Bringing the Rhythm to the Streets

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As a child, I often got into trouble throughout my education for my inability to stop tapping out rhythms. It wasn’t done out of any malice, and often began unconsciously, but many people just found it to be annoying or distracting or both. While I now can more or less control this impulse thanks to my drum kit, which I love like a wood and chrome-plated brother, the urge to be rhythmic does still occasionally finds a quiet lecture or a crowded bus to be the ideal place to flare up again. But while my petty skills have lead to mainly fulfilling a selfish need, artists like Italian drummer Dario Rossi have embraced this rhythm and made a career out of expressing it. Making a beat out of everything from old pots and pans to beer bottles and shopping carts, Rossi’s immense technical skill combines with ad hoc instruments to make the ultimate percussion machine, which at first glance seems impossible to be the work of one man. And while many drummers would kill to get such diverse patterns using a conventional set (i.e. having all four limbs available to contribute to the overall sound), Rossi is impressively able to maintain complicated compositions with just his two hands, often sitting on the ground as he plays. A lot have noted the “techno” sound that seems to come from his drumming, which is a result of his ambidextrous ability to maintain in each drum stick (or sharpie) two separate barrages of triplets, sixteenth notes, and every other sought after sound one can imagine. While he never performs with an authentic set, one would be hard pressed to ask why, as his constant movement to other objects in search of unique sounds would seem severely limited even in a kit as large as Neil Peart uses on occasion. His outdoor performances channel the strong tradition of street performers still alive today in Rome, and his willingness to provide lessons and tour public streets throughout Europe make him a true model for embracing ones quirks, no matter how annoying others may find it.

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Nathaniel Barlam

Nathaniel

Amid the unrest of earning his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from RISD, Nathaniel manages to find the time to read, write, hang out with friends, play drums, and listen to music. Nathaniel has learned a lot about architecture firsthand thanks to opportunities to live and work in Rome and Brooklyn during the past year. Coming from a family with strong roots in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Nathaniel has always maintained a strong love for NYC especially, and after his studies finish up in Providence he may move there for a while. He hasn't decided yet. You can connect with him via Linkedin or by visiting his Portfolio page.

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