Art and politics

By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  May 31, 2006

I realized that all instruments are essentially drums; they’re resonating chambers that you attack with a bow or a pick or hit with a stick or your hand. It doesn’t matter what plays the backbeat. It can be the mandolin as effectively as the snare drums. And the result is highly dependent on who is hitting that instrument.

Recording is so highly developed today that you can look at a graph and see where a note is produced. You can tell if it’s behind or ahead of the beat by a millisecond, and the feel you get for a piece of music depends greatly on where and how the individual musicians place and attack those notes. The calculus of the entire process is so incredibly complex and amazing. And the wonder, the closest thing to magic, is that using a computer you can place that note exactly where another musician you like would place it, and yet it still won’t be the same.

We agreed that we wanted to hear something we hadn’t heard before, and that part of it would involve three full trap kits playing together, but with no hi-hats, because hi-hats prescribe time in certain ways. The idea was for the drums to not play any beats, but to just rumble. And it happened because the musicians were all together on the idea — as if we were all parts of one big resonating chamber.

T BONE BURNETT | June 2, 7:30 pm | Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville | 617.625.5700

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