For Matthew Guggemos, drums and language have been woven together into a seamless narrative.
From the age of 14 to the present, Matthew has been a driven drum student. In Lansing, Michigan, he studied with numerous local drum teachers until he attended Michigan State University, where he played in Jazz Band 1. At MSU, Matthew began studying with master jazz drummer Randy Gelispie. A living encyclopedia of jazz drumming history, Randy taught drums through the medium of historical jazz narratives. Professor Gelispie was -- and still is -- a highly influential teacher to Matthew, in that he outlined the relationship shared between words and music. Drums and music can communicate complex information to an audience, just like speech and language.
Building on his foundation from Randy Gelispie, Matthew then studied with world-renowned drummer Gerald Cleaver, who also drew connections between language and music. Gerald taught that jazz, specifically, is a language that must be learned by listening to and imitating master musicians -- before one can comfortably improvise within the genre. This learning framework is very similar to how people learn to speak any language: by hearing and imitating words in context.
While at MSU, Matthew briefly studied with esteemed drummer Clarence Penn, who highlighted the importance of phrasing, note duration, and dynamics: all of these components help drummers tell compelling stories through their instruments. Dynamics and phrasing are, in many ways, like suprasegmentals in speech, which involve word stress and pitch changes (e.g., questions vs statements). Suprasegmentals often help express emotions in phrases, sentences, and conversations.
After receiving a scholarship to Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA, Matthew left Michigan, played in the San Francisco jazz scene, and earned a degree in Liberal Studies, focusing on Philosophy, English, and History. In the San Francisco Bay Area, he studied with stick control and bass drum technique virtuoso Colin Bailey. Colin taught that accurate articulation -- like clear speech -- allows drummers to concisely communicate their ideas to an audience. Just as concise, logical arguments allow one to communicate persuasively to a listener, clean and articulate drumming intelligibly conveys complex rhythms to an audience.
Playing in a variety of S.F. Bay Area bands eventually led Matthew to miRthkon, an Oakland-based progressive rock band that toured the Pacific Coast, United States, and Europe under the AltrOck label. Matthew recorded three albums with miRthkon led by guitarist and drummer Walter Scharold who was, and continues to be, a highly influential creative influence both musically and philosophically. While traveling throughout Europe on a tour bus in 2013, Matthew transcribed numerous conversations with miRthkon band members about semiotics (a branch of linguistics) and combinatorics (a branch of mathematics). Semiotics and combinatorics both found their way into InnerVoice, which is a language-learning app for people with autism.
Matthew is currently working on solo drum performances that illustrate the amazing connections shared between music and language.