Italian Drummer Giovanni Galbiati aka Tony Pacati on What Makes Drumming Beautiful, and more.
"Andrà tutto bene," said Italian drummer Giovanni Galbiati.
He had written it with a black marker on a white, A4-sized sheet with a hand-drawn rainbow running across the page; the page was held horizontally in his hands while a warm smile spread across his face.
"It's for my younger students." "And, yes, they draw better than me."
Giovanni Galbiati, who also goes by the name Tony Pacati, is all of 26, and yet evidently sensitive to ongoing events, including their potential disproportionate impact on both the young and artists.
Around the time when proposals for a Relaunch were being widely discussed in Italy, Galbiati used his social media to highlight the importance of music and of the need to quickly support artists during the unprecedented covid-induced emergency.
He highlighted: music is not just for musicians or singers. Music educates, develops culture, excites and entertains anyone who comes in touch with it.
Moreover, music has economic value, with the arts contributing substantially to employment and to the production of valuable goods and services in several countries, including in beloved Italy.
Giovanni Galbiati grew up near Monza, a city in Northern Italy, just northeast of Milan.
A city where he also currently resides.
The city has had one obvious imprint on his interests: a penchant for the kind of cars that could probably make it on the Italian Grand Prix motor racing circuit, also known as the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Read: Lamborghinis, or perhaps, even a Ferrari.
But his primary interest has always been music.
He ascribes his very first interaction with music to a piano that sat at his family home. He then discovered his true love, drums, at the young age of three when he noticed a few people playing bongos on the beach. It captivated him.
"They were, in fact, selling them."
"So, I was lucky enough to have one."
Galbiati still keeps the instrument that was purchased that day in his studio, which only indicates the importance and sense of personal appreciation that he places on the introduction to drums in his life.
Galbiati also remembers always tapping his hands; on nearly every surface that he could get his hands on; from as far back as he can remember.
"I always found it pretty cool to find and play rhythms with my hands on my body (while or just after) listening to music and sounds all around me."
To me, it sounded as if he was a receptacle for the sounds of the world, and that he felt impelled to recreate them in his way.
He said, "It is something hard for me to explain. It is inside me. I only try to take it out and work on it through music. I cannot possibly find the words to express the feeling that I have when I play."
"It is just awesome."
There are several drummers who inspire Giovanni Galbiati. Some of his favorites include Simon Phillips, Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro, Dave Weckl, and Vinnie Colaiuta.
In listening to the drumming beats of other musicians, he tries to listen to as many different drummers and styles.
"I try to pick up new things to try out."
"And I try to make them mine."
One of the most fascinating parts of the conversation was when I asked Galbiati about his thoughts on the differences between drummers and other musicians.
He astutely responded, "We are the engine of the band. That's our job and that is why it is so interesting. The other musicians on the band depend on us."
"In fact, ace American drummer Buddy Rich once said, 'An average band with a great drummer sounds great, but a great band with an average drummer sounds average.'"
"The drummers are supposed to sit back there- and swing the band. Drums give time to the emotions of the other instruments," added Galbiati.
I felt as if all this was an incredibly perceptive and informed defense of the work of drummers all around the globe.
Throughout his work, one sees the movement of his wrists and feet not only measuring time, but making it. (Watch here to see Galbiati setting the time.)
If we go by Galbiati's definition, drummers are really the ones who are fully accountable as custodians of time, even as they make it.
Can you imagine what would happen to us as humans if a clock suddenly didn't know the time? Or if it didn't know how fast to move?
But in the case of music, the clockwork-precision of drummers doesn't only run the clock of time during a song, but also begins it and stops it.
It also determines the millions of ways in which even the start of the song could be unique. And the millions of ways in which it could be made to eventually stop.
When one thinks about all of this, one can feel the weight of Galbiati's wise words.
Giovanni Galbiati says that there isn't a particular piece of music that he is fond of. He really likes "very many of his pieces," but it is his students who he says that he is "much more proud of than his music."
As a reviewer, I decided to dig through the very many pieces of Galbiati to find one that I liked.
And what I instead found was that I, too, ended up liking very many pieces.
For instance, there was this truly amazing drum cover of Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown." Galbiati currently has several thousands of followers, but this small piece seems to have been created much before he became popular.
Then, to simply have an idea of how much fun it must have been to play as part of the Guinness World Record-breaking, biggest rock bank in the world (Rockin' 1000), watch this video of Galbiati playing with several others out in the open.
Then, there is this beautiful solo drum cover of "Something Just Like This" by Coldplay and the Chainsmokers. (Disclaimer: We love this song.)
There is a cover of "Tik tok" by Ke$ha. (We often listen to music as a whole, but to truly appreciate Galbiati's work in this, try to only watch what he does as a drummer.)
There is this classic Linkin Park cover and it is hard not to love this piece and this one because of how beautiful, soft and relaxing they are; like perfect lounge music.
Finally, there is this lovely quarantine jam with guitarist Michael Pasquali made while being socially distant the entire time.
Suddenly I knew why Giovanni Galbiati himself couldn't pick a single favorite from his own, rich and varied répertoire.
While teaching, the first thing Galbiati looks for in a student is a motivation to learn and work hard. He clarifies, "It’s not about studying for hours everyday; it’s about the attitude."
"I don’t adapt the students to the program; I adapt the program to the students. There are basics that I teach them like single stroke, double stroke and paradiddles that everyone has to master (with accents, on pad/drums, with different dinamycs, etc). Once a student learns how to control them, the speed will come and we can work on everything the student wants to thereafter."
"I also concentrate on the sound: I like that my students find their own sound, even on the same drum set."
Galbiati also loves to travel. If it's not music that is making him happy, then exploring new cities seems to also do the trick.
"Travel doesn't just influence my music. It influences who I am as a person. Musically, it opens up my mind to a wider range of styles and techniques."
What comes next for Galbiati?
"This is not the right period to be involved in new projects, but it is definitely a good period to study and improve my skills. Only time will tell which opportunities lie ahead, but I am definitely open and ready for exciting music."
From being a drummer in the world's largest rock band (Rockin' 1000) and breaking a Guinness world record for "Most Videos in a Music Medley Video," to playing with drumsticks on sofas, Giovanni Galbiati knows how to have fun while pursuing what he also seriously studies.
"Google, tell me how to play drums" Galbiati hilariously captioned under a picture in which he seemed to be on his phone while being seated at his drum set at a moment of calm during a live stage concert. He clearly didn't need lessons.
Musicians like Giovanni Galbiati are probably what make Italy and Monza so beautiful. They are probably also what will continue to make it great, because it is clear that while watching the time of music, he also stops from time to time to engage, to uplift, to cultivate, to laugh and to explore the world around him.
Because in Italy, Giovanni Galbiati is one of the reasons why you will see signs that "andrà tutto bene."
(Everything will be fine.)
Profile of drummer Giovanni Galbiati written by Lakshmi Art Press.
Cover Photography by Giada Canu.
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