LRLL RLRR, 2011
Performance, 1h 14m 0s, Dimensions Variable
LRLL RLRR is a performance work that proposes points of overlap between the disciplines of drumming and visual art, which, for me, are defining and concurrent but have become inadvertently segregated.
The work’s title is drawn from a mnemonic used to indicate the left and right-hand sticking of a standard snare drum rudiment called a paradiddle. As the title for this piece, however, the phrase operates obliquely, serving as a diagram that suggests two inversely symmetrical figures (a photograph adjacent to its own negative), referring in turn to the spatial relationship of the two participants, myself and another drummer.
Employing an economical symmetry between bass drum, snare drum, and hi-hat, this prototypical beat is the skeleton for countless iconic and lesser-known songs across many genres throughout the history of modern music (most famously, perhaps, as the beat for Michael Jackson’s 1982 song, ‘Billie Jean’). As the framework for this performance the beat serves as a distillation of the act of drumming as well as a specific reference to my personal history: it was the beat I learned at my first drum lesson, age 11. The beat’s economy calls attention to the spaces in between the notes and, in turn, refers to the interstices between the two disciplines.
Repetition is central to LRLL RLRR both as a stylistic nod towards minimalism and as a structure by which the subtle discrepancies of the two players are accentuated. The beat has an infinite, cyclical quality, which suggests a forward trajectory, a sense of walking down the street. Here, however, played in excess of 30 times longer than the average pop song and devoid of any accompaniment save for a redundant doubling, the beat assumes a solitary insistence, wavering between hysteria and hypnosis. Just as a word repeated over and over gives way to lapse of verbal meaning, the beat takes on alien qualities over the course of the performance’s 74 minute duration.
LRLL RLRR is an ongoing, serialized work in which each iteration is staged in a different city and made unique through the inclusion of a native participant, another drummer. Identity and its relationship to geography are primary interests here. The impetus to engage locations external to my own mirrors my roles within the larger communities of art and music. Music, as a pursuit and a profession, has imposed itinerancy in my life since I was a teenager. Touring is an inevitable part of being a musician and while it allows a rare kind of access to the rest of the world, it also engenders constant reflection on the meaning and value of one’s home base and the relationships that comprise belonging. Another pertinent duality referenced here is that of the lone artist in the studio vs. the notion of a global art world and the phenomenon of collective and relational practices.