VCC Percussion Masterclass

Physics of percussion instruments

posted Mar 16, 2015, 11:03 PM by bernie arai

Here are the quick notes from the masterclass, just basically listing the topics we discussed:
Physics of Percussion Instruments

some related resources:

Measured Tones was the most enjoyable introduction to physics and music I read, although admittedly the focus is more on pitched instruments. The preceding link is for the 2nd edition which is the one I read, and apparently the 3rd edition has more information about psychoacoustics and digital compression (e.g. mp3) and percussion instruments like gamelan.

The most comprehensive look at percussion instruments would be Thomas Rossing's great text; a bit drier in style than above but it covers everything well.

A little further off topic but still related are Gareth Loy's two volumes of Musimathics which are a lot of fun to read and offer a musician with little mathematic training an exposure to key concepts and terminology. He gets right into the math, if you're up for it.

Improvising Duets

posted Mar 16, 2014, 10:45 PM by bernie arai

Here's the audio I wanted to play for you in class, but ran out of time for. Look it up to get some context, once you have listened to it! There are some nice liner notes but my CD is in a box somewhere and I can't find the text online anywhere.

dropbox link here

Day Of Percussion at VCC

posted Jan 30, 2014, 12:44 AM by bernie arai   [ updated Jan 30, 2014, 12:46 AM ]

Dr. Daniel Tones has put together this amazing event (free for VCC students):

Day of Percussion
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Auditorium, Vancouver Community College (Broadway Campus)
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$10 general, $5 students and seniors

Danny Tones and Fringe Percussion are pleased to present Vancouver's first Day of Percussion. Hosted by Vancouver Community College, this day-long event celebrates the world of percussion and features clinics and performances by some of Vancouver's finest percussionists.

Jazz Vibraphone with Timothy Van Cleave
Orchestral Percussion with Vern Griffiths
Brazilian Samba with Nick Apivor and Drum Syndicate

Plus, local professionals and student ensembles from UBC, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Trinity Western University and Douglas College will perform music by Owen Underhill, Bob Becker, Giovanni Solimma, and many others.

For more information, please go to
To register, please navigate to

Louis Hayes Workshop

posted Nov 28, 2013, 1:59 PM by bernie arai

Nuff sed


posted Oct 18, 2013, 11:13 PM by bernie arai

Here are a few photos from the Istanbul Agop factory in Turkey. I got to see every step of the process except the actual melting and casting of the puck/blank. Apparently no photos are allowed during that part anyway, I couldn't even snap a shot of the foundry itself. By the time I got there the latest batch was cooling and ready for the roller.

Stylistic Analysis

posted Oct 18, 2013, 1:34 PM by bernie arai

Here is your assignment form, and my example from class.


Ed Blackwell Example

Technology and drumming

posted Mar 15, 2013, 10:40 PM by bernie arai

...a tangled hierarchy.

Obligatory youtube roll:

Beat Slicing - a guts-bared-for-the-world-to-see version of taking a break beat, slicing into equal portions of time, and reordering them

You can download the patch he used to make that video from him, and you can all run the software he used to make the patch called puredata for free (legitimately)

Ray Garraway: a great example of a musician who has incoroporated many new concepts and approaches derived from technological changes in music production and applied them to acoustic drum set.

Chris Daddy Dave: another great example of the above.

I will also post the .VUE file i used in class to the dropbox, although it's not very thorough. any collaborative efforts to improve it are encouraged.

Improvisation and the Drum Set

posted Feb 26, 2013, 10:46 AM by bernie arai

apropos of our last masterclass, John Brennan puts on series called Destroy Vancouver at VIVO on main st, and this weekend he's bringing in drummer Chris Corsano to perform and hold a workshop:
Chris Corsano Destroy Vancouver VIVO
(this may be the first and only time you ever see me post facebook link.  i don't even know what it leads to...)

VUE and semantic mapping

posted Feb 15, 2013, 9:40 PM by bernie arai

the software i used to create the semantic maps in masterclass is called "Visual Understanding Environment" (I know, I know) and you can download and learn about it here:

it runs on java and so should work on any platform (Appletm OSX liger or whatever, Winblows, you name it) and is free to use. of course my chops with VUE are pretty bare bones, but with a bit of effort you can make these things quite clean and readable.  so far i've been just using it as a quick way to write down thoughts, so i apologize for the lack of readability.

i've added the map that we did on free improvisation and the one connecting drumming styles from last year to a dropbox, and you should all have an invite to join, so check it out.  if you want to try your hand at contributing to the maps, please upload your updated versions to the same folder, i'm not sure if images are embedded in the .vue file, so tell me if you can't see the cheezy pics of the drummers.

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