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Dr. Bill Bruford

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  • Dr. Bill Bruford

    I saw the good Dr. the other day. He was giving a lecture at a local college on the topic of his new book "Uncharted" (a discussion and analysis of creativity of the "Western kit drummer"). No playing, of course (now that he's retired), strictly an academic presentation. Having already read his book, I enjoyed it thoroughly. By all accounts, a gracious and interesting man. And for a guy pushing 70, he appears to be in great shape. No addled old rocker or jazzer gone to pot, that's for sure.

    For those interested, Uncharted is not a light read. Definitely not summer beach material. For that, get his autobiography. Uncharted is an academic work. Lots of references that might lead to engaging little corners, too. My understanding is that this book is a somewhat more reader friendly version of his doctoral dissertation.

  • #2
    Thanks for the info Jim, so he's retired has he. He is younger than me (just). Perhaps I ought to give up and fade away now before anyone notices I still have a pulse..


    • #3
      I didnít think it was possible to retire from playing drums. Does he not play at all or is it just a performing retirement?
      Roland TD30 module on TD20 kit SD3 with various kits. Pearl Masters Kit, Yamaha 9000RC original natural wood finish. Cymbals from Zildgian Pasite and Sabian. Loads of percussion bits. Cubase and Wavelab always current versions.


      • #4
        I think when the time comes and you keep falling off your throne, generally its time to quite.


        • #5
          Originally posted by mkok View Post
          I didnít think it was possible to retire from playing drums. Does he not play at all or is it just a performing retirement?
          My understanding is that he's retired from performing. He said that he wasn't enjoying performing because he felt he was under so much pressure to be a "Genius" with every hit. The rigors of the road and dealing with the business side of touring got him down, too.
          Acoustic: FrankenKit - Late '60s Slingerland Kit, Ludwig snare and floor tom, add-on Pearl toms, Zildjian, Sabian and Paiste cymbals. DW5000 double pedal.
          Electric: Roland TD-25 for snare, cymbals and bass, Alesis DM-10 with Bluejay sounds for toms. Variety of Roland pads for cymbals and drums.


          • #6
            BB will be 69 next month (May). I seem to recall that he retired from public performance when he turned 60. There are anecdotes in his autobiography. Among other things, he was having issues with his back. I also saw a comment where he said he "couldn't hear what to play next". I think this is what led him down the path to research drummer creativity (which was the topic of his PhD dissertation). His latest book, "Uncharted", is in essence, a more reader friendly version of his dissertation. After his lecture I got the chance to talk to him for a minute and mentioned that when his dissertation was published I started to read it. He said "Oh no, you don't want to do that!" to which I responded that shortly after I began I had heard that he was writing the book and I decided to wait. I think he was a little relieved. In fact, during the Q&A I had a question about some content in the book and I think he was genuinely surprised that I had read the whole thing. It is an academic work as I mentioned. And he was gracious enough to sign one of my splash cymbals (which is now hanging on the wall in my studio).

            Whether or not the good doctor plays drums in his house for pleasure these days, I guess few people know for sure.


            • #7
              Great thread Jim, thanks for all your efforts! Did you ask him what he thought of the new released Simmons stuff?

              My bands: Alter Ego, Arcanum
              E Kit = Roland TDW-20s kit // Roland SPD-S// Pearl Demon Drives//
              A Kit = Tama Swingstar 5 pc (1981) w/roto toms (orig owner!) //Zildjians
              A Kit = Natal 6 pc with Paiste 2000 & Zildjian/MidiKNights/DrumSplitters


              • #8
                No, I did not. I will guess that he probably would not care for it, especially seeing that he completely abandoned electronic drums by the second incarnation of Earthworks, and that was a few decades ago. I have read interviews where it comes across that BB was just frustrated with the electronics in that they didn't "speak" to him.

                It's funny, but I spent from the early 1980s to about 2014 searching for the ultimate volume control for drums. That started with an SDS 7 kit, moved through several variations of my own e-kit designs, then into Roland (first with rubber pads and then with mesh pads) eventually using an expanded TD-20 module with my own mesh pads using off-the-shelf drum hardware and custom shells. All that time the systems kept getting better but ultimately I had come to realize that the kit still lacked a certain immediacy that I remembered from decades prior. That's when I bought an acoustic kit. There are some things that I miss about the e-drums (volume control being a major one), but I have a much better appreciation now for BBs comments about the drums "speaking".


                • #9
                  You are so right Jim, for ages I have been trying to explain the A-kit thing and its as you say, they do talk to you, every kit has its own character, and soul. That's what I miss. Thanks mate for the enlightenment.