RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Friday, August 21

45s on 33 – #19: “Let the Drums Speak”

I like to waste time scouring the digital camps of bands and clouds of sounds, looking for African producers of today music. Cultural anthropologist know-it-all justice bridgers love to point out how the drum is part and parcel of the African experience, which I’m not convinced “drum” is basic to all of humanity though certainly more prevalent in some cultures than others, but fuck man, all people historically have had elements of their culture who like to bang on shit rhythmically. Nonetheless, post-digital influence on music making, where live bands are replaced by dudes with laptops, it is interesting to go seeking out post-digital music (beat) makers from the African continent, where live drumming is still a larger part of actual real life. (To clarify, I’m not dissing modern beatmakers or being like “LIVE DRUMS BETTER THAN STUPID COMPUTER PEOPLE!”)
Drums make backbone rhythm of most music now, regardless of whether that came from Africa or not, that’s fact. (You could add bass to that as well, but let’s stick with drums for the sake of this word meander, okay?) You could consider drums laying the path that a piece of music follows, where the drums guide the music as well as the listener as to the direction to follow. Thus, the move to digital production of music, where samples are used or machine-generated drumbeats are done at an incremental piece of time then looped so as to repeat the pattern takes the path and eliminates some of the meander that live drums have. Basically, it is the difference between a traditional footpath which became a trade route, which might pass around this mountain but then curve back organically to this river confluence, and a railroad town built all at once, strict squares in place, streets all straight as they can be, ground leveled to allow for this. That’s the difference between live drumming and digital drumbeats. Again, not dissing the new, because even in a gridlocked little town built by the company’s devious master engineers, you can vandalize the fuck out of everything to make it beautiful. You can still meander off the straight path.
But the beauty of the meandering path is that you can meander off that too, and then you are meandering off a meander. (That feels like some shit Pooh bear would say, not cartoon Pooh bear but old ass book Pooh bear. Again, not dissing the new Pooh bear – each epoch needs its versions of shit, especially in a capital system where you’ve got to squeeze more fucking profits out the poor Pooh bear’s throat.) Thus I find myself wandering the gridlocked squares of the internet, trying to find “producers” from Africa, who combine the new-fangled looped path, but with the meandering philosophy deeply ingrained in who they are as well, as it is still part of their life (I am assuming… let’s not even start opening up that Pandora’s planet rocks). Thus you have the straight path complemented by meandering path, still letting the drums speak, not just forcing them to repetitively say the same shit until it’s beaten into your head, as if your head was a drum instead of the drum beaming into your head.
Actually, that thought kinda fucks me up, that we are now the drum, being beaten into a rhythm to hold, by unseen hands. So with that existential crisis, I guess I’ll leave you for the moment.

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