A Primer in Polyrhythms:
To understand polyrhythms you have to have a basic understanding of fractions & ratios. For a simple example I’ll use 2 against 3 (which I think most people know the sound of, and is easy to play. This formula will give you the ability to work out any basic polyrhythm. You can use it with any two numbers – like 4 vs. 5, or 7 vs. 3.
First, you multiply the two numbers to get the smallest amount of beats that each can divide into: in this case 2×3=6. I’ll represent this as 6 “o’s” – that you can think of as 1/8th notes. o o o o o o
Then you divide the 6 into two groups of three: ( o o o )( o o o ) – and three groups of two: ( o o )( o o )(o o )
If you play this, one will sound 1-2-3, 1-2-3 , and the other 1-2, 1-2, 1-2.
(play the bold typeface below)
RH (o o) (o o) (o o) (o o) (o o) (o o)
RH 1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 &
LH 1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 &
LH (o o o) (o o o) (o o o) (o o o)
So, this makes a little melorhythm which you can hear and remember.
Each polyrhythm has it’s own little melorhythm like this which you familiarize yourself with & play from each perspective (2 over 3 & 3 over 2).
Once you are able to hear and play these you realize that polyrhythms are not so much the ability to hear two separate rhythms, but the interaction of the two, thought of as one melorhythm (which describes the inter-relationship between melody and rhythm) broken up between limbs (in this case RH &LH) like this: ( together–L-R-L- ).
I recommend Gary Chaffee’s “Patterns” book “Rhythm & Meter” as the best, most simple and straight forward way to learn these concepts. It will get you to a very advanced level (I wish I had that book before I got with Zappa – it would have prepared me very well!!!)
For coordination studies I recommend my 4 videos “Solo Drums” &”Melodic Drumming and the Ostinato”, as well as the book “4-Way Coordination” by Dahlgren & Fine
Q: Daniel Mark asks:
Terry, It’s been a couple of years since I have been to one of your drum clinics but I distinctly remember you talking about playing the drums as you would the piano. I would really appreciate it if you could give me some more insight on this technique?
A: Well, it has to do with accompanying yourself with one or more limbs while soloing against it with the remaining limbs (as a pianist might play a bass line with his left hand while playing a melody against it with his right hand, or chords with one hand and a line with another). I do this with ostinatos. Or , because I have a lot of toms and cymbals) I play more melodically and harmonically at times rather than rhythmically to create a more complete musical statement.
Q: Mike Timms asks:
My question is to do with permutations over an ostinato, say if you set-up a 16th note based ostinato between your left hand and left bass drum, when working though the 15 permutations with the right hand and then right foot, to play linear phrases do you go further to cover the over lapping permutations between the free limbs? Meaning all 15 permutations against all 15 permutations..to create none linear phrases over the pattern? Or, do you tend to play linear phrases between the remaining limbs?
A: No, not exactly, it depends on what I’m doing with what! I have said any of the basic permutations could be an ostinato played by one limb and the remaining limbs are free to solo against it (using the other permutations)-and I have somewhere 2 or 3 limbs hold the ostinato and 1 or 2 solo. But when you say linear that means melodic (between two or more limbs or two or more pitches) so this is where I don’t understand your question. At the linear point you get into playing mixed sticking patterns between limbs (as the solo part) against your ostinato, or doing actual melodies as I do on a row of toms or cymbals against it. So I don’t play all permutations against all others-I just pick one at a time and do the rest against it with whatever I want to create the musical effect I want-Then if possible for me I can get into mixed sticking (for example if I do an ostinato with my feet I can do mixed sticking against it with my hands). Then the last step is to do melodic permutations (on toms or any graduated pitches you have on your kit).
Q: Asmet asks:
I would like to ask Terry if he could please reconsider his decision about Missing Persons. I’m not sure that Terry understands the depth of the sentiments among the MP fans. It has taken on a completely different dimension from the band member’s experience. I understand there may be good reasons for Terry’s decision, but please reconsider how MP can be kept alive in one form or another.
A: MP is a heart breaker for me. I enjoyed the brief reunion in L.A. But soon after, the weirdness started again and I had to bail. If you like us I truly appreciate it and we do have another album out soon (of old forgotten tracks), but I hope you might enjoy my new record with Billy Sheehan where I’ll be singing and it is more “commercial” than anything I’ve done since MP!
Q: Marco Gogopants asks:
Does anyone know if the Terry Bozzio/ChadWackermann duets video will be available on DVD? I’m holding out for a DVD so any information would be much appreciated. Thanks
A: I’m working on it, as well as other videos from my catalogue!
Q: Michael Carpenter asks:
Terry,I’m having some trouble understanding how you have your piccolo toms tuned. On the “live” video it looks like they are tuned to the scale of C but I’m not sure. I was also thinking about using your tom set-up for a project I have in mind. I want to have at least two octaves of piccolos to play on. I need to understand your tuning though and what you would base your depths and head tensions on in relation to scales.
A: Two octaves of 8″ piccolo toms is not possible. Actually, my low “D” is as low as it can go without being too flappy. My set has 8″ x 6″s, & 8″ x 5″s, as well, the Cis an 8×6. The actual piccolo toms are tuned every other note of a C scale: D-F-A-C. The others are C-E-G-B (all ascending). To get two octaves you might have to go to 10″ and 12″ for the lower C and down. Try experimenting with Rotos to see what the practical tuning ranges are. My piccolos are really stretched to their limits with the low D and high C.
Q: Bill Nelson asks:
Has Terry Bozzio done, or does he plan to do a video that would contain the following: Like a 8 or 10 piece band that Features Terry doing themes like tangos, swing music, jazz and maybe even some rock mixed in? AND I MEAN ASIDE FROM WORK with (Zappa who i admire greatly). I think if i saw this type of video of Terry playing with guys like the Marsalis brothers, Brecker brothers, Harry Connick jr. etc, etc. I would think I died I went to heaven. I Can’t imagine anything better than this type of format where Terry is permitted to go on a few 15 min solos with a little question and answer between some horns and/or strings etc, etc. P.S. IF Terry sees this idea i hope he will consider it strongly…..I loved your solo work on your live-in-concert video it was nothing short of beautiful…I think the project I mention would only embellish your GRAND TALENT.
A: I have done a concert and CD of my chamber works for string quartet and wind quintet (based on my solo drum compositions). I hope you will check it out! (available @ terrybozzio.com)
Q: Pieter Appelman asks:
Hi Terry, I’ve been to a concert of yours last year when you played in Haarlem, it was part of the Dutch tour which was arranged in association with the magazine Slagwerkkrant. I hadn’t heard a single song of yours before I went there so I was very curious. After I’ve seen your show I think your drumming was about the only thing I talked about for two weeks :-). I was wondering why you don’t use any electronic drums in your kit. When I listen to music from Tool I hear all sorts of electronic sounds which could fit into your music as well I think. Not only you could use all sorts of percussion sounds, but with a good sampler, you could combine (layer) percussive sounds with melodic sounds, which would of course, fit very well into your kit and playing class. Also, I was wondering why you use 12″ snare? I thought it was because it gives you more space for your legs/pedals only, since you tune it like a normal snare. Am I correct or no?
A: Thanks for the suggestion but I burned out on electronics in the 80’s (after inventing my own drum pads &pedals). Now I really enjoy keeping it pure and simple!! (I have enough electronic stuff to deal with when composing or recording at home with ProTools and all the midi & synth stuff). I like the spontaneity of the acoustic instruments and also I just can’t handle having to deal with any more gear!!!!
Q: C. Richard Calloway asks:
Dear Terry, I would like to know what kind of bottom heads you use with your signature heads. I also would like to know the bearing edge specs on your drums. I would also like to know where I can get a SPOXSE Hi-Hat. What type of foot board do you prefer, solid or split? Any info on educational material written by you would be most appreciated. Thanks, Terry for your time, Rich.
A: I use the same TB signature head on the top & bottom of all my toms. The snare, of course, has a thin TB sig. snare side head, and the top id a coated white dot. The bass drums have a black “thin skin” head on the front. (all available at (terrybozzio.com). I use a DW nylon strap pedal , it is a solid normal footboard. The Spoxe are no longer available but you can make your own from an old roto tom and punch out the center of one part of it. I’m working on a book but so far my educational material is in my videos: Melodic Drumming & the Ostinato vol.1, 2 & 3 (also available at terrybozzio.com).
Q: Fauzie asks:
My name is Fauzie Cokie. I am come from Indonesia. I know about you from your VCD. I like to see you playing a drum. as you know I like to play drum too but I am still amateur. Would you be my teacher to play drum by send techniques how to play drum it can be a book or something. You can send to my e-mail. Thank you very much if you want to be my teacher. I wait your answer.
A: I’m sorry but I don’t have the time to take private students right now- but all I know is on my videos: Melodic Drumming & the Ostinato vol.1, 2 & 3 (available at terrybozzio.com). I can’t do the work for you but there is a lot of info on those videos!!
Q: Jim Bob asks:
Can someone tell me how many different time signatures (meters) are used in the song “Crash” – Situation Dangerous album?? Thanks.
A: As I recall it’s mainly in 9/8, sometimes divided 2 2 2 3 and then 3 3 3.
Q: How do I make it in the music biz?
A: There is no “one way” to make it in the music biz. If you ask 20 successful musicians, you’ll get 20 different answers! And there are no guarantees that if you do anything and everything you can, that you will get the result that you want! So check your motives and be careful what you wish and work for because you might just get it!
The way I look at it is this: you have to enjoy the process of what you are doing, because that might be all you get. I’ve been somewhat rich and famous with Missing Persons and was never more miserable. So ask yourself, “Why do I want to play music?” If the answer is anything but “for the sheer enjoyment of it and to share it with those willing to listen to it,” you may be in for a disappointment.
Having said that, there are a few philosophical things that might help: First, be absolutely clear about your goals. Do you want to be a studio musician, rock, jazz, or country musician? Do you want a sideman gig, do you want to play original music in a band, do you want a job in a symphony???
Second, simplify and focus on what you can do now, just for today to work toward your goal – little things – and do one little thing at a time.
Now, from a practical standpoint, consider the following: Be pro-active, take control of what you can.
- Practice. There is very little resistance to anyone who really plays great. Consider studying privately, at a university or a music school. Read books and magazines about your musical interests. Listen to everything, but listen consciously and critically.
- Network. Get out there and play, jam, or sit in with others as much as you can. Word of mouth spreads fast and one thing leads to another. Join the Musicians Union, Musicians contact services, go to clubs, rehearsal complexes, music stores, watch for ads and auditions in local papers.
- Bands or individuals should write, rehearse and record their own CDs Take advantage of cheap, high-quality technology that was unheard of 5-10 years ago that make it possible to do a great sounding recording at home. Then pursue local college radio and record stores to play it and sell it on consignment.
- If you work a “day job” realize the musical freedom you have, compared to a professional musician who might have to play some horrible gig he or she does not want to play, just to make money! Sometimes an attitude change like this can make a big difference in your creativity. You probably have your basic financial needs covered, and have evenings and weekends free to do anything musically you want, without commercial restrictions.
- Try as best you can to be original. We all get sucked in by the latest fads & trends, or a favorite band’s latest recording. If you get too influenced by these things its obvious to the listeners and management/record/radio people you are trying to get interested in you that you are just trying to do the last thing that was popular.
- Try to get along with others that you work with. Nobody likes to work with people who are undependable, insensitive, negative, control freaks, incompetent, egotistic, selfish, neurotic, lacking a sense of humor, disrespectful, dishonest, talk too much, or smell bad! If you are already working with someone who fits any of the above, you may want to ask yourself if it’s worth it musically, financially, prestigiously or otherwise.
- Don’t burn bridges. Try to secure your next career or employment move before canceling your current one, and when you move on, try to do it honestly and remain on good terms. You never know when you might need a former colleague’s help.
- Ride the “roller coaster”. That’s what my mom told me the life of a musician is like – and I think she’s right! Exhilarating highs, exciting twists & turns, devastating lows, and those long slow climbs back up. No one can be working, creative, successful, admired and in demand all the time. We all have periods of transition, depression, insecurity, frustration, etc. where nothing seems to be happening. Don’t think that you are the only one that goes through this. I myself, and every other human being in every walk of life, no matter how successful they appear to be, has to go through this too. The times where nothing seems to be happening are actually periods of subconscious activity and growth, or a sort of cosmic alignment where things you are going to be doing or people you are going to be working with are all coming around to the time and place that it’s going to happen. So don’t force it. Sometimes it’s best to take advantage of these times for friends, family, hobbies, and other enjoyable activities.
Q: How do I get an endorsement deal?
A: There are only two ways I know of to get an endorsement.
- Be a really good drummer, and
- Be a really famous drummer! (the two are not always interchangeable!)
You see, it’s not about how you can get free gear or an ad to promote you in a magazine. It’s about how you can help a manufacturer sell its products! To do that you have to be a drummer that has credibility by being an accomplished artist/craftsman in his or her field or by being a current popular success so that you or your band has the name recognition that would be an asset to a company by affiliation with its product. That way hopefully all the young drummers or want-to-be drummers who like your band will buy the same kind of stuff you use! (Just like I did when I was a kid – my 1st kit was a Ludwig because that’s what Ringo played!)
Now, there are levels of endorsements from a discount or a one-time “gift” of some product, to a mention in an ad with up and coming drummers, to a full blown endorsement, but the criteria for getting any of the above remains the same! Be good or be famous! You can be a good drummer playing in a top 40 gig or local band that is not well known and if a rep. from a company sees you, and knows you can play and you are someone to keep an eye on, you’ll get some kind of endorsement! On the other hand, you can be a very weak drummer and not be able to put a backbeat in the same place twice in a row, but if you are on TV or the radio and in a band selling records, I guarantee you’ll get an endorsement!!!
It’s the same for teachers or educators as well – good or famous! A lousy teacher with a large clientele of students can get an endorsement because of the exposure to young potential buyers. A good teacher with less of a roster can too, because of his credibility.
So, I feel that it is best to be asked-I don’t want to be discouraging, but the companies I work with get thousands of tapes from drummers who want “free gear” and most of them don’t have much to offer in return. Ask yourself, “What can I do to be of service to this company – to help them sell their products?” If you are good or have a level of notoriety, believe me, they will find you!!!
Q: What is your warm up routine?
A: I do a series of yoga postures and stretching first and If I have very little time to warm up that’s all I do. Stretching not only loosens , tones and warms the muscles but releases Nor-Adrenaline into your system. This is not the “fight or flight” type of adrenaline, but a type which promotes alertness.
Then if I have time, I do different hand and foot exercises to warm up the “playing muscles”. I try to always practice something I don’t know how to do to work on a weak spot in my technique or coordination. These areas you will have to discover for yourself, but by challenging your mind with a new and difficult sticking pattern or hand-foot combination you will warm up the most important “playing muscle”!!!-And added benefits are learning something new, and focusing so hard on it that you virtually lessen “pre-show anxiety”.
Q: Do you exercise, work out etc.- what is your health regimen?
A: I get a real good work out just playing the drums, especially for the cardiovascular system. When I’m home and not playing I’ll work out on a stair master and with light weights with high repetitions. For our kind of muscles, I find this to be the best, we don’t want to be muscle-bound. I also do a series of yoga stretches and postures, and I find that to be the best pre-show warm up and way to keep in shape on the road.
In terms of diet, I find moderation is best for my system-I am not vegetarian, but I do usually use food combining techniques(especially on the road). This is eating starches w/vegetables, or proteins w/vegetables, or fruits alone, but never combining starches w/proteins or fruits w/anything. This aids with digestion and keeps me feeling light and more energetic. I never eat closer than 3 hours before I play.
I also take a lot of herbs and supplements for general health and to enhance my performance. I take ginseng for stamina and focus and the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine for mental alertness, but I would suggest you talk to a doctor or health specialist before trying anything I do because it might not be the best thing for your personal system.
And remember all of the above won’t make you play the drums any better, only practicing and playing experience will do that. But it could make you feel healthier so you can play more efficiently at whatever level of player you are!!
Q: When did you develop your class and do you remember what you were playing the first year or so after starting?
A: I always say that I never had an original idea until I was 30 years old!!! So don’t worry about it class comes with life experience. I see the development process in three stages:
- Learn the basics: reading, rudiments, basic beats & coordination.
- Emulate other drummers and classes of music and drumming: jazz, rock, fusion, Latin, classical, ethnic etc.
- Then through discernment try to choose not to play Billy Cobham licks (for example) but try to develop your own little bag of tricks one at a time, which when you get enough of them, will be the building blocks of your own unique expression (and this to me is the goal of all art).
When I was playing for a year or so ,I knew the basic basics and was playing with my friends in a garage band, having lot’s of fun, blissfully playing the popular 60’s songs of the day: “Gloria”, “Wipeout”, “Louie Louie”, “Hang on Sloopy” and “Satisfaction” for example!!!
Q: What is the Zappa album that you think best demonstrates your class and playing at that time?
A: That’s a hard one because there are so many different tracks on so many albums! But I guess in terms of my reputation with Frank I’m known best for having played his drum solo composition, “The Black Page” which was written for me and in consideration of my class and potential abilities. It is on “Live in New York”. (You can link to it and get it from amazon.com from my Discography page.)
But I have to say that I’m also very proud of “The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution” on “Sleep Dirt”, “Orchestral Favorites” for his classical stuff, and “Sheik Yerbouti” or “Baby Snakes” & “Zoot Allures” for all-around-classic-Bozzio w/Zappa stuff.
Q: How did you get the drum sound on Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop?
A: Most of the credit goes to Leif Masses the engineer/co-producer (of ABBA , Led Zeppelin & Jimmy Page fame). He had done a lot of custom modifications to the Dolby cards, MCI board, tape machines and the AMS reverbs that we used. Plus the guy has wonderful ears!!
But in general, I can tell you that we used high-quality mic’s (AKG-Neumann & Sennheiser) , ambiently as well as close, vintage compressors & EQ, and a DBX “Boom Box sub-harmonic generator on the bass drums.
Funnily enough the great gated reverb sound came primarily from a cheap(under $100) Alesis MidiVerb!
On tracks like “Stand On It” & “Guitar Shop”, the kick & snare were recorded alone in one take and the tom & cymbal fills were overdubbed to take advantage of the gated room sound. This way the fills won’t open the gates on the kick & snare and vice versa (which washes everything out).
Aside from that a good drummer (in my humble opinion), well tuned good sounding drums, a great sounding room, and a great engineer = a great drum sound!!
Q: Wayne Marek asks:
What areas of music did you study went you went on to higher learning in College? Is that where you discovered Stravinsky?? Who turned you on to Joseph Campbell? Are you familiar with Carlos Castenada’s work?
A: Yes, that’s where I first heard of Stravinsky – I remember a friend telling me when he died around 1970? or so, and I hadn’t really heard his music yet.
I studied at College of Marin and received an A.A. degree as a commercial music major. This included theory, ear training, analysis, masterworks, piano, composition and some woodwind instrument studies, as well as band, orchestra, jazz, choral, and chamber ensembles. I studied concurrently with Chuck Brown on drumset and Roland Kohloff & Lloyd Davies from the S.F. Symphony on percussion.
I was exposed to many classical composers and soon was playing some of my favorites, like Bartok, Dahl, Cowell, and Milhaud, among others.
I really developed my interests in Stravinsky and others more on my own by reading and listening, at a later point in time (mid 80’s or so).
I believe my friend Cathy Anderson first told me about Joseph Campbell, and I’ve since read many of his books and seen several of his videos.
I think he has done more to clear up a lot of the mystical / magical / psuedo religious / new age / psycho-babble that we’re poisoned with. (in my own humble opinion, of course!)
I don’t know anything about Carlos Castenada – except that I have heard of him, and I could be wrong but I think he is affiliated with psychedelics, which I am not interested in at all.
Q: Ryan McDaniel asks:
How many ostinato’s can you perform?
A: I’m not sure exactly how many, but I know I have over 3 hours of solo drum music I could perform from my 6 videos and 4 solo CD’s-also there are a few scattered ostinatos on some of the CD’s I’ve done with the Lonely Bears, Polytown, and Bozzio, Levin, Stevens.
I’ve tried to work out a variety of feels, rhythmic motives, time signatures, and ethnic classs-along with different classical forms & structures, while trying to develop ostinatos that use different limb combinations and instruments for diverse orchestrations and a more complete usage of 4-way coordination.
I’ve also tried to develop music that works on a weak point in my technique (like an ostinato that uses double strokes with my left foot for example).
Q: Which ostinato of yours do you feel is the most complex?
A: It’s hard to say just which one is harder than the other of the 10 or so of my most complex ostinatos. And the one you are presently working on is always a challenge!!
I would say that the Swiss triplet & double stroke triplet bass drum patterns were difficult and took me about a year to be able to do comfortably and confidently.
And the 5/16 & 7/16 ones (Quintessence & 1260 N.Wetherly Dr.-on Drawing the Circle) took me about 2 years before I could take the risk of performing them!
Also the asymmetrical ones that leave spaces in the rhythmic pattern (like Moguli or Cairo) are more difficult to get for me.
Right now I’m focusing more on melody and harmony on the piccolo toms, and find being able to do arpeggiated chord changes – a fun challenge!
Q: How come you don’t have a cowbell in your set?
A: These days I listen mainly to the classical music of Stravinsky, Varese, Debussy and others, and to ethnic drumming from around the world,(like Senegal or Burundi in Africa, Middle Eastern hand drumming, the Taiko drumming of Japan etc.), and the late 60’s/early 70’s music of Miles Davis.
But I’m always keeping an ear out for some new type of music that either gives me a sense of awe or confusion! I live for “the big question mark” that forms over my head when I hear something new or that I don’t understand!!
Q: When “filling in”, or taking over a drum seat from a more prominent drummer, (as you did with Bill Bruford), how did you approach the situation? How much of the original flavor did you keep and how much did you throw in of your own classes? As in the track, “Alaska”, there are elements of Bills’ perspective and your own classes. (The mix of the two classes is Intense!) With UK, you made it work very well, and your use of the two classes created a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. I am so glad you made it to the pinnacle Terry. In my youth when I studied “prog” and fusion music and drum parts, my peers made fun of me. You have validated drum set drumming as an art and set the record straight! Many thanks! Dan Buch
A: It was easy for me to replace Bill in UK because I admired him so much-I was honored to have the prestige of following him because he was key in making me realize that I needed to develop my own class or sonic identity.
Eddie Jobson sat me down and played some old King Crimson and I realized for the first time that a drummer could play something unique and musical without having to flaunt his technique or sound like Tony Williams or the other great American jazz / fusion drummers I had been so influenced by.
It was then that I started to stack cymbals and take a more linear melodic approach to my beats, the results were Rendezvous 6:02 and the like.
When it came to playing live, I already loved the first UK album and wanted to play those tunes (I actually think that the first album was better than anything else UK did), so it was just a matter of putting my own interpretation into it.
I think I play in a more naturally energetic or heavy class so that part was easy-I think that Bill and Alan’s parts were so key to the compositions that it was important to keep the aspects of what they did intact and Eddie made suggestions as to new arrangements (such as playing presto vivace on cowbells and bongos) to bring a more Zappa-esque color to the drum parts.
Otherwise, my approach has always been to follow the unconscious or intuitive and kind of “let go and see what happens” school, so it was not so preconceived or conceptual at that point.
As I’ve gotten older and have had the time to study and analyze composition and orchestration more, I’ve gotten into conceptualizing my class. this has allowed me to use techniques that are more specialized and result in a more distinctive class than I had at that time.
Q: Ryan McKay asks:
How exactly did hear about the Zappa audition , and once you got the job how was your relationship with Frank?
A: I heard about the audition from Eddie Henderson (trumpet player from Herbie Hancock) who I was playing with at the time- He was using George Duke (Zappa’s keyboardist) on a record and found out from George that they could not find a drummer in L.A. and were looking in other places (like S.F.).
My relationship w/ Frank one of awe and respect for him-I tried to do whatever I could to please him. He was 10 yrs. older than me and a seriously talented genius, so I always felt like I was in the position of actor/symphony musician, and he was the Director/Composed/Conductor-and I was really grateful to have just been chosen, as I didn’t really feel qualified to even BE there!
Q: Not to sound rude (and certainly no harm intended), but why do you always dress in black when you play? Is it for expression, or like a personal statement?
A: It’s both and more! Black is a very serious color associated with classical musicians, priests, mystery and the unknown-I take my music seriously, and it comes from the unconscious / intuitive side of my psyche-it’s also a non-color which I think down plays clothes and highlights the character of a human being (you’ve heard about fashion clichés “basic black” or “that little black dress”), well I feel that it works for me in terms of I don’t think I’m that handsome, and my face could be a disappointment by the time you get to it, if you are first attracted to a brightly colored shirt!!!!
Also, with my equipment, if its black or monochromatic instead of chrome, it tends to down play the equipment and feature the performer, which I feel enhances my communication with the audience from behind all that distracting stuff that creates a barrier between me and the listeners.
Q: How did you come up with the design for Radia (scoring instead of lathing)?
A: I got the idea from certain gongs from East Asia, which are scored in a similar fashion.
Q: This is just something I have wondered for a long time: Do you have any idea what your drum set costs with everything you have to date? And, I know that you have one or two identical sets at home but do you ever get the urge to play on a smaller set? (like a four or five piece)?
A: I have no idea what my drumsets cost, I’d suggest you contact DW & Sabian to get an idea of that.
I sometimes think about playing on a small kit, but not a typical one- I’ve recently experimented with a dbl bd (13″ &16″) 10″ sn & 4 8″ &4 10″ piccolo toms set w/ a Radia flat ride & other splashes bells &small chinas, but abandoned the idea to use the pieces on some new ideas for my big kit.
Q: Mauricio Magaldi Suguihura asks: I got to know your work from most of your recent gigs like the BLS and the Vai thing, but the work I’m impressed with is the Explorer’s Club album. It has the same great drumming but it has the addition of a thing I hadn’t listened (or at least captured) from the other albums:
The hi-hat work is SO much more amazing than in the other albums that I got really amazed.
I noticed that the approach in the BLS album is more over the tom-toms and in the Vai, over the Chinas, but the way you play the hats in that Explorer’s album is so great that I changed my whole approach over my hat playing.
The question is: how do you decide on someone else’s work what is the part of the kit you are going to emphasize? How did you come up with that hi-hat sound on the explorer’s CD? (I know you use Sabian Radia Cymbals, but what was the mix / mastering thing all about?)
A: I have used the same approach to hi-hats for well over 15 years-(see the set up page-and check out the new “Live in Concert” video-I think you’ve missed the hi-hat work on BLS, Polytown, Guitar Shop, the Lonely Bears, as well as going back to UK and Missing Persons)- I mic them left-center & right and pan them that way in the mix so the linear melodic patterns I play dance around the stereo mix.
I use my experience and all my techniques of orchestration to decide on what instruments of my kit to use, and what combinations of instruments will create textures or colors I want to use to enhance or contrast with the music I hear or am playing. Sometimes it’s drum oriented, sometimes metal sounds.
Different projects I’ve done have different levels of how much freedom I have to be creative- as opposed to being told what to do, and the musical results and mixes
may or may not reflect my intentions on things I do to make money, and don’t have any control over(like Vai & Explorers).
But as I said, the miking, mixing (panning) and approach to playing 4-way coordinated, linear melodic beats has been the same since the track “Rendezvous 6:02” on UK’s “Danger Money” in 1979.
Q: Peter Pentsos asks: First I’d like to thank you for being such a huge influence in my life, I’m not much of a drummer, but I am a huge fan of drumming and progressive music. I love listening to music played in odd time with the drums outside everything else. Your drumming really does that.
I know you’re a huge fan of African rhythms, I was wondering who some of your favorite drummers are to listen to and if you ever thought of doing a solo drum album with another drummer maybe soloing off of each other?
I was also wondering where I could get a copy of your rendition of “wipe out”. (Very hard to find)!! ?
Thanks again for all the hours of enjoyment.
A: I love the music and drumming of many ethnic percussionists from all over the world. A short list would be Dudu N’Daye Rose (Senegal “Sabar” class), Mamadie Kieta (jembe master, Guinea), The Master Drummers of Burundi, The Kodo Drummers (Japan), Balinese “Gamelon” music, Middle Eastern Hand Drumming, Indian Masters such as Zakir Hussein, Vikku, Selva Ganesh, Brazillian’s Hermeto Pascoal, Aierto, & Dudu Tucci, and Latin Greats Giovanni Hidalgo, Karl Perazzo & Raoul Rekow, Luis Conte,and many, many more!
I’d love to record with any and all of them- and have had the pleasure of playing with many of them at drum festivals all over the world.
As for “Wipeout”, I don’t know where you could find that, it’s from the soundtrack to “Back to the Beach” on CBS I think.
Q: Federico E.Santana.T asks: Greetings. I hope that everything is going well for you and your family. Thank you for doing the clinic at the Guitar Center in Northern Boulevard in New York, yesterday, Sunday, 14 of November of 1999. The clinic was great. I can’t forget it. Thank you for putting out your website for us drummers. And thank you Slam International.
I have only one question for you. How old are you now ? I ask this question because you look like if you were in your late 20’s and early 30’s. You look young, strong, and healthy. I’ll be waiting for your answer. I thank you in advance.
Please continue to drum, stay healthy, and being the way you are, a good and humble drummer. Peace.
Thank you for your attention to us non-professional drummers. God bless you, sir.
A: I’ll be 49 on Dec. 27,1999!! I guess drumming keeps me young!!!
Q: Scott Neis asks:
I saw you play at the drum clinic on Long Island last Monday, and I have a few questions. How many pedals are on your drum set? Is it like one pedal controls more than one drum or something? And I noticed you were playing tunes on the toms, and that horseshoe of Chinese cymbals in the air… Do you consider yourself more of an overall musical drummer, than just rhythms?
A: Please see the setup page for all the pedal info. They are all individual pedals but set up next to each other and at the same height so I can place my foot between any 2 adjoining pedals and get 2 sounds at the same time.
As I always say, I try to use not only rhythm, but also melody, harmony, dynamics and orchestration to make a complete musical statement on the drumset, whether I play solo, or with other musicians in an ensemble situation.
Q: Jay Tracy asks:
The last time I spoke w/ you (1996) I asked you about the last 2 Missing Persons albums making it to CD, you said that Warren was working on the project…any new news on the status?
A: No news about those CDs but we have released “Late Nights-Early Days”, a live album with the previously unreleased studio single of “Action-Reaction”. And coming soon is a “Remix Album” of many of our best tunes remixed by some of the world’s best remix artists from Cypress Hill, KMFDM, Bauhaus, Love & Rockets and members of Duran Duran, etc.
Q: What is the Bozzio/Bozzio/Jorgenson project on your discography (“Girlfriend from Hell”)?
A: Carol Bozzio (my sister and great singer/songwriter), Eric Jorgenson (my brother-in-law, webmaster, and great guitarist/producer/songwriter) wrote and played/sung on & produced this tune for a movie of the same name. I just played the drums on it!
Q: Rob Ferrell asks:
Killer website! This is the best artist website I’ve seen. My question is this: I play in an original band that has opened for the current incarnation of Missing Persons and Berlin. We have tracks on about 60% of our tunes. The other tunes have a lot of changes in them and intricate fills. The bandleaders are major fans of your playing, as am I, and I was wondering what exercises you did specifically to work on developing your “inner clock” and time feel?
A: I think that playing with a beat box/rhythm machine is great for this type of work. Also as you practice over time you will become more confident about your sense of time. Of course a clear and thorough understanding of pulse, subdivision and basic rhythmic figures is indispensable to good timekeeping as well.
Q: Donny Dee asks:
Is reading notation important in the music world?? Do you sight read?? What are some ways to improve your sight reading skills??
A: Yes reading music is very important to understanding rhythm and music! You don’t have to be the best sight reader, but if you don’t read, you will have no format for understanding how to count, subdivide, and create variations with rhythm. Very few great drummers don’t know how to read. They may be gifted natural musicians who have highly developed ears, but believe me, they are rare!
I can sight read most drum music-but if it’s very difficult and I can’t sight-read it, I can understand it, analyze it and work it out so I can play it. Sight reading is crucial to being a legitimate studio drummer, and can be an asset in auditioning for or learning music for a lot of high profile bands.
I think that Ted Reed’s “Syncopation” book is an excellent and simple method for learning how to read rhythms. Also, a beginning snare drum book is necessary for learning how to read rolls, flams, drags and other rudiments-there are too many to mention, so check with your local drum shop. Finally Louis Bellison’s “Odd Time Reading Text” will pretty much give you all you need for reading and understanding odd time signatures, like 3-5-7&9.
Please get with the best local teacher you can find, to help you to learn these things- a small effort now could make a big difference in your success later!!!