Improvizone

Spring 2010 gigs and yet another drum practice tangent

Andrew Booker 2010-01-19 22:44:14

We're back. Soon.

Seize your filofax and indelible ink-writing implement, and make note to join us for three more Wednesday evening sessions at The Plough in Walthamstow on 03 March, 31 March and 21 April 2010. Or, if you're not still living in the 1980s, poke it into your Apple, Blackberry, or other autumnal fruit telephoney thingy.

I'm looking forward to these evenings already. By then, the newly leafy Forest Of Epping will be in bud and blossom, as a change from the couple of weeks now thankfully behind us, when it was a miracle I made it down the icy and gritless paths to the tube station every day without slipping over sideways into some gently festering pile of uncollected rubbish.

It will be eight months since our last gig at The Plough, and it's nice to hear, when I ring up Dave the organiser, that we've been missed. Well, I've missed playing there too, truth be told. A relaxed five minute drive from South Woodfordshire, a street level venue with a projector for our visuals, a place where we are under no pressure to deliver anything other than exactly what we want. Nobody shows up...? Doesn't matter. People wander in...? Excellent. All of us are really comfortable playing there and we always get great music out of it.

For one of these sessions we will bring back the acoustic drums. Coincidentally, if not exactly in celebration of that, our latest download is from the last time we used them. And also the first time. I used a mainly cymbal based kit, with brushes and light plastic sticks most of the time, and it recorded nicely. From the competency point of view of my playing, I don't think I did massively well. Os and Mike did some great stuff together that I struggled to rise to. Consequently I knuckled down to exactly the same infrequent acoustic drum practice regime I had kept up before then. Except that towards the end of last year, I went off on a bit of an obsessive documentation tangent, making a web page cataloging my drum practice patterns.

I felt there was some extra benefit I could squeeze out of my longstanding drum practice slots besides wearing away the cartilage in my right knee. Oh no, hang on, that's not a benefit, is it. Sitting at the pots, week after week, struggling with my latest hair-brained pattern idea, I wished I had a medium for presenting at least the concept, considering I would probably never ascend to a level of proficiency in the pattern to play it live in front of people. And then an hour or two later I would emerge from the session and wander off to wait for the 123 back to South Woodfordsville. Not even keeping the practice room receipts for tax purposes.

Where I'm up to is that my drum practice page now has three views. First, it has a diary of what patterns I practice in a session. The idea is that after every practice session, I load up my recordings and edit any good patterns into mp3s for adding to the practice list. It isn't supposed to take long. Naturally, I have a backlog from last November. However, there are already some patterns where I can compare a recent recording to one from a few weeks ago to see how I'm progressing with the pattern. Progress, in my case, translates to ability to play it faster. It should mean ability to play it with greater control and accuracy, for example, slower.

The second piece is the tree layout I put together and wrote about last autumn. Or last fall, if you're reading this from the other side of the Atlantic. A very good afternoon to you. The third piece, provided your browser is Firefox, is a node diagram. It looks fun, though a bit of a mess right now. It uses the Jit JavaScript tree diagram library. I feel very happy to be getting your browser to do all the work instead of my hosting server. Unless your browser is IE, Chrome, or any other popular websurfing application that does not support Canvas. Libraries that use Canvas usually have their own implementation, except I can't get the one that comes with my version of the Jit to work on my IE7. And because I am that lazy, and have three gigs at The Plough to prepare for, I will almost certainly be doing nothing about it. Unless I find myself marooned amongst Firefoxless browser machinery and struck by the nagging concern that I should be acting like a real software developer.

Anyway, though my name be Mister Tangential, some last few words on these gigs. Lineups for our Plough sessions have been relatively static in the past, but for these three we will try and sprinkle a little variety here and there. Os and Mike will be in the lineup for all three, plus we hope to have a new guest for one, and bring back one or two guests from gigs way back. It's early days and I'm still sorting all this out though. So far I just about have the poster above. In its background sits Os on the left, with Mike nodding in a motion blur in the centre, underneath a photographic negative of a hemerocallis in my back garden. We were playing some pretty weird music too, probably.

The Improphone << | >> 28th gig: Wednesday 03 March 2010 at The Plough E17