Riding the Path of Music

This Fall has had me finishing my Sub Pop Rock N’ Roll summer with a very rockstar instrument, drums! I started drumming earlier this year when I played multiple percussion instruments like dun duns, claves, taiko or cajons. So when I entered into drumming lessons at Deep Well Studios in the middle of the Paradise Valley Nature Conservation, I felt that a drum kit was the end of my drumming path…but little did I realize how the drumming path would lead to new music creation!

My first understanding of drumming quickly began to expand from percussion to drumming kits and then into experiences like playing bucket drums on the Seattle city streets, mimicking Artis the Spoon man at Pike Place Market with his lap drumming style…all these paths were leading me to a music made from a recycled bicycle, a bicycle that is helping usher in a new music into the world!

As any reader of my blog knows, I LOVE finding new ways to use found materials. I started For 1 Year Of My Life challenges in 2011 by Living The Goodwill Life which was a year of only buying recycled items from the thrift store. And those that know me also know that I’m obsessed with showcasing all the wonderful new brands, ideas, artists and experiments in the world coming from the PNW region. So when two of our area’s well-known drummers, drum techs (even for Sub Pop’s Sunny Day Real Estate) and instrument creators, Gregg Keplinger and Sean Lane were collaborating to make new music from recycled materials, I knew I needed to find out more!

This path all started with a tour of Trading Musician, a Seattle store that specializes in uniquely found instruments, to look at drums and this is where I first found the recycled fan drum from Sean Lane. Sean’s recycled fan can be played with a bow, sticks or plucked all with unique and distinct sounds. This unique instrument led me to discovering Sean starting a collaboration with Gregg Keplinger of Keplinger Drums for the Keplinger Chimes this year. Soon after, Sean invited me to his studio to play the “String Thing”, the “Keplinger Chimes” and “The Bike” which were made from a variety of materials ranging from a bike frame, to older drum kit pieces to shelving pieces to even bottle caps!

But what I found by standing in that studio, by experimenting with all these instrument’s amazingly diverse range of sounds, I knew that I was not just discovering a new instrument, or a recycled piece of musical art (which is profoundly cool to begin with) but I quickly realized that I was literally standing in front of a new form of music being played right before my eyes! The spectrum of sounds that range from simple, uplifting chimes to incredibly complex, deep, multi-loop, soul-stirring symphonies that are like a Tim Burton soundtrack were blowing my mind! Sean has released a recent video of the Musical instrument “The Bike” that showcases just some of this up-cycled instrument possibilities, an instrument that has already captured the interest of top musicians, an instrument that was just featured on-stage with band Silver Torches (the opening act for Noah Gunderson) at the Neptune this past weekend; and this was on the heels of Sean telling me that the Keplinger chimes were just delivered to world-renowned Wilco drummer, Glenn Kotche.

Mark my words blog readers… I’m writing about the beginning of a new era of music creation in our world and I am completely THRILLED to see it emerge!

This path of unique musical creation continues to develop for my #AnInstrumentADay challenge and to pair this newly discovered fascination with my recycled-themed background, this is a perfect mix for a lover of living sustainably and learning to make something unique. I have now stepped into what will be a life-long discovery of recycled musical instruments and music creation and I think I’m going to start with making my own favorite instrument, a theremin, from something unique as my first step; AND if I’m lucky, I will have experts like Sean or Gregg to help guide my path.

With all these newly found musical possibilities I have to take a second and pinch myself, knowing that I am so incredibly grateful that I started riding “The Bike” down this path… that drumming has given me the ability to witness the ushering in of a new era of musical creation!


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