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about drumming but not only for drummers

posted on #1
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I would like to hear some opinions about what the people here would like to hear from a drummer.
First of all drumming is not easy!! Today people will always await something very tight from a drummer. All modern music productions the drum lines will be quantized and some real sounds be replaced midis.
On the same time people like it natural. Like a e-drum is not a real drum.....and so on.
This can be quite frustrating especially for the ones of us that are not that professional.
Some will just a loop some patterns, quantize the drums and so on. this can be quite tempting.
What do you prefer open a template by the drummer?
Or play to a song.
Whatever , I am curious to hear some opinions?
Or how do you built up a song with the drum. Will you play to something and just record the drums ......
whatever...B) I am really curious to hear some opinions??
posted on #2
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As you can easily hear and probably know I am a guitarist. As a guitarist I do not need many drummers but only ONE drummer who likes to listen to my compositions, listens to non-standard arrangements (e.g. 20 or 9.5 bars in every verse) and helps me with a bass-player to support a (unknown) vocalist.

I would like to create this unique band-sound again and the drummer is very important for this aim. He and the bass are the foundation of the music.

In my workflow it is difficult to start a recording with a given drum-loop, because first I write the arrangement with some lyric ideas, then set the tempo and the feeling (8th,-16th, shuffle feel). In a band we would be working on song-arrangements at the same time.

If I downloaded drum-tracks, later I cannot read with tempo and feeling they have and so in my music diary it can be much faster and easier to use and adjust a drum-machine.

If you want to add some drumming, don't hesitate to visit my profile :)
Edited by Neronick on December 19 2014 16:41
posted on #3
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Hi serious,
As a Bass player I have found that it's the drummer who I usually follow to lay down a Bass track. Even the prerecorded loops are good. But I do get your point when you say this can be quite frustrating. I have listened to the drummers here on the wiki and see a lot of musicians start track from those drum tracks put up by the drummers here. A guitar player can lay down a track without drums and it sounds good, a bass player can do the same but without the drum track it doesn't sound as good. For me I play to both the tracks already started and the single drum tracks to.
posted on #4
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hey :)
from my point of view (and I do play drums), you need to make some decisions before starting a recording, and the best way to go about will depend on that.

For example - if you want to deliver something people can practise to and develop something,
it might be the best thing to keep going without any structuring breaks or changes. That way, anyone jamming along has the greatest freedom to do as they please without your tempo or dynamic change destroying their fun experience unexpectedly. So, creating a "will fit in any case"-template is option A, and Baer would be one well-remixed drummer representing this approach on the loops.

Now, if you want to leave the "jam session" level with your template, you'll have to define the structure of the track and anyone remixing will have to work based on your structure.
Dafunkydrummer is one drummer doing that in an amazing way - the complete tracks dynamic curve and verse / chorus structure is well planned and cemented within the pure drums track.
It does take a lot of songwriting knowledge and the ability to foresee a tracks outcome. I believe the combination of very reliable structure (clear 4, 8 or 16bar structure) and guiding the following musicians by tiny signals is the secret here.
If you can tell by the minimal way the hihats get a little louder that we are about to enter the chorus, you can "see it coming" quite easily. A good drummer can direct the whole band this way, but it is important not to give any confusing signals.

Either way, the drummer owns the tune. Nothing worse than a drummer who "plays along" IMO -
even when remixing a complete track, the result should ideally sound as if the drummer had been directing the groove right from the beginning. Sounds a little arrogant maybe, it is the role of being the drummer IMO.

Just my 2cents :)
posted on #5
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Hello Seriouss,

i think it needs a straight and solid beat. It is the important thing to get the groove! And then, Dick talk about, Breaks and Changes. Dynamics are good. Loud and quite! Together with the Bass and other rhythm section. Then you make a good job, in my opinion. :)

Let your Heart speak!

RockinĀ“ in a free world !
posted on #6
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Machine loops are ok if someone else( human) has played over it and coloured it in.....but for me, from scratch...... Live drummer every time!
I agree with dick 100% I'm getting on now but I still adhere to...drummer drives tempo bassist syncs with him to supply key changes.... Rhythms guitar tracks bass.......the carpet is then laid for the clever boys to ride on.........
posted on #7
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Totally understand what you're saying about expectations of drummers these days - everything's so 'perfect'. But good musicians expect humanity in their music and what Dick says I totally agree with. The drummer is in charge - don't let anyone tell you different. With WikiLoops, in my very short time here so far and at risk of sounding like a cop-out, it's up to you what you play. That's the point of this place - everybody will approach things differently and it's that enormous scope of creativity that makes this place so enticing to me.

I've been playing for 32 years now and I've played a hell of a lot of gigs and recordings in that time. I'm not a professional - not by any stretch of the imagination - but I consider myself sufficiently 'experienced' these days. All I can offer you is my approach to playing in general, not just here. So here's a list of my thoughts on the matter. Sorry if I go on too long or am patronising - I don't mean to be.

- Make sure you're well versed in using a click. It should be second nature playing to one. It's very obvious when you can hear a drummer fighting to get back with the click.

- Listen to the track you're putting the drums on. What little pushes, phrases or themes are there you you can pick out, especially the bass if it's present? It's the little inflections like these which can really make you sound like you belong to the track - it might just be an open hi-hat accent or something but it can really make a difference. Then there's context: what sort of beat works best? Try a few out. Some tunes it's pretty obvious but others you could do all manner if different feels and transform the direction of the tune. Quite often the simpler the beat, the more effective it will be. As my first drum teacher said, "if you do a gig and no one notices you then you've done your job properly"!

- Fire up the metronome and keep playing round and round it until the tempo is ingrained. Do not record and do not play to the track. When I've been in the studio, I ask the engineer to just leave the click running and I doss about until it's rooted into me. Then I'm ready to record.

- I operate a three-take rule. If I don't get the track within three takes, I either move on to another one or take a break before coming back to it. Each subsequent take removes some of the freshness from the playing for me so if I haven't got it within three, I go for a smoke and a coffee or something then come back to it.

- Feel/Groove. This is number one. It's not what you play but how you play it. That's not just the type of beat you play but the dynamics within each stroke. Watch any professional play, in particular the hi-hat/ride, and there's an efficiency and fluidity to their movements, along with an ebb and flow to the sticks. It's these internal dynamics, no matter how slight, of the beat that gives it groove.

- Fills. If they don't flow or don't fit, don't use them. I tend to prefer small fills integrated as part of the beat - extra hi-hat or snare hits, etc. - to maintain flow. Big fills are reserved only for announcing changes in the music. Try playing four on the floor for two minutes without a single fill or variation. It's harder than it sounds!

- Don't get too uptight about mistakes, apart from timing errors as they can be glaring. A stick collision here, mis-hit cymbal there may annoy you but no-one else will really care or notice. And once everyone else adds their stuff, it probably can't be noticed anyway. To quote the same drum teacher again, "if you make a mistake, do it again and make it look like you meant to do it!"

A bit more than 2p there but I hope it helps.
Edited by mpointon on March 02 2015 23:47
posted on #8
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excellent post, mpointon :)
couldn't agree more, especially about the "watch the fluidity of the pros movements" - if you observate drummers like poogie bells a little, you will notice the beauty in every single movement... and it truly is what some people call "microtiming" that makes a good drummer.

I once heard about a teacher who would let his students play one single crash cymbal hit, and would give them feedback is that ONE hit was done with a good microtiming.
It sounds absurd at first, since there were no other hits one could have used to know wether the cymbal hit was in-time with a groove - the whole point of the lesson was to focus on the question wether the intention and the execution happened in a balanced musical way. Call me esoteric, but only hearing about this approach has improved my cymbal playing a whole lot.

+1 for all mpointon said about use of fills and mistake handling, well put and absolutely true in my experience! Even tho I never thought of a "three take rule", I totally agree on that one, too - if it didn't work well on the first runs, everything that will come afterwards will definetly have an annoyed feel to it - or an overly carefull one, when focusing on mistake-prevention too much :)
posted on #9
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Dick wrote:

I once heard about a teacher who would let his students play one single crash cymbal hit, and would give them feedback is that ONE hit was done with a good microtiming.
It sounds absurd at first, since there were no other hits one could have used to know wether the cymbal hit was in-time with a groove - the whole point of the lesson was to focus on the question wether the intention and the execution happened in a balanced musical way. Call me esoteric, but only hearing about this approach has improved my cymbal playing a whole lot.


Sounds a lot like the renowned UK teacher Bob Armstrong. I've had friends have lessons with him and he'll have you spending an entire lesson just working on, say, a down stroke on the snare. It's seriously intense stuff, his lessons, but everyone comes away extolling his virtues.
Edited by mpointon on March 02 2015 23:50
posted on #10
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I also forgot one last point(s):

Confidence. Get stuck in and belt the drums like you mean it - you put energy in, people will get energy out and feed off it. There's nothing worse than a timid drummer! Apart from a drunk timid drummer. As a professional engineer friend told me, "mics always lose some of the energy of the performance - to get 100% out, you need to put 120% in." Depending on the track, of course, I absolutely belt seven shades of you-know-what out of my kit when I'm recording. What comes out is an energetic recording which just doesn't seem to represent the sheer energy you put in.

Play everything with conviction and intent and ignore the odd mistake - they mean nothing if the track's cooking nicely. To be a good drummer, you do actually need a healthy slab of arrogance! Stay within your ability - the over-arching need of the song always has priority over doing clever things. If things are on the edge of your ability, pare it back to something you can play cleanly and well.

In my experience, musicians will vastly appreciate you more for playing a good song, not cracking open the drum pyrotechnics like it's the 4th of July. Depends on context, of course. If you're doing a Dream Theater track then I find the best course of action is to hang up the sticks before crying in the corner slugging from a bottle of Jack Daniel's :|
Edited by mpointon on March 03 2015 02:06
posted on #11
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I like to come back to this topic with short ideas. What is a good drumtrack?
It is: Human! Simple and supporting. High MP3 bitrate with high quality for the cymbals. Bpm-number in the title for later use of the downloaded file.
Important: Easy to mix later, no tonal overload or closed mix on the drums subgroup!
Some fills and variations. The key term is "supporting". Less is more. Just a warm kick and tasty human cymbals. That is all.
posted on #12
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I play against tracks as drummer. I do write music such as a base line often or Keyboard to get me started but they are always thought of both musically and rhythmically what's going on. When is comes to laying down drums for other people I try to understand from their rhythmic performance, what it is that they like or expect as an accompaniment to their composition.

I play what I play but always try to respect the time and efforts that the other musicians put into thier tunes. Yes, I do use electronic drums as I can make their sound produce a good match to other production tracks quickly. Am I physically striking a drum head, absolutely, just as if I played my analog drums. I love the advantages of my electronic drums from a pure production standpoint; It's fast to get just the right sound I want, drum heads don't need changing every third recording because the drumhead is tired and I can't afford to change them. With my electronic drums I can change my drum sound from a metal kit, to jazz, to rock without needing to have three analog drum sets ready to go at a moments notice.

I've been playing drums for many, many years now. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my custom built Bubinga wood drum set, no digital sound will ever replace the myriad of tones, sticking styles and dynamics that I can produce on it, but that's what I prefer to use when recording final production work.

I enjoy the fact that with my digital drums, I can make dozens of drum passes on a single song and choose what I liked best my from each. Is it cheating anyone? No, because I played it the first time and I can play it again or change if someone has a preference or if it sparks some other change in the instrumentation. That's the only reason for tracking a recording in the first place, otherwise lets find a forum for live jam night.

Lastly, it does not matter how much equipment you have or the quality of your drum production. Drum playing is all about that moment when all the music jells and you find yourself in the middle of it and you say, yeah! now that's it.

Edited by RobAllen on September 10 2016 03:41
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