DokBlog Ep. 1 - What Even Is This?
Updated: Mar 11
I’ve never written a blog, nor did I ever really plan to. I much prefer in person dialogue where body language and vocal tone (ya know, how most of our language as humans is communicated) and it always felt more intimate to have a discussion, debate, philosophy, etc. Yet here I am, as I was approached to rant to whoever is willing to read about whatever it is I want to speak about, apparently. HOWEVER, I feel as though a disclaimer of sorts is in order. This blog is meant to be an ‘off the cuff; experience. I may say something in an article that may require more dissemination and explanation in a later entry. I personally find it normal for someone to correct themselves, so far and as long as they are willing to. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, in which case I’d probably be meeting Dante at level 9, as positivity, optimism, patience and kindness are my core principles. I’m also quite human, and experience emotions as much as anyone else. I cry during shows and movies, I get frustrated with arrogance and ignorance, I get mad when I see injustice taking place. So I am clearly not perfect, never claimed to be, and therefore I shall have imperfect opinions and thoughts. I appreciate your understanding and hope you enjoy the nuance as I rant my fingers away to my computer and discuss things that go on in this mind of mine. It has been explained to me that that is what is wanted from me in this blog. A pure, unsweetened, direct from my heart and mind expression that I hope can connect with any number of those who stumbled their way into this English teacher's nightmare of punctuation and grammar errors.
So to get this started, for those not familiar with my work, and to try and put it simply, I am a finger drummer who focuses on education, working with youth and community activism. I’ve been finger drumming for over 6 years now, and in that time have been humbled by the response to my techniques I’ve brought to the proverbial finger drumming table. I’ve been given a lot of admiration in the community for the complexity of my routines, as well as the stamina in my performances, my style of song, branding and imagination, my nonstop ethical push to be better for everyone and to motivate others to join me in being better. I’m truly honored at the role I have in the community and I love all of you.
Now, for my first hot take in this blog. My general view on finger drumming, its current status as an avenue of live music performance, and my overarching opinion on the community at large. These will come in the form of my claim, which will sound direct and absolute, please keep in mind these are my opinions, and there is much nuance to be enjoyed here. I will likely talk further on specific aspects of these opinions in future updates…
To me, finger drumming is a combination of hand percussion and piano. It is not just drumming with your fingers. We are also in what I consider to be the early stages of its technical progression. Finger drummers in the last decade are the equivalent of guitar players in the early 20th century when they first got the electric guitar. There were obviously talented guitar players utilizing these instruments and paving the way for future generations, however the evolution of technique and technology has made way for far reaching and complex variations of artistic expression that guitar players from 1920 would be in awe of the arpeggio sweeping, acoustic percussion tapping musical artists we have one hundred years later. While I may currently believe that I have routines that only I can currently perform, that is only temporary. Every boundary one person overcomes, 10 more people push that boundary even further in a shorter amount of time. It’s the idea that when someone sees it can be done, they know they can do more and are driven to do so. That does mean I personally think a lot of finger drummers think they are at a level beyond where they actually are. If you aren’t using your thumbs regularly, then you aren’t able to be truly polyphonic. If you’re playing drums only, then you’re missing the entire other half of the craft involving melodic control and composition. If you’re playing drums and samples, but can’t polyrhythm or perform outside of 4/4, then it’s the equivalent of playing basic chords on a guitar around the campfire. I say these things not to put down the talent or expression of artists in their current form, but to remind ourselves that we are all humbly growing in our art, myself included. There is a time and a place for a simple drum pattern, a simple melody, a 4/4 signature, drums only, samples only, or even just playing with your toes or drawing a face on your hand for a gimmicky video. Art is pure, it is love, it is sadness, it is hilarious. Simultaneously, music theory and good form are just as, if not arguably more important, when it comes to providing the knowledge and space for you to express your art, true and pure to how you feel in your heart, without compromise based on current ability or process. So when I see certain finger drummers offering lessons, when they would not be able to teach beyond what should be considered the elementary - intermediate level, I sometimes feel a pain inside of me. Wouldn’t you feel ripped off from a guitar teacher who could only teach you basic chords? Or didn’t teach you how to properly or traditionally hold or play your instrument? Maybe I’m being too critical…
I do believe the future of finger drumming is a bright enough star to power its own system. I believe there will be a time where a fundamental “form” or “theory” of finger drumming is presented in a more official form. I believe what I am currently capable of will become the norm, and hopefully I continue to transcend my own expectations so I may set new ones. I believe in all my fellow finger drummers, new and old. Stay positive, stay humble, and most importantly stay nerdy out there.