My Friend the Drummer
Some of the deepest levels that my mind has reached have been when listening to music. There are so many intricacies and nuances that can be perceived from just one song of any artist that it is almost impossible to learn everything. There was one artist that I became very particular too. With this artist I listened to the way in which he played, his mannerisms, how aggressive he was, how he interacted with other musicians, and what notes he did or did not play. I listened to this artist so much that I began to see how much he was like me.
To me his music had all the proper elements. I could listen to it in any mood. The instrument of focus is the drums. I realized this instrument really symbolized who I was because of the sound, position, and the manner played. The drums are always at the back of the band, because the drums would drown out other instruments. I usually sit at the back of the room or I am not the most up front person, so it suits my personality. The drums can keep the rhythm soft or aggressive, can be the loudest instrument or the softest (thus being the one in charge or allowing for someone else to be heard). When played in certain ways multiple notions, feelings, and interactions can be created. I feel that most people tend to think I am soft spoken, but once they get to know me they see that I have an aggressive personality. The drums can produce multi-tonal notes, polyrhythms, and cross rhythms that cannot be produced by any other instrument. The notes have almost no duration like any melodic instrument. The sound is either there or it is not. Elvin Jones, one of the world’s most prestigious jazz drummers demonstrates all of these qualities within the drums.
Elvin Jones is a deceased jazz drummer who played with many of the great influential jazz artists (Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and even played in a house band while in the United States Military). Elvin and I have many similar qualities. We both began listening to music at a very young age. Although, I was not interested in jazz at a young age, the more I listened to music the more experience and understanding I gained of how people play together, which later led to my appreciation of jazz. Elvin and I also both play the drums. I fell in love with his style of playing because he enjoys playing the same way I do. Since I started playing the drums, I always liked being able to play what I wanted to play, when I wanted to play it, and how I wanted to play it. I wanted the music to be ultimately free with no restrictions. This is exactly how all of Elvin’s style of music is played. Many believe that there is no real rhyme or reason to his music or it is controversial because it is not very orthodox. It takes a while to realize that there is a deeper meaning and more to be heard within the music. To the average listener, the song has no rhyme or reason. However to the listener who has heard the song more than a thousand times, learns that the music flows and interacts with other instruments. Finally, since we both play the same instrument, we both have to practice.
I have been listening to Elvin for many years. I listen to different albums when I am feeling in different moods. Most often I listened to the most free-sounding album I could find (free meaning that there is no pulse indicated in the music, the time signature can switch, it is essentially wherever the musicians want to go with the music). To me, this music was like deciphering a puzzle. The music was something to occupy my mind. Trying to figure out how the instruments interact so the music made sense completely enticed me and required full attention. I would completely concentrate on Elvin, because I could understand his instrument. I could understand the way rhythmic instruments worked, but not the role that harmony, melody, and chords played. So I had to use Elvin as a device to figure out what was going on in the music. I used this as my escape.
Elvin was my escape and I had used him many times when I was stressed out or wanted to take a break from situations that were a strain on the mind. Elvin was the perfect escape and never judged any situation, only presented the listener with a new one. It was the perfect thing to listen to when you wanted to escape or reflect on a stressful moment and make it a better time in life. Elvin and I had gone through many hard times together. There was a time when my uncle had an aneurysm at a young age and I knew nothing of his condition. There was no communication to me. It took a while before if I knew he was even alive. This meant I had a lot of time to reflect, listening to my favorite music, and thinking about good memories that were had. Finally when I did learn that he was going to be fine, I had Elvin to thank for keeping me busy. There was more than one incident when the music was there to take me away, but not all situations have to be bad. When I would become stressed from arguing with parents (when I was younger) about who was right and who was wrong, I always had Elvin’s music and ways to show me what was right. He had given me something to aspire to and work towards. Whenever there were daily stressors and I had free time, I could go out and practice my drums attempting to be like Elvin.
I think that my friend Elvin is the best friend that there can be. It combines all of the aspects that you could ever need and it sticks with me for life. Plus whenever I am not playing the music, my favorite tune for the week will still be stuck in my head. His music benefited me in every way possible. Even if there was poor performance on the sports field and everyone blamed the music. It seemed like the whole school was asking me why I bothered to play music when I had so much potential. I felt like everyone was out to get me, trying to get me to do something I didn’t want to do. The difference was that music was always with you. When playing a sport, you can’t really get to know anybody, just watch and learn. One moment you have the ball and in the glory and then off to someone else. Music whether your on it or off it is always there and Elvin’s flowing rhythms were always in my head.
Unfortunately, the aspiring dream to become Elvin dwindled and reality had to set in. There can only be one Elvin Jones and unfortunately jazz music is fading fast (despite what most jazz players now like to think). For me, I had to face facts and that I had an opportunity to go to college. This opportunity will hopefully bring me a high earning job sometime later in life. However, the music is still with me, so my relationship with Elvin Jones still continues and he remains in my head. The relationship continues and playing drums is a skill I will never lose and the relationship is something that I will never forget. Ultimately, Elvin and I are equal because we enjoy spending life doing what makes us the happiest, and that is playing the instrument.