Friday, March 21, 2003

Be the drummer

My How To DJ Properly book talks about how to listen to records. Anyone who has been into a record shop recently will be familiar with the scenario of the spotty teenager armed with 150 records, all of which he listens to, all of which he buys, just to have an armful of banging tunes. In truth 99% of those records are likely to be awful.

The book suggests when you listen to a record you should imagine the people playing the music, listening to each instrument. This actually works, the music becomes more defined and layered and you get a much better sense of what works and has lasting appeal.

Obviously you sometimes just want to let it wash over you, but recently I’ve been driving quite a lot and trying to work out why certain records work and some don’t (resulting from the fact, I realise I don’t really like The Clash very much).

This has evolved into a game I’ve devised called ‘Be the drummer’. To play, you have to imagine the album you are listening to is being recorded in the studio. You are the drummer and having laid down your patterns you are sitting nonchalantly at the mixing desk as the lead vocals are being recorded. Listen to the vocals and imagine the lead singer in his booth getting down and doing his thing. Remember, you’re the drummer listening to his singing, you simply have to react to as you see fit.

Try it, especially with Hatful of Hollow by the Smiths. Morrissey’s bizarre falsettos, slurs and lah lah lah’s, make you just jump around doing double takes, raising your eyebrows and screaming “WHAT THE FUCK DID HE DO THAT FOR?”

It changes the whole listening experience, and is great in rush hour traffic.


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