What do science, math and fine arts have to do with music?
Plenty says Grammy Award-winning drummer Will Calhoun whose performance-art work combines his love for sound and science during an exhibition of selections from his groundbreaking Rhythm Art/AZA collection at the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) from Manhattan, which will continue until July 31. (The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m..
When OTP heard about Calhoun’s new “gig” at MoMath, we wanted to know more. So we thought we’d also ask guardians of Tik-Tok followers absorbed by cellphones. Question: The fundamental relationship between math and music is obvious to young rhythm lovers, but how do you get them to feel as inspired by learning math in the same way that they are inspired by the call of a new dance move, beat or song.
Calhoun, a Berklee School of Music graduate with a BA in music production and engineering, responded via email:
“A student can experience metrics and numbers in many ways. Dancing to a drum beat is the first example that comes to mind. When you hear each beat, you take a step or move. Then you swing or move your arms to counter beats based on the original beat. Your feet can physically play 1, 2, 3, 4. Your arms can only move on beats 2 and 4.
“This process can also be called a subdivision. The arms and the feet react to the same time signature, but the arms move only half of real time. Together they create a 4-beat rhythmic pattern. Alternating beats between your left and right limbs also help balance your patterns. Example: 1,2,3,4… Left, Right, Left, Right.
To fully understand where Calhoun is from, it’s probably best to travel to see visual/photographic renditions of the artist/teacher performing: at MoMath (11 East 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, across from Madison Square Park) or live and indoors. nobody, this fall (dates TBD), at Sistas’ Place (456 Nostrand Avenue, corner of Jefferson Avenue and Frederick Douglass Square) in Brooklyn.
Of his MoMath exhibit, the Brooklyn-born, Bronx-raised drummer revealed in a press release, “I was thinking about the visual versus the sound, versus an immersive experience. So in my drum solos, I took off the African loops, jumped on the drums, turned off the lights in the room, and then used lightweight drumsticks. People didn’t just hear the African-style drum solos…they also saw the streaks of light.
Calhoun pitched his concept to SceneFour, Inc., a Los Angeles-based visual arts company. They photographed him drumming with slow aperture cameras and translated his powerful polyrhythms into multicolored abstract art. “They kidnapped me, the [Studio lights], drumsticks and photography drums,” Calhoun says, “and they had these streaks, which were roadmaps of my hand movements. That’s where the concept came from and that’s what caught the museum’s attention.
Dubbing his audiovisual concept Rhythm Art and naming his collection AZA – which means “powerful” in Swahili – Calhoun’s selections at MoMath reveal the relationship between improvisation and mathematical forms. “I play different time signatures,” Calhoun explains. “My arms move in geometric shapes like a triangle, square, or hexagon, and tracking the movements of my arms creates the mathematical angles and shapes.”
Calhoun developed his audio-visual concept five years ago, playing with Living Colour, and wanted to create a visual experience with his drum solos by combining African-inspired dance, history, culture and rhythms with technology. advanced visual.
Will Calhoun hopes his inventive and groundbreaking works will inspire others to come up with their own musical mathematical conceptions. “I hope musicians will be inspired to visually look at improvisation as this physical movement that creates lines, shapes and angles.”
As a founding member of Living Colour, Calhoun won two Grammys with the group: one for Best Hard Rock Performance by a Group for the song “Cult of Personality” in 1989, and another for Best Hard Rock Performance by a Group. a band in 1990. Calhoun recorded and/or performed with Miles Davis, Harry Belafonte, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Santi DeBriano, Herb Alpert, Mos Def, Oumou Sangaré and Charnett Moffett. His six albums as a frontman, released from 1995 to 2016, include Housework, Drumwave, Live at the Blue Note, Life in this World and Celebrating Elvin Jones.
He has lectured at Brown University’s Watson Institute, Columbia Teachers College, Berklee College of Music, Haverford College, New York University, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New School, the Head-Royce School in Oakland and the Sup’imax Institute in Dakar. , Senegal. He has also studied with folk drummers in Australia, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Belize and northern Brazil.
For more information about the MoMath exhibit, visit www.momath.org or contact (212) 542-0566.