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So where is our Paganini?

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  • So where is our Paganini?

    ...our Steve Vai, Miles Davis, Art Tatum?

    I am an accomplished drummer (25+ years on acoustics) who has recently entered the e-drum world. Here are a few e-drum performances that have excited me in the past:

    Bill Bruford providing melodic and harmonic content from the drumset with King Crimson and Earthworks.

    Peter Erskine playing a "steel drum" tune on e-drums via velocity switching.

    Norm Weinberg and the U of Arizona electronic percussion ensemble.

    Most of these performances took advantage of technology that has been around for years now (simmons drums, Kat multi-pad units).

    V-Drums arrived on the scene a few years ago and now e-drums are ubiquitous but I haven't heard many examples of people "pushing the envelope" with the latest technology. I know Omar Hakim plays them with Madonna but I haven't heard much detail about how he is using v-drums. The articles that I have read don't go into much detail about specifically what he is playing.

    Where should I be looking? Who are the the e-drum avant garde? Are there any great e-drum recordings that I should seek? Any great instructional material that I should be aware of (books, video, etc)?

    Check out my music: http://www.myspace.com/kellypaletta

  • #2
    Adrian Belew plays Vdrums on a ProjeKCT 2 Album called Space Groove. Every Vdrum owner should get this cd if you want to hear the vdrums doing cool electronic stuff.


    • #3
      Originally posted by klp:
      ...I am an accomplished drummer (25+ years on acoustics) who has recently entered the e-drum world.

      ...now e-drums are ubiquitous but I haven't heard many examples of people "pushing the envelope" with the latest technology.
      Man, I was beginning to think I was alone. You are absolutely 100% right on the money. The party line goes something like, "one cannot coax every subtle nuance of acoustic drums and cymbals out of (insert condescending adjective here) e-drums and therefore they are relegated to the status of cute pretender rather than heralded as new and potentially awesome mutation." I say, "nonsense", (edited for foul language).

      When I want all of the characteristics (and the accompanying limitations) of acoustic drums, I uh...use acoustics. E-drums hold promise similar to what electronic keyboards have brought to that family of instruments. Yes, outboard gear exists to do some of it without e-drums, but e-drums have enormous untapped potential IMHO.

      The answer to your question is rather disappointing I'm afraid. I've looked high and low and don't see many, if any, "pushing the envelope". I try to look at it as an opportunity rather than negatively, but deep down, its confusing why noone seems to be doing more with it. I'm not an inventor or an engineer, but right now today, I think I could build a better mousetrap...much better. Even with what's available, I don't think people are coming even close to realizing the potential. E-drums are still just an experiment for me, but...

      Note to self,..."become e-drums Paganini if you find some spare time (unless someone beats me to it)." Yeah, I like the sound of that.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Harlock:
        King Crimson's Pat Mastelotto (click this link)

        A r t i c l e s
        I know Pat, and mean no offense. He's one of the main reasons I said "many, if any" rather than just "any".


        • #5
          KLP, I notice you asked if there was any e-drums in the avante-garde. This is where I've been looking.

          I think the approach to e-drums means listening to performers and composers other than drummers, especially rock drummers. People need to look left of rock music if they are to find true inspiration for this instrument -- and they can bring it back to rock if they want. I'm aware of Mastellotto, and he is interesting but I can't seem to warm to King Crimson or the ProjeKts. I know CPGrossman can make some suggestions for the best V-drum Crimson releases.

          However, the avante-garde, if that's what you're looking for, is a great source of inspiration. I hope you're open-minded.

          Here's some stuff I've uncovered:

          1) Ikue Mori.

          Mori is a Japanese-American who originally started as an acoustic drummer. But since the early 90's she's concentrated on using drum machines -- Alesis is her choice instrument -- to create music. Every time I mention that she's a drum machine artist people roll their eyes, and on a drummer's forum I bet the initial reaction is to move on. But she doesn't use them to create techno beats, but rather textured soundscapes and exotic, layered rhythms that are almost wholly original. I suggest everyone who is interested in expanding the approach to e-drums check out her music. I have many of her albums so I can make suggestions if you like.

          2) Chris Cutler.

          One-time drummer for prog rockers Henry Cow and the Art Bears. I've never been a fan of either, but lately he's been performing improvised music using acoustic drums and percussion, including metal scrap percussion, and electronically treating them live. He gets some amazing sounds, and you may find you can do the same by stretching the effects and parameters on your module.

          3) 20th Century Composers.

          Electronic music didn't start with Aphex Twin, Devo, or even Brian Eno. Mid-20th century composers such as John Cage, Iannis Xennakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Raymond Scott -- yes, Raymond Scott -- were the first experimenters in tape music, musique concrete, and early electronic instrumentation. Often percussion instruments were recorded and manipulated to create wild sounds. Also, many of these composers wrote music for percussion orchestras, that, though not electronic, could certainly be ispirational to TD10 owners. Again, if you like, I can make suggestions.

          4) Techno, drum & bass, ambient artists...

          Szvook and postnukklear would be better commentators on this. I like Aphex Twin (I think 'Boy-Girl Song' is an electronic percussion masterpiece), some Talvin Singh (mixing tablas with beats, though most of his songs are kind of dopey, but I love the rhythm tracks), and the album 'Orbus Terrarus' by the Orb.

          5) World music.

          I can't cite any electronic musicians here, but world music is especially percussion-laden, and very inspirational.

          Miscellaneous mentions:

          Gerry Hemingway, 'Electro-Acoustic Solo Works 1984-1995' (dates might be off). Drummer Gerry Hemingway made a foray into tape music and sampling. These works are percussion-based, mostly tape manipulation, though there is a track of acoustic drums and midi-triggered sampler. Wonderful sounds; this has been a primary source of inspiration.

          Terry Riley/Kronos Quartet, 'Funebre at Mount Diablo' from the CD 'Caravan', also on a new release from the group (title unknown). This is an initially annoying track which bursts with electronic percussion -- it kind of sounds like a pinball game -- that turns into a moody string quartet piece. It's grown on me. Check your local library if they have CDs.

          Ministry, 'Where you at now/Crash and Burn' from the 'Twitch' CD. Another elecronic percussion masterpiece. Heavy.

          I may remember more later. Be warned, most of the above makes for difficult listening to the uninitiated. But hey, you did ask for avante-garde. Also, there is little live drumming....Cutler is the closest to a 'drum set' player.

          Suspend the drum-set-player hang-ups. If you really want to stretch e-drumming to an instrument that stands apart, acoustic-drum-kit-playing technique will not be enough (though necessary if you want to be able to execute your ideas)...one will need to take a creative approach to the instrument. Think beyond rock and roll -- there is music besides rock and roll, you know (I think it's interesting that you used the name Paganini...and I'm happy to hear that there's at least one more forum member who knows who Art Tatum is).

          I said it before and I'll say it again. the opportunity exists for any one of with the right amount of ambition to become the first electronic-drumming great...


          [This message has been edited by DJourg (edited December 11, 2001).]

          [This message has been edited by DJourg (edited December 11, 2001).]


          • #6
            Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone. I'll definitely check these out.

            I am a King Crimson fan but haven't paid much attention to the latest (sans Bruford) line-up. After reading some of the articles on Pat Mastelotto I'm intrigued.

            I'm also intrigued by the "avant garde" suggestions. I was using the term a little more loosely; not intending to mean a specific genre of music but was secretly hoping that someone might interpret my words as you did, DJourg. You mentioned a few artists that I am not familiar with. I am anxious to give them a listen.

            Thanks again for the suggestions (keep 'em coming!). I am glad to hear that e-drums are more than just a tool to easily re-create the sounds of top-40 records (fortified with the ocasional wacky door slam or car horn sound).
            Check out my music: http://www.myspace.com/kellypaletta


            • #7
              KLP, good to see another V-Drum proponent here in Seattle. Do you gig around with the V's? So far, I haven't seen anyone other than myself actively gigging around here w/V-Drums, although I'm sure there must be at least one or two others. I feel that by no means do I "push the envelope" compared to what the potential is, but just using the E's vice the A's on an everyday basis has been quite a leap for me.

              I know of one guy who uses a hybrid E-drum/A-drum setup here in a couple of bands, but most every place we play, the sound guy freaks out over my kit.

              My feeling is that the more exposure to the public that we give V-Drums/E-Drums, the more widely accepted and thus more widespread they'll be. Then you might see more sh!t-hot young drummers playing E's instead of (or in addition to) A's and becoming the next Terry Bozzio Esoteric Avant-Garde drummists on electronics.

              Game on,


              [This message has been edited by fartnokker (edited December 12, 2001).]

              Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


              • #8
                Akira Jimbo.

                I know he uses Yamaha not Roland, but his playing shows exactly what can be achieved with sufficient facility, technique and understanding.

                If you're not aware of him, his trick is to use triggers to play the "tune" - live, in real time - while still keeping a full groove on his accoustics. No DAT, no sequencing, no other musicians required.

                Stunning, staggering, should be required listening and viewing for all of us.



                • #9
                  Akiro's 4-way arm/leg independence is truly amazing for those of you who may not have seen him. And I agree he is pushing the envelope out and doing some intersesting things.


                  • #10
                    Hi All ,

                    Another chap , who plays Yamaha stuff ,is Tony Verdarosa http://www.tonyverderosa.com .Checkout the New Video section for some quicktime movies.
                    There are three people who really got me into e-drumming and the sonic possibilities of it .Bruford , especially the album "Flags" with Patrick Moraz.This is the ol' Simmons kit and pitch mallet stuff.Secondly the Grateful Deads' two drummers.They used to do amazingly weird stuff blending acoustics with e-drums. I would have to say that that is my real starting point for what I want my e experience to be. Lastly Andy Gangadeen who I saw at a Zildjan day with a real spaceship of a kit.He played a very dance/techno set with pads and samplers and was really doing what most people thing a DJ would play.
                    All three are very different applications for e-drums and only really scratch the surface.
                    I would highly recommend an album called "Infa red Roses" by the Dead just for sonic amazingness.Theres no real songs as such just studio manipulated recordings.The opening drum solo shows the movement of acoustic to electronic very well.

                    To nail my colours firmly to the mast I am right with real drums for acoustic and e for everything else.E-kits in general now seem very lifelike and this is down to e-drums trying to mimic the real thing , and for that I'm very grateful.It's just that I'm more interested in plugging it into a PC for midi applications or playing anything other than drumsounds. Having the kit feel like real drums does help a hell of alot though.
                    Sorry to finish on a gripe but I do wish Roland would put a tap tempo button on their modules similar to the Groovebox range.Would really be useful.

                    Thanks for reading ,


                    Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.


                    • #11
                      Oh forgot to ask......DJourg do you have any url's for any of your recommendations that maybe have a soundbite or two.
                      Am doing some searches but keep misstriggering............


                      Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.


                      • #12
                        Another Mastelotto offering is his "solo" project with Mastica. It's a trio, and uses E-drums extensively.

                        Actually, he uses an acoustic snare and bass drum (DW), with triggers.
                        "I'm not a guitarist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!"


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rabryars:
                          Oh forgot to ask......DJourg do you have any url's for any of your recommendations that maybe have a soundbite or two.
                          Am doing some searches but keep misstriggering............


                          Other than amazon.com or towerrecords.com, which often have short snippets of certain tunes, the only other place I can think of is allmusicguide.com. Under the Ikue Mori listing they have a list of downloadable tunes -- not sure if they're complete -- but it appears you have to pay for them.

                          A google.com search may get you something.



                          • #14

                            Music was my first love...


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Stoovey:
                              Another Mastelotto offering is his "solo" project with Mastica. It's a trio, and uses E-drums extensively.

                              Actually, he uses an acoustic snare and bass drum (DW), with triggers.
                              Also check out Pat's and his drum tech Bill Munyon's new project BPM&M, which is more electronic than Mastica.

                              "Fry that sound effect, Moriarty, we're having it for breakfast"