Ever since I’ve started to listen to music on high fidelity equipment, I’ve experienced something transformative. But, hold the press! before I get there, I need to tell you how I used to approach playing in a band.
It went like this: look at me! Whatever song, whatever tempo, whatever mood, my goal was to be the center of attention. The longing question I had was always: how many notes can I place in one beat? The answer is: quite a lot. But the tempo has to be slow. Hahaha! You get it? Get it? Get it? No! I know a great music teacher that can help you understand the joke. You should call, it’s a great joke.
Music was about my technical prowess. Which was great for me, but me only, because nobody wanted to share the stage with my machine gun chops. So, I was without work. It went on like this for quite a long time. Cause, see, I was fast with my hand but slow with my brain.
Then, I was guided towards high fidelity equipment. I am not going to talk, yet again, about how I got to it, you can find that story among my blogs. In any case, I enjoyed music in a grander scale. The better the sound system, the more details I would get. I was spending my money on details, which, excuse me, is not preposterous.
Some of the things I noticed was that very rarely someone was taking over the whole music, even if they played a lot. Eddie Van Halen, dear Eddie, was a true musician: he knew how to shine without getting on your nerves. That is an art, my friend. One that shreds can irritate, let me tell you. Eddie: never! There was a generosity and talent that took you wherever he wanted you to go. I miss Eddie Van Halen.
I continue with my blog. Unfortunately it is not about Eddie, although, with my expensive gears massaging my ear drums, I understood the depth of his playing with much more clarity.
So, I listened to a lot of music. And I could hear every little thing in the recording. It was absolutely wonderful.
At the time, I was auditioning a lot. Maybe 3 to 4 auditions a week, plus jam session in local blues clubs, plus rehearsals with bands I was working with. And it took me a while to realize that I had all this work, but that I wasn’t playing very much. Wrong sentence, is what you’re thinking. Absolutely not! I rephrase: I was playing in a lot of different musical settings, but I wasn’t playing as many notes in each setting. I had trim down my playing. My worries had shifted: I wasn’t preoccupied to display chops, I was instead trying to blend. Just blend.
Is this song a jumpy little pop tune destined to make people dance? All right: play a beat as consistent as possible, spend little time filling and lots of time grooving. Is this next one a Mammoth guitar song bristled with kicks and stops? Oh, I’m there! Land the crash in perfect synchronization with the rest of the band, don’t speed up the tempo and twirl your sticks at the tips of your fingers. But now comes a slow number, full of tenderness and tears, displaying the pastel colors of depression. I shall be the shoulder you can cry on. Sweet hi-hat barely open, bass-drum pumping a soft heart beat, tom fill one note at a time, nothing brutal, nothing ferocious, I will let that heart break into a million pieces with the minor chords.
It was fun. I wasn’t playing the drums so much as I was playing the mood. In one word: I was playing the music. My hours of fine listening had given me a compass I could follow. All the dollars spent on details were paying off. I got hired more often, then not at all because I was refusing gigs: I was too busy. And all I did was blend. Just blend.