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 or

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.



Tips on composing drum parts for songs: Part 2

Date: 19.04.2011

Music for the 1997 Summerfold album 'If Summer Had Its Ghosts'.

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 split the answer in two parts. This is the second - the first was posted here in VIEWS on 19.03.2011.

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?

If there are featured drums, such as One More Red Nightmare from K.C’s Red, or Indiscipline (from Discipline: King Crimson) or Earthworks ‘Revel Without a Pause’ (Earthworks: Sound of Surprise) it’s one or two passes and hope for the best. In my day there was almost never the time, money or patience to keep a room full of musicians waiting while you overdubbed or edited or manipulated your ‘best’ lick into the proceedings.

If you were lucky you got a few goes at it; a little concentration and fast thinking could give you an acceptable result – defined as something you could live with. My generation did it jazz-style, all in the room at once. The one-take solo on Revel Without a Pause (Sound of Surprise: Earthworks) worked for me, and that’s about as good as I got at ‘live’ drum-action. The drum breaks in One More Red Nightmare (Red: King Crimson) were improvised, and would have been different on other takes. The take that was kept happened to contain those breaks.

Sometimes there are just ballads with discreet gentle rhythmic movement, but a lot of focus on the melody and harmony. (Come To Dust from Earthworks’ Sound of Surprise; Sarah’s Still Life from Earthworks’ A Part and Yet Apart; Palewell Park and Forever Until Sunday by Bruford). On these the melody is paramount, and I’d spend a lot of time at the piano trying to get it just right.

With much of early Earthworks, my electronic kit could produce a colourful confection of pitches, chords, sqeaks and yelps that implied melody and harmony, and I could go to the others in the band and say "I’m playing this - play what you want on top" (Bridge of Inhibition – Earthworks).

In King Crimson, the blueprint for the type of building was usually defined by Robert Fripp, and the musicians generated their own appropriate parts as the building was going up. Everybody was self-contained. It was unlikely I’d suggest something for Tony Levin to play – he’d have plenty of ideas of his own. And vice-versa.

We seldom played anyone’s wholly-written tunes because it wasn’t that kind of band. Idiosyncratic and highly personalized input was required. That could be a slow method, and could cause problems. I might offer a possible foundation (or floor-plan) which produced a second and third floor designed by others. Having seen round those two excellent new floors, though, I might want to change the foundation, which might cause the whole thing to wobble for a bit. I was routinely informed it was ‘irritating’ working with me! Probably true, but in my defense I was only trying to go that one step further.

The process in the older rock groups has been likened to four architects designing the same building, or four novelists trying to collaborate on one book. There was inevitably a lot of horse-trading – “I’ve got this great chorus and riff, but you hate my riff. I could live with your words which I don’t care for if you could think again about my riff”. Try doing that with four creatively muscular people in one room, and life can get tough.

Later in jazz, the musicians could sight read. That changes the music immediately because more complicated harmonic structures can be assimilated quicker off the paper. Jazz tunes are generally written by the one composer. You all play his tune and take a vote on whether you want to do it. If not, fine, we’ll play some one else’s or a standard, and play the first tune next week. A looser and quicker style of operation altogether.

The loosest of all is instant composition without rehearsal, sometimes known as improvisation. Over time I abandoned preparation of ideas altogether, preferring to hear whatever it was that my inner-man might produce in the moment. (The Art of Converstion, The 16 Kingdoms of the 5 Barbarians, both by Borstlap-Bruford).

I began to write music because Yes’ Jon Anderson was always encouraging, if a bit forceful. He maintained there were two kinds of musician; the kind that originate the composition and play it, and those who are just functionaries following orders and playing what they’re told to play, or what the composition requires they play. I simplify, but you get the drift. So I started by banging out bass riffs on my piano, which would eventually find there way into And You and I or Heart of the Sunrise, (Yes). Being always keen on unusual time-signatures, I suspect I had something to do with the odd-metered motif at the beginning of Siberian Khatru (Yes: Close to the Edge). I provided the slow sinewy odd-metered bass line that worked well in Starless (King Crimson: Red).

Encouraged, I got bolder, but it wasn’t until after many hours with piano harmony and the appearance of my own band Bruford that I started to use whole instrumental compositions of mine, such as Either End of August (Bruford: Feels Good to Me), or Fainting in Coils (Bruford: One of a Kind). On three or four occasions I even went all the way to the stars and tackled all music and lyrics (Seems Like a Lifetime Ago: Bruford, Feels Good To Me; The Sliding Floor, or Plans for J.D.: Bruford: Gradually Going Tornado).

So there we are. Above are some of the very personal ways I’ve gone about creating music, but there are many others. I’m a strong believer in the drummer writing all or part of the music, if only because it’s great to hear your musical ideas brought to life. I encourage all younger musicians to get as deeply involved in all aspects of the music - rhythm, harmony, melody, timbre, arrangement – as possible. Too often the younger drummer has little or no idea where he is in the harmonic framework of the music. That’s deplorable, and there’s no excuse for that. Piano or keyboard is a great second instrument for drummers. Courage, mes braves! Get to it!