Max Roach – The Quarter Note is Basic

SKF NOTE: For a time, as a lesson in what real life speaking looks like on paper, I transcribed my drummer interviews and included every stammer, stutter, unfinished sentence, and incomplete thought. The result was an accurate transcription of my tapes; interesting for me to study and sorely in need of editing before it was ready for publishing in Modern Drummer magazine.

I always mailed drummers a hard copy of their interviews as they were to appear in MD, giving drummers a last chance to correct any errors, or to add clarification to a point made in the interview.

But I mailed Max Roach a copy of his unedited transcript. While I was in my MD office editing Max’s transcript, he called me, alarmed that some of his answers, as they appeared on paper unedited, sounded like “scrambled eggs.”

Max had gone through the full transcription, making edits and writing new answers to replace some answers he gave during the interview.

For a few minutes, my interview of a lifetime with Max Roach was disappearing through Max’s edits. He had read “scrambled eggs” versions of paragraphs and simply wanted them cut, left out of the interview.

I forgot I had the tape rolling when Max and I were working on his interview edits. In the end, I was able to explain to Max the transcript I mailed him was already being edited, and I probably should have sent him my edited manuscript before sending the unedited transcript.

In the end, Max’s interview worked out very well. And that was my last time sending someone an unedited interview transcription prior to sending the edited interview as it would appear in Modern Drummer.

Max also gave some good new answers and explanations during our manuscript editing phone conversation. The excerpt I include here is Max talking about the primacy of the quarter note. His original remarks — edited — are posted on my blog here.

But, I thought you would like to hear Max in his own words.

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