CHAT IT UP
EXCLUSIVE VIRTUAL Q&A
MICKEY HART’S VISIONARY BODY OF WORK COMBINES MUSIC, SCIENCE, AND THE VISUAL ARTS.
Best known as a drummer in the renowned expedition into the soul and spirit of rock and roll that is the Grateful Dead, multi-GRAMMY Award winner Mickey Hart is also an accomplished writer, energetic painter, restless explorer, and an acclaimed expert on the history and mythology of drums. A true original, armed with an inventor’s audacious curiosity, Hart boldly seeks to break the rhythm code of the universe and investigate its deepest vibrations.
Hart’s fascination with rhythm has driven him to seek sound in unexpected places. He explored the sounds of humanity’s earliest music with his groundbreaking At The Edge (1990), and gathered the world’s greatest percussion heavyweights to collaborate on the groundbreaking Planet Drum (1991). Both recordings were partner projects with his critically-acclaimed books for Harper San Francisco – Drumming At The Edge Of Magic and Planet Drum. His album Planet Drum went on to win the first-ever GRAMMY Award in the World Music category. He would dominate the award category again in 2008 with his Global Drum Project.
Throughout the 1990s, Hart produced his acclaimed series, The World — showcasing such global percussion greats as Babatunde Olatunji, Zakir Hussain, and Hamza El Din; groundbreaking releases by Tibet’s Gyuto Monks and the Latvian Women’s Choir; and several of his own classic solo projects. He additionally produced a series of archival recordings for The Endangered Music Project (1993), in tandem with the Library of Congress.
On October 11, 2011, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released the ‘Mickey Hart Collection’ to preserve and further the Grateful Dead percussionist’s endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons.
Hart has collaborated with astrophysicists to create music reflecting the origins of the universe. He recorded vibrations from the Golden Gate Bridge — which he described as a giant wind harp — and collected data from stem cells, heartbeats, and brainwaves in order to produce compositions. These pursuits culminated in two recordings: Mysterium Tremendum (2012), using sounds from the cosmos via NASA, and Superorganism (2013), with sounds sourced directly from electrical signals in Hart’s own brain.
His writings have also documented a lifelong fascination with the history and mythology of music. Hart’s books include Drumming at the Edge of Magic, Planet Drum (Harper San Francisco); Spirit into Sound: The Magic of Music (Grateful Dead Books), and Songcatchers: In Search of the World’s Music (National Geographic).
“Underneath the world’s extraordinary musical diversity is another, deeper realm,” said Hart about his lifelong quest to explore rhythm. “There is no better or worse, no music versus folk music, no distinctions at all, but rather an almost organic compulsion to translate the emotional fact of being alive into sound, into rhythm, into something you can dance to.”