Friday, April 25, 2008

Neil Peart

As we were driving in the car yesterday, I was listening to a great song, loudly, and my son started calling me..."MOM! MOM!" so I lowered the music, and said..."Yes Alex?" He replied "I like this song Mommy, that berry COOL."

It was "Tom Sawyer" by RUSH. Hence, my Friday music blog turned into a blog about one of the best drummers alive. Even if you are not a RUSH fan, and shame on you if you're not, you HAVE to watch this man play. He's phenomenal. Mesmerising actually.

Peart is consistently ranked as one of the greatest rock drummers of all time by both fans, fellow musicians, and magazines. His influences are eclectic, ranging from John Bonham, Michael Giles, Phil Collins, Steve Gadd, and Keith Moon, to fusion and jazz drummers Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich, Bill Bruford and Gene Krupa. The Who was the first group that inspired him to write songs and play the drums. Peart is distinguished for playing "butt-end out", reversing stick orientation for greater impact and increased rim-shot capacity. "When I was starting out", Peart later said, "if I broke the tips off my sticks I couldn't afford to buy new ones, so I would just turn them around and use the other end. I got used to it, and continue to use the heavy end of lighter sticks - it gives me a solid impact, but with less 'dead weight' to sling around."
Peart had long played just matched grip, however, he decided to shift to traditional as part of his style reinvention in the mid-1990s under the tutelage of jazz coach Freddie Gruber. Shortly after the filming of his first instructional DVD A Work in Progress, Peart went back to using primarily matched, though he does switch back to traditional when playing songs from Test for Echo and during moments when he feels traditional grip is more appropriate, such as the rudimentary snare drum section of his drum solo, "The Floating Snare". He discusses the details of these switches in the DVD Anatomy of a Drum Solo.


Neil Peart and his 360 degree drumkit
With Rush, Peart has played Slingerland, Tama, Ludwig, and Drum Workshop (DW) drums, in that order. Historically he has played Zildjian cymbals exclusively (from the "A" series, save for various effect cymbals, like Wuhan China cymbals), switching only very recently to Paragon, a line created for him by Sabian. In concert, Peart uses an elaborate 360-degree drum kit, with a large acoustic set in front and electronic drums to the rear.

Neil Peart began incorporating Simmons Electronic Drums beginning with 1984's Grace Under Pressure
During the late 1970s, Peart augmented his acoustic setup with diverse percussion instruments including orchestra bells, tubular bells, wind chimes, crotales, timbales, timpani, gong, temple blocks, bell tree, triangle, and melodic cowbells. Since the mid-1980s, Peart has replaced several of these pieces with MIDI trigger pads. This was done in order to trigger sounds sampled from various pieces of acoustic percussion that would otherwise consume far too much stage area. Some purely electronic non-instrumental sounds are also used. Beginning with 1984's Grace Under Pressure, he used Simmons electronic drums in conjunction with Akai digital samplers. Peart has performed several songs primarily using the electronic portion of his drum kit. Peart's drum solos also feature sections performed primarily on the electronic portion of his kit.
Shortly after making the choice to include electronic drums and triggers, Peart added what has become another trademark of his kit: his rotating drum riser. During live Rush shows, the automated rotating riser allows Peart to swap dynamically the prominent portions of the kit ("front", traditional kit; and "back" electronic kit). A staple of Peart's live drum solos has been the in-performance rotation-and-swap of the front and back kits as part of the solo itself. This special effect simultaneously provides a symbolic transition of drum styles within the solo, as well as providing a visual treat for the audience.
In the early 2000s, Peart began taking full advantage of the advances in electronic drum technology; primarily incorporating Roland V-Drums and continued use of samplers with his existing set of acoustic percussion. Peart's digitally sampled library of both traditional and exotic sounds has grown over the years with his music.


Peart is often regarded as one of the finest practitioners of the in-concert drum solo. He is known for extensive, intricate drum solos containing odd time signatures, complex arrangements. These solos have been featured on every live album released by the band.

Neil Peart is also the main lyricist for RUSH as well. Talk about talent. This is one amazing Man of Music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I googled Neil Pert while I'm washing Rush on Palladia and found this... very informative! I think I'm becoming a Rush fan!