“Don’t seek to emulate the master;
After our session, I thought a lot about the quote at the top of the score. I even thought about what Jason might have been seeking while composing this music. Then I realized that those words directly relate to what I believe the goal of artistry is: to find your own voice. To do so we must emulate our idols, but at some point we must also find out what drove those people to create in the first place and then learn that about ourselves.
I idolized (and still do) my percussion teacher, Gordon Stout. I spent years studying his music and when I got to grad school, I got to see first hand what drives him. Then I realized what inspires me are my own passions, love, friendships and experiences (musical and non-musical). Find what makes you create or at least want to try to create and go for it!
Here’s the breakdown of what should happen in “September”:
1.) Drone (D natural)
2.) Noise with the ability to manipulate rhythm
3.) Short non-pitched rhythmic sounds
4.) Harmonic/melodic content (written for a chordal instrument)
For videos A and B we picked a few cards out of the can and used those words as guidelines while we moved through the form of the piece.
For video C, I asked Jason to walk me through how So interpreted their studio version of “September.” This time we stayed in the structure more and then added a coda at the end that was free. We used the same instrument palette as the previous takes, but tried to make some new sounds.
For those who also play kit, I would be remiss to not point out how great Jason’s touch is over the instruments. He was some how able to express music on the drums with a classical sensibility while grooving as hard as a rock or funk musician.
I hope you enjoyed our versions of “September”. If you haven’t checked out So’s versions, you can hear two different examples below.
Anthony Di Bartolo is a New Jersey-based percussionist, composer, and educator.