Buddy – Drums as a Musical Instrument

SKF NOTE: I am sorting through a brown cardboard box full of papers I’ve written, and backgrounder material meant to inform my writing. My stapled photocopy of Eliot Tiegel’s Buddy Rich view is highlighted in several places with my yellow marker. I find it interesting to review my yellow highlights to see what caught my attention years ago.

Buddy describing his drum soloing did NOT catch my eye years ago. But it sure did this time.

“I think of my soloing as a story with a beginning, middle, and a punch line. I construct a solo the same way a trumpeter or saxophonist or pianist does. It’s a musical concept – not a percussive concept – when you bang on the drums for an hour-and-a-half.

“If I have 32 bars to play in a chart, then I’ll make that chorus a musical chorus. If I have an extended solo, I’ll play 10 choruses, but they’ll be 32 bars and 32 bars, and you won’t know they’re 32 bars because maybe the 32nd bar may run into the 33rd or 34th bar. So you can’t just say one and two and one and two. I’ll divide the time, break up the time, divide the time again, and change the tempo. I’ll go into three, go into five, but at the end of 32 bars you’ll know that one starts the next 32 bars. I think of my instrument as a musical instrument – not as something to bang on.”

Source: “Rich Raps,” by Eliot Tiegel, Down Beat, March 1982

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