An Editor’s Overview
Follow Your Heart
by Adam Budofsky
There are multiple reasons we go down particular paths of drumming education. Our first teacher introduces us to Stick Control, and we start getting our hands together. We hear “Achilles Last Stand,” and John Bonham’s right foot becomes the new bar to reach. Later Count Basie sets us on the long journey toward developing a righteous swing feel. And on and on.
I’ve noticed that as we get older, some of us begin to be influenced more and more by things outside of music. Recently my passion for political and social issues has led me to try to cop some grooves that I’ve never attempted before, from parts of the country and the world that I want to learn more about. At the same time, lately I’ve been bumming because for far too long I haven’t played regularly in a band—at least one that I’ve wanted to fully immerse myself in, head, hands, and heart. I need to get my act together, call some friends, and see what we can get going—maybe something that features topical and ethnic elements.
Meanwhile, I’ve been feeling unexcited by my setup these days. Despite having a woodshed full of drums and percussion, I haven’t had much luck coming up with a unique arrangement that inspires me. Then last night, while listening to a CD of Nigerian funk from the ’70s, an idea hit me that could potentially fulfill several of my current desires. What if I put together a playlist of some of my favorite dance music from around the world and used it as the basis to learn some unfamiliar rhythms? That list could also serve as a template for this band that I’ve created in my head—and maybe even inspire a new but practical setup.
The playlist came quickly. I guess some of these ideas have been swimming around in my subconscious for a while. (You can check it out at Modern Drummer’s Spotify page. It’s called AB’s Imaginary Band.) The drum setup’s still a work in progress, though. To be honest, my personal battle has never been coming up with cool arrangements; what’s been tough for me is settling on one. Go to my Modern Drummer Facebook page to see my latest, though it’s a good bet it’ll change by the time this issue hits newsstands. Oh, well, I guess there are worse problems to have than obsessive-compulsive drum disorder.
If you’ve been in a rut lately—or even if you haven’t—I encourage you to look to your own interests away from music and see if they lead you into some new territory. Put together a playlist based on, say, your love of old automobiles. There are a million great songs about cars and driving—“No Particular Place to Go” by Chuck Berry, “Radar Love” by Golden Earring, “Brand New Cadillac” by the Clash…you could do worse than spending time picking apart those drum parts. Or maybe you’re into Clint Eastwood movies. Immerse yourself in Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti-western scores and Lalo Schifrin’s Dirty Harry soundtrack. Talk about a wide range of sounds!
Even if we don’t end up taking our playlist inspirations to the stage, there’s absolutely no risk of injury from falling down this type of rabbit hole. To the contrary, I can almost guarantee that we’ll discover something about drumming that we didn’t know before. And who knows, like Alice in Wonderland, we might even find ourselves in the process.