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Is anyone else here "over" drums?


Gruupi

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Most of my life all the music I was envolved in pretty much had drums involved as a given. In recent years, I have been playing solo (mostly classical, acoustic) guitar. Now when I hear drums or play with drummers, I fully realize how much sonic space they take up (not just floor space hehe). From the lowest low to higher than the human ear can hear, they pretty much can drown out everyone else. I first started to become aware of this when I started recording and mixing, how difficult it was to first get a decent drum sound, then find a way to fit everything else in.

 

My brother for instance is a pretty sensitive drumemr and doesn't just bang on his kit, but even playing with him I find it hard to do anything with true dynamics or to let subtle things like different voices and tonalities of my playing come through. Everything starts to become a compromise to even be heard at all.

 

I imagine most guitar players feel that at times we are no longer essential to music like we were in the classic rock era. But almost every form of pop music since the early 1900's has been pretty dependant on drums and an overwhelming beat. It's not like I don't like drums and beats, but isn't it a bit suprprising that something else hasn't been able to crack the surface of pop music.

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In a combo setting, drums are the instrument that controls the dynamics of the sound. But that includes times when they play a rest or series of rests, and turns the control of dynamics over to the other instruments.

 

I can turn on a dynamic dime when I'm doing a solo acoustic gig. And yes, there is a set of sonic qualities to the acoustic guitar that definitely gets lost in a band setting.

 

But to me, that's one set of shades on a palette of colors. I love it when a band breaks all the way down to an acoustic guitar by itself, either as an opening and/or closing (think Yes, "Roundabout") or an interlude somewhere in the course of the song. I see that as a clever use of all the dynamic possibilities available to get the musical point across and make the music more interesting to the listener. That is the whole point to dynamics, as I see it.

 

I could see limiting myself to one set of harmonic and dynamic options in the same way I would limit myself to one kind of food; as a way to accomplish something(in the case of food, like lowering cholesterol or to lose weight), or for the sheer mad joy of it, like enjoying the flavor of chicken and eating that for a few days just because I can.

 

There are times when going solo with an acoustic guitar looks really good. Trying to find concurrent free time to rehearse when nobody seems to have it, trying to keep it all from sounding like a bunch of tasteless idjits bashing away with no regard to anyone or anything, stepping aside so another member can have the spotlight most of the time just to keep the band together, having to replace a player who leaves or is fired, those are the times I wonder how hard it would be to find solo gigs at coffeehouses and such. But when the band things works the way it should and things sound right, oh wow, is it ever good...

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I can see what you're saying, and I am SO over boring, same-old-same-old drums; but I love playing with or hearing a good creative, dynamic, interactive drummer or percusionist of some kind. Without one (or more!), a LOT more serious focus on arranging is needed so as not to be truly boring and unremarkable.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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As has been suggested already, it's not the instrument or it's timbre as much as the approach to its use.

 

It's important to not fall into habits or follow the same patterns w/out regard to the specifics of a situation.

 

It's a sad fact that over time most modern music has become a matter of fitting things into production templates.

Bass & drums locked together ? That's a simplistic approach to music---& even contradicted by many great recordings.

 

FWIW, one of the best drum recordings I've ever heard, at least in terms of ensemble interaction, is Liege & Lief

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liege_%26Lief

by the English "folk-rock"[*] band Fairport Convention.

Drummer Dave Mattacks did a stunning job of controlling the band in the manner that Picker mentions.

I'm sure the production by Joe Boyd was important as well but Mattacks comes across as a master of dynamics.

 

Check some of these tracks:

 

"Come All Ye"

 

"Reynardine"

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=reynardine&aq=f

 

"Matty Groves"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liege_%26_Lief

 

"Tam Lin"

 

Sandy Denny & Richie Thompson do some fantastic things on that record but Mattacks is every bit their equal.

 

One other superb demonstration is the Beatles's adoring version of Buddy Holly's "Words of Love" which, IIRC, involved not a drum but a drum case.

 

Beatle version

 

Holly orig

 

Of course there are myriad other examples, esp in jazz, of subtle playing that works outside the box.

 

[* "Folk-rock" in quotes b/c they really are a rock band.

This recording in particular is comparable to the Who &, I think, even a direct influence on Who's Next.]

 

 

 

d=halfnote
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My 'hobby' band is a 20-piece swing band (Basie, Glenn Miller etc.) The drummer works out of town weekdays and I end up being the rhythm section for rehearsals. No one seems to mind. I play my 614ce through the PA (my f-hole isn't chunky enough); keep the pulse exactly as written -- usually 4-to-the-bar; watch for all the pushes and syncopations; and concentrate on keeping steady time through the piece.

We had a pickup drummer for a Wednesday gig this week and it was a train wreck. He couldn't keep time, then tried to play all the fancy Gene Krupa fills and got lost every time.

I'm probably not the guitarist most of you are, but I take playing 'rhythm' guitar seriously. When I get to play with a really good drummer (church every Sunday) my role changes to finding slots where I can be another pop in the drum kit.

Am I over drummers? Mostly yes, it makes us lazy as rhythm players and too dependent on the guy with all the noisy stuff to run the show (OK, when you're Peart it's alright,) and we just turn into strummers.

If you listen to the 1940s era reecording you find out how great musicianship sounds. With minimal gadgets or amplification the bass/drummer/guitar/piano put down the background support and everyone in the band became the rhythm section.

 

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When I hear a really good drummer- whether in another group, on a recording, solo, whatever- it makes me want to be jamming with them; the better and more inventive the drummer, the more I want to.

 

I have the same problem with most drummers I meet - thing is that they play but don't listen -

 

Yeah, GOOD drummers are highly interactive, listening to the other players (and the singer); everyone in a group needs to be playing TOGETHER, NOT simply playing AT THE SAME TIME. There IS a difference! :D:thu:

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I still like steady time. Start listening to too many other players and the tempo can get lost in a hurry.

Many, many years ago I was watching a band with an excellent drummer, who just happened to be sitting in for the regular one who was in jail (who knew?) and asked him on break who were his favorite drummers. He said Danny Seraphim (Chicago) and Ringo Starr. Huh!? He said that one mark of a good drummer is keeping everyone else's egos in check.

Call me guitarist if you want, but write "Musician" on my tombstone and I'm OK with that. Any musician/drummers out there?

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I appreciate really great percussionists, but since my last rock band folded up in 1970 my music has been almost exclusively about a lack of any recurrent sense of time. The extreme regimentation & conformity in the drum department is why I've had approximately zero interest in pop music for much of the last 40 years, so, yeah, I guess I'm over drums.
Scott Fraser
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It's not like I don't like drums and beats, but isn't it a bit suprprising that something else hasn't been able to crack the surface of pop music.

 

As far as I am concerned the drums are the engine of a band and the bass is the transmission, without those two like a car the band just don't go.

 

That does not mean that I don't care for soloists, (on any instrument). If they are good at what they do, they do not need anything else to make beautiful music, but in Rock and roll, the drums and bass are essential (in my humble opinion)

 

As for mixing drums or simply architecting all frequencies into a mix, the channel gain and eq controls are essential.

 

Mixing drums is not hard at all for me. But we all mix differently I guess.

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A good drummer, like any other good musician (and yes, I consider a drummer a musician) will play to the song and not over do it (unless it calls for some flash and fills). For rock and roll, a drummer is necessary and sorry, drum machines don't do it for me. (Disclaimer: my wife is a fabulous drummer so I may be a bit biased.) :D

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A good drummer, like any other good musician (and yes, I consider a drummer a musician) will play to the song and not over do it

 

I'd expand on this a bit & say a good drummer will play THE SONG & not impose a generic groove upon it. This is why I believe Ringo to be one of the finest drummers in all of rock. Not because he had chops up the wazoo, but because he had an appropriate & unique drum arrangement for each song, & these arrangements respected the distinction between verse, chorus, & bridge, unlike the non-stop monotonous grooves employed by drummers since Ringo's era.

 

For rock and roll, a drummer is necessary and sorry, drum machines don't do it for me.

 

Drum machines programmed by musically sensitive people can be pretty effective. Some of Peter Gabriel's film score stuff with sequenced drums is very moving, but also fairly far beyond rock & roll. Rock & roll is just one slice of the musical pie.

Scott Fraser
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Bravo on Scott's delineation of what made Starr a great drummer.

I'd point out that that's something he had before the Beatles & why he got that gig.

 

I still like steady time. Start listening to too many other players and the tempo can get lost in a hurry.

It's a mistake to think the drummer should keep time for everyone or even act as the arbitrator.

Everyone should be able to operate their own internal metronome without reliance on the other players (though they should also be attentive & responsive when tempos shift).

Percussion instruments should be parts of an arrangement, not just the loom the other parts weave on.

 

A bandmate once posited to me that the drummer should be the best musician in an ensemble; while that's not always possible, it's not a bad idea.

d=halfnote
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I'd expand on this a bit & say a good drummer will play THE SONG & not impose a generic groove upon it. This is why I believe Ringo to be one of the finest drummers in all of rock. Not because he had chops up the wazoo, but because he had an appropriate & unique drum arrangement for each song, & these arrangements respected the distinction between verse, chorus, & bridge, unlike the non-stop monotonous grooves employed by drummers since Ringo's era.

 

 

Agreed 100%.

 

Earlier this year I saw an excellent example of a drummer who had a GREAT handle on the dynamics of the music and the room. It was at a private show by Kevn Kinney on a small stage here in Chattanooga. It was pretty much an acoustic set along with a bass player. The percussion work by his drummer Anton Feir was incredible and added such a depth to the set. He did a lot of interesting and tasteful work with the cymbals and toms, mixing it up with brushes, mallets, and sticks and occasionally went into a light beat when a song picked up. The show would have been good without the drums - but Anton's work made it better! :thu:

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I feel happy! I feel happy!

 

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Like with most instruments it's the player and the approach to playing. I've played with very musical drummers with an excellent listening style and there's never a problem with space or dynamics... But I get the point. I have the same problem with keyboard players who feel they need to play all the parts at once and occupy all sonic territory.

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I do get the gist of what you're saying, Gruppi; would you be satisfied with some percussion, perhaps played rather sparingly, instead of the ubiquitous drum-set? Or are you leaning towards and yearning for little or no percussion accompaniment at all?

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I'd expand on this a bit & say a good drummer will play THE SONG & not impose a generic groove upon it. This is why I believe Ringo to be one of the finest drummers in all of rock. Not because he had chops up the wazoo, but because he had an appropriate & unique drum arrangement for each song, & these arrangements respected the distinction between verse, chorus, & bridge, unlike the non-stop monotonous grooves employed by drummers since Ringo's era.

 

 

Agreed 100%.

 

Earlier this year I saw an excellent example of a drummer who had a GREAT handle on the dynamics of the music and the room. It was at a private show by Kevn Kinney on a small stage here in Chattanooga. It was pretty much an acoustic set along with a bass player. The percussion work by his drummer Anton Feir was incredible and added such a depth to the set. He did a lot of interesting and tasteful work with the cymbals and toms, mixing it up with brushes, mallets, and sticks and occasionally went into a light beat when a song picked up. The show would have been good without the drums - but Anton's work made it better! :thu:

 

Anton Fier is a top-notch drummer/producer and a living legend. I saw him play a couple of years ago with an ad-hoc ensemble featuring Chris Stamey (The dB's) and Mitch Easter (Let's Active, early R.E.M. producer) and he was great and extremely musical.

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I'm well over BAD drummers, and yes, it's indeed possible to do strong rhythmic accompaniment without one. Check out a good bluegrass band, for starters!

 

Then again, I'm well over lead players who don't care about the song they are playing, and play the same flashy licks over everything... it's not the instrument, it's the lack of taste and concern for the project as a whole.

 

There are countless ways to approach music, and even within a band context, you can employ variety ... spots where it's just an acoustic guitar and vocal, etc. It sure makes it more interesting to the listener.

 

But, when the context calls for it, give the drummer some!

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I play with a couple of drummers these days. One of them is extremely good at directing the arrangements. When he starts a fill, you know exactly what's coming, be it a verse, channel, chorus, middle eight, or solo.

 

I keep joking that I'm going to give him marshaling wands to use as drumsticks one of these days not that he needs them.

 

http://www.airportsafetystore.com/images%5CRamper%20with%20Wands.gif

There is no "last guitar."
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I do get the gist of what you're saying, Gruppi; would you be satisfied with some percussion, perhaps played rather sparingly, instead of the ubiquitous drum-set? Or are you leaning towards and yearning for little or no percussion accompaniment at all?

 

Well, as I was saying in Fumbly's alternative to this drum thread, in my case it's as much about self indugence on my part than anything else. I do miss playing with other musicians sometimes, but then I get into a jam session where everything is just so loud, I would just prefer to play solo.

 

The blame isn't really the drummer's fault alone, but as I was saying they just take up so much space terms of sonic frequencies, that volume isn't the only issue. I guess I would be much more amenable if I was always playing with simpathetic musicians. Percussion sounds like a good compromise, I have actually thought about that a little.

 

You would think that since each generation actively tries to rebel against the previous generation, and that drums have been so overwhelmingly prevalent in popular music for so long, that the kids would start doing drumless music just to piss off their parents. It could be seen as this being a drum bashing thread, but it's really more about me curious if popular music could be as exiting with out the drums. Probably not, I am certainly not wishing for drums to just go away.

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It could be seen as this being a drum bashing thread, but it's really more about me curious if popular music could be as exiting with out the drums. Probably not, I am certainly not wishing for drums to just go away.

 

I'd say that the evolution of the "trap kit" drum-set and its use has been every bit as influential and important in the development of modern music as that of the guitar and the Fender-style electric bass. It would be hard to steer a major trend away from its being central to the rhythm-section and generally expected, accepted conventions of popular music styles.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I'd say that the evolution of the "trap kit" drum-set and its use has been every bit as influential and important in the development of modern music as that of the guitar and the Fender-style electric bass. It would be hard to steer a major trend away from its being central to the rhythm-section and generally expected, accepted conventions of popular music styles.

 

Cuban music, and its prime offshoots of mambo & salsa, has gotten by without trap kits, & become hugely popular in the Latin world.

Scott Fraser
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I'd say that the evolution of the "trap kit" drum-set and its use has been every bit as influential and important in the development of modern music as that of the guitar and the Fender-style electric bass. It would be hard to steer a major trend away from its being central to the rhythm-section and generally expected, accepted conventions of popular music styles.

 

Cuban music, and its prime offshoots of mambo & salsa, has gotten by without trap kits, & become hugely popular in the Latin world.

 

Hahhaahh! :D Excellent point; although I was referring to pop/rock/etc. (and Jazz, big band, swing, etc.) musical styles that had evolved in North America and Europe for the most part.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I remember one situation playing guitar at church, where the singer was complaining that they "literally had to scream" - in a room with a very low ceiling. I tried to tell her, "my (small) amp is only on 1", but really, the problem was the DRUMS, not me, because they had no complaints when it was just me and the keyboardist.

 

The drummer was doing nothing wrong, but in that acoustic environment, they'd be too loud if they just LOOKED at the drums, LOL!

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I remember one situation playing guitar at church, where the singer was complaining that they "literally had to scream" - in a room with a very low ceiling. I tried to tell her, "my (small) amp is only on 1", but really, the problem was the DRUMS, not me, because they had no complaints when it was just me and the keyboardist.

 

The drummer was doing nothing wrong, but in that acoustic environment, they'd be too loud if they just LOOKED at the drums, LOL!

 

Employed by a skilled drummer, playing dynamics and brushes can be amazingly effective, both in softening the attack and sheer volume and as expressive tools. I know one drummer who's so good with brushes it's a treat, not a compromise born of necessity, when he uses 'em on the skins.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I'd say that the evolution of the "trap kit" drum-set and its use has been every bit as influential and important in the development of modern music as that of the guitar and the Fender-style electric bass. It would be hard to steer a major trend away from its being central to the rhythm-section and generally expected, accepted conventions of popular music styles.

 

Cuban music, and its prime offshoots of mambo & salsa, has gotten by without trap kits, & become hugely popular in the Latin world.

 

Hahhaahh! :D Excellent point; although I was referring to pop/rock/etc. (and Jazz, big band, swing, etc.) musical styles that had evolved in North America and Europe for the most part.

 

That's the thing; most people pretty much refer to pop/rock/etc. as if it's the only music in existence. I think that's partly why American/European pop music has failed to evolve out of its long term stagnancy. In the past pop music was stylistically night & day different from generation to generation. Inexplicably, as technology & the general pace of life have increased dizzyingly, progress in pop music has been at a complete standstill for decades, with the current generation listening to music which is substantially similar to that of their grandparents. What's up with that? And that's a good part of why I'm "over" drums, at least in the sense that they continue to be used to perpetuate music which is so long past its prime.

Scott Fraser
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Part of it may be the expense of full drums-what a waste it would be to have a set sitting around while you play bongos at gigs. But that`s just what a lot of bands do here-rehearsal and venue space is really expensive so a lot of groups play in parks and at train stations. The drummers often use something like this:

http://www.flamencoexport.com/all-flamenco/flamenco-percussion-box-and-stems/la-peru-flamenco-cajon-drums/natural-profesional--flamenco-percussion-boxbox-drum---la-peru.html

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I have thought about a more acoustic orientation, with a drummer who exclusively used bongos, congas, djembes, etc.It would a lot more compact, better able to play smaller places, and would very likely be a real money maker.

If only I didn't wanna rock...

 

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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