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Can you hear melody in the drums? | Jazz NIGHT IN AMERICA

Can you hear melody in the drums? | Jazz NIGHT IN AMERICA
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    [Christian McBride] If you're listening for a melody in jazz,
    you'll probably hear it in the horns
    or on the piano.
    But there's one place you don't often hear it:
    the drums.
    [Allison Miller] Your primary job as a drummer is to keep time.
    [McBride] Drummers have kept time for centuries.
    We can hear it in the military corps.
    And drummers continue to keep time
    in songs we hear on the radio.
    But the drums are capable of so much more than this.
    They can sing!
    [Miller] If you go back to African culture,
    where drumming came from,
    there were talking drums.
    You know where they could bend the pitches,
    and they were communicating with other groups,
    of the vicinity where they could hear each other,
    and communicating within the group they were playing in.
    I play this instrument,
    and I play jazz specifically,
    because I love to converse and
    have a dialogue with other musicians.
    I have to be able to play melodically
    to be able to interact on a level that I want to interact with,
    with the other musicians in my band.
    [McBride] Let's try a little experiment.
    First, check out the melody
    in this classic Duke Ellington piece.
    You got it? Now, let's see if
    Allison Miller can play it on the drums.
    Allison's playing different drums to produce a range of pitches.
    The bigger the drum, the lower the note.
    [Miller] OK, so that's a fairly literal interpretation of the melody.
    Let me try it now doing one drum, rim-shots.
    Cool? You can hear the melody in there, right?
    And you can even do something like this.
    [McBride] Those are rim-shots on multiple drums.
    When you bend the pitch,
    a single drum can produce a huge range of notes.
    [Miller] You can think of it as a guitar string,
    so if you go higher up on the fret —
    on the on the fretboard —
    you're changing the length of the string, right?
    Right, which makes it higher pitched.
    So you're doing the same thing here.
    Like the more, the closer I bring my hand to the rim,
    the pitch will go higher.
    [McBride] We've seen a few tricks
    jazz drummers use when they solo,
    but when a singer takes the melody,
    a drummer becomes more complementary.
    [Miller] Jazz drummers are always
    singing that melody in their head.
    We're comping using thematic nuggets from the melody.
    [McBride] Allison's not playing the melody, exactly.
    Instead, she's playing the rhythm of the melody
    instead of the notes. And, she's still keeping time.
    [Miller] So I might play that behind a soloist.
    And then from there it's like a conversation, a musical conversation.
    You wanna interact with the soloist,
    contribute to the music and to the improvisation of the music.
    [McBride] So now I want to introduce you to a new
    technology that builds on melodic drumming techniques.
    It's called Sensory Percussion by Sunhouse.
    See these black things on the drums?
    They detect Allison's playing and turn it into
    digital sounds depending on where she hits each drum,
    how hard, and how fast she plays,
    even down to pitch bending and rim-shots like we saw earlier.
    Drummers can map any sounds they want to the sensors,
    while playing the kit just like they would acoustically,
    taking melodic playing to a new dimension.
    [Miller] You know, before Sunhouse technology
    when you would hit an electronic drum
    or a trigger drum you get one sound.
    That's it, and that's not natural, it's not organic,
    it's not what we're looking for from a drum.
    So now we can finally break up the drum
    in regions like we do acoustically, but digitally.
    And we can even go further than we could go before.
    [McBride] It's a new frontier for melody on the drums,
    and we're only just starting to see
    what's possible with this new technology.
    In the meantime, see if you can hear melody
    in the drums on your favorite jazz record.
    You might notice something new.
    Subscribe to our channel if you'd like to see
    more Jazz Night videos and concerts.
    I'm your host, Christian McBride, see you next time.
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