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Hey drummers!


This is my first post to Drum Talk. I have a great deal of admiration for drummers and percussionists. You guys are the most important members of any band, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Some of the stuff you do is just amazing. I'd like to learn more about the art and craft of drumming - not to PLAY drums myself, but to become a better bassist and songwriter. So I thought I'd hop on over here and post a couple of questions. Hope you don't mind.


My first question is kind of open ended. What are one or two VERY IMPORTANT things that non-drummers should know, but usually don't? In other words, what could we (other instrumentalists) learn from drummers that would make your job easier and the band sound better?


Thanks in advance!


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Hey, DanSouth! Wow ... a Senior Member. I have been following your posts on Craig's Forum for some time now.


As far as drummers and what you can do ... hem ... I think for me the biggest thing is sensitivity to tempo.

Seems the drummer always gets blamed. I always use a click in my ear to start a song. Occasionally I bump it on to determine if (or how far) we have strayed from the original starting tempo. In most cases, if I stay fairly true to that tempo (while maintaining a groove), I get accused of dragging, ... when in fact, ... the rest of the guys (primarily due to adrenaline or excitement) are rushing! All I have to do is point to the click to redeem myself. If the rest of the musicians would understand that when a drummer is held responsible for the tempo and is obviously referencing a click, don't be so quick to point the finger. Remember ... when you point a finger at someone else, ... there are always three of your own fingers pointing back at you!

Thanks DS.


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I do exactly the same thing as DJ; use a metronome as my defense attorney.


There's been a lot of discussion about tempo, statements that it's okay for the music to move around a bit. I agree that it's okay for the music to breath, but in my opinion, it's not okay for it to move from 100 bpm to 112 bpm. I say all of this in defense of the drummer.


If you want the song to be at 112 bpm, then start at that tempo! If you are playing dance music, you've GOT to be consistant with the time. I've seen situations where a band is playing a slow "belly-rubbing" ballad and by the first chorus the dance floor looks like a scene from River Dance! Talk about making your audience and dancers mad! You'll clear the dance floor in a heart beat! Unfortunately, the band probably thinks that the crowd just didn't like the tune or where tired. They were right with latter reason because the dancers where breaking a sweat on a ballad tune!


If I had a metronome flashing the pulse while I'm playing live, sure there may be times where it's a sixteenth off from where I'm playing or perhaps now flashing the upbeats. Hey, that's okay for live stuff and is natural to move forward with certain figures; creating more energy in the music. The key is that it's not flashing upbeats CONSISTANTLY; which means I'm still keeping good time, but I pushed a figure a bit.


The thing I would tell non-drummers is to trust the drummer and let him lead. My philosophy has always been that the drummer is always right. Someone has to lead; and to lead, the followers have to trust the leader.

The reason the drummer makes the best leader is because he/she is playing all the divisions of the beat at least 99% of the time. This being the case, it only makes since that the other musicians in the band line up with what the drummer is doing. Someone has to lead and give direction to the music. For me, whomever is playing the most consistant subdivisions in the rhythm section takes on the role of "leader".


Playing these divisions of the beat makes it easier to maintain a steady tempo. For example, how can we feel the time in a sustained power chord from the guitar player? Not only is it tough to guess where the next down beat will be, it's very easy to rush and not feel the space between the notes. If the guitar player is playing a funky "chick-pickin" kind of groove and the drummer is only playing a quarter note pulsed groove over the top (with no subdivisions), it would make sense to lean on the guitarist. At this point the guitar would take on the responsibility of maintaining the tempo for the band. If he rushes a bit, the band would need to go with him. Typically, I would think the guitarist is still listening to the drummers quarter notes so that they are together. In this case it's a team effort; the drummer working to play the best quarter note groove he/she can, helping to keep the guitar on track. This would prove true especially if the drummer is listening to a click or watching a metronome.


Most musicians enjoy being able to rely on the drummer for time so that they are free to play the music, as opposed to trying to keep the time happening. It's everyone's responsibility to have good time, but it's the drummer's job to make the music feel good. Sorry to say that music that changes tempo in every other bar just doesn't seem to feel good to me.


Letting the drummer lead and/or encouraging to lead and give direction to the music would be my suggestion in making the role of the drummer easier. It's a lot of responsibility, more than a lot of musicians may realize. If the drummer starts second guessing himself and his time keeping, he will play tenatively and not lead well.


So tell your drummer, "you're driving this bus baby; you're in the drivers seat. We are following you!" You'll boost his confidence and will start trusting himself to lead you.





Bart Elliott


Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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Yeah.... and guitarists... whatever you do, don't turn around in the middle of a gig and yell at the drummer to speed up -- especially when you started the song! I almost got into a fight onstage over that one. Instead, every time he yelled "speed up!" I yelled "fuck you!" and intentionally slowed down a bit each time. Childish, yes, but if there's one peeve I have, that's it. During the break, after a bit of yelling, we resolved it and he knows better now! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif


(Just felt like commenting on the very last discussion that appears on this forum.)

Just for the record.
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I believe that at what ever tempo a song is started that is where by golly it's gonna stay.In live performance especially I think that to change tempo in the middle of a song is more noticeable that a slightly slow or fast tempo.Drummers are generally held accountable for anything tempo related but if a guitarist kicks the song off he or she is establishing the tempo so you guys have to be tempo minded just as we are!

Also though no one in particular is the designated controller of dynamics be aware of what the drummer is doing dynamically.I tend to think "exaggerate the dynamics" and that tends to help to take the rest of the band to the proper volume.A lot of guitarists tend to play at one volume virtually ignoring dynamics!Very frustrating!Kind of embarassing when I decrecendo from FF to pp and the guitarist is still barrelling along.

Please don't showboat!!God I hate that!

Thanks for the opportunity to get all of that off my chest.

I know we are not faultless so what do you think we drummers should do to better perform our duties?!


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