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The other night, I drove down to the arts district of Los Angeles to check out a project I saw posted on Facebook. It described an event called “VISIBLE SOUND,” featuring Vinnie Colaiuta and some well-known session players from L.A., who would be performing as artist Tom Reyes, aka The SUSH., created an on-the-spot piece of art.

visible sound

The idea sounded awesome. A real-time collaboration, no second takes, no cleanups on the canvas. It would be what it would be, and the audience would experience it first hand. Like live theater, with a tangible finished product.


Reyes has been exploring this process since 1991, collaborating with jazz musicians all over the world. His nickname is an acronym for Subjective Understanding Subconscious Heterodox. You’re gonna have to hit Google for that last word, which I did, and got this:


“…not conforming with accepted or orthodox standards or beliefs…”


I’d call that fuel for just about any artist. When you dissect the four words in SUSH, you really do find ground zero for Reyes and what he wants to explore. If there was ever a perfect music style for offering him a ride, jazz would be it. And if there was ever a perfect drummer for steering that bus, it would be Vinnie Colaiuta.




I’ve known Vinnie since 1980, although our paths do not often cross. Like so many, I’ve followed his artistic journey and have worked to emulate his own explorations, particularly with polyrhythms and odd meters. He has always been – irrefutably – light years ahead of the pack when it comes to bending time. You stare, shake your head, and wonder how anyone’s neural pathways could even begin to hope to fire in such an extraordinary manner…

And then you contrast that with Vinnie playing a backbeat with Sting and realize there’s also a timekeeping human, sitting right there in front of you… dialing it down a bit, but being ever-present with every single rest and note.

This was gonna be good…


The evening’s event was held in Art Share L.A., a 28,800-squarefoot downtown gallery on 4th Street, surrounded by various arts-related projects and activities. The small theater within the gallery was basically a large room with seating for about twenty or so people, and plenty of standing room.

I found a seat near the front row to get a good view of Vinnie and SUSH. They were joined by bassist Doug Lunn, who often works with Terry Bozzio in his Out trio, and keyboardist Jeff Babko, who currently plays on Jimmy Kimmel Live.




 There’s nothing like an intimate setting to bring you inches away from artistic truth. It’s also a nice cocoon from the ever-swirling madness of Los Angeles (something I could use a great deal more respite from, actually). I was already grateful for having seen the Facebook post, and I was truly looking forward to seeing and hearing where Vinnie would take things…


I took a few pics and quickly posted them on Facebook but didn’t want to be too nose-down once the show began…

The band came out to warm applause, and Vinnie started playing first. There was no downbeat; there was just “go.” SUSH entered after a minute, applied a healthy glob of blue paint to his hands, and began arcing them across the canvas as the guys played. There was no hurry. It was a roughly forty minute conversation of styles that merged elements of jazz, Latin, funk and tribal into a sonic and tactile event.



The description I could try to provide would pale compared to the actual moments, but I can tell that you Lunn and Babko were a perfect fit to Vinnie in this context and that his improv chops were as on their game as ever – particular his subtle snare drum shadings and brushwork. The complex interplay of tastefully placed polyrhythms was equally rewarding, because the more you hear them used in a musical context, the better you understand how to do so.




We spoke briefly after the show, but I did not really interview him about all of this, because I didn’t want to make it a work night. I was most grateful for the opportunity to simply meet again and say hello after many years, and I thanked him for his performance and for displaying such vibrant and honest energy with his fellow musicians. It was incredibly refreshing to hear Vinnie speak with such passion about a project that he was clearly very proud to be a part of.

me and vinnie

I believe now more than ever that jazz drumming needs Vinnie Colaiuta and his take on this sort of improv. I see so many young drummers just cranking out videos, seeking to become YouTube stars with chops, and following a non-threatening video performance path.

Far better that you should strip yourself bare and lay it all out on the stage. Far, far better that you leap, dance, spin, and balance it all out. If you do, you’ll find yourself in the truly live moments. You’ll step out of your comfort zone and explore. In doing so, you’ll keep the process of exploration alive, which is ultimately the goal for any art.

It’s awesome that Vinnie is doing this, reminding the drumming world of his jazz roots and the value of revisiting them. I definitely think we need art like this, moments in real time, to renew and refresh our view of the world and how to live in it.

Playing is about living, something our cell phones and social media bombardment often makes us forget how to do. If you explore a little of that every day and step into the mix rather than just watching it, you’ll feel yourself breathe.


SUSH will be releasing a documentary soon on the VISIBLE SOUND project (, and I encourage you to check it out. I also encourage you to consider the following notion…


megatrends  book_hightech


In his classic 1982 book, Megatrends, author John Naisbitt used the expression, “high tech, high touch,” predicting that the more technologically advanced we became, the more we would need organic contact with humans to balance things out. In 1999, Naisbitt  wrote an entire book about the subject (and you gotta love the German version book cover).

Couple the notion with this classic Bruce Lee quote, and hopefully you too will honestly and fearlessly explore what your art is really about and not run into a light pole while checking emails…


“Let the spirit out — Discard all thoughts of reward, all hopes of praise and fears of blame, all awareness of one’s bodily self. And, finally closing the avenues of sense perception, let the spirit out, as it will.”

– Bruce Lee


When I got my first drum set at 13, it was a standard four piece with one cheesy little sorta crash-ride cymbal. It was a gateway to the most amazing universe I would ever know. I had no idea how drummers were able to do the things they could do, and as my listening expanded to the heavy metal and prog drummers of the day in the 70’s, I was amazed at what guys like Carl Palmer, Ian Paice, and Bill Ward could do with their jazz chops.

Around that time, I also discovered Billy Cobham and his bombastic Fibes kit. His display of musicality and technical prowess were beyond belief, and I worked as hard as I could to figure out what he was doing. As time passed, I eventually did figure a lot of it out, and I could actually play it. At 16, this was quite a ride. I had also added pieces and parts to my small kit and expanded to a pretty big 10-piece, loving every bit of it.


Fast forward to 2015. I have a three piece be-bop kit to keep my jazz chops in tune and refined, but when it comes time to let it all out, there’s only one way to go…

Last year, I made a decision to focus on Tama, for several reasons. Mind you, I’m not an endorsed pro, not a touring or recording guy. I write a blog and hit things. But I do have plans and ambitions, which are slowly moving forward, and to accomplish them, I decided to go with something I could find anywhere in the world and that had hardware I could do handstands on.

I picked up a cool little five piece with a 20” kick from Guitar Center, Lawndale California. Chris Chiles sold it to me, a very good guy. He told me a girl sold the kit to him but really didn’t want to get rid of it. Hard times, the reality of our day. I immediately felt soul from this little kit, gave the kick a stomp, and bought it.

Mostly, I loved the color. It made me feel a certain way, which brought out certain things in my playing. I know, that sound ridiculous, but I feel colors, literally. Like touch sensations sometimes almost.

So, I bring the little kit home, and I soon wanted more. I went over to Jammin’ Jersey’s, Northridge, California, and picked up three more Rockstar drums (two rack toms, one floor tom). I brought them home, hooked them up, and I felt my childhood coming back. I bought a 22” kick and another rack tom off of eBay, and then things really started to feel familiar.

I’ve always loved cymbals, so over the next several months, I started adding to my Zidljian A’s, including a 23” Sweet Ride, a 22” A Custom Ping ride, a 22” medium thin crash, 16” medium thin crash, and a really cool sounding pair of 15” vintage New Beat hi hats. All in all, 11 cymbals, 10 drums, and a few more Tama snares, including the massive 8×14” Big Black snare.

And when I was done, My Blue Dream was born.

Hell yeah!


The logistics of setting up such a kit required a lot of boom cymbal stands, although a rack is probably what a reasonable person would use. I’m thinking about it. In the meantime, I have the size kit I want, could use another kick drum and some Octobans (of course), but for now, what I really have… is a percussion ensemble.

When I hear the expression, “Less is more,” I usually cringe. I know, I know, play for the music, and all the other classic phrases… but what if you are capable of unleashing in a way that far transcends what a four piece, single cheesy crash/ride can do? What if you are able to soar, blaze, let er’ rip like a big dog?

Why should drummers in any way feel like they have to apologize for going big?

As far as I’m concerned, More is More. By expanding your tonal palette, you can paint some pretty amazing pictures. On the other side of things, I most often use only the 23” Sweet Ride with my bop kit. I don’t need anything else for that music. But for what I hear in my head, feel in my heart, more lets me do more.

Now if I can just find that 22” Zildjian Pang somewhere…

If the previous two videos got your attention about binary rhythm patterns, wait’ll you see all those patterns lined up vertically on music staves so you can read them in (for example) 4/2, 4/4, 4/8, 4/16, and 4/32 all at once…

The Elements of Rhythm, Vol, II, also dives very deeply into the idea of relative notation, where an absolute sound shape can be not only written in many different ways, but be counted in many different ways as well.

We become conditioned to seeing 16th rests and notes in 4/4 and count them 1 e + uh, but then when we see them in 4/16, our minds have to “temporally translate” (my term) the mathematics very quickly to make sense of the notation before us.

Ideally, we should be able to read any absolutely sound shape, written in any beat note value, using any counting syllables and not be married to the idea that, for example, sixteenth rests and notes will always be counted 1 e + uh…

Yeah, this is advanced, heady stuff. It’ll get your mind going from page one, I guarantee you. But, when you consider that in both volumes, you are looking at ALL of the fundamental building block rhythm patterns that all the larger ones come… believe me, that’s worth about six minutes of your time!


Hey there, here’s a little something more that I’m pretty sure will turn your rhythmic world upside-down if you’ll give me about six minutes of your viewing time…

In 1982, the some lessons I took with Terry Bozzio exploded in my head and lit a fire that never went out. It led me to figuring out a systematic approach to understanding where all rhythm patterns came from mathematically. I sucked at math from day one of first grade on up through forever, so, I’d say this discovery was personally kinda huge…

Regular readers have been really cool and kind about humouring me over the past five years, so I’d like to ask them, and you new readers as well, for one small favour: turn up the volume so you can hear my voiceover, and watch this video clip. It’ll show you where everything comes from that you’ll ever play, or at least get you started on it.

There are a finite number of building block rhythm patterns that all larger combinations come from. Binary rhythm pattern theory uses 0s and 1s to prove they exist and create a model of them, which we then re-write with conventional music notation. But first, we gotta prove that a finite number exits… which I’ve done.

Other educators have explored this notion, but I’m pretty sure I can almost absolutely that no one has done it to the degree that I pursued. It was an insane obsession, but the results… are pretty damn cool. And I say that with a lot of unusual pride.

Anyway, the first video was kind of general and broad… but this one gets down to it like nothing you’ve likely ever seen before. The page excerpts from my books are fuzzy at times, just because of conversion I suppose. I’m working on it, so please bear with me. But gimme six minutes… and your head might get set on fire too. I hope so, because all I really want to do in this world any more is get the word out about binary rhythm pattern theory and how it can help expand our rhythmic minds to explore basic patterns, odd meters, polyrhythms and beyond.

And please, if you like this one, tell your friends and share it. I have never asked this, but if you get the message and what it means, you’ll see why. I hope you do, and as always, thanks for checking out my blog. I love writing this stuff!


Okay, lemme tell ya up front: THIS was some work! And for those of you who’ve already done it, my hat is off to you. For those thinking about making a drum video of sorts, I figure it might be helpful to tell you a little about the process I experienced in hopes that can save you some time and steps.

The short version: I bought a GoPro, a backdrop system to hang fabric, some lights and stands, a very functional tripod (good lord, a must!), a complete set of mics for a 10-piece drum set, a mixer, dug out my ProTools LE8, bought another Mac laptop that could process the GoPro 4k images, and I borrowed a really nice HD video camera as a backup.

The short short version: no GoPro, no mics, minimal kit, and I only used the HD camera and one lighting stand.

What I discovered was that… the new version of iMovie was getting slammed reviews, and I couldn’t figure out how to strip original audio from the incoming iMovie 8 file and layer it with a ProTools sound track. My old laptop worked just fine, and I was able to import the footage, move it around and edit it, add some still shots and some music audio, and get it up and running on YouTube.

Seriously, I wasn’t experienced with this stuff to the degree I wanted to be, but it got done… which is all that matters.

If you’ve been following my last few posts, I’ve been sharing what I’ve been able to accomplish to move forward with getting my stuff out all over the world. We have the technology… but not all of it easy to grasp. It ain’t perfect, but I don’t care. I began the journey three decades ago with this project, so, tonight, I’m happy it got launched in one piece.

Meanwhile, I hope your individual drumming projects are moving forward, and hey, keep pounding if they aren’t done yet. You’ll sleep pretty good once they are, and then you’ll wake up and want to do more.

Enjoy, and remember: Everything You’ll Ever Play Comes From Here!

elements-cover-I                elements-cover-II

Not too long ago, I was reunited with a bass player I’ve been thinking about for decades. I lost track of her years ago, but she was one of the finest and rock-solid players I ever met. Dee Harrell taught me how to play the blues proper and do my job as a drummer when I lived in Austin in my 20s, and those lessons lasted a lifetime.

I owe that reunion to Carol Dierking, a drummer from Irving, Texas, who graciously connected me with my long lost friend. I told her I owed her big time – I mean, on a huge scale – because of how much this player/teacher meant to me, so when she put up a GoFundMe account for some serious health issues, the payback was obvious…


Carol has a pretty interesting story, from what I’ve read so far. Mind you, we met kind of blindly in Facebook when I contacted her after seeing that my friend was playing with her, on a YouTube video. I had not heard of Carol before this, but it didn’t matter. Reading about her background, I found her to be established and legit.

She’s featured in Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (April 10, 2014), went to Steven F. Austin State University on a full music scholarship, and carved out a music life in a way that suited her world with raising a daughter. Not an easy road, which became even less so when physical ailments began to interfere with performance hopes and dreams.


Developing degenerative bone disease is not exactly how most people wake up and plan their day. It actually brought Carol’s playing to a near standstill until an offer came up that reignited her drive and got her back on stage. But that fire took a literally exhausting hit when an airbag exploded in Carol’s face in a 2007 auto accident.

Such actions generally tend to render your teeth into a less that favorable state.

So, cutting to the chase, Carol recently put together a GoFundMe account to help pay for the now inevitable long-term dental work and related health insurance expences, some needed vehicle repairs, and funds to help participate in a musical fundraiser for breast cancer (she lost her mother to this, as did I; no one has to ask me twice to support the cure effort).

If you follow the link, you can read more about Carol (and of course, read her profile in Women Drummers).


Not all of us are destined for incredible career rides, and as we go along in this world, we find the path to be odd and winding sometimes. But as long as we can sit behind a drum set and play our truth, what else really matters? Even if it’s exhausting and painful, the rush of the stage and the pulse of the music are what make life worth living.


For Carol Dierking, this truth is her daily dose of connectivity to the beat of life. I’m all for chasing that wherever possible, and as long as it’s possible to play, most things can be overcome. But every once in a while, things can become a bit much. Texan to Texan, I truly hope the path becomes easier for Carol. And like I said, I owe her big time, so personally, thanks for reading this particular blog about her. I have no doubts she would thank you personally too.



Howdy, kids. Welcome back to part III of Make Stuff Happen 101. As you can see from the pic, I found a cool little bop kit from Tama that I seriously can’t be happier with. I wanted something light to haul around town, and this fit the bill and then some. The kick sound cool for jazz as well as other kinds of music, something I wasn’t quite expecting…

On the World Drumming Domination theme, small but good steps have been accomplished in the last few weeks. Recall that I am not only working to get my rhythm books out but also my message about music as great therapy for Tourette’s. The French and New Zealand international chapters of the Tourette Syndrome Association have received my music autobiography and are going to let me write for their newsletter. The Delaware chapter (in the United States) is letting me write for them as well.

Looks like I’m going to be contributing to DRUMHEAD magazine with pieces about my rhythm books and some other cool topics that I’ve touched on here from time to time. I’m very excited about this, getting back into the ink saddle again formally after quite a break (over ten years).

The video backdrop stuff arrived, and it’s up and organized. A very good friend helped me get ProTools and my mixing dialed in enough to create and import some decent sound quality files into the hopefully decent film quality of GoPro and ipad imagery. Quite a learning curve across the board, lemme tell ya!

So overall, after declaring my intentions to the universe a month ago, things are rolling along. I seriously encourage everyone to do this and then take small steps forward. It’s pretty cool to finally see things happening as I’ve hoped for them, so stay tuned, and I’ll have the long-awaited videos up before ya know it!

Meanwhile, go forth and kick drumming ass!


Howdy, gang! Well I know you’ve been sitting on the edge of your drum thrones wondering what’s next in my rather large reach across the globe. Here’s the latest…

A lifelong buddy of mine from high school likes to use the phrase, “Thing happen when you get your ask in gear,” as in ask for what you want. An amazingly simple idea that actually yielded some pretty cool results! Sadly, it took the unexpected death of another friend, and I mean out of nowhere, to smack me upside the head and make things move. I got angry and annoyed, and this combination needed to be put to positive use, or I was gonna go sideways with it.

I wrote a dozen letters, to international chapters of the Tourette Syndrome Association, telling them about my music autobiography (Tourette Syndrome and Music: Discovering Peace Through Rhythm and Tone), and said I’d like to write for their newsletters and share more about drumming and how it helped me. France and New Zealand replied! Then I got a big YES from DRUMScene magazine, in Australia, go have my rhythm books reviewed and also write a short piece about the books.

My overall plan is to combine, where I can, speaking about my rhythm books and also speaking to groups about my music autobiography. If I get a Yes for one, maybe I can make another Yes happen with the other. It worked in 2013 in England, so I figured, why not go for it?

When you experience loss, it really messes with you. Sadly, I’m sure some of you can relate. We owe it to the people we miss to live life like a big dog, live it for them and for ourselves, maybe inspire others along the way. I certainly hope to do that with this effort as in my blog, which as always, I really appreciate you taking the time to read.

I finally ordered the lighting and backdrop equipment to make decent videos, and I promise, my YouTube channel (DavidAldridgeDrums) is gonna be loaded with some pretty insane playing. Odd meter and polyrhythms lessons, finesse and speed control clips, jazz basics and independence, and of course, the long awaited clips that explain the content and application of my rhythm books, The Elements of Rhythm Vols. I & II.

More to come, including written drum exercises created in Finale that I’ll post here, lots of free stuff that’ll give you plenty to ponder…

So there you go. You can relax back onto your seat now, knowing that things are moving forward. I hope your plans and ambitions are doing the same, but if they’re not, as my good friend Don Ortiz has said more than once, “It’s time to get your ask in gear…”

This blog post is dedicated to the memory of Dan Morris, fellow flight instructor with whom I shared the same birthday and many a reminder to live life to its fullest.

Just got a tweet from a film company producing a documentary on Bernard Purdie. They are really close to fully funding and only have a few days. 


I met Bernard in a hallway at NAMM 2014 and got to shake his hand. We talked briefly about his hometown, Elkton, Maryland, where I grew up near and lived in for a bit in the late 70’s. His face lit up when we exchanged a few tales.


Bernard is of course the shuffle MAN, inventor of the eternally copied Purdie shuffle that Jeff Pocaro evolved with in “Rosanna.” 
Bernard’s YouTube videos are a blast, filled with humble truth and sharing of treasured knowledge. I’m keeping this little blurb short and sweet will just say that if ANY drummer out there is deserving of a documentary, Mr. Purdie’s name shoots to the top of the list!
Here’s the funding link:–2
Seriously, this man has given you great shoulders to stand on and leap from. It’s time to give the drummer some… literally!

One of the key and unique components to The Elements of Rhythm series and its introduction of binary rhythm pattern theory is the way in which we classify and catalog the fundamental building block rhythm patterns. I recall showing the book draft to Peter Erskine several years ago, and one of the most important questions he could have asked me was, “What are you going to do with all of those 0/1 combination tables?” I told him I didn’t quite know yet but that I was sure there was an application that either myself or someone else would come up with.

Shortly after that conversation, I discovered some work by mathematician/musician Vi Hart, where she gave a presentation regarding a simple way to identify basic rhythm patterns using 0s and 1s. It seemed we were on a similar path, so I contacted her and asked how far she’d worked out her system. Vi replied that she had only down a little work, so I expanded on her idea and came up with the Binary Rhythm Pattern Indexing System.

The idea is that we can classify and catalog each of the fundamental building block rhythm patterns by their event point level grouping and the sequence in which they logically and naturally occur.

The Binary Rhythm Pattern Indexing System is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it doesn’t exist anywhere in music theory or rhythm research, at least not as far as I was able to find at the time I published The Elements of Rhythm in 2012. Secondly, it can be used by anyone who is interested in systematically researching rhythm patterns and wanting to somehow identify their fundamental essence.

It’s a system that’s in its infancy, waiting to be explored as a tool and modified as needed. For now, it can give you a basic idea of how to catalog and classify the basic patterns for up to eight event point levels (beat note groupings or beat note divisions). I hope it can prove to be of use in your work, and please feel free to submit comments on its use, application and improvement. My special thanks to Vi Hart for the inspiration to find meaning in the numbers. She’s amazing in that way, and I invite you to explore her own works further, at

elementsv1-binary index_Page_1elementsv1-binary index_Page_2

elementsv1-binary index_Page_3

elementsv1-binary index_Page_4

(excerpts reprinted with permission from The Elements of Rhythm, Vol. I, Rollinson Publishing Co., 2012)

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