Are you sure you know “how” to practice drums?
Pro drummer Mat Marucci offers a valuable article on this subject.
There is a saying regarding practicing that has been attributed to the concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz and paraphrased by many. One version of this saying is: “If I miss one day I know it. If I miss two days my wife knows it. If I miss three days my audience knows it.” That is arguably the consummate statement on the importance of regular practice.
The hours we all put into practicing technique are very important to us. We all do it to maintain or improve our playing. However, often much of the time spent behind the drums is not put to the best use.
Time spent practicing brings up the old debate of quality versus quantity. If the musician’s focus is right, more can be accomplished in thirty minutes time than two hours of time with the instrument.
Many musicians do not really practice but “play” their instruments. That is to say that they sit down (or stand) with the instrument and play what they know. This can be great for the maintenance or polishing of certain techniques but, with those exceptions, no progress is being made.
The essence of the practice session should be musicality while striving for perfection and improvement. Even while practicing, the musicians should concentrate on playing music!
Perfection, improvement and musicality are the guidelines for a productive practice session.
Perfection: Every technique should be done as perfectly as possible. This includes hand positions, stickings, stick height, wrist movements, touch, etc. Practicing wrong will develop improper technique – and all execution is affected by technique. To strive for perfection is the first step in practicing.
Improvement: Each practice session should create a challenge for the musician to accomplish something never previously done. This could be a new rudiment, piece of music, or exercise. It could also be a new tempo for an old exercise, etc. And the tempo does not necessarily have to be faster – just different. Old exercise books are excellent ways to improve. (Every book should be played at least twice, because it is never mastered the first time through.) But, whatever it is, some new accomplishment should be attempted at every practice session.
Musicality: The purpose of playing any instrument is to play music. And music should
be kept foremost in mind whenever practicing. Even when playing a rudiment or
technical exercise it should be thought of musically and how it can be applied to music. As stated earlier, musicality is the essence of playing an instrument.
The amount of practice time will vary from individual to individual and also from beginner to professional. A beginning drummer might practice thirty minutes to one hour a day and increase that to two hours per day as he progresses after the first year or so of study. If the student continues to be serious and is looking toward or is in a college program as a music major, the practice time should increase to approximately two to four hours per day. As a struggling career minded professional it can increase to four to eight hours per day. As steady engagements, playing situations and other responsibilities increase with a developing career (and with life in general) practice time then starts to decrease again. It might be one to two hours per day again or maybe two to four hours three times a week – whatever the individual needs are and professional and personal schedule allow. But, whatever the situation allows, practice should be continued throughout one’s professional life under any conditions.
I have made a list of some important points that if adhered to should not only make your practice session more productive but also more enjoyable. (We all enjoy what we’re doing much more when we can see advancement and improvement.)
1) Watch Your Hand Position: this is the No. 1 problem I have found with drummers and students – from beginner to advanced. Whichever grip you use, when practicing always be sure your hands are in the correct position. It just doesn’t make sense to put time in practicing technique and not have your hand positions correct. These positions are used for a reason and your development will be limited if you do not use them correctly. Once your hand position improves you will find your playing will become much cleaner and faster.
2) Sticking: this is the second biggest problem I’ve come across in teaching. Keep in mind the phrase “one stick up, one stick down” and practice that way. You will always have a stick in position to make a stroke either from the high (“up”) position or from the low (“down”) position. With concentration on “sticking” your hand techniques will start to flow much more smoothly.
3) Stick Height: this is different from sticking in that it refers to how high you bring the sticks. Whether you work from a full 90 degree position, a 45 degree angle or anything in between the important point is that both sticks return to the same height. Because most of us are not ambidextrous we have a tendency to favor our strong hand and bring that stick to a higher position than the weak hand. This means one stick is traveling a shorter distance to reach the drum whenever a stroke is made. Think about it. It stands to reason that if one stick is traveling eight inches and the other only five inches, the stick farther away has to move faster to reach the drum in the same time interval as the closer stick. This also means the rebounds will be weaker with the closer stick. Are your Single Stroke and Long Rolls uneven? Stick height is probably at least part of the reason – along with the Hand Position and Sticking. Concentrate on these three common problems and you will see a vast improvement in your technique.
4) Play Off The Drum: unless they have learned this somewhere along the way, most drummers, especially heavy hitters, play down into the drum instead of off it. When making your stroke think up and bring the stick away from the head immediately after striking it. Some teachers describe this as “drawing’ or “pulling” the sound out of the drum. The shorter the time the stick is on the drumhead the more resonant and responsive the drum will be. Thus, a cleaner and fuller tone and increased stick speed.
5) Learn And Practice The Drum Rudiments: even if you only spend a minimal amount of time on them do at least something. If you only study one rudiment a week – just one – you will have learned all 26 in exactly six months. You do not have to be a rudimental champ but the knowledge will be a definite plus – and you’ll feel good about your accomplishment besides.
6) Work With A Metronome: use it at different speeds including the slowest ones. It won’t make your playing stiff but will improve your time and meter. And, if you ever encounter a click track in the recording studio you will be thankful for any time spent with a metronome.
7) Keep The Practicing Habit: We all know that occasionally time is at a premium and a full practice session is impossible. On those days at least do something – even if it’s just a 10 or 20 minute keep-in-shape or warm-up routine.
8) Strive For Perfection: be as perfect as possible when practicing. There is no sense in putting in the time and hard work if you don’t go for perfection. Be your own worst and toughest critic and don’t sell yourself short.
9) Vary Your Practice Routine: this is especially helpful when practice time is limited. Sometimes it is better to look at your practice sessions on a weekly instead of a daily basis. One day spend the majority of the time on hands, another on independence, another on reading, another on rudiments, etc. and be sure to rest for a few minutes between segments or five minutes per half hour. This will help avoid overuse or strain of your muscles. Be sure and spend some time creating and just playing. Some teachers suggest you do it at the end of your practice session. However, I have found it often works better to do it at the very beginning to get it out of your system. Then you can just focus on what you planned to work on that day.
10) In Regard To Sticks: you should generally use the same size stick to practice with that you play with. But it can be beneficial to spend a few minutes a week with heavier or lighter sticks to give your hand and wrist muscles a change. This can improve strength and reflexes.
11) Study The Traditional Grip: and if you generally play traditional spend some time playing matched. The traditional grip has some definite advantages which include finger dexterity and flexibility of the weak hand. If you generally play matched grip, spend at least some time every day on the traditional grip. The increase in finger dexterity will even help your matched grip playing.
12) Keep Challenging Yourself: never be satisfied. Try to be working on something new at all times – a rudiment, book, rhythm – and once that is accomplished, whether it takes a day, a week or a month, move on to something else new. Strive to constantly improve during each practice session.
These previous tips should be concentrated on only while practicing. Once you are at rehearsals or the gig don’t think about them. Concentrate on the music and feeling relaxed and comfortable. If you use these tips diligently every time you practice you will find they will creep into your playing without your realizing it and you will see a vast improvement in your technique and playing in a few short months.
Copyright 1999 Mat Marucci
Mat Marucci is an active performer, author, educator, and clinician listed in Who’s Who In America and International Who’s Who In Music. His performing credits include jazz greats Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, James Moody, Eddie Harris, Buddy De Franco, Les McCann, Bobby Shew, Don Menza, Pharaoh Sanders, and John Tchicai, to name just a few. He also has seven critically acclaimed recordings to his credit as a leader and others as a sideman, including those with John Tchicai and Jimmy Smith, with many of them garnering four stars (****) in various trade magazines including Jazz Times, Jazziz, and Down Beat.
Mat is the author of several books on drumming for both Lewis Music and Mel Bay Publications, is an Adjunct Professor for American River College (Sacramento, CA) and an endorser for Mapex drums, Zildjian cymbals, Pro-Mark drumsticks and Remo drumheads. He has written numerous articles on drumming for Modern Drummer magazine, the Percussive Arts Society’s Percussive Notes and Percussion News, Pro-Mark’s Upstrokes, and the online drum Magazine Cyber-Drum [www.cyberdrum.com]. Wave files of Mat’s playing can be heard at:http://www.jazzinspiration.com/artist15.html
TO THE TOP
Second Line Drumming
Second Line / Street Beats
What is Second Line?
Have you ever been asked to play a “second line” beat on a particular song? I know I have. Usually I cringe and realize that, although I basically think it involves a marching style on the snare drum, I really don’t have a clue as to what to play. Luckily my experience and musicality got me by for many years. I learned how to fake things “very” well. 🙂
Well, I asked around a bit and was surprised to learn that the history of second line is a bit cloudy. Nobody can seem to agree on how it evolved. I heard stories about there being a line of musicians and staff that marched behind the mourners (second line) at a funeral parade in New Orleans. Apparently the musicians would play funeral marches on the way to the funeral and more livelier pieces on the return home. Some would say that it’s a secondary rhythm section (second line) that answers the calls of a “first-line” rhythm section in a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. The first line would play a rhythm and the “second line” would respond to it. Others will tell you that it’s just something that comes from New Orleans music and involves a marching snare rhythm. They’ll admit that they don’t know where it comes from but they’re quick to show you an example of how they think it’s played.
Depending on who you ask, you’re sure to get some very interesting answers. I think the most important thing is; What are we supposed to play when someone asks us to play a “second-line” rhythm or a second line funk beat? From a little research, here’s what I’ve learned so far about second line drumming:
#1: Second line drumming is associated with the city of New Orleans. It seems to have originated there and developed in many forms through the years.
#2: Second line drumming involves simple cadence type (marching) snare beats.
#3: Drummers like Zigaboo Modeliste and Johnny Vidacovich mixed second line with syncopated funk, developing a style called “second-line funk drumming”. This style was popularized in many famous bands that came from New Orleans like the Meters (see below).
#4: Second line drumming often involves a 3/2 son clave not dissimilar to the Bo Diddley beat although it doesn’t necessarily always follow that rule. Listen to this variation –> http://www.zigaboo.com/media/zig_me.mp3
#5: Second line beats are also called “Street Beats”.
So after reading up on things and listening to a handful of second line drummers, I’ve determined that although there are a lot of variations of second line you can play, most follow a specific feel and style. The best way to get started would be to play a simple Bo Diddley beat, mixing in an occasional double stroke roll at the beginning or end of the phrase. Play the bass drum with the accents or simply play “4 on the floor” (straight quarter notes). Listen to some of the examples below and check out the other resources listed.
Mardi Gras Parade – Second Line Marching (WMA – www.safado-samba.de)
Zigaboo Second Line Funk variation (MP3 – zigaboo.com)
New Orleans Jazz and Second Line Drumming Book and CD – by Herlin Riley and Johnny Vidacovich
Street Beats – Modern Applications
New Orleans Drumming – Earl Palmer and Herman Ernest – DCI
Tommy Igoe – Video sample, 2nd line variation (online – DrummerWorld.com)
Popular Second Line Drummers:
Zigaboo Modeliste – The Meters (original drummer)
Johnny Vidacovich – Astral Project
Stanton Moore – Galactic
Ricky Sebastian – http://www.strdigital.com/ricseb.htm
Earl Palmer – Big on the NOLA recording scene in the 50’s. Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc.
see more here.
There’s an old saying; “Out of sight, out of mind”. Well, this is one of the truest things ever written and it so applies to the music business as well.
If you want to work, you need to go out to the clubs, venues, jam sessions, whatever,.. and “BE SEEN”! You need to engage in conversation with potential employers and you need to be seen playing your drums so they know that you’re qualified.
Younger players still in school; if you want that specific chair or jazz band seat you have to
work hard, yes. But also make sure that you’re on a first name basis with the band leader, drum captain, and any private instructors or helpers, because they will often be assisting with the auditioning process.
Top 5 Drummer Networking Mistakes:
1. Not being prepared
2. Not having business cards (pro players)
3. Not letting them know in some way that you’re qualified for the job
4. Not acting professional enough
5. Not following up on potential leads or opportunities
Going the Extra Mile
Many drummers simply show up, set up their drums, play the gig and go home. Take pride in your work and “go the extra mile”. Carry the bass player’s rig in for him, make a set list for the band, or show up 15 minutes earlier to help out. School band students can help the teacher in the band room or offer their services for a special concert or field event.
Anyone can just show up and play their drums, but those that put in a little extra are more valued as a “team player”. This often increases your job stability and overall reputation in the industry and sometimes even means extra compensation. The main thing is that you feel better about yourself for giving more in this world and that’s reason enough to make the change!
READING MUSIC – Mike Donovan
-Do you read music?
Now, before you start running the other direction, please hear me out. I’ve noticed through the years that, for various reasons, many drummers prefer not to learn how to read. They either think that it will take too long or that it will be inevitably too hard. Folks, it’s not really that bad. I repeat, “IT’S NOT THAT BAD”! Shoot, compared to learning a foreign language or something, it’s a walk in the park!!
In 1996, I wanted to come off the road. I knew that this might possibly mean stepping back into the “real world” job-wise so I taught myself to type in preparation for a “decent” job in the workplace. I knew that computers were now dominant in our society and if I was going to compete, I’d better learn to do something more than ‘hunt and peck’. I now, 6 years later, type 683,000 words per minute (or something like that :).
So you say, .. “Hey, ‘I hunt and peck’ and I have a job at Microsoft as ‘Systems Analyst IT Engineer blah, blah,..’. Well OK, so it does happen that some real smart people make out just fine ‘hunting and pecking’. But let’s step back into the music world for a minute. Can you imagine yourself at a Dave Mathews Band audition and they throw a chart in front of you to read? What will you do, ask them if they have it in ‘tab’ format?
I say, “Learn to Read”. Don’t get caught up in that crap about.. “Well, Buddy Rich didn’t read…” or “Dennis doesn’t read…” etc. It’s a cop-out! Those guys are (were) exceptions to the rule. You need to have a firm understanding of basic rhythmic theory (and harmony if possible) to compete in this highly competitive field. You can’t afford to be second best. You must have all your bases covered because if you don’t, there are 50 other drummers standing by ready to take your place. (Actually, there are 500 drummers standing by ready to take your place. 🙂
Why not be “great” at playing drums rather than “mediocre”. It’s so much more fulfilling. Reading will give you the tools to get to that next level. You’ll not only have a better understanding of what you’re playing but you’ll be able to execute this knowledge into a better performance overall.
Consider signing up with a private teacher and letting them help you learn how to read. Once you get the ball off the ground and rolling, it’s not really that bad. It just takes a little bit of courage and determination to get started and, with a little stick-to-itiveness, you’ll be reading in no time. I promise.
10 Reasons You Should Learn to Read Music:
1. It builds confidence in your ability and
allows you to ‘understand’ what you’re playing.
2. You’ll be able to teach yourself anything out of
a book or magazine ..anytime, anywhere.
3. You can supplement your income by teaching others.
4. There are great gigs to be had out there but some of
them require that you read at least a little bit.
5. You can communicate intelligently with other
musicians using standardized musical language.
6. When learning new songs, you can write out drum
charts for yourself quickly and more efficiently. This
saves valuable time.
7. You can program sequencers in step mode.
8. It is easier to learn musical concepts as well as other
instruments with a fundamental knowledge of basic
9. Most studio work, show work and more challenging
styles such as jazz and fusion, require reading.
10. You’ll find that many higher caliber players read music.
This may give you an opportunity to play on their level.
Want to know about DRUMS? Check out DrumBum.com!
PARADIDDLES ON DRUMS
For a great exercise in control, practice switching the accents to each successive note.
The parenthesis denotes an accented note.
(R) L R R – (L) R L L
R (L) R R – L (R) L L
R L (R) R – L R (L) L
R L R (R) – L R L (L)
Be sure that there is a distinct difference between loud and soft notes. Keep them clean
and even. Remember that proper execution is always more important than speed.
PARADIDDLE-DIDDLES ..on Drumset
Play the following sticking on the hi-hat: RLRRLL, RLRRLL (This is a paradiddle-diddle)
Put the bass drum on the first note of the first grouping and the snare on the first note of the second grouping (there will not be a HH on that note).
This pattern creates a 16th note triplet groove that sounds great intermittently inserted over a straight eighth feel.
Where to look:
Classified ads – your local newspaper, music papers, internet classifieds, etc.
Bulletin boards – music stores, record shops, drum shops, talent agencies
Live bands – networking! Go out, meet, and interact with live groups. This is one of the best ways to learn about who’s looking for who.
Talent agencies – get to know the people who work in these places. They can sometimes help you find a suitable band or at the very least, pass the word along.
Union – The Musician’s union is a good place to find certain types of work. Great contacts can be made as well.
Music studios – Stay in touch with the people behind the scenes at your recording studios. They are recording all your friends and know who’s doing what.
Jam sessions – Jam sessions are a bit more popular in larger towns, but when you can find them, they are valuable music networking havens!
LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED!
How to Audition
Initial contact – be friendly and professional. Don’t oversell yourself but be confident and assertive. Find out what they are looking for in a musician and determine whether or not you fit the criteria.
Know the material better than anyone else! –This is the key to a successful audition. If you know the tunes better than anyone else (assuming you play them with feeling and with good time) you will probably get the gig.
Be personable. – The second most important criteria in getting a gig is how well the other members of the band think they might be able to get along with you. Be friendly, but be yourself. People can usually see through facades.
Keeping the Gig
Attitude – It’s even more important after getting the gig to be cooperative and extremely diplomatic. You will have opinions, but try and not be to forceful with them. Keep a positive attitude and you will have respect from the other players.
Stay current – Stay on top of the new tunes that come out in the genre of the music you’re playing. Know what’s happening!
Be professional – Be on time, keep yourself and your equipment in good shape, and play every night like you’re making $1000 instead of $50. Wear a smile and act like you’re having a good night even if you aren’t.
Improve on your instrument – Consistently try and better yourself, learn the newest techniques, the difficult songs, read all the magazines, etc. Be a strong force in the group.
PUNK DRUMMING – Charlie Platt
Alright – I’ve been playing drums now for 2 years or so, and I always played jazz, blues, and rock/alternative stuff off of the radio. Recently, a good friend of mine invited me to join a punk band that he’d started. Not being used to this style of drumming, which tends to be more complex than it sounds, I have enclosed some helpful recommendations that helped me to learn the style.
Tip #1: You can always go cut time on the high-hat if you can’t keep up with the speed.
Make sure you’re not changing the beat, but the energy will be the same if you use cut time.
Tip #2: Just because the music is fast doesn’t mean you can’t be creative or do interesting fills. Listen to bands like the Dead Kennedy’s for some interesting fill work.
Tip #3: Use a lot of energy! Punk music is based on energy. Wrestle with your buds before a show, build up some serious energy and then just go nuts! If you screw up your beat a little bit, its not as bad as if you lose your energy, so really get into the energy of the music.
Tip #4: As with lots of energy, go nuts with the bass drum. I myself don’t use a double-bass drum pedal, but I find that with one pedal, a healthy distribution of bass drumming definitely works.
Finally; Don’t think you have to be boring with a simple bass-snare-bass-snare beat. You can still have creativity in punk music. PUNK DRUMMERS UNITE! KEEP ROCKING, KEEP THE ENERGY ALIVE.
If I was to tell you that many problems with drumming stem from one little “Secret”, would
you beg to know what it is?
The secret is REPETITION
Most young drummers (and even some old ones 😉 underestimate the importance of this word. But many simple problems are solved relatively easily by incorporating just this one little secret.
PROBLEM #1: My arms tire while playing for long periods of time.
FIX: REPETITION.! Practice single strokes for LONG periods of time. Get them EXTREMELY fast to where they become “very” comfortable. If the rest of your technique is relatively good, your arms will not tire after that.
PROBLEM #2: My feet are slow and can’t do half the things my hands do.
FIX: REPETITION.! Isolate your feet and practice nothing but them for extended periods of time. Play the samba bass drum rhythm “allot”. That’s always been a good one for getting your right foot in shape.
PROBLEM #3: I can’t play in odd time signatures.
FIX: REPETITION.! Vinnie Colauita once said, “Just play in 7 for like an hour”. This is especially insightful as we can often get caught up in studying things too closely and miss the point. Sheer repetition will help lead to more comfort in odd times.
PROBLEM #4: I can’t do a proper double stroke roll to save my life.
FIX: REPETITION.! Play that thing slowly, properly, and for “long” periods of time, while gradually increasing your speed. DO NOT CHEAT. Make yourself do intentional,
defined doubles. Chart your progress by playing to 16th’s on a metronome. In no time at all, you’ll be GETTING IT.
A terrific exercise:
This version of “WIPEOUT” incorporates single, double, and triple paradiddles.
Repeat over and over until you build up your speed. This is
a great exercise for hand to hand control.
R l r r, L r l l, R l r l r l r r, L r l r l l, R l r l r r, L r l l
(Capital letters are Accented notes)
-For more on rudiments and other drum lessons and tabs, visit the Lesson Database at http://www.drumbum.com/lessons
Want to know about DRUMS? Check out DrumBum.com!
Ever get in a slump and can’t get excited about drumming? This is often due to lack of motivation or stimulation. Just as you would read positive books of wisdom and understanding to improve yourself as a person, the same holds true with drumming. You must find ways to be excited about playing. The following offer a few suggestions:
1. Surround yourself with great musicians. When you’re around great
players, you will strive to be the best yourself. It rubs off, I promise!
2. Buy a new cymbal, piece of hardware, or drumset. Sure, it’s a bit expensive, but it never fails to help get the juices flowing.
3. Listen to great drummers on CD and Video. The more you hear, the
more you will have the desire to play like them.
4. Go to drum clinics! What can I say, if you don’t walk away inspired by a great clinic, then you probably shouldn’t be playing.
5. Set goals for yourself. No matter how small the goal, it
gives you something to strive for and gives you a sense of purpose in life. Life is more fulfilling when you’re moving forward.
6. Take some lessons. Despite your level of experience, lessons always seem to inspire us. You will find new approaches, viewpoints, and techniques that you may have never encountered otherwise. Even the greats will often go back and study with a teacher after a long successful career. They are maintaining goals in their life and assuring continual motivation, excitement, and competitiveness.
Do have trouble finding time to practice?
This famous writing may provide some inspiration.
As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers, he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.”Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is:
If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
The list goes on and on. You should never justifiably be able to say,
“I don’t know what to practice”.
How many of you make New Years Resolutions? Or are you the type to say, “Well, what’s the use, I never keep ’em anyway.”?
Think about it for a minute, if we had that attitude about everything in life, then why would we even get up in the morning? I mean, why drive to work or go to school when you might have an accident and get killed? You see how silly this is?
The word resolution is just a fancy word for “goal setting”. Webster lists several definitions but reoccurring words are “resolve”, “declare”, and “decide”.
Why not use the beginning of the year as a fresh start to achieve the goals that you set for yourself on DRUMS? Write them down in big bold letters and tape them to the wall if you have to. This is a common habit of successful people and it WILL work if “you” work hard for it and “MAKE IT HAPPEN”. Even if you don’t meet all of your goals, just “TRYING” gets you a lot closer than you would have gotten otherwise.
You don’t need to have a list of 10 or 12 things if you don’t want. Sometimes just 1 or 2 goals are sufficient. Maybe you can resolve to get that double stroke roll perfected once and for all. Or maybe you can commit to taking a few private lessons to help
get you out of that slump.
GET POSITIVE, GET MOTIVATED! Make a few resolutions and get out there and KICK SOME BUTT!
TIPS FOR SELF-MOTIVATION
1. Read books with inspiring themes or messages.
2. Listen to inspiring music. Music that leaves
you feeling “pumped” and filled with positive
3. Listen to self-help/motivational tapes. If you
haven’t tried ’em, you’re missing out!
4. Watch movies like “Shawshank Redemption” that
portray the epitome of human perseverance.
5. Go to drum clinics and/or watch drum videos of
your favorite players.
6. Study the patterns of successful people and
hang out with them any chance you get. They “will”
rub off on you!
SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF – Mike Donovan
Attention to detail is an important aspect of pro drumming. I recently had a drummer friend (he’s playing 4 nights a week with a signed artist) tell me he was about to upgrade to a new set and he was thinking about buying Pearl Exports. I immediately sat him down and talked with him about the importance of small details and how much of a positive effect they can have on the end result. Not that Pearl Exports aren’t good drums mind you, but for a person with his level of experience and professionalism, he should (in my opinion) be in a higher-end kit.
These small details I’m talking about are things such as wood types, bearing edges, isolation mounts, stainless steel hoops, etc. All these things, I told him, help to clean up your sound and allow for a more pure and precise tone. It can sometimes mean the difference between driving a VW Bug and a Cadillac.
While the cash isn’t always there, you owe it to yourself to at least consider taking the plunge and investing in a “quality” drumset if you’re a serious professional. Words can’t describe the euphoria of what it’s like to sit behind a set of drums that virtually “play themselves”. This goes for marching and hand percussion as well. There is nothing like “quality”, whether it be your instrument or your performance and once you’ve been there and then came back, you’ll definitely know the difference. The details matter, and you should be “sweating the small stuff”!
1. Interest rates are low right now!
2. Don’t forget “used” drums. You can sometimes save thousands and still end up with a top-of-the-line kit.
3. Do your homework and research drums thoroughly before buying.
4. Please support your local small businessman!
5. Visit our Lesson Database for more tips on “Buying a Drumset”.
TOP 20 DRUM BOOKS
To be proficient on your instrument, you want to make sure all your bases are covered. Here are some of the top-rated drum books that have made a huge impact in drummer’s lives over the years and have definitely stood the test of time.
READING: “Fundamental Studies for Snare Drum” – Garwood Whaley, Ted Reed’s “Syncopation”, “Modern Reading Text in 4/4” – Louie Bellson
HAND INDEPENDENCE: “Stick Control” – George Stone, “Accents and Rebounds” – George Stone
RUDIMENTS: “International Drum Rudiments” – PAS, “Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments” – Buddy Rich/Henry Adler
SNARE DRUM: – “Modern School for Snare Drum” – Morris Goldberg, “Modern Rudimental Swing Solos” – Charles Wilcoxin
DRUM SET: – “Realistic Rock” – Carmine Appice, “Future Sounds” – David Garibaldi, “The New Breed” -Gary Chester, “Bass Drum Control” – Colin Bailey, “Patterns” series- Gary Chaffee
MISCELLANEOUS: “Master Studies” – Joe Morello, “Even in the Odds” – Ralph Humphrey, “Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Drumset” – Frank Malabe and Rob Weiner, “Drum Wisdom” – Bob Moses, “The Sound of Brushes” – Ed Thigpen
Want to know about DRUMS? Check out DrumBum.com!
||What to Practice|
WHAT TO PRACTICE
For those of you that have caught yourself saying, “I don’t know what to practice”.. HERE IS A LIST:
1. Listening (concentrated “listening” to music, not just “hearing” it)
2. Method Books (Chapin, Latham, Chaffee, etc.)
3. Drum Rudiments (do you know all 40?)
4. Groove playing (and making it feel as good as possible)
5. Styles (rock, blues, funk, country, jazz, latin, swing, reggae, etc.)
6. Stick control (George Lawrence Stone books etc.)
7. Reading (books, charts)
9. Tuning Drums
10. Playing with a click or drum machine (also playing behind/ahead )
11. Song form (AABA,ABA, etc)
13. Playing over the bar line
14. Odd Time
15. Finger Control (this should come “after” basic hand technique)
16. Moeller Technique
17. Transcribing Drum Beats
18. Two handed riding on cymbals
19. Linear patterns (within the groove and soloing)
20. Left hand lead
21. Double Bass Drum
22. Fast tempos
23. Electronics (familiarize yourself w/the latest midi equipment)
24. Instructional videos
25. Studio techniques (mic placement, effects, etc.)
26. Odd groupings (3’s, 5’s’ 7’s and 9’s etc.)
28. Beat displacement and/or Metric Modulation
29. Shuffles (funk, rock, 2 hand shuffles etc.)
30. Showmanship (stick twirling, standing on your head)
31. Practicing your drums in front of a mirror
32. Recording yourself and listening back (This is a big one!)
33. Creating your “own” patterns and ideas
34. Augmentation and Diminution
35. Tehais (A figure repeated three times evenly in a phrase)
36. Filling around accent patterns
37. Practicing extremely slow tempos
38. Continual linear triplets around the set
39. Continual linear 16th’s around the set
40. Motion exercises (ala Steve Smith video)
41. Left hand and foot isolation
42. Drum physiology and ergonomics (Extremely important!)
43. Read drum publications, internet newsgroups for inspiration
44. Brushes for snare drum
45. Cymbal technique (which one to hit, when, how hard, etc.)
The list goes on and on. You should never justifiably be able to say,
“I don’t know what to practice”.
Speed Drumming – …the WFD (Worlds Fastest Drummer),
the DrumoMeter, and more!
The Rise of Speed Drumming
By George Broyer
Every once in awhile, an innovation comes along in music that helps shape the future of the industry. Still, people fear change. Many view the advancement as an attack to the establishment. They try to resist for as long as they possibly can until it becomes accepted by the majority thus making it mainstream. When Rock & Roll came about, many thought it would lead to the downfall of America’s youth. When Ray Charles combined gospel music with R&B, many said it was blasphemous and degrading God’s work. Yet, Ray Charles is now considered one of the greatest music innovators of the 20th century. Enter speed drumming. Not immune to the same criticism, this latest craze is taking the drumming world by storm and creating quite a stir. Although it’s been embraced by many drummers young and old, others see it as an infringement upon their revered tradition.
Measure how fast your strokes are!
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While the practice of fast drumming is not entirely recent, the ability to accurately measure and rank it is a new concept. The beginnings of modern speed drumming started in the windy city of Chicago during the year 1975. It was there that Boo McAfee was present at a demonstration by Barrett Deems where he claimed to be “The World’s Fastest Drummer.” A voice of doubt emerged from the crowd. “Oh, yeah,” the person asked. “What machine did you use?” McAfee turned to see the voice belonged to none other than drumming legend Buddy Rich. The memory of that event lingered in McAfee’s mind. Then in 1999, McAfee collaborated with fellow drummer and engineer Craig Alan to develop a machine to measure the speed of drumming. After two months of work, the device was developed and dubbed The Drum-o-meter. It calculated the number of strokes for up to a 90 second time span for such rudiments as the single stroke roll, the double stroke roll, and paradiddles. The DrumoMeter was first showcased at the 1999 PASIC and, then, released for purchase on April 2, 2000, the anniversary of Buddy Rich’s death. This new innovative invention paved the way for the world of speed drumming to emerge as a credible faction of drumming.
With their new stroke-measuring device, McAfee and Alan needed a creative way to market their idea into the world of drumming. So, they decided to establish the World’s Fastest Drummer Organization or WFD for short. The idea was to pit drummers against each other in a competition to determine with accuracy the indisputable fastest drummer of the world using the DrumoMeter. In the first event of its kind, Johnny Rabb won the competition sponsored by the Nashville Percussion Institute. He performed an astonishing 1,026 single stroke rolls in one minute. Rabb was asked to later defend his title on VH1’s live broadcast of Rock & Roll Record Breakers in Orlando, Florida. His fast drumming produced 1,071 strokes in one minute and earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest drummer in the world. The WFD (or Worlds Fastest Drummer) started to pick up steam and, in 2007, they established a regular competition at the annual NAMM show. The winner of the competition was presented a championship belt similar to the ones awarded on WWE wrestling. The exhibition was eventually split to include separate recognition for the fastest hand drummer and fastest foot drummer. This fun, exciting showcase spotlighting the skills of speed drumming propelled the movement to another level.
As the modern speed drumming movement gained momentum, the number of drummers participating grew. With most new areas of music, there are those that will rise above the others and carve out a name for themselves as the pace setters to which the rest of the field must catch up. The drummers of speed drumming that fall into this category are as follows:
Mike Mangini, drummer for Extreme and the Steve Vai Band, set the current world record at the WFD
by achieving 1,203 single stroke rolls on the Drum o Meter in one minute in January 2007.
Jotan Afanador of Bronx New York -1,199 single strokes. WFD, Summer of 2007.
Art Verdi held the title of fastest drummer from April 2001 through May 2007 by performing 1,116 strokes in sixty seconds. ArtVerdi.com
Tim Waterson holds the Guinness Record for being the fastest foot drummer. Waterson, also known as “The Drumcan Man” because of he built and performs on a kit he designed entirely of recycled materials, managed to bang out 1,239 double strokes in one minute’s time on the Drum o Meter in November 2001 at the Montreal Drum Festival. He later broke that record in January of 2007 by reaching 1,407 double strokes in one minute at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. (Tim holds both the World Fastest Feet records for singles at 1,030 and doubles at 1,407.)
Seth Davis is the current World Record holder for double stroke rolls. He executed 1,200 double stroke rolls in sixty seconds. Davis also holds the prestige of being the first drummer ever to complete 1,200 clean double strokes.
Sam LeCompte holds the record for most paraddidles in 60 seconds at 1,032.
These drummers help the foundation for the future speed drummers of the world. They blazed a path for others to follow and, with the growing interest, there seems to be plenty of drummers lined up to make their own mark in the world of fast drumming.
As mentioned previously, with anything new, there are always going to be detractors who are against change. In the case of speed drumming, there are two schools of thought. The first believes that speed drumming is a valid and viable new aspect of drumming. They insist that fast drumming assist in building chops. Supporters of fast drumming contend that these chops are a vital facet to a drummer’s repertoire and they represent a crucial element in one’s ability to be innovative and creative when playing. However, the opponents of speed drumming believe that building chops is not a vital part of drumming. They claim that time spent on fast drumming is time better spent on learning the musicality of drumming. Speed drumming is seen as a frivolous expenditure of drumming that offers no significant benefits to the drumming industry. Another movement within the speed drumming community is to establish the style of fast drumming as a new sport. This notion of extreme sport drumming is being propelled by those who assert that drumming is an intense physical activity and should be able to qualify as a sport. Many traditionalists in the drumming world also disagree with this perception. It seems that some in the sporting industry would also reject the concept of drumming as a sport. In May 2007, ESPN ran an ad for its Junior Golf Academy in USA Today where it bashed drumming as a trivial recreation. The ad focused on the accusation that children should do something more meaningful than spend their time playing drums like learning to play golf. The Percussive Arts Society took quick action in an attempt to get ESPN to remove the ad. With pressure coming down from its parent company Disney, ESPN pulled the ad from circulation after five days. Still, the one of leading sports identities had expressed its feeling on the marriage of drums and sports. Still, despite all the resistance it has encountered, the modern speed drumming movement continues to plow ahead toward earning credibility in the world of drumming.
Like a newly hatched duckling, speed drumming is still spreading its wings and learning to fly. Its popularity is growing exponentially and is especially interesting to the younger drummers. It provides an edge that most other forms of drumming may be lacking and the aspect of competition is always a driving force in humanity. Speed drumming falls right into the well-known American maxim of “Bigger, Better, Faster, Now.” The technique of fast drumming provides an opportunity for drummers to experience a component of drumming they might not be able to encounter in a band or other project. There will always be people who denounce the modern speed drumming movement just as they rejected Elvis, Ray Charles, and other pioneering music figures. Still, at the present moment, there doesn’t appear to be any signs to contradict the fact that speed drumming will continue to carve out its niche in the drumming community and stay there for a very long time.
Professionalism – by Mat Marucci
“If someone earns money playing the drums, whether part-time or full-time, he or she is a professional drummer.”
Sometimes how often a drummer works has less to do with his or her musical abilities than with how those abilities are applied. The following tips will help the young drummer get a perspective on what it takes to be a professional working drummer. They can also be helpful to the older, more experienced drummer-because we can all lose our perspective at times. I am sure everyone will find something on this list he or she has been guilty of neglecting, and will welcome the reminder.
1) Warm up before the gig. This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. Naturally, if you have practiced during the day you should still be loose enough by evening. But if you did not practice (or if it is a morning or early afternoon gig), a short ten or twenty-minute warm-up will definitely give your playing an edge.
Some musicians feel that warming up is unnecessary -even amateurish-but that is totally wrong. In the first place, musical instruments (especially drums) are very physical, and a certain looseness and flexibility are required to perform on them at optimum efficiency. Why have to wait until the second set to be totally in command of your instrument? Besides, you never know who might be in the audience listening to just the first set a reviewer, a record producer, other musicians-and that will be all they might have to judge your playing capabilities by. In addition, it’s really a great feeling to play smoothly and relaxed during that first set. Sometimes you can save a train wreck up there, and you can be sure it will be noticed by all involved.
2) Keep good time. This is the most important thing a drummer can do. Most musicians and singers rely on their drummers to keep time for them, but even when performing with players who have great time themselves, the drummer’s time needs to be excellent so as not to break the groove.
3) Be on time for the gig. Set up the drums earlier in the day if possible. It is always better to walk in on the gig with just your sticks and cymbals in hand than to have to lug equipment in, set up, adjust positions, tune, etc, –and then play the job (and even more so if you have to war a tuxedo).
4) Be a good sideman. This includes all the previous rules up to this point. Play what the leader asks, and don’t complain about times, tempos, styles, or anything that might give the leader any additional problems. The leader has to book the job, hire the musicians, negotiate money, please the club owner (or whoever hires him), satisfy the public, call the tunes…Good side musicians are really noticed and appreciated because they help make the job go smoothly. Become a leader one time, and I guarantee you will improve your attitude as a sideman.
5) Play in context. Play a dance job like a dance job and a rock gig like a rock gig. Trying to play avant-garde jazz licks on a wedding job won’t make it-and won’t get you rehired. Also, keep in mind the abilities of the other musicians. You may be light-years ahead of them in experience, knowledge, and technique, but if your playing becomes too complex for them to comprehend, you will just lose them-and the gig. Always try to make the band as a whole sound good while playing to the highest level possible in context with the music and the other musicians.
) Control your ego. At times this can be the most difficult rule to follow. Ego is definitely healthy and necessary, but it must be kept under control.
Sometimes we can take it personally when asked to do things like turn the volume down or keep the tempo steady. But the problem could be someone other than you. Maybe the guitar is too loud or the bass player is dragging and you are simply being asked to keep them in check. Very seldom will a drummer be called for a gig to do solos under a spotlight. You are hired to do a job, so just do it and don’t let your ego get in the way.
7) Act professionally at all time. If you act professionally, chances are you will be treated in a professional manner. Treat your job like a job-not a big party. Dress cleanly and properly. Stay sober, and be reserved, not loud and boisterous, on the breaks. This is not to say you can’t enjoy yourself on the gig. If we didn’t enjoy our work, why have music for a career? However, keep things in perspective, and take care of business first. You will find that the better you do your job, the more you will enjoy your work-and the more respect you will garner.
8) Have the right equipment for the gig. It just does not make sense to bring a bebop set on a rock or funk gig, and vice-versa. The sound of your drums definitely affects the way you play as wee as the sound of the band. Also, bring a good assortment of sticks, brushes, mallets, and the like to be prepared for any occasion. And be sure your equipment is in good shape. Equipment breakdowns in the middle of a set are unnecessary and can ruin a great groove.
9) Practice at home, not on the job. This gig is not the place to try out some new sticking or technique. Besides, the tendency, when trying something new, is to force it into a spot where it doesn’t necessarily fit. After a technique has been perfected at home, then by all means bring it on the gig. Just be sure to use it in context.
10) Play as if your reputation depends on it. It just might. As stated earlier, you never know who could be in the audience. Just play the gig in context and as perfectly as possible, and everyone will be more than satisfied-the leader and other side musicians, the customers, the club owner or concert promoter, and you.
11) Play yourself. Add something special to the music. This is what makes you different from other drummers: your own personal approach to music and drumming.
12) Play music! This is the ultimate goal. Whenever you sit down to practice or play, think musically. Relate everything-from your warm-up exercises and rudiments to advanced sticking and rhythms-to music. I have heard drummers with less technique than others sound better because they were playing musically. Study music and musical form, including some melody and harmony. Spend time reading different drum books and charts. It will definitely improve your playing.
Cymbal Cleaning / Cymbal Care:
Have you ever noticed that some drummers’ cymbals shine so much that it always looks like they’re brand new? Then there’s the rest of us. We’d rather take a bullet in the head then to have to clean those darn things.
Most like the way cymbals look when they’re shiny and bright. The stage lights reflect off of them and really set off our drumset. But…are we often too lazy to clean them? I must admit, I rarely ever cleaned my cymbals. When I did, I dreaded it as it would make a complete mess out of the kitchen. I’d have cleaners spread from one end of the room to the other. I’d have numerous rags, and usually papers or towels on the floor because the things were always so awkwardly big that you couldn’t fit them into the kitchen sink. I was relieved to finally play with a few big artists where the stage crew (and hired union workers) would clean them for me.
Well, I’ve written this article to help with the laborious task of cleaning your cymbals. Hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two and you won’t ruin a few of your cymbals the way I did. Remember there are numerous opinions on the subject and this will vary depending on personal experiences. Here are a few pointers based off of my own experience and research:
1. Do it in the yard, not in your bathtub or kitchen sink. Take a bucket of warm water out there just like you’re going to wash your car. Leave your bath or kitchen be. It does nothing but make a huge mess and pisses off your girlfriend or spouse. Ha!
2. Experiment with all the cymbal cleaners. I’ve listed them below. Be careful with scouring mixes like Comet. They can scratch the surface of your cymbals if you’re not careful.
3. Determine whether your cymbal needs a polishing, a quick once-over, or a deep-cleaning (dirt and grime has built up on the cymbal over a period of time as opposed to just stick markings). If they only need a quick polish, buy a spray-on type of cleaner. It’s usually quick and effective.
4. When you clean your cymbal, wipe in the direction of the grooves of your cymbal. You can use an abrasive sponge or scrub brush but make sure that the wires of the brush are not metal or that they’re not something that will scratch the cymbal.
5. Some drummers will use household cleaners such as Fantastic or Formula 409 to help remove the initial deepened grime. It won’t get it all out but it might help loosen it up. You can also soak your cymbals in hot water before cleaning them. This will help loosen the dirt.
6. Remember that some commercial cymbal cleaners are more for polishing or touching up rather than deep-cleaning (and visa versa) so be sure to read the label before proceeding.
7. Clean small sections at a time, especially with really dirty cymbals. Again, think of it like your washing your car. You don’t wash the entire car at one time right? Take it one small section at a time.
8. Some drum shops have professional cymbal cleaning machines and they offer this as a service to their customers. It will cost you a bit but will save you a lot of time if you’re one that simply detests the chore.
9. Some cleaning agents can be harmful to your health. Be sure to use rubber gloves or a breathing mask if necessary. Make sure there is proper ventilation.
What are cymbals made out of?
An alloy (or combination of metals) consisting of copper, tin, nickel silver, brass, or bronze.
What makes cymbals get dirty?
Dust, cigarette smoke, and especially oil from your fingers.
Why do cymbals turn green sometimes?
This is a result of tarnishing. The cymbal becomes discolored due to slow oxidation. When there is brass or copper in the cymbal alloy, it will turn green over time if not polished.
What drummers often use to clean cymbals:
Zildjian Cymbal Cleaning Polish
Paiste Cymbal Cleaner
Sabian Cymbal Cleaner
Buckaroo Cymbal Cleaner
Blitz Cymbal Cleaner
Fantastic or Formula 409
– Usually cymbal ink labels will rub off during cleaning. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to clean around them effectively.
– Although it’s debatable just how much, metal is lost in the process of harder scrubbing and if care is not taken to follow the grooves, it could affect the overall tonal quality of your cymbal.
– Avoid using a high speed drill with attachments. This could prevent undesirable results and/or you could ruin your cymbal.
– Vintage cymbals: Altering their age properties or original design structure could devalue the cymbals in the resale market. Use extreme caution.
Other Tips and Advice:
– Keep your cymbals covered. Store them in a cymbal bag (individual cymbal sleeves are recommended) or in a cymbal case. Keeping them properly stored keeps them cleaner longer. If you have to have your cymbals on stage for long periods of time, invest in cymbal sleeves or take them down each night.
– Pick up your cymbals by the edges and try not to touch the surface area. If you have to handle your cymbals frequently, keep a pair of gloves in your accessory bag and put them on before handling the cymbals.
Zildjian, Sabian, Paiste, Bosphorus, Meinl, UFIP, Istanbul, Saluda, Camber.
I once read a book called “The Book of Questions”. At first it seemed like a stupid idea. Then I realized that upon reading it, it was extremely thought-provoking and allowed me to look within to find honest answers about myself. Sometimes the answers lead to action that can be life changing.
So I got to thinking; Why not use this same technique for drumming. While we’re not interested in writing a book, even just a handful of questions are bound to get the juices flowing. Try it and see.
1. How many hours do you practice every day? Is it enough?
2. Do you have a routine or simply play randomly without any specific direction?
3. Do you ever ask others to give you an honest assessment of your playing?
4. Do you execute your grooves and drum fills perfectly without mistakes?
5. Do you sit with your back straight when you play? Are you balanced?
6. Have you ever taken a lesson with a famous drummer?
7. Do you get jealous when other drummers are better than you?
8. Do your bandmates like “you” as much as they do your drumming?
9. Do you ever tape yourself to see how you sound?
10. Does your band know that you are the best drummer for them?
11. Do your drums sound the best they can?
12. Do you fake styles or are you confident you’re playing the right thing?
13. Do you ever set up your drums differently?
14. Are you more of a time keeper or a musical contributor?
15. Are you having “fun” playing the drums?
16. Are you just a mediocre drummer or a good drummer?
17. Do you ever practice in front of a mirror?
18. Does your band know that you play for the song first and foremost?
19. Do you practice your feet as much as your hands?
20. Have you accomplished what you set out to do on the drums?
||Drum & Bass|
What is Drum n Bass
Drum and Bass, or DNB?
Life in The Fast Lane: An Overview of Drum and Bass
By George Broyer
You may have already heard Drum and Bass and never even realized it. Aside from being utilized in numerous commercials and T.V. shows, elements of Drum and Bass have appeared in songs by such artists as David Bowie, Outkast, and Linkin Park. Drum and Bass, also known as DNB, drum n bass, and jungle, is a form of electronic dance music (often called electronica or mislabeled as simply “techno” music) that employs a break-beat instead of the 4/4 beat found in house and trance. The beats per minute, or BPM, are significantly faster ranging between 160-180 BPM. BPM is a unit of measure for the tempo of a song with 60 BPM equating to one beat every second. DNB often borrows samples from movies and television or even other styles of music and blends them together creating an entirely new perspective. The spectrum of the sound of DNB is immense varying from atmospheric to soulful to heavy and pounding. It is often compared to jazz in the sense that the listener can experience an assortment of diverse sounds all falling under the umbrella of one musical genre. DNB is usually found pressed onto a 12″ piece of vinyl with the record containing one to four tracks. These records are mixed by DJs in clubs and can sometimes be accompanied by an M.C. who rhymes over the tracks much like a hip-hop artist. The DNB faithful often refer to themselves as junglists, much the same way as Grateful Dead fans deem themselves Dead Heads, and are very passionate about the music. DNB is a rapidly progressing style of music with sounds becoming old and outdated in a relatively short amount of time. Most DNB / Drum and Bass songs have a shelf life of a year or less before being considered stale.
The beginnings of DNB can be traced back to the 1980’s Acid House music scene in the United Kingdom. The earliest form of DNB was an offshoot of Acid House called Breakbeat Hardcore. As Breakbeat Hardcore developed, a new sound featuring more bass heavy and up-tempo qualities emerged and started to develop a separate identity. It was the early 90’s when this new sound began to permeate the London club scene pioneered by DJs Fabio and Grooverider. As DNB continued to grow and mutate, it continued to separate into new sub-genres. In 1995, LTJ Bukem established a sound that while preserving the up-tempo breakbeat percussion focused on atmospheric qualities and warm, deep bass lines. This new form was dubbed Intelligent Drum and Bass / DNB. Other styles also sprang up. One approach taking on an urban quality with a stripped down, harder percussive style was designated Hardstep. Another with more hip-hop influenced traits was called Jump-Up. By 1996, Hardstep and Jump-Up dominated the club scene; while, Intelligent DNB remained more for the at-home listener. Another progression occurred in 1997 when two more sub-genres surfaced. A funky, double bass line sound was being championed by Roni Size at the same time as a new darker, more technical oriented style called Techstep blossomed. Its ominous or sci-fi related themes and cold, intricate percussion with dark, powerful bass lines distinguished Techstep from the other forms of DNB. By the conclusion of the 1990’s, the marketable charm of artists such as Roni Size diminished and Techstep reigned in the club scene. However at the turn of the century, a revival transpired to bring back the original DNB sounds and many classic tracks were remixed and reintroduced to the DNB community. Over the years, the genre of DNB has continued to undergo numerous transformations thus making it one of the most diverse styles of music. Drum and Bass / DNB is played all over the world today but is still considered to be at its most progressive and cutting edge in the U.K. where it got its start.
CHOPS: It’s Not a Dirty Word
By Mike Donovan
Chops, Licks, Fills, Rolls, ….
THEY’RE NOT DIRTY WORDS!
Despite popular opinion, it is not a sin to play a drum fill. It’s not wrong to use fills and creative nuances when you play. It’s not taboo to talk about liking drum “LICKS”… although many would make you feel otherwise.
There.. I said it. Now if I can stake the reputation of my company on the “C, L, F and R” words, you can certainly come out of the closet and admit that you like them too! (smile)
Ok, we probably did it to ourselves. We played one too many fills over the lead vocal or guitar line when we were younger. But does that mean we are doomed to “2 and 4 prison” for the rest of our lives? Are we to play 2 and 4 for the remainder of our time on earth and relinquish all hope of exploring personal expression on our instrument? Listen to much of modern music out there today and one would almost think so.
Now before you get your panties in a wad (as my sister used to say ;), let me state for the record:
“I swear before the Groove God that I believe it is our responsibility,
as drummers, to play “for the song” and lay down a firm, stable
foundation (groove) for the band to play off of.”
Having said that, I also believe it is our responsibility to “create” and explore the depths of our musical soul. It is also the responsibility of guitarists, keyboardists, vocalists, and other instrumentalists to practice with a metronome and contribute to the timekeeping responsibilities of the band. Mature, experienced players know that a drummer can not do it by themselves. Lead instruments, when not soloing, should be helping to “groove” the band with “responsible” comping and rhythmic vamping.
I speak so passionately about this subject because I have known one too many drummers in my life that were so brainwashed during there lifetime that they literally gave up all hope of self-expression and individuality, and regressed to becoming a timekeeper “only”. A literal “human metronome” with little creative flair in their playing. This saddens me. There is so much more to life as a drummer. Even the legendary Steve Gadd, who is known for his amazing groove, is fun to listen to. There is so much creativity, life, and self-expression in his playing.
Is there anything wrong with being just a time keeper or a “human metronome”? Well, not if the song begs for it and/or that’s the path you choose. Many dance tunes sound best when played with nothing but a nice solid, thumping beat. But if the track is bland, then I think it’s time to step up to the plate. I teach my students to make spaghetti that “tastes good”. Don’t just throw some noodles on a plate. Use cheeses, meats, vegetables, and spices freely, ..but tastefully and carefully. Make that stuff “TASTE GOOD!”
Most of us know the value of 2 and 4. Respected studio ace, Paul Leim calls it the “money beat”. A lot of money has and will be made with this beat and I totally respect that. Ok, well a lot of money has been made off of McDonald’s hamburgers too. But does that mean it’s always the best thing for us?
People, we have been given a gift from GOD. That of creative, artistic expression. As drummers we can use subtle, complementary ghost notes, licks, or explosive “fills” to make a song come alive. Ever wonder why the live tracks are often better than the studio cuts? Think about it.
It’s an honor to walk off the stage and hear someone say, “Man, that felt great!”. I must admit though, it’s also very satisfying to hear someone say, “How did you do that?! or “Man, I loved that fill you played going into the chorus!”. I’ve had the honor of having 10 drummers in the front row watching me play. But I’ve also had name artists walk up to me and say, “Man, you have a great feel!”. This, needless to say, is an honor. Especially because I know I can also color a song and make it sound interesting, not just keep time.
Licks, fills, and chops are a vocabulary. They enable you to express yourself just as a speaker would search for the right word during his speech to express himself. When you have the musical maturity to recognize this, you will be set free as a musician.
Stay tuned for my article next month, entitled, “GROOVE”….it’s not a dirty word!”
There are different opinions on what’s acceptable and what’s not with regard to cleaning drums.
Windex is a cleaning solution that many feel comfortable using. Remember that any spray on cleaner should be sprayed directly on the rag, not the drum itself. Some drummers use furniture polish on the drums but remember that wax buildup can occur over time. If you’re going to use wax polish, it is recommended to use it sparingly. Take the time to dust your drums with a feather duster before using a rag. This is because some large particles of dust can scratch the finish of the drum if you’re not careful. Also, be sure you use a clean, extra-soft rag. We recommend the microfiber cloths that are used to polish furniture and cars. Again, this helps prevent scratching of the surface of the drum. For chrome hardware, use Windex or a chrome polish.
There are many drum cleaners and polishes on the market. Here is a list of some of them.
Trick Drum Polish
Lizard Spit Drum Polish
Dunlop Drum Shell 65 Polish and Cleaner 4.99 at Musicians Friend
Hemp Oil Drum Polish – Genuine Products
Vater Drum Polish
||How to Tune Drums|
Let’s face it; if your drums don’t sound good, you are not going to sound good. You can have all the chops in the world but we as drummers are hired by, not just our licks, but by other factors such as how we get along with others, how musical we are, how we groove, and yes… how good our drums sound (determined by how well they are tuned).
This article won’t serve to instruct the exact method of tuning drums as much as it will to address a few key issues with regard to tuning your drums or drumset.
For tuning most drums, it involves a simple process that can be honed as a skill the more we work with it. Tuning drums is an inexact science but like anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
The most important thing to know is that you’ll tune the drums so that the pitches near each lug are as close to the adjacent lug as you can possibly get it. The end goal is to get the drum in tune to itself, which means we will try to have the pitch near all of the lugs sound the same on the head your working on. They can differ from top to bottom and in fact, that’s how you’ll obtain your pitch.
For snare drums, aim to tune with respect to what kind of snare sound you wish to achieve. If you want a marching band type of snare, you’ll want to really crank the heads good and tight. If you want a deep sound, you’ll need to tune the heads looser, and so on. If you want the snare to have a washy snare effect or a “wet” sound, you’ll need to leave the snares on the bottom of the drum a bit looser so they can buzz more. Similarly, if you want a tight crisp sound, you’ll want to have the snares tensioned tighter. Just be sure that you don’t tighten too much or the snare drum will sound choked.
With toms, or tom toms, whether or not you start with tuning the top head or the bottom head matters not so much as being sure that you again, tune the drum to be in tune with itself. Some drummers try to pull the pitch of the tom drum out of the bottom head and others will try to pull it from the top. You’ll need to experiment to determine your own preference. There is really no right or wrong way.
With regard to the bass drum, some drummers like a deep, low, thud sound and others like more of an opening resonating sound. If you want the traditional punchy, thud sound, you’ll need a pillow or some substantial muffling on the inside of the drum. If you lay the pillow so that it slightly touches the front head, you’ll achieve even better results. For more of a resonating bass drum sound, go with less muffling and maybe even do without any kind of air hole in the front head.
- Head selection is an extremely part of the drum tuning process. There are drumheads of all shapes and sizes. Experiment with different types of heads to see how they will affect each drum’s tone and response.
- Don’t worry if you can’t get a slight wrinkle out of the drum. If the drum sounds good, that’s all that matters.
- Don’t over-tighten drum heads. Although they can withstand quite a bit of stretching, they do have a breaking point.
- Drumheads get brittle in cold weather and are more likely to crack. If the drum is extremely cold, let it warm up a bit before cranking on those heads.
- The higher quality the drum, the better the drum will sound when it is tuned properly.
- Experiment around with different types of hole sizes in your bass drum and where you position the hole.