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steve hirsh

steve hirsh

The drumset is a musical instrument, that is, it's one instrument, not a collection of instruments. What I do with this musical instrument is make music. My intention every time I sit down behind the drumset, whether by myself or when playing with others, is to make music. Not to play predetermined beats or rhythms, not to try and replicate what another drummer I admire or draw inspiration from has played, but just to play and create music. I play the music I hear in that particular moment, as it emerges in musical conversation with other musicians, or in solo performance.


The music I am interested in creating is spontaneously composed, boundary-less, and without genre-defining rules of rhythm, melody, harmony, tone, color or feeling. It is music at its most elemental, always seeking emotional connection and aiming to elevate the spirit of all who encounter it – by any means necessary, using all available tools and techniques, including those discovered in the moment of creation. Creating music in this way demands that each musician bring their life and experience to the encounter, make themselves vulnerable to their own history, and open themselves to what their colleagues bring to the conversation. This music requires deep listening, technical facility and a willingness to pivot in an instance, as the conversation dictates. This music allows the musicians to tell their own story while responding to, commenting upon and embellishing the stories being offered by all of the other musicians involved. It is a way of playing that allows for and encourages simultaneous individual and group expression.


I’ve played with (among others) William Parker, Joel Futterman, Eri Yamamoto, Matthew Shipp, Ivo Perelman, Douglas Ewart, Babatunde Lea, George Cartwright, Donald Washington, Chad Fowler, Zoh Amba, Brad Holden, Dick Studer, Josh Granowski, Matt Trice, Kavyesh Kaviraj, and DeVon Russell Grey.

Profile photo by Andrea Canter

steve hirsh
Willow River