Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fascinatin' Rhythm

Curiously, Putnam wants me to play drums on his next album - which I'm happy about, because it means I'll have gotten the trifecta of keys, bass, guitar and drums (is it a trifecta of four?) out of my system and on to record. The drawback is that I'll be playing in a restrained style that's far from what I do best - but that's just me being afraid to change.

Drumming behind Putnam is particularly daunting, since he's a solo acoustic player with very flexible rhythm that breathes with his performance, and he fills in a whole lotta space. I general feel that instruments should support but not duplicate each other in an arrangement, so it's a challenge to find a solid rhythm that doesn't in some way either step on what he's doing or lock it down too much, which is a real no-no for his type of acoustic music. Even the song that I could play along with naturally - a number that was somewhat influenced by his own cover of You Can't Always Get What You Want - turns out to be more difficult than usual because I have to (by request) lay off of a lot of my usual time-keeping motifs, like a simple eighth-note hi-hat pulse.

When I was at the peak of my drumming 'chops' about three years ago, there were actually a few times when I sort of impressed myself a little with some of the stuff that came out naturally - like I'd finally gotten over some kind of hump and could do some of the trickier - yet subtle - things that make for (in my definition) interesting drumming. Now I'm three years out from that peak and the hump is back, so trying to play a brushed hi-hat shuffle with syncopated kick and alternating snare and crash accents is sort of like trying to masturbate with your 'other' hand. Fun but challenging.


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