Wednesday, September 03, 2003

That cookie thing worked pretty well, I might have to make some more.

I knew I was in trouble last week when I couldn't drum. Sit in front of the set, stare at it for a few minutes, then leave the room. That's bad news. Drumming is one of the few--if not the only--things I do just because I like to do it. I might not be really great at practicing or doing skills work, but I'm always ready to make noise. And if I can't do it, that's a warning sign. Then, too, after I talk with Bobby, I'm usually all about coming home and laying down the backbeat, but on Friday, I could barely stand to be there listening to him, even though he was writing out exactly what I said I wanted, some Motown fills. So what's the problem, then?

Still not drumming. I did read a drumming book, though, and I'm thinking about listening to a CD or two, so maybe that's progress.

Yeah, last night I read Mickey Hart's Drumming on the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion. I'm not exactly its intended audience. I couldn't be spiritual if someone pried open my mouth and dumped a gallon of homemade spirit pop down my throat. I'm not a Dead Head, and can only hold a reasonably informed conversation on the Grateful Dead because I lived in Eugene, Oregon, for too many years. But it was a good read, nonetheless, and almost made me turn on some music (not quite).

I think to read it, to try and really understand what the author's trying to say, you have to turn off your scholarly mind. You can't start criticizing his use of anthropological texts and ethnographic records. Well, you could, but you'd be missing the point. Mickey is trying, I think, to figure out if that vibration that rests right below your sternum, always there but only provoked into showing itself when it's taunted by a percussive instrument, has any meaning at all. His method of discovery, I think, is secondary. And I think it's the quest, not the final answer, that feeds his spirit.

And here's the thing. I've had Mickey Hart's Planet Drum Supralingua CD for years--five years, something like that. But I never play it. I played it once when I got it, and then a couple of times fairly recently, but never the entire way through. As stupid as it sounds, I never listen to it because I've always felt like it needed more than I could give to it. It's exactly like my Rhythm Quest CD--if you can't put on headphones, turn off the lights, and sit still and really listen, there's no point, because if you can't do that, you're really and truly missing *the* point. I'm too superficial a listener, too amateurish a musician, to do either of those discs justice, so there they sit, gathering dust in the CD rack, waiting for me to reach a point of aural enlightenment so I can enjoy them.

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