Art does not belong to anyone; it belongs to everyone. An entity that matures and evolves on a timetable that far exceeds that of human beings, any art form is mentored and guided by a series of committed artists who are united by their passion and commitment to their creation. Consider Lang Zhao.
This drumming phenome from China might not be the most obvious musician to take Gospel Drumming to its next iteration and yet, his book An Analytical Approach to Linear Application-Integrating Gospel Drumming into Your Grooves and Chops has proven to be a massive hit in the international drumming community. Published by Violet Anamnesis Publications, the book became number one on Amazon`s Music Technique Book category within 24 hours of its release. The excitement over Zhao’s book led to acclaim in the US as well as a drum clinic and masterclass tour in China this summer. While Lang finds himself a mainstay of the Prog Rock scene touring & recording with bands like Thrailkill and The Resonance Project, his commitment to education with An Analytical Approach to Linear Application-Integrating Gospel Drumming into Your Grooves and Chops continues to vet him as one of the most exciting, masterful, and inspiring drummers of his generation.
Zhao’s musicality and individualism has been evident on his recordings with groups like LA Prog Rock group Thrailkill and The Resonance Project. He was adamant in approaching education in the same manner. His book An Analytical Approach to Linear Application-Integrating Gospel Drumming into Your Grooves and Chops focuses on linear playing with a gospel drumming influence via an analytical approach. Featuring video demonstrations by Henry McDaniel IV (drummer for the George Duke/Stanley Clark band, as well as Big Sean during Rihanna’s “Anti-World Tour”), the book addresses the sonic elements of the Gospel drumming style and challenges the student to apply this in their own creative voice. Lang’s approach is innovative and not derivative of timeless works such as Gary Chaffee’s linear drumming book or David Garibaldi’s Future sounds. Not only is it the first of its kind to relate gospel drumming in a linear system but also the first to do so in China. In so doing, Lang’s book has given way to completely new terminology in China’s drumming community. The analytical approach of the text demands an entry level that exceeds that of the average player. Undoubtedly the most embraced drumming influence of the past decade, Gospel drumming has incited the type of curiosity and study that demanded a tome such as Zhao’s.
Beyond the popularity and accolades Lang has received in America, An Analytical Approach to Linear Application-Integrating Gospel Drumming into Your Grooves and Chops has gained legions of admirers in China. This country is one of the most expanding markets for music instruction. Published by China’s esteemed Culture and Art Publishing House, An Analytical Approach to Linear Application-Integrating Gospel Drumming into Your Grooves and Chops immediately became one of the bestselling drum instructional books of 2018. Available in both English and Chinese languages, the book’s immense popularity led to a demand for the author to personally undertake a clinic/masterclass tour of China to satiate his fans. Cities including Xi’an, Cangzhou, Huanghua, Hangzhou, Zhangjiagang, Dalian, and others saw huge gatherings of attendees to watch Lang masterfully display and explain his concepts.
While Gospel Drumming may be the dialect with which Zhao has chosen to speak in this book, he prominently professes that individuality and personal identity are paramount. He declares, “My intention was never to become simply another gospel drummer. The world doesn’t need another Asian guy playing exactly like a gospel drummer. As a musician, I should research my own sound and style; that which will make me unique. At the end of the day, it’s all about the music you create. This is why I wanted to acquire the approach of gospel drummers, taking their vantage of interacting to music and their rich rhythmic culture, and merging it with my own playing. It’s not about copying but rather about obtaining more options with which to express yourself as an individual. My book is meant to enable drummers to amplify the ideas they have but cannot access as well as inspire new ones. I’m incredibly happy that it has been so embraced across the world.” Lang Zhao confirms that he is already underway creating a follow up book that will feature 6lack’s drummer David Myers.