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Stick Control for the Air Drummer

by Mira Martin-Gray

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Full Spectrum closes out a weird and confusing year with the release of ‘Stick Control for the Air Drummer,’ a captivating new work from another newcomer to our noisy little family, Mira Martin-Gray.

Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, Martin-Gray is an improvising musician, producer and admittedly reluctant composer / sound artist / whatever whose work focuses on devising new methods for creating music accessibly. While her practice typically centers on the manipulation of no-input mixer feedback systems in an effort to to plumb the rich intersections between noise and melody, drone and rhythm, indeterminacy and control, ‘Stick Control’ exists in a strange pocket dimension all its own.

As its creative seed, ‘Stick Control’ takes a set of otherwise unremarkable snare drills sourced from George Lawrence Stone’s legendary ‘Stick Control for the Snare Drummer’ – a book which has been referred to as “the Bible of drumming,” providing a training template for young percussionists since its original publication in 1935. Martin-Gray turns Stone’s rote patterns on their head, however, morphing them into a collection of stunningly warped explorations in sympathetic resonance and passionate minimalism.

She began by copying a few of her favorite exercises to MIDI and used these sequences to trigger a series of tuned 808 samples, which were then beamed directly at a lone snare drum. A preparation would be made to the snare wires themselves – either a small steel ball, a pinback button or a pair of earrings – which would exert just enough pressure to allow the sympathetic resonance to sound more like drum strokes than indistinct buzzing, while also introducing an unpredictable element into the repetitiveness of the sequenced exercises.

As an artist who can no longer play much percussion anymore because of chronic pain issues, this practice opened up a deeply personal dialogue between her personal relationship to the original training book, the rigors of instrumental performance and finding new ways to make the source material’s innate inflexibility yield in a remarkably human way. ‘Stick Control,’ through this lens, stands as perhaps the deepest and most vulnerable interpretation of George Lawrence Stone’s drills book to date.


released December 4, 2020

Programmed and performed by Mira Martin-Gray

Recorded at home in Toronto (occupied Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Wendat land)
Earrings made in Curve Lake First Nation and M'Chigeeng First Nation

Mastered by Andrew Weathers

Artwork by Gretchen Korsmo

Thanks to Germaine Liu and Sarah Hennies


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Full Spectrum Records releases the works of experimental musicians and sound artists, with an ear towards idiosyncratic tones, extended time frames and unique compositional approaches.

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