Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A city is full of percussion always, and more downtown.

Heavier percussion than usual occurs when buildings are a'building--tall buildings downtown--and pile drives drives in bases for the new and the high slowly late at night and early in the morning, under bright lights for the workers. The souns is like God's very big bass drum hit slowly when God is at least a little bit angry.

Lighter percussion than usual is now provided by high school students midday weekends, on Market at Fourth, on marching band percussion instruments played with rapid preciscion.

Snare drums, big bass drums--it fits that they're near the Old Navy Store as what they are doing has old, military origins.

Teenagers are often told they are being too loud when, for them, they are are just being, in a way that is natural to them. Creative, skilled percussion at a busy intersection that is noisy anyway is a good way for them to give and others the receive the gift of their intensity. The sound and sound patters are intense. The amount of practising implied by their skill level is intense. It all kind of herds the usual cacaphony around that corner to a better place.

There are different groups of teenage drum players from different high schools on different weekend days. I like the one with a xylophone player. Lightly playing a light tune that skates gracefully above the booms and rat-a-tats, the xylophone sounds like I'd like my steps in the city to be, lightly gracefully making it a little bit better.

One time I lucked out as I was walking within hearing distance of a restaurant space that was being remodeled into being a different restaurant.

The nailing within was of unnecessary complexity, reminescent of the music of the jazz clubs. Walking about fifteen steps ahead of me, also walking toward the nailing sounds, was a man carrying a bongo drum. It had a strap, so it could easily play it while walking, playing around the rhythms that he nailer was creating around the necessity of nailing. For about four lot widths, things were rhythmically complicated and beautiful.

George Gerschwin wrote the music, his brother Ira, the words. One time, George played a tricky new tune for Ira and Ira said that that was going to be tough to write words for and then immediately said, "It sure is a fascinating rhythm, though."

"Fascinatin' Rhythm"--the first two words of the song, the name of the song, the name of the Michael Lasser public radio show celebrating and playing recordings of the Great American Songbook where I heard that fact.

One time I saw and heard the teenagers in the area of 4th and 5th and Market who play marching percussion instruments include a percussion instrument that wouldn't work in a marching band. A guy was behind the snare drummers and bass drummer and xylophonist playing a fireplug with the same plastic drumsticks the snare drummers were using. Like the bongo guy playing with the nailer, he was around and in and out of the rhythm the drummers set.

A city is often hard. Hit it!