Discipline

posted on #1
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Here's a fun one that can run and run...

In my recent absence quite a few tracks I'd forgotten about had some adds. People seem to like them, which is of course very nice, but I hear a recurring frustration in my adds; namely discipline in my playing.

I try and try but I cannot seem to get out of the 'four bar fill' routine. Basically, I can't seem to stop myself doing fills or variations at the end of four-bar sequences. I know it's natural but, if you listen to the pros, their playing will often run without any change or variation for an entire verse or chorus - DafunkyDrummer is an exponent of this. His playing always shows amazing restraint and control.

Every time I sit down to do a loop I promise myself I will try and 'play the song' and almost every time I fail and wander off doing a fill or other that is just not needed! The drummer's job is to keep time, not mess about playing fills...

Anyone else suffer this? Control and discipline is one of my biggest weaknesses!
posted on #2
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Really great discussion point. I can really relate to this as a bass player as well. I genuinely admire players who just "play through" the song. The 1 or 2 variations they then throw in are all the more interesting for their sparseness. I'm getting better (I think) at listening back and, if not playing fewer fills, at least throwing fewer notes into them. It's probably a bit easier for bass; punching in over a particular egregious mistake or even selectively editing out notes from a run to make it rhythmically sparser is a bit more practical without all the bleed from multiple drum tracks.

One of my favourite pieces of drumming was a recording of Sheila E playing with Prince at small club gig. She plays the same rhythm for about 5 minutes with NO fills but just subtly accenting different beats on the hi-hat pattern to give it some variation. Brilliant! :)
posted on #3
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Boy you know how to pick a difficult topic! I've honestly not got much to add. Mainly just want to say that I've missed you and am so glad that you'e getting better. I haven't been around much recently, but know that you've been out of commission for a while. Not sure if you're making it to the jam but see that you're still signed up. Hopefully we will see you soon and also HEAR you!

I don't think there's anything unusual about seeing our own shortcomings as players. We all develop habits which makes it less like work and more like play. For me it's the musical equivalent of an "UM" between sentences/phrases. To not have those resting periods means that concentration is 100% all the time, or, if we are lucky it flows through us unconsciously. I think this is inherently more difficult for a rhythm player.

Hope to see you soon!
posted on #4
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"For me it's the musical equivalent of an "UM" between sentences/phrases"

That's a great way to put it. Often I listen back and think "I was just on auto-pilot there". That's when the magic editing scissors come out!
posted on #5
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I forgot to mention that one of the exercises I used to go through with my pupils was making them play four-on-the-floor for two minutes without fill or variation. I’d sometimes use a repeating backing track to make it less dull. Nevertheless, they always failed.

As did I. But it’s an excellent exercise in trying to instill discipline!
posted on #6
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As a singer, I can relate... at the ends of phrases, I'll often under-pronounce the consonant leaving a word like "love" sounding like "luh" and it can destroy a perfect take, IMO. It happens when I'm not focused in the present and start thinking of the next line or maybe something previous or pizza or something. I write "diction" and "consonants" as notes to myself all the time. Also, being disciplined about where to breathe, not interrupting phrases is a constant practice. That's very similar to the needless fills breaking flow, reckless breaths do the same thing.
Love and blessings to you on your path!
posted on #7
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Hey all,

Think we all hear things in our own play that annoys us. It is healthy to be demanding in what we play and do!

When i listen back to tracks i hear every mistake. Problem is than to focus on these “mistakes” and loose the fun/cool vibe that could be in the track also!

Listening our tracks again (and again) it also improves the way we play (cliché but very true)

We need our discipline to keep our playing interesting to ourselves and hopefully to others too but i think everyone will listen different to their own playing as others will do!

I think my way of playing has become different (and hopefully in a good way) and that is also because of Wikiloops (and also playing in bands of course)

Hope to do a lot more in the future on the Loops with all of you!

Marc
Edited by Marceys on August 12 2018 20:54
Or something like that! :)
posted on #8
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Hi all,

This is a fascinating and interesting subject!

We all have our short comings / faults etc, but I think sometimes these quirks define our style. For example, would Ringo Starr fit in The Who, or Keith Moon fit in The Beatles, or Charlie Watts with Jimi Hendrix? no, of course not. :) The debate goes on about Moon being ott, but his drumming style changed drumming as we knew it at a time when it was simple beats, and The Who just wouldn't have been the same without him, and likewise with John Entwhisle and Jack Bruce in the bass world.

A drummers job is to keep time, of course, but ultimately you should play to your natural style, and some peoples styles go beyond simple time keeping.

Yeh, too many drum fills can make a track sound too busy. I think as you get older and get more experience you learn to gauge where its appropriate or not, by instinct, but also listening back to old recordings :)

Having said that, a decent drummer, guitarist, bassist should always play appropriately for each track, especially on a place like this, because who wants millions of drum rolls on a simple dance tune, and equally you want to hear a musician let rip once in a while where theres space to do so.

I tend to play the song, with a subtle style, listen to all the key points, with bass, vocals, key rhythms etc, and play what I think feels right, from simple bass drum and hi hat combos to improv jazz, but I screw up sometimes and look back and wish I'd done it differently!

I always remember being in a band and our old guitarist played a blazing radiohead solo and no one battered an eyelid, but went crazy when he played the knight rider theme tune! Guess it proved that most of the time the audience like it simple and to tap their feet and clap their hands! ha ha :D
posted on #9
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Very good topic.
Oh yes ! For me, so much work to do.
The bass strings of the harp are metal ones, the upper octave strings are nylon ones. The pressure of the bass strings must be strong to get the right note, and these of nylon requires a gentle pressure, but each note must be clear.
I am currently working on these difficult shades to get in order to convey emotions.
If I do not press enough, the sound is "fuzzy", if I press too hard, the sound is strident and unpleasant.
Indeed, when one knits quickly in high strings, the right hand that sings must open and close very quickly, but without pressing too much on the strings.
I think we prefer sweetness of treble rather than strident sounds, don't we, my dear friends?
Speak in French when you can’t think of the English for a thing--
turn your toes out when you walk---
And remember who you are !”
― Lewis Carroll
posted on #10
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mpointon wrote:
...

Every time I sit down to do a loop I promise myself I will try and 'play the song' and almost every time I fail and wander off doing a fill or other that is just not needed! The drummer's job is to keep time, not mess about playing fills...

Anyone else suffer this? Control and discipline is one of my biggest weaknesses!



Someone said (I do not remember who it was): "The one who judges us most severely is ourselves".
I believe, Martin, that you do your best with this desire to do even better, and that's good.
But to others, your tracks are much more better than you think.
:D
posted on #11
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Nothing that's not already said before but these are my 2 cents. I think there ain’t nothing wrong with fills; it all depends on the music you’re playing. If you playing old school pop/rock or a music style related to that music, it is obvious that you play breaks and fills .If you should not, then the track would miss a typical element of that style of music.No good.
On the other hand, if you make a fill at the end of 8 bars in a dance track or in a techno beat …. That sure would sound very awkward.
Interesting question why modern drummers often don’t play fills and breaks anymore .Instead they try to keep their playing inventive and fresh by making small variation on the basic beat throughout the whole track.
I think every music style, at one point or another, get influenced by other styles, Sixties rock drummers like Keith Moon , Mitch Mitchell or Ginger Bakker got influenced by the jazz style of the 50ties.In the 70ties the beat to play was very straight, like Simon Kirke ,John Bonham and others ,but drummers like Aynsley Dunbar,Billy Cobham and others still got inspired by jazzmusic.In the 80ties music changed radically, electronic synths became affordable for everyone and drummaschines became a part of many productions. I think that these drum machines, with their typical repetitive character, even today have an impact on the play of some modern drummers. I'm not a fan of these drummers, your human, act like one is what I'm thinking when I hear someone play like that, If your trying to be a machine you loose, machines are far better in being machines then we are.
However If your not satisfied with what you’re playing on a track, maybe it’s the track itself that isn’t capable of inspire you enough to come up with some great ideas, or maybe you’re bored with the sound of your drum kit :) or your against your own limits, that’s not a bad thing ! out of frustration someone can optimize his/her skills and end up being a better musician. At my pupils at the academy I say: music is 10% inspiration and 90% transpiration or” lui zweet is rap gereed” pull that last sentence through goolgetranslate if you wanne know what it means :)
posted on #12
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Discipline is just a pile of memes :p

https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/discipline
Edited by eGiL on August 13 2018 19:12
posted on #13
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I strongly agree with pconey's comment.

Ultimately we all strive to enhance a track with our instrument and style.
Sometimes we enhance too much and other times not enough.
How we approach a track dictates two schools of thought for me to choose from.
Am I jamming strictly from the heart on the track or am I approaching it as
a production number.

In the 1990's I did a lot of session work at some local studio's.
At the beginning I approached everything there with a from the heart mind set.
In that environment that mind set worked only about half the time.

Many times the producer, artist or both, already had an idea for the guitar style and sound. Many times I was told "we like what your doing but its too busy" or "can you do something that sounds like that player".
I found all of that very disheartening at first but looking back it was very educational and also what I consider my introduction to discipline.

Having said all of that I think nothing compares to a good old live jam
where things are just clicking naturally among all the players and not worrying about all that stuff.
Playing in the moment.
posted on #14
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FrankieJ wrote:
Many times the producer, artist or both, already had an idea for the guitar style and sound. Many times I was told "we like what your doing but its too busy" or "can you do something that sounds like that player".
I found all of that very disheartening at first but looking back it was very educational and also what I consider my introduction to discipline.


I can totally relate to that. A good band I played with in the '90s did the same for me. The singer/songwriter was also an accomplished drummer and knew *exactly* how his songs should be backed. Initially, like you, it was an affront to 'my creativity' to be told what to play but in hindsight, it's the harsh lesson I needed to learn in order to be 'part of the band'.

As my first drum teacher said, "if you can do a whole gig and no-one notices you then you've done your job properly."

Although the same drum teacher told me, "if you make a mistake, do it again and make it look like you meant to do it!" I learned that lesson too well! Been winging it ever since!
Edited by mpointon on August 14 2018 13:03
posted on #15
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Good comments all, very interesting to read everyones views.

One thing I enjoy about these posts is reading everyones backgrounds and finding out the history of individuals.

I think most of the folks on here at some point have done the rounds, the 100s of gigs, the recordings etc, and its all valuable experience.

Something that made a bit of difference to me was being in a band with the head of learning at access to music between 2006-2011, not only was he a fabulous guitarist, but also a tremendous songwriter and some of the pointers about discipline came from that experience, but also songcrafting etc.

@mpointon - ha ha yeh, or the other method of getting all the band to all look at an amp or piece of equipment when a mistake is made, that often fools the audience... :) I remember Sir Macca saying recently something similar about Ringo that he was great because you didn't know he was there.

@fanne - very intriguing comments..you mentioned many of my favourite drummers there who influenced me, baker, moon, Mitchell, and also Kirke who was known as "the master of the slow beat", he showed a lot of discipline but put in little intricate flourishes that made Free a little different.

You also mentioned not being a fan of drummers who try to sound like a drum machine, could you elaborate on that more? Perhaps that is a different discussion though! :)

What do you think to a drummer like Johhny Rabb? he really has moved drumming forward by playing acoustic live drums over samples, loops, and even using equipment to sound like a drum machine (like his drumbal) and at times sounding drum machine like, but very musicially and very creatively. Surely this is good for music? :)
posted on #16
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Indeed interesting points from Fanne and hard to put into words.

For me, I get my kicks out of how good the music feels - the groove is everything. If it grooves, then you're 'with' the music. Part of the groove, for me, is playing fills that 'belong' to the music. A good-fitting fill serving its real purpose - to cue a change in the music - is something I love. In my opinion, at least.

Doesn't have to be clever, doesn't have to be big. Even just an opened hi hat in just the right place can do the trick. It's this I strive for in my playing. I'm not saying 'no fills', etc., but appropriate, measured ones in the 'right' places can make or break a song. For me, I try to focus on listening out for rhythms in the rest of the bands' playing and accentuate their pushes or rhythms in my fills. Another effective technique is to keep the snare going on the 2 and 4 during a fill. It has an amazing effect of maintaining the beat whilst still letting rip on a few fills.

As you rightly say, it depends on the genre, of course. On the Loops, I exclusively get my kicks out of trying to blend in with the music. That means getting the groove going, fitting in and trying to sound like I was there from the start. I guess I don't so much get angry at how many fills I do, I get annoyed at the ones that, to me, don't belong and interrupt the groove. To me, it was a 'bad choice'.
Edited by mpointon on August 14 2018 16:30
posted on #17
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I’m not a drummer but sometimes I have the same issues with overdoing a song. It’s kind of hard to restrain yourself to what a song really needs and keep away the ballast, which may be beautiful on its own, but does not add any value to the song. Lack of discipline too .It happens when I write an arrangement for a song, sometimes I’m completely satisfied with my work: beautiful countermelody’s from the strings, perfect accents from the brass to give it some flow, nice coloring from the woodwind, all perfect…then I change my focus to the song and not the arrangement….oh my, too busy, way too much melodies pushing away the main melody of the song, overlapping’s in the low register ,the woodwinds…nowhere to be heard…the song is completely hijacked by the arrangement.
A while ago I wrote some beautiful strings and did some coloring for a song, it came back..Nice but a pinch too much strings, reworked it, came back..Better, but maybe…threw away almost all the strings…Yea,yeah,but….deleted the whole string arrangement…Wow! Just perfect! What an arrangement!
Some people just can’t put their finger on what is wrong in a song, but have an unbelievable feeling for what a song really needs.
@pconey ,one of the drummers I don’t like is this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGprBR4Uc88, no groove, no human touch, only technique. I once went to a clinic of a drummer, lost his name, who during almost a full hour showcased his unbelievable technical skills, he could play a beat in 7/8 in his left hand while he played a 4/4 in his right hand…..luckily I sat next to a nice woman who had the same idea ‘bout his playing as me :)
posted on #18
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@Fanne

The drummer you saw... Was it Mark Mondesir by any chance?

I saw Bill Bruford's Earthworks back in the '90s playing with Django Bates. I spent the whole gig trying to find the '1'... :|

A drummer without soul is just dull. There are so many top-end technicians out there who have not just phenomenal technical ability but a serious groove and feel to go with it. Mike Portnoy, Carter Beauford and Gavin Harrison are just a few that spring to mind. Also, technical stuff for the sake of technical stuff just leaves me stone cold I'm afraid.
posted on #19
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I was thinking about this yesterday : learning seems to me an imitation game for the first step. I mean : we have to do the same as the teacher is expecting from us. This is the step to get a great lugage of technical points, as if we get some tools for future. Then, as regard the point of creation, these tools and our own musical culture and tastes can help us to go beyond the technical knowledge.
Like in any artistitic expression, the remarkable artistic work is a personnal expression made with a common knowledge.
Edited by Caroljoyce on August 16 2018 12:20
Speak in French when you can’t think of the English for a thing--
turn your toes out when you walk---
And remember who you are !”
― Lewis Carroll
posted on #20
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pconey wrote:


We all have our short comings / faults etc, but I think sometimes these quirks define our style. For example, would Ringo Starr fit in The Who, or Keith Moon fit in The Beatles, or Charlie Watts with Jimi Hendrix? no, of course not. :)


Exactly! And this fact could be my main critics about jams with anybody.
If you can jam with everybody at the same level you'll never do a career. Because you can't have a career if there is no difference and unique combination.

I hope I will find the one and only one.
:)
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