Rhythms

There is perhaps no other auditory rhythm or pulse that reaches me as deep as music and its beat.  The connection I feel, the alluring sound just captivates my senses like a euphoric drug!  It is and has been my drug-of-choice for some thirty-five plus years.  And then descending from a long line of family who religiously dance… it is no wonder why I spend hours upon hours on the dance floor.  As I write this post I am listening to one of my favorite DJ’s in Dallas:  Per, who is a regular at The Church.  Like Per, I too am moved by Synth-Pop or Future-Pop, a European industrial-electronic-trance genre.  Here is one of his sets he played at The Church:

I’ve had technical issues with the SoundCloud player so if it isn’t loading up, click here to go to Per’s set.

The ChurchHave you ever danced so much and for so long that by 4 or 5 a.m. you are so exhausted that seconds after you sit or lay down you just slip into a deep slumber?  If not, then I highly recommend you do it.  It is like the deepest restful sleep you’ve possibly ever had.  You lay there knowing you have been rebalanced, reconnected with Earth and the Multiverse.  Not only do you “return home” but, it is a fantastic cardio workout!  Something I’ve quoted before deserves repeating:

Here is the mystery: If the rhythm is right, if the translation between inner mood and the drum membrane are perfect, then you know it instantly. “Ah, this goes with my body tempo, this connects how I feel today, how fast my heart is beating, what my thoughts are, what my hands feel like.”

When the rhythm is right you feel it with all your senses, every corner of your soul and being. You don’t fight it, but instead allow yourself to be propelled and consumed by its insistent yet familiar feeling.  All sense of the present moment disappears, the normal categories of time become meaningless.

We live on a planet of rhythm and time.  A planet that completes its cycle around the sun every 365 days, with a moon that cycles around us every 28 days, and we rotate around our own axis every 24 hours.  These cosmic cycles and our bodily ones, all connected to the circadian dance of day and night.  The mystery of rhythm and time found for a moment in the soul’s drum.  When it is right, you feel it with all your senses, every thread of your being.  It is the ‘sweet spot’ of connection.

Let your soul and body be carried away with the rhythm; feel it…drift, move.  You will not regret it.  No matter what anyone thinks, it is natural, it is genetic.  Dance together as partners or dance solo.  It makes no difference.  Just connect.  Let the rhythm take over, close your eyes, and move, dance like no one is watching.

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Live Laugh Love

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A Progression of Percussion

Egyptian stone motif c. 3000 BCE

How far can time be broken down?  How many different tempos can be part of one tempo?  There may be a few viewers unable to fully appreciate this drumming journey as much as a fanatical drummer will.  Hopefully, my tribe-of-the-skins will!  Send any of your drumming friends by!  They like me, who are instantly moved from ear,  to arms, to fingers, to the heartbeat, then to the hips and finally to the feet… there is no cure for rhythmic-addiction, especially if it took hold of your body and soul at the age of six.  Don’t bother finding me a RA support group (Rhythmics Anonymous) because I am an energized kinetic-lifer!

Written in an earlier post In My Tribe, there is a spiritual connection between a drum’s membrane or the drumhead, the various sound waves it produces, and the conduit it travels to the heart, soul and the rest of the body.  Former drummer of the Grateful Dead and now a professor of percussion’s ancient roots, Micky Hart joins the greater cosmic rhythms symbiotically into our body’s natural rhythms; he describes:

We live on a planet of rhythm and time.  A planet that completes its cycle around the sun every 365 days, with a moon that cycles around us every 28 days, and we rotate around our own axis every 24 hours.  These cosmic cycles and our bodily ones, all connected to the circadian dance of day and night.  The mystery of rhythm and time found for a moment in the soul’s drum.  When it is right, you feel it with all your senses, every thread of your being.  It is the ‘sweet spot’ of connection.

As many parents do with their kids, I was enrolled in instrumental lessons of some sort; Mom named me after her favorite guitarist, so naturally I was going to learn the guitar.  But as fate would have it inside my practice room at the nearby Brook Mays Music Store, I heard the pounding of my calling next door in their practice room not mine.  Done.  Once Mom realized that she could not get me back over to the guitar, she gave in and scheduled my first drum lesson!  As a boy, the first step in becoming a percussionist is learning the basic rudiments.  Boring?  At that time yes, but in hindsight it was most assuredly the right move.  To drummers-percussionists, precise syncopated rhythms are not just important, indeed they are sacred — holy, transfusing sound pushing us to a Greater High.  By high school marching band, I was playing the Quads.  I wished our percussion line was an eighth as good as this drumline and flag corp below from Basel, Switzerland or the more laid-back Hip Hop drumline after.  Notice the near infinite various independent rhythms all simultaneously woven into one primal tempo.


More liberal and not as ‘formal’ as drum corps is the no less exquisite tempos of the drum kits and their Masters.  Growing up my Lord of Percussion was the renown Neil Peart of the Canadian rock band, Rush.  Not only is Neil a phenomenal drummer like Swiss clockwork, but an even more accomplished lyricist.  When one of my soccer teammates first introduced Rush to me, like candy or ice cream to a child,  I could not get enough!  Neil’s unworldly precision and syncopation between his two hands and two feet, all four beating out hypnotic sound, I thought “Wow, so this is what drum-heaven is like!” — to this very day La Villa Strangiato is regarded as one of Peart’s eternal creations.  The following video is not Neil Peart but another excellent drummer demonstrating the beautiful complexity of the 1978 song.  It is not the full 9:30 minute version of the song, but a highlight of the most advanced rhythms perhaps Neil ever created.  If you would like to listen to the entire song click here.  The full version has a mind-blowing amount of time changes, tempo changes, mood changes, and several music genres mixed in that would challenge Mozart’s comprehension!  But this video grabs the highlights…

Percussion is not limited to corporate designed and manufactured musical cylinders and heads.  Many everyday items lying around the home or office, inside and out can be instantly turned into a drum or percussion instrument.  Perhaps you’ve heard of The Blue Man Group or another theatrical show named Stomp.  Watch how the latter use almost anything imaginable to turn mundane objects into an industrial orchestra…

Finally, I arrive at a most aggressive form of drumming that seizes my beast-of-rhythm just as equally as drum and bugle corps shows.  I had a very difficult decision between ending this blog with my 2nd most favorite drummer, Danny Carey of the metal band Tool…or the live drum kit duel between Sulley Erna and Shannon Larkin, both of Godsmack.  Erna and Larkin won out, but needless to say searching Danny Carey of Tool on YouTube is in my drumming opinion definitely worth a look.  Not to mention that many famous drummers in jazz, blues, rock, and metal started as percussionists either in high school marching bands, or in the nationally and internationally competitive Drum & Bugle Corps championships.  Drawing the curtain on this post, I hope I have opened up a tiny view into the emotion, force, and spirit of percussion, at least as it comes from inside my soul.  Enjoy…

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In My Tribe

I love music and I love to dance.  I am an eighth generation Texan and probably the 14th or 15th generation of dancers in my family descending from my paternal grandmother’s side.  Dancing and music runs deep in our blood and being a drummer all my life the dance floor was certainly my destiny.  My soul naturally gravitates toward the rhythm of harmonic melodic sound and firmly attaches itself, sometimes to the euphoric point of exhaustion.  Then, and rarely any other time, I connect to our Universe with familial bonds beating in various intuitive circadian ways.  The music takes over my body and my body follows its direction.  Mmmm, I vibrate within and I am home.

My home away from home

Watching me dance, one friend described it as a Shaman summoning the gods of Life.  That may be a most appropriate description because the “high”, if I may call it that, reaches primal tribal depths.  Yet I think it goes beyond just the show of being in a night club.  Actually for me it goes deeper.

 A tribal connection thrives in open free expression and it means the difference between existential loneliness and the tranquility of belonging.  I experience this every time I am with certain close friends at Panoptikon…my personal dance among my tribal dancers where I feel heard, understood, embraced, and open communication exists.  When I am among my tribe when I feel welcomed and embraced, I count myself lucky because I know how rare this “high” is in a society constantly going and competing.

2424 Swiss Ave, Dallas, TX 75204

Even though surprises arise in the process of free expression, or the dance, it is always worth the effort.  In less intimate relationships, expressing ourselves honestly is essential to our sense of home.  But we are not always home.  Whether inside our tribe or in foreign lands, articulate communication requires forethought; otherwise we risk blundering about like the proverbial bull in a china closet.  However, too much forethought can cause us to pad or dilute our words or dance, so much that we are grossly superficial or confusing the matter further.  Honest articulation, expression, dance are the critical principles among your tribe and there are many methods of doing this; none of them especially right or wrong.

When you communicate or express yourself honestly and boldly with your tribe, you also open paths to discovering more tribal dancers unique to your persona and purpose.  These recognizable souls can fall into your life from your own journey and initiative, or they can find you and lead you to new connection.  In any circumstance, if you feel disjointed then it is time to push your envelope, your limits.  Get out of your comfort-zone!  Fear stifles, courage fulfills.

For me and my primal connection, I dance with my tribe at Lord Byron’s Panoptikon — 108 S. Pearl Expy, Dallas.  They are now building their independent website.  Other nights I am down the street in Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX at The Church — 2424 Swiss Ave., Dallas.

From one of my favorite books by a fellow drummer:

Drumming At the Edge Of Magic – A Journey Into the Spirit of Percussion by Mickey Hart

Here is the mystery: If the rhythm is right, if the translation between inner mood and the drum membrane are perfect, then you know it instantly. “Ah, this goes with my body tempo, this connects how I feel today, how fast my heart is beating, what my thoughts are, what my hands feel like.”

When the rhythm is right you feel it with all your senses, every corner of your soul and being. You don’t fight it, but instead allow yourself to be propelled and consumed by its insistent yet familiar feeling.  All sense of the present moment disappears, the normal categories of time become meaningless.

We live on a planet of rhythm and time.  A planet that completes its cycle around the sun every 365 days, with a moon that cycles around us every 28 days, and we rotate around our own axis every 24 hours.  These cosmic cycles and our bodily ones, all connected to the circadian dance of day and night.  The mystery of rhythm and time found for a moment in the soul’s drum.  When it is right, you feel it with all your senses, every thread of your being.  It is the ‘sweet spot’ of connection.

I have found that for me vocal-trance, future-pop or synth-pop, and industrial-metal carry me away dancing.  A lot of the time I am completely oblivious to my surroundings.  If you’re wondering if this journey is in part or entirely a result of alcohol or drugs, you are incorrect.  Because of my family heritage in dancing, and my intuitive drum, I have no fears or hangups being in the center of the floor and letting my beast out.

Most of the time I am out there to the point of exhaustion if my particular beats go on and on; I can’t seem to stop.  And why would I?  Medical science has shown that getting your heart-rate up for just 30 minutes a day is equal to one anti-depressant pill.  I dance for at least 4 hours, sometimes 5 with just brief breaks to breath.  It is the best natural high I know other than the zone I reach playing the drums.  Well, actually I guess there is one other….the birth of my two children!  HAH!  No, to be fully transparent it was also the process leading up to my two children and those other similar moments. 😉

Find your tribe, find your dance, and you find a home where you belong.

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This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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