by Adam Budofsky
There are forty-year periods…and there are forty-year periods.
Back in the Paleolithic era, all we managed to accomplish in a few million years was figuring out how to knock out some basic stone tools. The big headline between 11,000 and 9,000 B.C.? Some dude in Mesopotamia learned to domesticate sheep.
Of course, change has sped up exponentially. Anyone who began working with technology forty years ago, in nearly any discipline, used tools that would be considered antiquated today. Scanning my desk as I write this, there’s an iPhone, the computer I’m writing this editorial on, and my personal laptop—which, during my lunch break today, I’m going to use to make some edits to a podcast I started working on at home last night…in bed. Now glance at the opening photo of this month’s feature story “Modern Drummer: The First Decade” on page 53. See anything digital in publisher Ron Spagnardi’s office?
And not only have we changed our tools—they’ve changed us. In 1977, when MD began publishing, drumming was a purely physical activity, and the sounds we made pretty much resembled what people heard. Go back forty years before that, to the days of Gene Krupa and “Sing, Sing, Sing,” and it was basically the same scenario. Today, all bets are off. That pristine shimmer of a 20“ ride cymbal coming through your earbuds? It’s actually a sample played on a Roland pad. Similarly, technology has brought us from taking one-on-one lessons and playing along to LPs to participating in overseas Skype lessons and downloading apps.
Perhaps all of this isn’t as important as we make it out to be. After all, the core job description of being a drummer hasn’t changed: We keep time, we react artfully to the lyrics and arrangement, we make people move. For many of us, that’s where our interests begin and end. Fair enough.
But for others among us, there’s always some young rhythm wizard whose drum-cam videos we’re obsessing over, or some new snare drum or sample pack that we’re dying to check out. To read about the development of the drum gear that’s kept us salivating all these years, check out the feature “40 Years of Innovation,” starting on page 47. And to learn how the most famous living drummer on earth, Neil Peart, dealt with the issue of making room both for “classic” drums and the latest in gear design on Rush’s R40 tour, check out his MD interview, beginning on page 34.
Perhaps most important, many of us are constantly in search of new ways to exercise control over what listeners hear and feel. In 2015, no other musical element is more vital than rhythm, so who better to lead culture forward than us? To learn how some of today’s most thoughtful players envision the days to come, check out the “Future State of the Art” feature on page 58. It’s fascinating stuff.
One last note. Longtime readers will notice something familiar on the cover of this issue: the original Modern Drummer logo. Think of it as our way of reminding ourselves—and our readers—that no matter how boldly we forge ahead, it’s always wise to remember where we came from. Enjoy the issue.