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Lately, I've been having to do a lot of musical directing for the band I'm with. I normally will write the arrangements and then everyone else will contribute what they can. When trying to give an idea of what I want for a certain section or person's playing, esp. drummers, I've found I don't know as much drummer slang as I thought. I have a couple like 4 on the floor, etc but it'd make it easier if I didn't have to beat around the bush when I'm giving direction. What stuff should I know about drummers or any other instrument?
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I, for one, prefer to simply explain things in clear musical terms avoiding slang.


Regarding drummers (and everyone else for that matter), when I am in charge, I ask why a fill was played. I find that drummers in general play fills whether or not they are actually needed and the fills become a bad habit.


I would advise to speak either in accepted musical terms or clear, concise English ... but that's just me.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.


In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.


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While I agree with Dave, it may be of some benefit to post your message in the Drum Talk forum, rather than this area, just because you're more likely to get better info from that source.


Here, you're more likely to get something like:


Q: How do you know when the drum riser is level?

A: The drool comes out of both sides of the drummer's mouth.







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I think Kylemttngly is asking how to talk "drumspeak" to a drummer. This takes some knowledge of drum pattens, rhythms, drum feels, etc.


I also wish I had more knowledge in this area.


But, I've found that if I don't know the proper Drummer-approved way to say it, that I can get my ideas accross either by using plain English, as Dave suggests, or by simply mimicking the sound of whatever it is I'm trying to communicate. Just keep trying till you get your ideas accross.


Try writing drum notation parts out - that's another can of worms. :)

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Trust me..speak in musical terms or your own language and a good player will be willing to give you what you want.

My advise is to be able to reference styles and drummers to give players an idea of what you are after..

Like..Bernard Purdie,Buddy Rich,Niel Pert,Jeff Porcaro,Steve Gadd,Joe Jones..just a few that come to mind that envoke a vibe..also if you are an arranger style and point of reference is more important than slang..take swing for example..

20's dixie land is a far cry from 60's organ shuffle..from Basie swing,,from country shuffle from Bill Evan's trio from Elvin Jones to Spike Jones..

So what I am trying to say is a point of reference in terms of ballpark is much more important than the actual "words" used!

As a player I have always appreciated producers who had a general vision and let me contribute my experience to the vision..As a producer now I try to convey that same general vision to a good player and am always more than satisfied with the results even if what I write on the page is not as exacting..especially with rhythm players..that experience and point of reference is what seperated us from lame loops and machines and gives music air to breathe.

Choice of player with a great vocabulary in terms of chops is important as well..you will not get the Buddy Rich guy to play your Hip Hop and visa versa in most cases so writing "Drums n' Bass L.A. style with a touch of James Brown pass the peas" will still sound like an afternoon at the American Legion singles dance!

Hope these ideas are helpful to you.



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I almost always write the part down for the drummer, assuming he/she can read. The type of part, however, changes according to the genre of music. For jazz, I write the main accents, where I want fills, stops, etc. For pop/rock, I usually notate the basic groove (maybe a couple of different ones for verse and chorus) so I let the drummer understand where I need the anchor points - but usually, the drummer will then expand on that, coming up with a better part.

For show-type music, you need to notate almost everything, and the drummer is expected to be an excellent reader.


When trying out arrangements in a group, it's very common to say things like, "try a broken eight feel here, but with a bit of funky accents... "


When the drummer can't read music, I usually prepare an audio demo with the types of groove I need. But frankly, I prefer a drummer who can read, even if he's a bit less proficient... this way, if I suddendly need to change a part, I can do so without the aggravation of programming it in MIDI, then recording it in audio (in order to give the drummer a demo). I just scribble it on a piece of paper; it takes a few seconds. :)

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Originally posted by Jeff Da Weasel:

I say, "Play ba-di-do, ba-di-duh-duh instead of ba-di-duh-duh, di-duh-duh."


And the drummers always understand. :thu:


- Jeff

LOL! Yep, that works too. Another idea is to get your drum classics sorted out. Like: "Play a Purdie shuffle", "Do that slow, fat Bonham rock beat", or "Play Tony Williams-like ride patterns". Other style descriptions: Motown intro or Motown fill, mambo bell on the ride, jazz waltz with brushes...

Most good drummers will know what you mean. I think every musician, errr, every instrumentalist and vocalist, should do some research in playing da drums.



Hipness is not a state of mind, it's a fact of life.

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Originally posted by Superbobus:

"Play a Purdie shuffle", "Do that slow, fat Bonham rock beat", or "Play Tony Williams-like ride patterns".

Yes, that is indeed a very effective way of communicating with drummers. Sadly, hearing their version of a "Purdie shuffle" might not quite satisfy what you had in mind. ;)


Then again, when another instrumentalist says to me, "Just do that thing that Van Halen would do there," I sometimes need to repress the desire to jam my guitar down his throat.


- Jeff

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Bets way to get hip to any lingo is to talk with lots of those who use it.


I won't make any actual suggestions because, frankly, at a certain level it's more about the stylistic/generic range of the player than the level of skill...but I will point out that "four on the floor" is not a term I've ever heard in a musical context, it's a reference to automotive floor-situated stick shifts.

Could you mean "four to the bar"?

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