“Perfect Pillow” Drum Transcription — Brian Evans with Chon

Posted on January 8, 2023

 Perfect Pillow Summary

MuseScore, my notation software of choice, abruptly got a title update back in December — I’ll write more about the update next week, but to come to grips with the new version, I got motivated to do some transcribing. 

In need of some material, I decided to revisit some Chon; my post about “Story” is one of the most popular things I’ve done, evinced by the fact that the drummer on that song reached out to me about it!

Anyhoo, Grow remains my favorite Chon album and one of the final songs on the LP is a pretty spectacular number called “Perfect Pillow”. With some tempo shifts and time signature changes, I figured the track would be a good opportunity to see how the MuseScore 4 works and looks.

More about my experience next week. For now, let’s talk about the song. There are a few distinct movements to this tune. First is a rather ferocious 4/4 section that climaxes with a two–bar drum break (starting on the second measure of this line):

It starts with a seven–note pattern featuring five notes on the hands and two on the kick. Afterward is some more linear playing — Brian loves his linear chops.

Next is a movement in 3/4, with a kind of waltzing/half–time groove on the drums. Check out the cool polyrhythm at the end of this line:

It’s a 2:3 polyrhythm — quarter notes on the ride, quarter note triplets on the snare. In 4/4, this polyrhythm would be played twice in one bar, but since we’re dealing with a single measure of 3/4, it’s basically played one and a half times, giving it an interesting lope. 

After the 3/4 section, there’s an ice–cold tempo change, slowing down to 116 BPM. Anytime there’s a sudden tempo change, I always divide the two tempos to see if there’s a simple ratio between them. It turns out that the starting tempo (174) is 1.5 times greater than 116, suggesting a dotted quarter note metric modulation. 

Brian actually foreshadows this on the kit, as the final moments of the 3/4 section beforehand have him playing a dotted quarter note pattern on the snare, setting up the tempo change. 

In addition to the modulation, the song also goes into some alternating meter at this point: two bars of 7/8 and two bars of 4/4. Things get a bit funkier here — check out the toms hits and the spicy fill that’s at the end of this line:

I think the crash is played with the left hand on the left side of the kit, so the right hand can move back to the hats when the groove continues. 

The rest of the song is in 4/4. The next groove has kind of a gnarly hi-hat pedal thing going on, with the phrases ending on a little ensemble thing. This ensemble figure starts on the “a” after 4, making it sound like it’s missing an 8th note (à la 7/8):

I only did the first ~2 minutes of the tune, but the whole thing is worth listening to. I considered doing more, but MuseScore crashed on me and I learned the hard way the auto–save functionality is not working properly in version 4. More on that next week

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