Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer

What’s it about?

The book is an exploration of the creativity involved in the way drummers make things work, make things matter, and make sense of both. It draws on interviews with nine top drummers and Bruford’s own experience to improve understanding in collaborative popular music performance. What do expert drummers do? Why do they do it? Is there anything creative about it? If so, how might that creativity inform their practice and that of others in related artistic spheres? Applying ideas from cultural psychology to findings from original research into the creative behaviors of a specific subset of popular music instrumentalists, the author demonstrates the ways in which expert drummers experience creativity in performance and offers fresh insights into in-the-moment interactional processes in music.

Why buy?

“If you’re an instrumentalist” recommends Bill, “give it to the nearest drummer, so he or she knows what drummers are for. If you’re a drummer give it to the other people in your band, so they know what drummers are for. And get a copy for yourself, so you know what drummers are for!”

What do they think?

“I would urge anyone coming to this book from knowing Bill’s music to trust in him as an author as they did in him as a player; there are so many ideas and perspectives articulated in this book that it takes us well beyond what it means to be a drummer, important as that is.”

—Marc Doffman, Faculty of Music, University of Oxford.

“… an intelligent, thought-provoking treatise on the notion of creativity in Western popular music. Over the course of a number of interviews and case studies involving expert drummers, Bill Bruford examines how such practitioners approach and understand creativity. In the process, he crafts a relational processual model for understanding creativity and the creative process for real-time interactive performing arts (theatre, dance, music). The result is a fascinating and rewarding read that will surely affect players and listeners alike as they think about the concept of finding ‘creative meaning in making it work and making it matter.’”
—Rob Bowman, Grammy Award Winning Professor of Music

“After forty years of creating professional music, pretty much all of it to his taste (passing rare), Bill Bruford has laid down the torches — and tried to capture their flame in words. Begin by running your eyes down the list of Bill’s collaborators. The expert performers and teachers will attract any reader with more than a passing affection for music. Simply put, it is a lights-out masterpiece of useful insight and passionate, reflective wisdom.”
—Neil Peart, drummer Rush

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Bill Bruford: The Autobiography

“Bill Bruford -The Autobiography” continues to go from strength to strength. A second edition of the paperback has been published by Foruli Publications with different photographs and layout, and an additional 1100 word Prologue from Bill.

Read The First Chapter

“Bill Bruford – The Autobiography” is an unusually literate and reflective work which dissects the drummer’s art, and the dilemmas faced by modern musicians in general, with an almost surgical precision.

David Sinclair, Guardian: Best Music Books of the Year - 19th December 2009

Bill Bruford’s autobiography is a frequently hilarious recounting of his long life in progressive rock and jazz. Defying every drummer joke you’ve ever heard, he writes successfully from inside the music.

David Fricke, Rolling Stone - 19th March 2009

…the text is intimate, clever, concise, and witty – a bit like Bill’s drumming.

Will Romano, Modern Drummer - June 2009

Professorial in its remit and written with a bone-dry wit and an authoritative elegance that will be the envy of many far more high- profile cultural commentators, this might just end up becoming one of the best-informed, most informative textbooks of its time.

Marco Rossi, Shindig - April 2009

An engaging and dryly witty style that makes for an easy, can’t- put-it-down read… This book addresses matters anecdotal, technical, practical, emotional and philosophical with style, panache and élan.

John Kelman, All About Jazz - March 2009

Head and shoulders above the majority of books in its class.

Jeff Miers, All About Jazz - 24th March 2009

Bruford is a literate biographer and honest.

Steven Rosen, Curled up with a Good Book - March 2009

It’s frank, cynical, very amusing, inspiring, thought provoking and highly recommended.

Brent Keefe, Drummer Magazine - April 2009

Bill Bruford’s The Autobiography is one of the most original books you’ll ever come across, penned by a man that some would still label a ‘rock star’.

Adam Garrie, USA Progressive Music.com - March 2009

The most extraordinary autobiography I’ve ever read on music.

David Etheridge, Performing Musician - April 2009

This is an intelligent, articulate and sensitive book.

Andy Robson, Jazzwise Magazine - April 2009

…a terrific autobiography.

Geoff Nicholls, Rhythm - April 2009

His insight is keen, his stories compelling.

Vintage Guitar - June 2009

Bill Bruford’s story is not just for drummers. It is for all artists, musicians, music lovers, or anyone who wonders what it’s really like to spend your life trying to make the music you love.

Neil Peart, Rush - May 2009

This is a very honest and realistic look at the music business and the differences between being famous and being successful… (Bruford’s) story is ultimately a triumph of artistic integrity over a music industry that often seems to despise creativity.

Rick Mattingly, Percussive Arts Society - June 2009

There has never been a doubt that Bruford is a consummate musician; this book proves he’s an extraordinary wordsmith as well.

Kevin Wierzbicki, Antimusic.com - September 2009

Different Editions

First Edition UK


First Edition US


Second Edition UK


Second Edition Signed


Second Deluxe Edition


French Language Edition


Japanese Language Edition


Italian Language Edition


When in Doubt, Roll!

Back by public demand! Bill’s first book, originally published in 1988, has been republished by Foruli Publications.

Softback Signed