This is an absolutely brilliant book. Yes in concert At which point, just as Yes were about to tour the album round the US and go supernova, Bill left the band to join their rival in progressive rock, the far darker and more experimental King Crimson. Led by guitar maestro Robert Fripp, the Crim had had chronic difficulty keeping a stable line-up since their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King back in In , after a long and varied career, Bill announced his retirement and, later the same year, published this, his autobiography. Format Bill has had the brilliant idea of structuring the book around chapters answering the questions he is most frequently asked at cocktail parties, some of which drive him to distraction: So how did you get started?
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This is an absolutely brilliant book. Yes in concert At which point, just as Yes were about to tour the album round the US and go supernova, Bill left the band to join their rival in progressive rock, the far darker and more experimental King Crimson. Led by guitar maestro Robert Fripp, the Crim had had chronic difficulty keeping a stable line-up since their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King back in In , after a long and varied career, Bill announced his retirement and, later the same year, published this, his autobiography.
Format Bill has had the brilliant idea of structuring the book around chapters answering the questions he is most frequently asked at cocktail parties, some of which drive him to distraction: So how did you get started? Why did you leave Yes? But what do you do in the daytime? The chapters themselves consist of stories, anecdotes, thoughts and reflections skipping around in time and place but all relating to the central question. Personally, I could have done with understanding more how a drummer decides which of all the available rhythms in a piece of music to pick out, and why, and on which drums or percussion instruments?
But there is still plenty about the business of drumming, the setting up and the testing, in the studio or before a performance, as well as lots about the business side — attending drumming conferences, fronting ads for specific manufacturers and so on:.
I need to warm up. Simple, powerful strokes eventually get some blood circulating in wrists and fingers, and soon the strokes come more easily. Drummers usually practice the rudiments, a codified set of sticking patterns with colourful onomatopoeic names such as flamadiddle and ratamacue. Bill with Mark Hodgson acoustic bass and Tim Garland tenor saxophone.
Photo: Fernando Aceves. Passages of pure insight like the following are scattered throughout the book:. The dream, or illusion, of individual and global enlightenment was over. Progressive rock, like the period that gave rise to it, was essentially optimistic…Perhaps that lasting innocence, a refreshing anecdote to modern times, is where the attraction lies for the remarkably large group of listeners it has managed, over many turbulent years, to retain.
As someone fascinated by the historical context of all types of art, these passages are, for me, pure gold. Having experienced both worlds he is uniquely well-placed to comment on the enormous disparity between the two musics:. The ten on my right would be millionaires with salaries so unaccountably large that more time would be spent in charitable dispersal of the stuff than its actual acquisition.
The ten on my left would be among the finest jazz musicians in the world, with an average salary approximately equal to that of a supermarket checkout girl. And I would be standing in the middle. Money seemed to be pouring in in uncountable amounts for the successful groups which managed to make it big in America, the platinum albums, the sellout stadium tours, the private jets, the hotel suites which they felt free to trash. Earlier that year a couple of new bands had been touring England creating a grass-roots movement wherever they played.
Though they would lumber on into the 80s and increase their turnovers, the era when the prog rockers represented youthful idealism was over. Increasingly they just represented their own need to make money. Again he places his own personal story in a much wider context:. He sees the big picture:. Something I think about all the time. When everything, all the written and recorded music of the past is immediately available at the flick of a few buttons, anywhere with wifi or 3G, what value does that music have?
What meaning? It certainly has lost all ability to shock or subvert or change. I grew up on the Sex Pistols. And with recorded music so ubiquitous how can the new young performing musician compete? With so many avenues of exploration so thoroughly mined, where can the ambitious musician begin to say something new?
These and lots of other issues, ideas, questions and concerns are raised and discussed by someone who has really been there and done it, in this marvellous and marvellously thought-provoking book. Used by permission of the author.
The early amateurism surrounding the rock business had professionalised by about , although this increased throughout the Seventies and Eighties. Something went terribly, terribly wrong in our sense of values. Pragmatics replaced Principle. Quantity demonstrated Quality. Copyright Robert Fripp. In when I was buying punk singles and albums I still thought music was some kind of rebellion, had something political to say, and could change things.
By I realised the New Romantic movement was deifying the Triumph of Money and the comprehensive defeat of everything the 60s stood for. In the s I got to be series editor of a TV arts programme, and was quietly appalled that the clever somethings who produced the music items for it made their case for who should be on the show entirely in terms of units sold, gold, platinum records achieved or Mercury or MOBO awards.
The entire sector had been comprehensively corporatised. Not unlike Bill though as a humble fan, not a premier league performer I also abandoned rock music in the 80s for more musically interesting jazz — and then progressed on into 20th century classical music, much of which is still so uncommercial and difficult that it resists corporatisation, assimilation and denaturing to fit the infantilised tastes of the ipod age.
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Bill Bruford: The Autobiography
William Scott Bruford born 17 May is an English former drummer, percussionist, songwriter, producer, and record label owner who first gained prominence as a founding member of the progressive rock band Yes. In the s, Bruford returned to King Crimson for three years, collaborated with several artists including the Roches , Patrick Moraz , and David Torn , and formed his jazz band Earthworks in Bruford played in King Crimson for his third and final tenure between and , after which he continued with Earthworks and further collaborations. On 1 January , Bruford retired from public performance, barring one private gig in He released his autobiography, and continues to speak and write about music.
Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (2009)
What do you expect when you pick up an autobiography of a rock musician? Rock-n-roll exploits with a chainsaw and a gallon of baby oil at the Ramada? Scandalous stories of band-mates and sundry hangers-on? You get virtually none of that in Bill Bruford The Autobiography. It's much better. Insightful, entertaining, and well-written, Bruford gives the reader a unique view into his 40 year career as a drummer to see just how he got to where he is and precisely how this business works or doesn't, as the case may be.
The book is an exploration of the creativity involved in the way drummers make things work, make things matter, and make sense of both. What do expert drummers do? Why do they do it? Is there anything creative about it? If so, how might that creativity inform their practice and that of others in related artistic spheres?
A different beat
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