23 Oct 2012 10 am eastern

My Brother is a Monster

MY MOTHER played piano and cello. My father draws, paints, and sculpts; plays trumpet and guitar; and led an advanced R&D lab in the 1970s, developing robotics and rocket parts. You know what I do, but I also play keyboards and other instruments, studied music theory, and composed and produced music in my own studio before failing up into my present career. We Zeldmans go our own way, bring our own juice, and leave a trail of tears and gold. But my brother Pete Zeldman is the real talent in the family.

My brother Pete spontaneously composes and performs music of such rhythmic complexity that Edgard Varèse and Frank Zappa would be proud. Even with an advanced music degree, you’d have a tough time following the music analytically. But you don’t have to, because it grooves. That’s the crazy surprise of it. My brother plays 17 in the time of 16 in the time of 15 in the time of 14, with cross rhythms in simultaneous 3/4 and 7/8, and you could dance to it. Admittedly, you couldn’t pogo, but it doesn’t pretend to be punk. Musically it is probably the exact opposite of punk, but spiritually it is punk because it is pure affirmation.

My brother made two CDs before releasing his new video, Enigma, this week. I listen to these CDs a lot. Although I’ve watched my brother develop his unique rhythmic musical theories over the past 20 years, I don’t attempt to “follow” the music in any analytical fashion while listening. I just let it wash over me. So can you.

New art is rarely understood. New music is rarely what the people want. They threw tomatoes at Debussy and Stravinsky, and now their compositions are gentle backgrounds for dentist’s offices. White people laughed at rock and roll and their children danced to it. Those rockers laughed at hip hop and their kids dance to it. My brother’s music is like that. It is something new. It’s not going to be a movement because it takes a certain kind of twisted genius to conceive of and play it. But you might like it. And if you’re a drummer, you probably need to hear it.

I am proud of my brother and delighted to share his genius with you. Samples from his new video are available at pete-zeldman.com. His CDs are also available.

Filed under: Acclaim, Announcements, creativity, music, people, Pete Zeldman, Zeldman

29 Responses to “My Brother is a Monster”

  1. Fred LeBlanc said on

    Holy wow. That is all.

  2. Rich Senior said on

    “Failing up”; Yes, I can relate to this! What a wonderful phrase.

    The best drummer I have ever seen live is Dennis Chambers. Apparently Mr Chambers said that he “didn’t believe what he heard wasn’t overdubbed” after hearing one of your brothers recordings. That in itself would make me want to check Pete out!

    I have just watched the video, and this former guitarist (now failed up web dev) can’t work out what the hell is going on! I can tap my foot to it, but this groove is from another planet.

    Far out.

  3. Burke said on

    Love it. Purchased “Twilight Walks Over” on CD Baby and am now letting this music do what it will to my synapses.

  4. Andreas Sauer said on

    That’s not a brother, that’s a clockwork! Amazing precision.

  5. Gary Storey said on

    Wow… being both a drummer and a web developer, I’m impressed with both Zeldman brothers.

  6. Paul Thompson said on

    A monster indeed! Damn.

    Would love to hear some of your stuff, Jeffrey. Anything out there?

  7. Tim said on

    Holy limb separation! I’m a beginning drummer and — wow, just wow.

  8. Aram Stith said on


    Thanks for sharing this!

    (I’m a musician and web-dev too)

  9. Jeff Croft said on

    As another music theory student turned web dev, color me super impressed. It’s not just that he can play these polyrhythms, but that he actually makes them groove. If you stop analyzing and just sit back and listen, you end up bobbing your head and grooving along. Very impressive to make these hemiolas sound so fluid and groovy. Awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  10. TJ Kelly said on

    Jeffrey, do you Zeldmans give family lessons?

  11. Cameron Moll said on

    And here I thought I was all that when I could play 7/8 time in high school. Unbelievable.

  12. Ben Carlson said on

    The drumming isn’t the talent that gets me (and that’s incredibly impressive on its own), it’s the ability to explain what he’s doing over the top of the actual (insanely complex) playing! Very cool, and thanks for sharing!


  13. Brade said on

    He should be opening for Battles.
    (or vise versa)

  14. Erin Lynch said on

    (mouth hangs open and stares in amazement)

  15. Joe Chellman said on

    I’ve been a fan of Pete’s since I heard Other Not Elsewhere years ago. It’s terrifying what he can do. And let’s not forget that while he’s doing these things which the rest of us drummers (slash web developers) can barely understand, let alone do, he’s talking about what he’s doing. Good friggin lord. What he’s doing is really interesting and cool, but it makes my brain throb.

  16. Daniel said on

    Your brother’s website rocks!

  17. Bill DeRouchey said on

    Yeah, this is jawdropping wow. My favorite part may be his frequent “back to the nine,” you know, because 9/8 time is the normal everyday boring part.

    Damn he can play.

  18. Jon Armstrong said on

    Your brother is not from a known dimension.

    Freshman year I roomed with the son of a rocket scientist. Brains. Dinner with them was fascinating. Your family, what I know from reading you for all these years, sounds so very similar.

    Thanks for sharing this insanity. Like others have said, it’s not just that he’s playing. It’s the talking while doing it.

    Awesome 3

  19. Robert Heaney said on

    Stunning. The independence of all four limbs, and then the ability to speak so well while doing all that simply boggles the mind. Loved where he was going at the end with it. I’ll have to see more.

    Monster? We need a better word.

  20. Jim Hassinger said on

    Know what’s the most amazing to me? He can keep it all up and tell you what he’s doing.

  21. Jurgen said on

    Did he ever audition for FZ?

  22. Paul Burgess said on

    That is both fascinating and mesmerizing. Whilst trying to fathom what is going on with the hands, I forget about all the footwork going on as well – and then he’s talking about it too whilst on some 11.5/5 Hyper Split Reverse rhythm.

  23. Don Ulrich said on

    “I am proud of my brother” that, now that is music.

  24. Rhett Blanch said on

    Clearly the kid who could always pat his head and rub his stomach. Amazing talent!

  25. kris smith said on

    polyphonically dismembered my reality. i’m going to build a new one based on the sounds from around 8:51 where he evolves jazz and metal at the same time. brilliant.

  26. Theo said on

    I love Billy Cobham and say Dennis Chambers is perfect, however your brother is a kind of drummer-technical-groove-genius, i am deeply impressed, thanks for sharing!

  27. Don Ulrich said on

    A prayer, a thought, a hope, that the east coast is alright. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Hang Tough.

  28. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Pete has played with ex-Zappa guitarist Steve Vai, and appears on two of Vai’s records: Flexable and Flexable Leftovers.

  29. Kevin Vance said on

    Man, I miss complex rhythm nerdiness and music theory (as I’m also a musician gone web dev). What he does in this video is mind-boggling. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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