I believe there is something peaceful in percussion. You can have chaos and repetition, swirling sound, but there is something in the rhythm of a drumbeat that eases my mind. Percussion has always played a major role in my obsession with music. Along with lyrics. There is something in the sporadic sound of a high hat clashing and melding into a snare hit combining seamlessly with the bass drum. The combinations, seemingly endless, are reverential, as are the countless drummers who combine these sounds to make art. Where an English major, such as myself, loves the way words rise and fall, and their sounds create a symphony, there is an artistry in creating the perfect rhythmic backdrop to songs. Some of the most underrated musicians are the drummers, sitting behind the singer and guitarists, bassists and keyboardists, as they expel so much energy pounding out a heartbeat to the song.
What brought these thoughts on? I was listening to “After Midnight” by Blink 182, off of their newest release, Neighborhoods. Travis Barker has always been a percussion God, creating ridiculous sounds that weave intricately through Blinks common chords. Where Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus bring personality, Travis Barker pumps life into the words, the emotion, especially in this song, comes from Barker. The opening percussion, high hat and snare, link guitar and words, focusing a common thread, a heartbeat of sorts, through the rest of the song. Every time I listen to this song, I focus all my attention on Barker’s sound, and I can’t help but feel the depth of the words, and their importance, are somehow made more profound by the percussion. Just as I have fallen under the spell of Florence and the Machine, and her excellent use of percussion to punctuate and highlight the highs and lows of lyrics, this particular track of Blink 182’s encapsulates the sporadic heartbeat of someone thinking through his or her troubled relationship. The internal ticking clock, just like the title suggests, it is after midnight, bringing with it a new day and new hope for something more, something better, or simply, just something.
P.S. Sorry for not adding links, as I usually do. I am having some internet difficulty.