addition to any drummer's setup! 72
TOM TOM MAGAZINE
UE 900s IN-EAR MONITORS
by Rosana Caban
First of all...if you’re into watching product unboxing videos on YouTube (ie, product packaging porn) you will die when you open these. Included in the box are 3 memory foam tips, which unfortunately didn’t fit me, and 6 different sized rubber tips for a total of 9 different fit-tip options! The monitors also come with two sets of braided cables, one of which has a mic attached. The braided cable design gives extra reinforcement so they look and feel much more durable than comparable competitor options on the market. I used the smallest sizing option included with the monitors and had the opportunity to use them at a show. Exterior sounds were well dampened but still present, and although the monitors lack bass and sound treble heavy, they were incredibly comfortable and feel like they were designed and built for heavy and frequent use. These are highly recommended.
BY CRITTER & GUITARI
Created for Third Man Records (Jack White's label), the Terz™ amplifier is a hybrid of classic analog amplification circuitry and cutting edge power electronics. It is a portable, loud amp that sounds great and uses four rechargeable ‘AA’ batteries or plugs in. There are two analog gain/ distortion circuits behind the sound of the amp: a low-end silicon diode distortion and germanium diode distortion for high end crunch. The Terz is loud enough and portable which makes us happy. All metal (aluminum) powder coated enclosure. 5.0" x 3.375" x 7.0" Shipping Weight: 3.2 lbs (no batteries) 7W amplifier, 4" diameter speaker 1/4" monophonic input jack Three control knobs: Silicon distortion, Germanium distortion, and Volume Low/High Gain Switch Power: Ships with power supply: 9VDC, 1.0 Amps, center-positive polarity tip. Can also be powered from 4 'AA' batteries (NiMH rechargeable batteries provide maximum volume). When batteries begin to run low, Power Status LED changes from orange to red
I S S U E 24 : T H E T I M E I S S U E
—MISS EAVES for Tom Tom Magazine
ACROSS: 1. POLYRHYTHM 4. HALFTIME 6. STRAIGHT 8. ODD 10. METER 12. SILENCE 13. TURNBACKTIME 14. EVEN DOWN: 2. TIMESIGNATURE 3. PROGROCK 5. METRONOME 7. TIMEAFTERTIME 9. DOUBLETIME 11. SWING
ACE HOTEL NEW ORLEANS
Opening 2016 blog.acehotel.com/nola
In this issue of Tom Tom we explore odd time signatures, the art of time keeping and drumming over time. Get to know Chitrangana (India's pr...
Published on Dec 14, 2015
In this issue of Tom Tom we explore odd time signatures, the art of time keeping and drumming over time. Get to know Chitrangana (India's pr...