I used to play drumset for this vaudeville-style burlesque variety show in Manhattan on Saturday nights. The show is pretty crazy - jugglers, comedians, a sword swallowing belly dancer and plenty of half naked women. At some point, I needed a sub and at the time didn’t really know anyone in NYC. Somehow I got Josh’s name and he was available. After he came to watch the show, his only words were “What the…!?”, but he told me he’d play. We talked for a while about percussion, good whiskey and other stuff that I can’t remember. Keep in mind that music you make with people you can get along with is much better than music made with people you can’t.
Since then, Josh has been doing some awesome things. He just finished the 2016 “NY Spectacular” show at Radio City holding the drum chair. He has also held the Timpani/Percussion chair for the production “Heart and Lights” and the famed “Christmas Spectacular”. Currently, Josh subs on Broadway’s Aladdin, Jersey Boys and performs in the Tri-State area.
For post 9, Josh and I decided to focus on the non-pitched palette. Our overall goal for this performance was to blur the lines between rhythm and gesture. Sustain from the chimes, cymbals, bass drum and thunder sheet is one way we could easily accomplish this even though it is not an easy task! We also experimented with alternating roles - if I heard Josh playing more rhythmic patterns, I tried to do less of it. We also took bursts of notes we played and developed them independently to produce a mass of sound that has rhythmic drive, but not necessarily in a tempo and certainly not in time with each other (even though we do groove as well). Since we were short on time, we only recorded one video, but there will be a second part to this collaboration sometime in the fall. Enjoy!
(Note: the piccolo snare drum and cajon are not visible in my setup)
*Headphones strongly encouraged due to the extreme dynamic contrasts*
We chose to assemble a multi-percussion setup using both pitched and non-pitched instruments or a "super marimba" as Phil called it. In my previous posts I focused on keeping pitched and non-pitched instruments separate, but you'll see here that combos work too. The melodic material is based on four notes: C-F-F#-B and we slowly progress into the key of C minor.
This one features lots of metric modulations and also body percussion (clapping, snapping, stomping, etc...) as well as the two doumbeks. Another version of the non-pitched palette!
One thing that was really interesting to me about this one is how we explored long notes using bass tone. If you focus on the two pitches it is like a melody.
The four notes D-Eb-Bb-G are developed during this session. Listen to how far we take it! Compositional tools such as augmentation, diminution, inversions and more were used. Phil had so many great melodies in this one!!
Free improvisation on snare drum. Can you name the pieces Phil quoted?? You better...
The theme in this session is the paradiddle. Notice how we took elements of the paradiddle sticking and turned them into phrases. We also expanded to double, triple and paradiddle-diddle. Check out "Rudimental Arithmetic" by Bob Becker for more permutations of these stickings. That book changed my life.
Thank you to Phil O'Banion for your time and amazing musicianship! Everyone should now go listen to his new album of pieces for percussion and electronics called "Digital Divide". It features music by Ivan Trevino, Andy Akiho, Lane Harder, Baljinder Sekhon and Patrick Long. That is all.
Improvisation Etude 1 - any pitched instrument(s)
Test out your improvisation chops! For pitched percussion instruments, this etude explores the use of pitches within an E lydian scale to construct a pleasing piece of music in ABA form. Left hand gestures are given throughout. This etude will be included in my upcoming book on how to freely improvise. Try it with a group too.
Anthony Di Bartolo is a New Jersey-based percussionist, composer, and educator.