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January 2015

January 2015
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I was driving on a highway yesterday, and the person in front of me was going way too slow. But I couldn't pass her because there were double lines on the road and lots of curves. So instead I drove right up to her bumper and tailgated her until she drove at the correct speed.

What I'm wondering is, can I do something like that to a drummer who is dragging?

—Damien, Phoenix


Dear Damien:

I suppose you could, but why would the drummer be playing in the middle of a highway? Plenty of drummers are street musicians, but most have enough street smarts to stick to lightly traveled byways.

Consider this, too: When you nudge a car ahead of you, bumper to bumper, the damage is usually minimal, but striking a sedentary drummer can kill him. On top of that, if he somehow gets snagged on your car, he'll drag worse than ever.

Incidentally, this is the derivation of "bumper music"—brief musical interludes on radio that double as elegies for dragging drummers killed by vehicular assault.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Why are musicians so big on triad pairs all of a sudden?

—I'm Not Excited by Pairs of Triads


Dear INEPT:

Know your history! In the years leading to jazz music's birth, slaves used their native rhythms as a secret language; drum messages that couldn't be deciphered by their owners. Since then, jazz musicians—especially the best ones—have continued to invent new vocabularies that allow them to covertly communicate with one another, even directly in front of audiences.

Bebop, free jazz and fusion all successfully shut out the audience when they first came along. But before long, jazz buffs got used to the new sounds and embraced them; no matter how hard musicians tried to speak privately the audience kept cracking the code.

Triad pairs offer audiences a new and formidable challenge while giving artists the exhilaration of a new insider language. The secret won't last forever, but rest assured that while triad pairs are keeping listeners at bay, jazz innovators are hard at work devising something even more obscure and incomprehensible.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Here's my pet peeve: People who call and ask if I'm available for a date before they tell me what it pays. Then once they know I'm available they tell me we're playing for peanuts. And at that point it's hard for me to say no because I'll seem like money is all that matters to me. Comments?

—Show Me the Money


Dear Show:

I think you're missing the big picture here. Finding out whether you can play the gig enables the caller to set your pay. Don't believe me? Watch how your availability changes the details:

1) You're available.

Leader: Are you available on the 16th?

You (checking your book): Yes I am.

Leader: Great! It's a four-hour wedding gig, and you need to get there two hours early for the soundcheck, wear a tux, and load in through the third-floor kitchen using the outdoor stairs. We'll start with a sing-along and talent show, then move to the ballroom and play dance music for the last couple of hours. You might want to bring your earplugs. It pays $75, and if we run over four hours I'll bump it to $95. You're not to speak with the guests.

You: Um, thanks?

2) You aren't available; same leader, same gig.

Leader: Are you available on the 16th?

You (checking your book): No I'm not.

Leader: I'm really sorry, man. It's such a sweet gig, they're saying four hours but it will probably end early, we're just playing tunes, and it pays $500. Hey—you owe me one.

You: Um, thanks?

Since the gig parameters are completely dependent on your response, how can a leader possibly tell you—or even know—what the gig pays without checking your availability first?

But why ask me when there's an actual specialist on line? Ask a guy who's not doing the gig for less than $200!


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