Who taught ‘cha?
An introduction by way of my greatest influences, musical and otherwise.
This video is part of a project I worked on for Digital Youth Network, through DePaul University.
The Journey Begins
I’ve been kicking around in my head and on paper (as well as several brainstorming Google Documents), the idea of starting a small business. With fits and false starts, I believe in approaching my third decade of existence that I’m finally on to something. There’s no proof yet, I may be on the wrong path. Let’s find out, shall we?
I intend to use this blog to document my ascent, descent or constant swirling, whichever motion pattern I find myself in as I struggle to earn a living, be a person and enjoy life. Please, wish me luck. Hopefully the attention I fidget and squirm for will keep me in check, helping me to adhere to the pursuit of my goals.
What I want to do is sell beats. You know, beats. Like, “Awwww, that’s a dope beat! Turn it up!” The kind that rappers rap over. Not Schrute Farms. Not beets. Not drum rhythms or patterns. Nor, in the strictest sense a single note a musical “beat”; but a song, with no vocals on it that a musical artist would purchase (or lease) to use as a backing track for their own performance. Mostly, these will be rappers or singers recording their own vocals onto my beat, though in theory a guitarist could lease a beat. Or a kazooist.
You know, beats. Instrumentals.
I’ve been a practicing musician now for about 19 years, beginning to study the drumset when I was in the 5th grade. While studying music education at The Berklee College of Music, I was lucky enough to be amongst the first class whose tuition also covered a Macintosh G4 laptop. Nestled amongst the other prerequisites like Harmony, Ear Training (with a few different Teachers, including John Funkhouser; what a tiny little classroom), World Civ, Arrangement and Conducting was M-Tech 111 (Shout out to Kai Turnbull – a hard name to forget).
I’m sure that now if you poll Berklee’s current freshman class you’d find a great deal of them are fluent in digital audio production. The same was not true nine years ago when I was a new student there. Of course sampling and digital production had been around for some time, but this notion of if you have a Mac you can do absolutely ANYTHING was only beginning to take hold. I’m thankful Berklee had the progressive outlook and commitment to outfit each student with a top-of-the-line laptop and an Oxygen 8 MIDI controller.
This is a time when there was no MacBook Pro. No Dropbox. Myspace reigned supreme. Ableton Live was in its infancy. iPods were white and, if anything, uniform. The weight of the near-term future was heavy though and I got hooked, slowly, but surely on digital musical production.
I wouldn’t have guessed that nearly ten years later, I’d put my bed in my livingroom to accommodate for a full-on home studio in the “bedroom”, that my drums would be stacked, in their cases in the front hallway, while a MIDI controller glimmered and twinkled between two powerful near-field monitors while I churned out both sample-based and wholly original music. This is due, largely in part to M-Tech 111. Due also in part to a suggestion a fellow student made when I said I was struggling to learn Harmony. “Have you tried writing your own music? That really helps.” That’s funny to think of now because I’m still shamefully ignorant about harmony, but I’ve written an awful lot of music.
In addition to tracking and musing on mypath up to and beyond this point,I also plan on helping out Rappers. You know, like, MCs.
As a drummer, beat-maker, engineer and producer I’ve worked quite a bit with other musicians, vocalists and MCs/Rappers. I can help you count 16 bars. I can help you learn the difference between triplets, 16th notes, 16th note triplets… rests, breaks, hits, stabs, kicks. What makes a good chorus? How can you accurately explain how you’d like a rhythm to be different? Did you really mean to say “half-time” – or is it “Shuffle”? Was that a “Rim-shot” or a “side-stick“?
I’m going to try to help you find out.