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Old 07-10-2016, 12:31 PM
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Default Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important



SKF NOTE: More words for drummers to live by from drum pioneer Bill Bruford.

Art Lange: You've stated elsewhere that [Jamie] Muir influenced you a lot. How, specifically?

Bill Bruford: Specifically that drumming wasn't all about thumbing through glossy magazines and buying cymbals and looking at shiny drums.

I grew up with him, in that I was playing a real musical instrument, and that it was a good idea to try to hear the drumming from the other musician's point of view.

Drummers are a very small narcissistic bunch, and they often are only interested in drums, and they can only hear music up until their ride cymbal, and then after that they're not interested, until "Here comes my fill" and then rrrrrrr and then this boring stuff goes on until the next fill. They wait unti these drum events occur.

Well, I grew out of that around that time, and I was no longer interested in all things wonderful about drumming -- the speed and the flash and all those things are no longer of so much importance to me. Jamie Muir rubbing two pieces of polystyrene foam together which produced a squeaking sound that was more suitable for the tune, well that was fine, we would do that then.

And he was making me do all kinds of things that were heretical on the drum kit, you know -- being very simple and doing silly things with it and playing it in a different way, treating sounds and putting chains on it and making industrial drum kits and lots of other things like that.

And he was seeing things much more conceptually than drumming; we weren't interest in technique. Texture and sound were much more important, yes.

Source: Bill Bruford: A Drummer's Beat, by Art Lange & Charles Doherty, Down Beat, February 1984

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Old 07-10-2016, 06:05 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

That's a bit negative if you ask me. I have encountered drummers who were only interested in fills but they are a very small minority. Maybe times have changed.

I think technique is paramount, it's what allows you to play with musicality and a broader range of patterns and tempos and dynamics. Down with this anti-intellectualism in drumming, there's nothing wrong with being systematic or scientific.
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:54 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

That's funny Dre-I'm a scientist (well was a scientist) by trade yet I don't approach drums in a methodical fashion at all. More of can I get the sound I want by any means sort of fellow. Not even thought about the physics of drums till recently. Part of my education was in blood vessel biomechanics. We used segments of vessels-so basically a hollow cylinder like a drum-just no heads. However I'd be the first to admit you will progress faster and achieve more if a focused methodical study. So the moral is don't be stupid like me. When I was most active in research I would play along to recordings or the radio for hours-not even conscious of what I was playing but thinking of a problem I was working on, what was the significance of some data, how to design an experiment, how to build some device to address some biological question, etc. Had several real epiphanies during that time that really sky rocketed my research. My peers would ask where the heck did you come up with that idea and I'd tell them "I drum them up" LOL.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:11 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

I'm with Bill, again. Its music, I try not to over think it or bring it down to mathematics. If I like the sound, and more importantly the feel of what I play, then I am more than happy.

If a drum geek in the audience is not impressed by my technique then thats there problem, I am the one up on the stage enjoying myself (Remember that) and they are the ones in the audience.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:39 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

I kind of wonder why Bill retired from playing.

Is it the Phil Collins take of I can't play like I used to ,so...?
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

When I saw Bill with his jazz band some years back, I swear it was the complete opposite though.

Granted, it was NAMM and the audience was mostly drum geeks.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:50 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

People do realize the article is 32 years old, right?
One's views/words change and evolve. His book is more balanced than this.
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Old 07-10-2016, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
When I saw Bill with his jazz band some years back, I swear it was the complete opposite though.

Granted, it was NAMM and the audience was mostly drum geeks.
Saw Bill when he was doing the Clouds About Mercury tour with David Torn.

Great show ,but it was at the Keystone Berkeley and there were 4 hours of opening acts that pretty much sucked.

He didn't come on until midnight.
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:55 AM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

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Originally Posted by Duck Tape View Post
That's a bit negative if you ask me. I have encountered drummers who were only interested in fills but they are a very small minority. Maybe times have changed.
You're right, times have changed. The 70s for drums in rock was equivalent to the Krupa/Rich eras of jazz, where players were egging each other on competitively to see what they could achieve. A number of the well regarded "flashy" players of rock were Krupa and Rich fans eg. Carl Palmer, Bonzo, Ian Paice. That's around the time BB came up. I always liked his timing, spaces, dynamics, colour and originality.

When I started out, verses were the boring bits you had to put up with so singers could have fun - until the fills and big buildups came. Yes, it was bone-headed and egotistical, but somehow when you put five bone-headed, egotistical young "musicians" - eg. singers and guitarists - in a room, the result somehow tended to be pretty good - at least to our cloth ears and those of our dopey drunk and stoned friends. The competitiveness was almost like team sport, and that at least meant that everyone put in 100% effort. Then we'd enter band competitions and complain that "art is not sport" when we didn't win lol

Then again, there's plenty of similar ego today amongst the "selfie 'n' reality TV" generations. The amount of deafening mindless posing on display at the London Drum Show just a few years ago was extreme even for an old Bonzo and Paice fan.

Maybe drums will always have an element of vaudevillian circus act about them?
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Old 07-11-2016, 02:02 AM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

Yeah Art, I know exactly what you mean. I've always been nerdy but started out completely the opposite. I was like a kid copying bird calls - you'd just try to sound like players you heard at gigs and on records.
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Old 07-11-2016, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

Great statement, I think even more relevant today than it was in '84.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:08 AM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

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Originally Posted by pgm554 View Post
I kind of wonder why Bill retired from playing.

Is it the Phil Collins take of I can't play like I used to ,so...?
His book, the final 1/4 of it anyway, is so depressing. He was basically doubting every note he played during the final years. I think he also started to question his legitimacy as a jazz player. It dawned on him at some point that jazz guys know a repertoire of standards, and they can play with anyone - that is, blend in. Bill is an adventurous musician, but is he a jazz drummer in the traditional sense? I'm not so sure.
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Old 07-11-2016, 10:27 AM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

Bill Bruford was/is a great drummer. He will always be known as the prog drummer in Yes and King Crimson. Why fight it, that's a beautiful and weighty legacy.

The drumming on the album Discipline is excellent, considered and free all at the same time.
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Old 07-11-2016, 02:09 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

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His book, the final 1/4 of it anyway, is so depressing. He was basically doubting every note he played during the final years. I think he also started to question his legitimacy as a jazz player. It dawned on him at some point that jazz guys know a repertoire of standards, and they can play with anyone - that is, blend in. Bill is an adventurous musician, but is he a jazz drummer in the traditional sense? I'm not so sure.
Saw him with his own jazz group some 10+ years ago, it was very good and original stuff. As to the 'standard jazz drummer' I don't know why he would want to be one, it is such a worn out discipline. You basically play exactly like the originators of modern jazz played since the 60s. Miles Davis himself didn't want to stay doing that.

The genre is unwilling to change, from my experience ;-) I tried to introduce some unheard of concepts years ago jamming with some jazz players, e.g. I invented two new things for jazz: a) the short ballad; and b) the head played by two soloists as a canon. Both concepts were rejected!
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Old 07-11-2016, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

After all his success in rock I really admire the guy for being brave enough to jump into jazz (I also like he grew to appreciate it so much-I can relate to that). Supernoodle all music is constantly evolving, though it can go backwards and in circles so I have no clue if there is any "direction", but I agree every genre have their purest who just resist change (I got use to it in research-everything I was doing was against some dogma or lots of other researchers findings- so sure there is reluctance). Like many purest will state lots of contemporary jazz isn't jazz, purest country say most country now isn't country, etc. What I really respect are all those musicians who are "different" and stay true to their art as they see it. It may not gain any traction but you never know they can be a trend setter. I was listening to some ole Howling Wolf driving yesterday after helping my eldest daughter and her husband move-man talk about the roots of rock and roll riffs.
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Old 07-11-2016, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

It's funny that I bought that issue of downbeat as a kid because I saw him on the cover, and I was never a jazzer. The guy was so ahead of this time then, and now.

What makes his statements more weighty then and now, at least to me is: everyone soon tires of musical masturbation and also intellectual masturbation. Once you "grow" you really have less to prove. I always thought of it as simple as this: shut up and play.
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Old 07-11-2016, 06:40 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

Quote:
Originally Posted by Supernoodle View Post
Saw him with his own jazz group some 10+ years ago, it was very good and original stuff. As to the 'standard jazz drummer' I don't know why he would want to be one, it is such a worn out discipline. You basically play exactly like the originators of modern jazz played since the 60s. Miles Davis himself didn't want to stay doing that.

The genre is unwilling to change, from my experience ;-) I tried to introduce some unheard of concepts years ago jamming with some jazz players, e.g. I invented two new things for jazz: a) the short ballad; and b) the head played by two soloists as a canon. Both concepts were rejected!
I always thought the whole idea of Jazz was that it can be anything you want it to be. Always expanding and splitting in different directions, morphing into different forms and sub genres.
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:23 PM
Supernoodle Supernoodle is offline
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

I thought so too! Sadly it does not appear to be the case... it was all happening at first, but for at least 30 years it seems all improvisation and innovation revolves around the same old thing, pretty much a set format.

Would be glad to be shown wrong though...
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Old 07-12-2016, 03:09 AM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

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Originally Posted by Supernoodle View Post
Saw him with his own jazz group some 10+ years ago, it was very good and original stuff. As to the 'standard jazz drummer' I don't know why he would want to be one, it is such a worn out discipline. You basically play exactly like the originators of modern jazz played since the 60s. Miles Davis himself didn't want to stay doing that.
There is no such thing as a "standard jazz drummer." Never heard of such a thing. This statement is a total misunderstanding of jazz music and I don't know where to begin correcting it.

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The genre is unwilling to change, from my experience ;-) I tried to introduce some unheard of concepts years ago jamming with some jazz players,
A genre can't be willing or unwilling to do anything. This category of "jazz players" of which you speak includes many thousands of individual musicians of all levels of abilities and a huge variety of interests and attitudes. Reducing it to one thing and one stereotyped kind of musician, as you're doing, is kind of stupid.

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e.g. I invented two new things for jazz: a) the short ballad; and b) the head played by two soloists as a canon. Both concepts were rejected!
That you think you invented those things suggests you haven't listened enough. Get some records.
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:58 AM
The Sloth The Sloth is offline
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

I was only saying that Bill was a specialist, an acquired taste within the jazz world. Genres do have rules, like it or not. Jazz probably offers the greatest amount of freedom to drummers, and that's undoubtedly what drew him to the music, but did Bruford's rim shots and general heavy handedness sit well within jazz music? Not always.
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Old 07-12-2016, 09:38 AM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

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That you think you invented those things suggests you haven't listened enough. Get some records.
The short ballad really is unheard of in all of jazz as far as I know (pls note sarcasm ;), and the canon idea being fairly obvious must have been tried, probably in the 1960s...
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Old 07-12-2016, 03:57 PM
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Default Re: Bill Bruford: Technique? Texture and Sound Were Much More Important

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Genres do have rules, like it or not.
As a genre jazz covers a tremendous variety of music. I would say any "rule" you care to state has probably been negated by somebody great at one point or another.

These words are also kind of meaningless to me as a player. Everyone I know says style rather than genre. I would also say expectations rather than rules-- that's a more useful word.

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The short ballad really is unheard of in all of jazz as far as I know (pls note sarcasm ;), and the canon idea being fairly obvious must have been tried, probably in the 1960s...
Like I said...
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