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New Edition of Bill's Autobiography

Date: 21.04.2013

"Bill Bruford -The Autobiography" continues to go from strength to strength. A second edition of the paperback has just been published by Foruli Publications with different photographs and layout, and an additional 1100 word Prologue from Bill. Signed copies are on pre-order from Burning Shed online shop. Unsigned copies available at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.


Bill filmed interview.

Date: 30.03.2013

A fresh filmed interview with Bill has just been posted at the excellent online magazine iDrum here.


The stories behind history's greatest rock bands.

Date: 27.11.2012

YES men Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman,Steve Howe and Bill Bruford get Close to the Edge On It’s 40th Anniversary ‘InTheStudio’.

The full interview can be streamed now.

Dallas, TX - Nov 26, 2012. North American syndicated Rock radio show InTheStudio: The Stories Behind History’s Greatest Rock Bands gets a first hand account from YES current and former members Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Bill

Bruford about perhaps the pinnacle moment for progressive rock with the release forty years ago of YES Close to the Edge. Coming off the breakthrough success of the band’s Fragile album just nine months earlier, YES had now gained a level of

commercial capital that they intended to spend. It wouldn’t come in the form of three and a half minute pop songs, instead appearing as an album of only three songs. Close to the Edge would debut at # 3 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and crown YES as progressive rock royalty for decades to come. Jon Anderson tells In The Studio host Redbeard that the band did not intentionally aspire to create complex lengthy songs.


Second shop opens!

Date: 24.11.2012

Bill has opened a second multi-currency online shop stuffed to the hilt with all things Bruford, signed and unsigned. What with currency, exchange rate, shipping and tax hassles, the thinking is that this one may be more convenient for European and customers from the rest of the world outside North America. The North American shop continues to thrive, and wishes all its customers a happy holiday season. Not all items are necessarily in permanent stock in both shops all the time, but if you can't find what you want in one, it's probably in the other! Admin


All hardbacks now despatched

Date: 03.11.2012

Just to advise that all the When in Doubt, Roll! limited edition (blue) hardbacks, autographed and inscribed with your dedicated messages, have now been despatched from Los Angeles, CA. They're on the way! Many thanks to the folks at Foruli in the UK and to Amy who runs the shop in California, for making this happen.

If you missed the special edition, not to worry, the basic (red, pictured) paperback is available and in stock here.


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Tips on composing drum parts for songs: Part 1

Date: 19.03.2011

The following fairly complicated question came in, and I thought it might be good to try to air an answer in public. It’s a bit long, so I’ll split the answer in two, with Part 2 to come next time:

Would you mind addressing how you compose a drum part for a song and let us know if you plan everything including fills, breaks and specific patterns that repeat consistently on purpose and become the final part? What is your method and is it the same way you approach composing a song? I saw you rehearsing your composition with the Buddy Rich orchestra and it was brilliant. I guess the bottom line is when you listen to the drum parts in "One more red nightmare" , were those breaks improvised over different takes and you decided that you liked the one that we hear and you re-learned it as the final part or was it totally planned from preproduction of different ideas?

Part 1

I’ve always seen the percussion or drum part for the song as being a stand alone little work of art that, should all the other instruments be silenced and the percussion soloed alone, would still sound unique and interesting. Currently most drummers on pop or rock records do mostly the same thing, based around four beats in a bar, typically with a back-beat, and within an increasingly narrow tempo range. What differences there are, are largely timbral or cosmetic. But strip away the ear-candy, and what you’re hearing is roughly as described above.

I have no set method of finding these parts, but here are several options. The part might arise from practising the instrument. As you’re playing it, a bass part that would work well with bass drum comes to mind. A rhythmic platform is growing. Assign any pitches to the bass, and there will be harmonic implications. If there is a harmonic skeleton forming, it might suggest a melodic movement. If you can’t think of anything, just use the top note of the chords for now. This is effectively building from the ground up. Singer-songwriters tend to write the other way – lyric or melody down.

Let’s assume you’re building a four storey building. We need a foundation and three floors. Let’s say the foundation is the rhythm, the first floor is the bass, the second the harmony, and the top floor is the melody.

Sometimes I’ve gone all the way to the top floor by myself (much of Bruford, much of Earthworks, some Bruford-Levin, most of If Summer Had Its Ghosts). That’s before I got a little smarter, and began to see that I was a) overwriting, and thus b) probably excluding input from others that might be very helpful. Frequently – usually – the instrumentalist you’re working with will have a better idea about what he wants to play on this budding composition than you do.

There may be politics in this, too. It may be important for extra-musical reasons to have your colleagues ‘invest’ themselves into the music by providing parts they want to play and to which they are committed. Assuming it’s your own group, it’s always possible to insist people play things you wrote for them , but seldom wise.

Sometimes an idea for the third and fourth floors of the structure are brought to me (Robert Fripp–Discipline) and I’m able to provide the rhythmic foundation and bass motif to suit. Sometimes the musical ideas are taken from an improvisation, formalised and tweaked, and perhaps extended. (The Sheltering Sky from Discipline: King Crimson). Often I’m working with a good singer like Adrian Belew, and the percussion movement can be entirely dictated by the scansion of the (sometimes sung, sometimes spoken) text. (Dig from Three of a Perfect Pair: King Crimson). Usually the things that come together quickly are the most effective. If it’s like pulling teeth, it probably is pulling teeth.

(To be continued...)