Tag Archives: music

Promoting New Art – Helen Perris

I love coming across new music, new books, new artists, and supporting and promoting them however I can.

One way is blogging about their art and material, another by putting links via social media avenues.

Today, local Sydney artist, Helen Perris releases her new song, Mirrors and Windows. I really like this song. Lovely production. It has a pop sensibility with reference to Helen’s influences in cabaret and musical theatre. Think Amanda Palmer, Tori Amos, Kate Bush. All lovely stuff.

Helen is a singer songwriter, musician, promoter of the arts and a generally cool person to know.

Watch the video below.

Check out Helen’s page and bandcamp site for more of her music.

Whenever you can, however you can, support artists. Promote them, buy their products. 

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The Parallel Between Writing and Drumming Part 2

A little while ago I wrote about the parallel between drumming and writing and I’d like to extend the idea with a few more examples.

I’ve been having a bit of dig into U2’s back catalogue lately and really enjoying the drumming of Larry Mullen Jnr. He is not touted as one of the world’s best drummers but he has some inventive drum parts that are fundamental to U2’s sound. It’s a unique voice.

The same applies to writing; each writer has their own voice, their own turn of phrase and vision of seeing the world that is evident in their work.

Here are my Top 5 U2 songs where the drum part is an integral feature, a way of finding and expressing voice. For me as a writer and drummer, sometimes the simplest groove can speak volumes but then it’s the little touches and flourishes that make your work stand out from the rest.

5. Pride (In The Name of Love)

There are 2 touches that I love in this song. The first is the floor tom hit just after the snare. The other is the snare roll into the chorus. Nothing flash; just solid and accented beautifully.

4. 40

I’m a sucker for a sixteenth note pattern on the hi hat (played on one hand) and this song delivers. It provides the motor to the song, accompanied with quick, open accents, and 32nd flourishes. Tasty.

3. Sunday Bloody Sunday

A military march played on hi hats and snare. Crisp, focused and aggressive. 

2. Bad

I love this song for its build. The kick drum is the foundation while the snare and hats become layers as the song builds to its climax. There are echoes of Sunday Bloody Sunday (and you can also hear the 16th note pattern feature heavily in other U2 songs like Where The Streets Have No Name, All I Want Is You, Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own. It’s a feature of Larry’s drumming and I love it).

1. With or Without You

The pattern on the floor tom, the snare hit and the open hi hat bark. Simple, elegant and brilliant.

I have my drumming heroes and my literary heroes. I am influenced by what they play, what they write, and through experimentation, amalgamation, inspiration I find my own voice.

How do you find your writing voice? 

What Is the Parallel Between Writing and Drumming?

What is the parallel between writing and drumming?

The TL;DR version: vocabulary is essential for writer and drummer. Read widely, listen carefully, & choose the right word for the sentence.

For a fuller explanation, read on.

The parallels between writing and drumming become clearer each time I pick up a pen or a set of sticks.

Writing fiction consists of ordering letters into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into a completed narrative, whether it is a short story, novella or novel.

Drumming consists of ordering strokes into patterns, patterns into grooves, and patterns into fills.

Drumming is made up of 3 basic sticking combinations:
– the single stroke roll RLRL RLRL*
* R = right hand L = left hand
single-stroke-roll-1– the double stroke roll RRLL RRLL
double-stroke-roll-1– flams
Everything is then a combination of these basic sticking patterns. For example, the paradiddle RLRR LRLL combines the single stroke and the double stroke

Other rudiments include the 5-, 7-, 9-, 11- and 13-stroke roll; flam paradiddles, triplets etc. All in all, there are 40 recognised basic rudiments to master. 

PAS 40 Drum Rudiments

This forms the vocabulary of the drumset, starting with the snare drum then expanding the rudiment to be played on other surfaces of the drumset from toms to bass drum to cymbals or other sound sources. 

Knowledge, and mastery, of the rudiments gives a drummer a vocabulary to draw from when playing. At times it can be as simple as this:

to the complexity of this: (it is well worth the time to listen to the introduction to understand why this piece came into being)

And then this because it is just so cool:

Being literate is the fundamental key for both writing and drumming. A limited vocabulary limits the power and extension of what you are trying to say. 

Profound thoughts are often expressed with the simplest of words.

When I was studying New Testament Greek, at the first class, our lecturer had us turn to the Gospel of John and read the first few verses, in Greek. We were novices, had no idea, but with a few helpful hints we garbled our way through. The lecturer’s response was to comment that it was very simple Greek, yet contained much that was deep and profound. 

Similarly, when I was reading Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” I was struck by the simplicity of the language; very understated without frivolous embellishment. Yet it was in the simplicity of the language that the depths of the horrors of the world he was describing were manifest.

And complex ideas are also expressed in language so dense you need to be initiated to understand it. I have tried to read A.S. Byatt’s “Possession” but couldn’t get past the first page.

The hardest part is knowing when you use the vocabulary you have at hand: either the simple or the complex. Both serve a purpose.

The Takeaway

Mastery of vocabulary is paramount for both writing and drumming. Expanding your own vocabulary and voice is essential to tell the narrative you want to tell, to communicate the emotions you want the reader or listener to engage with.

Master the language by
* Reading widely

* Listening carefully.
* Experimenting with voice.
* Choosing the right word for the sentence.

A Little Prompting #16

Welcome to another week of A Little Prompting.

How has your creative life been travelling? Mine’s doing well. Currently working on a short story with aim to sub it for a comp with a May 31 deadline. I need to get cracking.

THEME  The Persistence of Time
RANDOM LINE PROMPT  “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” 
― Marthe Troly-Curtin, Phrynette Married

Salvador Dali - The Persistence of Time

Salvador Dali – The Persistence of Time

SONG/MUSIC VIDEO  Anthrax – Got The Time
SENSORY SUGGESTION Feeling the weight of great-grandfather’s pocket watch in the hand of a six-year-old
QUOTE “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


Those Who Can, Do AND Teach

There is a saying: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

What a load of bollocks.

It’s said as an insult; a derogatory, snide remark to elevate one person and denigrate another.

As a teacher, it’s particularly insulting because it’s my profession, my career, my calling. To teach is to pass on knowledge, information, insight, technique, skills, habits.

To say those who can’t, teach, is to abrogate responsibility of all people to teach one another. 

Fundamentally, every interaction is teaching. We give it different names or titles like coach, mentor, professor, guru, but the interaction is the dissemination of knowledge and the acquiring of skills.

Teaching is an aspect of our relationships with one another. As parents we teach our children right from wrong, good from bad. We teach them to tie shoelaces, ride bikes, make sandwiches, treat people with dignity and respect, how to make friends. We should also teach them to create. Never let a child feel like creativity is a waste of time.

There are skilled and gifted teachers in every creative endeavour and every profession. While they may not receive the praise and accolades of some of their peers at the higher echelons, or their names are not well known, their work is far more significant. They allow the next generation to stand on their shoulders and see further. In turn, they pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation, hoist them onto their shoulders and help them see further still.

To teach is to create. It creates interest, passion, wonder, curiosity, desire, engagement, questions. It creates a learner.

A student is never greater than the master. No, a master should ensure that the student IS greater than the master. This is creativity. This is teaching. Equip the student with the necessary skills and understandings to excel.

Explore the “family tree” of an artist in whatever medium. See where they came from, who they learned under, what ideas they developed and passed on. Know the origins of your art. 

Understand you can teach someone. It doesn’t require a degree, time in a classroom. Teaching is done in the quiet moments of conversation, time shared over tea and doughnuts.

Those who can, do AND teach. 


The Significance of Creativity

The Significance of Creativity, or to put it another way, creativity creates significance (the noun/verb, subject/verb is a little awkward, not to mention the repetition. Oh, the vagaries of the English language).

Creativity is an act that begins with you, as an internal locus of control. It is inwardly focused, a way of understanding who you are, what you stand for and what you believe in. 

What Does Creativity Create in You?

Whether you’re at the start of your creative journey, been at it for a little while or have carved highways for others to follow, creativity creates four things within an individual: significance, community, conversation and legacy.


* Creativity creates an understanding of who you are.

Perhaps you started creating to work out the impact of a significantly emotional event in your life or as a way of exploring new ideas. 

Whatever the reason, it forms a significant part of who you are, what you identify with and how it is manifested in your creativity.

It is intensely personal, even private, and may never be shared with anyone else. It does not negate the significance of who you are. As intensely personal as creativity is, when shared with others, it gives them an insight into who you are. You have purpose and meaning, a spiritual dimension to your life.


* Creativity is not a field limited to the individual.

It is often done as an individual but you should not be without a community.

Finding like-minded people as a support helps you continue what you are doing. They are a back up for when life is brutal and you want to chuck it all away. They are your confidantes and encouragers. They are also those who will love you deeply and tell you the truth about your work, especially when it sucks and needs more work.

In turn, you can teach others and expand the creative community.


* talk to people about what you do and why.

You have a cause to champion, a positive reason to speak into people’s lives. It’s not all about you, dominating the conversation about your most recent creative project or endeavour. If people are willing to listen, speak. 

However, can you steer the conversation around to what makes your listener creative? Can you open up their mind to the possibilities of a creative project? Can you encourage them to take up an old hobby, long neglected, or aim for something new, something they have always wanted to do?


* your work is a testament to others.

It is your character imprinted onto your creative work like children; lived, learned and loved, cherished as valuable and positive traits to have. Your commitment to others as teacher, or encourager, facilitator, supporter, collaborator.

Contribute your verse and know the significance creativity plays in your life and potentially in the life of others.

Teaching Others To Be Powerful

Being creative is a powerful tool for an individual because it releases a person’s sense of actualisation. But I believe there is more power in teaching others to be creative. 

To teach someone is to give the person the knowledge, skills and understanding that they, too, can be a powerful creative person.

I learned this lesson from Benjamin Zander, a classical pianist, and more importantly, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.

You can see his TED Talk here: Benjamin Zander – TED Talk

Here’s the takeaways from a delightfully rousing discussion.

  • Everyone loves classical music; they just don’t know it yet. You need to teach them the power of the music.
  • As the conductor he makes no sound at all, but he can allow the players to know the power within, to be powerful, to play powerfully.
  • He depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful and to awaken possibility in other people.

When you have mastered your own creative endeavour, even if you haven’t, teach someone else how to do what you do. 

Help the person unlock their own creativity, to realise their own potential as a creative person. 

Creativity is a secret you want someone else to know.