Terry Bozzio on Music Making

Posted by Mattias on 2013-12-02 in Artist stories

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Terry Bozzio is one amazing drummer. He’s played with countless musicians and constellations, including Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck. Terry doesn’t only play the drums though! For his own compositions he often turns to Reason.

How do you approach music making in Reason?
I use reason in so many different ways. Sometimes I just search through sounds until I find something I like & then create around that sound. When I use a keyboard I always like to try the sounds at the lowest & highest registers (where the sounds were not designed to be played) to find unique effects I can compose with. I like using the keyboard to get human or loose phrasing without quantization. On the other hand, I have used no keyboard & just use the MIDI sequencer to punch in notes one at a time. I’ve composed many classical pieces this way. I find it much like working a crossword puzzle! It has to make sense vertically & horizontally!

I can’t compose well without the feedback of good sounding instruments. Reason provides that when using realistic sounds. Also, I have put my entire drum set & many of my own percussion samples into Redrum or the NN-XT sampler. I can create beats & sounds that are truly me! I’m not a good keyboard player but I have done pretty cool solos in Reason & if I made mistakes I can go back in and correct them to make it as I intended. Using the above I have been able to create realistic sounding classical pieces, ambient electronic pieces, realistic drum playing on fusion like pieces & hybrids of all of the above.

Do you have any special tips on staying creative and productive?
I think it is to make music my “secret hobby” to act as if I am doing this only for myself & I don’t have to play it for anyone for their approval. I try to act as if this was a “McGuffin” or just a private experiment done in a non-judgemental way for my own enjoyment.

And when writer’s block strikes?
Just keep on or switch to another piece. Most of the best stuff I have done comes to me while watching TV with Reason! I’ll mute when it gets boring & plug in some notes. Then if it sounds good in the morning I keep at it!

What has been the best moment in your music making career thus far?
I think when I enjoy listening to something I wrote over & over for myself only, and it really makes me want to hear it again!

(Aside from all the great live performance situations I have had with the greats like Zappa, Beck, Jagger, Acuna, Holdsworth, The Metropole Orkest, sold out solo theatre tours etc. etc.!!!

Any words of wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
Well, aside from the above, you have the most incredible technology to realize your ideas with! If mozart had Reason he would have composed 24/7! You have the means now to make music by yourself anywhere, anytime, even without the parameters & restrictions of a musical education! Who knows what wonderful stuff will come out of it?! Please just follow your heart & do it!

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