A Student Asks: General Questions from a Student

The following from a student: ”Here are the questions plus many more that I asked you earlier on today. I truly appreciate your response and hope that it will bring some clarity to some questions that I’ve had for some time.”

Following are my brief replies (obviously a drummer):

Percussion: Grooves vs. Atmospheres? (thoughts):

It is the difference between ambiance and mood-waist up stuff- and getting down on the ground-below the waist in all ways  (if you get my drift)!!

How do you know when to stop adding things/parts?

Experience and of course utmost sensitivity-but more is expected of a young cat-you can always cut down.

How to go about tapping into the cosmos (i.e.direct connection, spiritual connection)?

Personal feelings or experience?  How do we get “in touch?”

You are in touch; just “being there” in the moment (which is a trained skill) is being in touch.

What initially took you to India? Why?

Went in ‘75 and ’76-the deepest musical culture in the world that doesn’t use harmony-the meaning of the music (for life events, seasons, etc) and the way they milk a melody(raga)-not to mention the unbelievable swing and rhythmic sophistication.

Looking back what did you gain/take away from that experience?

Heavy is heavy-don’t matter where or who or what.

How do the different cultures of your own study influence your life?

Direct musical ideas obviously-but more important different ways of experiencing life(through rhythm mainly).

What is improvisation?

Having a fountain of ideas at the ready that have been tested(practiced); which inevitably leads to being brave and confident enough to try them; and searching, searching, searching!!

What is art? Must we follow initially in order to lead later down our life path?

Imitation-stylization-innovation -IN THAT ORDER!!

Do you think studying so strictly in a tradition (other than our own, i.e. Indian music, afro-cuban music) hinders our ability to tap our inner voice?  If we always follow a set path, will we ever find our own?

There is a time and place to leave what you love the most behind in order to gain-if we follow a “set path” for too long, it becomes the easy way out.

Jack of all trades, master of none.”  Should we all put our energy (as music school curriculum says we should) in reaching certain levels of proficiency in so many styles/genres or does that go against the idea of music as art?

School time which includes the first ten to 15 years of learning an art form should be about what was(imitation) –then you move to stylization which means the music of the day-then you are on your own.
School Curriculum: Does it help or hinder our search of inner voice?  With all the bombardments of musts, tests, grades; do we really need to know all these things?

Not “all these things”–but you won’t know that till way after-there is no time after school-take advantage.

What is truly important?

Being good to people -giving out positive vibes to the world-being true to yourself.

The world (especially large urban areas)seems to be turning into a big cultural mash all over the world.  From your travel experience what do you think about this?

We are in deep shit-it is a cycle-has happened before, but will work its way out in some ways-in others, the shit is going to get worse.
Good luck