Take Five With Dave Scoven

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Meet Dave Scoven:
Dave Scoven is an avant-garde composer/percussionist from Richmond, Virginia. Dave released Drum set Meditations: Solo Compositions for Film and Dance in July, 2011. Drum set Meditations is a collection of 15 spontaneous solo compositions for drums and percussion. The compositions are themselves rhythmic meditations, influenced primarily by rhythms and tones from Eastern and South-Central Asia—northern India, Japan, China and Tibet.

Dave also plays drums in the improvisational jazz/world fusion duo Tele-Phonic, currently lives in Richmond, VA, and performs solo concerts whenever possible.

Instrument(s):
Drums, percussion.

Teachers and/or influences?
I study periodically with Billy Martin
Billy Martin
Billy Martin
b.1963
drums
. I think I've had three lessons with him. Billy is such a supportive, warm person. When I first when to work with Billy, I was having real trouble with feeling boxed in. He turned me on to some pretty obscure recordings made by Jean Dubuffet, the painter. I'm not sure that we even played a note the first lesson; we just talked about musical freedom and being brave enough to really express yourself. That conversation motivated Drum set Meditations, my new solo CD. He really helped me break through.

My musical influences are really so expansive, but, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
and Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
are three huge early jazz influences. Then I become obsessed with Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
1928 - 1964
reeds
, Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
, and late Coltrane. I have classical music influences also: John Cage, Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Philip Glass
b.1937
composer/conductor
. I'm really influenced by so many thing; I try really hard to be open to everything.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
My god, I have no idea. Forever. I've always be moved in the deepest way by music. I guess you could say that I knew I wanted to actually be a musician when I was 10 years old or so, and I realized that I had the capacity for endless practicing. I guess I knew then that nothing could hold my attention like playing and practicing—it's still something I love to do. It's cathartic for me. It always has been. The world could be falling in around me, and I wouldn't care. I'd just stay focused. It's free therapy, I guess.

Your sound and approach to music:
I'm big on tone. The sound of the instrument—any instrument—is emotive. A lot of times it isn't even so much what you play; it's the sound you make—if that makes any sense. So by the same token, I'm with John Cage on the value of silence. My approach is definitely minimalism. I'm most proud of what I didn't play. I think that comes from a respect for the music.

The desire to make the music feel good, feel right—that's always been my motivation. I don't care at all about impressing anyone with chops—not that great technique isn't important, because it is—it's just that I come from a place where I'm not playing "technique," I'm playing music. That's a big difference. If you want to hear a drummer who is an absolute master at what I'm talking about, listen to Joey Baron
Joey Baron
Joey Baron
b.1955
drums
. He's an amazing, amazing drummer, but he's a musician through and through. He's so creative, and he plays parts that are emotive. He's not playing to let you know he's a drumming badass—he lets you figure that out for yourself. Instead, he dazzles you with his musicianship. That's what I'm talking about.

Your teaching approach:
I don't teach that much. It's been years, really. But when I teach, I teach two things—three, really. Creativity, fundamentals, and more fundamentals. Say what you want, being able to read really well is important. And not just for guys who are going to make a living doing musicals or jingles. A great example of what I'm talking about—look at a guy like Kenny Wollesen. The guy can play anything, and I mean anything. He's amazing. I'd loved his work with Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
for years, but he does so many other interesting things. One of the things he does is play with Evan Laurie, doing these awesome soundtrack recordings for the kids' show The Backyardigans. I'd be lying if I said I only watch that show with my son; it's awesome. And the music is awesome too. But it's an ensemble, composed, time-crunchy recording gig, and I doubt there's any musician in the band that can't read the spots off the wall. Reading just really makes you complete. But creativity—that's the main thing.

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