After the Experimental Composer/Percussion Workshop among the massive amounts of drums and percussion, I found a beautiful hang drum sitting there looking lonely. I picked it up, started playing, and some magical sounds came out. I had always wanted to play one, and now I must get a few. A wonderful instrument.

Recorded in light challenged conditions with an iPhone 5.


Emil Richard's Stone Marimba

Bang a gong drum? Play Emil Richard’s one-of-kind Stone Marimba? Have your music performed by fantastic Los Angeles percussionists? Count me in.

It was called the Experimental Composer/Percussion Workshop hosted by L.A. Percussion Rentals which highlighted some of the unique tuned percussion instruments that they have there, including some from Emil Richard’s personal collection. The invited composers brought in music and the percussionists Abby Savell, Robert Slack, and Dan Savell did the sight reading and performing. The ‘experimental’ part was that they switched up the instruments they played, creating new combinations of timbre and sound. The instruments included a glass marimba, tuned woodblocks, tenor steel pan, tuned cowbells, boo bams, a bass marimba, and my favorite, Emil Richard’s stone marimba.

It was great to hear real human beings playing some of my music, and I also got to meet some talented composers and arrangers and hear their music too. Here’s a shot of Dan Savell and Robert Slack among the mountains of percussion:


Having the percussion bug that I have, I was in awe of all the instruments, and could easily spend weeks in there. There was one hang drum in the place, so I managed to play a bit of it and posted a short video.

By far one of the most impressive instruments they have is a 60″ tunable gong drum by Remo that generates instant earthquakes:



A group shot from the night (Christian Davis, Abby Savell, Edward Trybek, Caleb Blood, Craig Marks, Dan Savell, Jon Mattox, Christopher Farrell and Robert Slack)


visit L.A. Percussion Rentals


Most objects usually speak out rhythms and patterns to me as I’m doing these sound design sessions, and with two of the water heater panels in front of me, this rhythm emerged. It will inevitably end up on a future piece of music. Captured by my son on an iPhone:

One man’s trash is another man’s excuse for a sampling session. After dismantling our old water heater (we upgraded to a tankless system), the old enclosure panels were screaming to be heard.

I talked my son and his friend into helping me out, and I quickly put them to work. Grabbing my trusty ‘hazard mics’ (a pair of Tascam TM-78s), and some long Canare mic cables, I pushed record in Pro Tools and let the sampling begin….


The kids had fun banging on metal and making lots of noise.


I of course got to be a kid too, and smashed up some metal and also created some thunder:


It’s no secret that I love JZ microphones from Latvia. When I first received the trio of BT-201 microphones, a did all kinds of tests and shootouts.

Here’s a short little video featuring a Meinl cajon recorded with 3 BT-201s. The mics capture the woody-ness of the instrument along with the attack of the hands.

Recorded with API 2124+ mic pres with no eq or compression. Just raw tracks




Brian Eno once said “Every note obscures another”.

I was reminded of this the other day while working on a song with an artist in the recording studio. We were layering some rhythmic beds on a track which were initially sounding great. Then I noticed that the main drum groove suddenly felt lopsided, and something had gone wrong with the snare. Not good.

We realized that some of those new percussive notes were sounding at the same time as the snare drum. The result was that the snare lost all of its punch and was sounding weak.

It was a simple fix, as I simply edited out the notes that were landing on and choking the snare. Viola! The groove was back, and the smiles on our faces returned.

The phrase “Respect The Snare” came to mind, so I wrote it down and preserved it on Instagram: