American vs European way of playing.

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Thaard

Platinum Member
I'm studying composition at the moment, I have been dissecting everything from Bach to Katy Perry.
What I have noticed though, is that there seems to be a difference between the "American way of playing" to the "European way of playing".

It seems the biggest difference is that the American way is more in the way of being technically proficient and correct with the sacrifice of musicality versus the european's "musicality trumps all" kind of attitude.
I guess it's very noticeable in a contemporary setting, especially in jazz. I would listen to a concert of the Christian McBride trio and leaving with a sense of showmanship but not much else, while after listening to a local or european trio, it would seem kind of technically sloppy, but with great musicianship and groove.
I guess it's maybe a traditional thing? I talked this with my drum-teacher who has had the whole american drum tradition Berklee education , and he kind of agree'd, but also said that correct execution of the music, was important.
Anyone else had this experience?
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I'm studying composition at the moment, I have been dissecting everything from Bach to Katy Perry.
What I have noticed though, is that there seems to be a difference between the "American way of playing" to the "European way of playing".

It seems the biggest difference is that the American way is more in the way of being technically proficient and correct with the sacrifice of musicality versus the european's "musicality trumps all" kind of attitude.
I guess it's very noticeable in a contemporary setting, especially in jazz. I would listen to a concert of the Christian McBride trio and leaving with a sense of showmanship but not much else, while after listening to a local or european trio, it would seem kind of technically sloppy, but with great musicianship and groove.
I guess it's maybe a traditional thing? I talked this with my drum-teacher who has had the whole american drum tradition Berklee education , and he kind of agree'd, but also said that correct execution of the music, was important.
Anyone else had this experience?
American music tends to be more danceable, interactive, and improvisational especially when you include jazz, blues and Latin styles, whereas European music tends to be more for show, especially the if you include classical European music.

As such you may be correct that the role of drumming is technical in American music. In the sense that the tempo and the execution is much more important in dancing.

One thing I've noticed is that performers from Europe and Asia are surprised when American audiences clap along in time. I think that in Eurasia musicians tend to be highly trained castes, and non musicians don't participate in music at all. Hence, it's more about performance than participation.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Putting it that way might be considered a bit harsh.

It's just different.

When I went to Players' School back in '99 I was considered the only European guy who could actually "swing". That included the bass teacher at the conservatory I later went to.

The thing is simply that I got the difference and what was considered important was the way you push the quarter note. People just seem unable to express and explain things that are just so natural to them.

Now we have all sorts of things and it's style dependent.

Our own sort of jazz, what we call "Nordic Sound" is a different animal altogether.

It's not like poeple don't know who Jon Christensen is. Any serious drummer and/or jazz musician knows.

All music is an expression of the culture and the time it was created.

Jazz swing was supposed to fill a certain need. That is the essence that was then built upon.

There's been showmanship in any popular style. Gene Krupa was not a jazz drummer in just any band. He was a STAR a household name.

I think it's impossible to generalise in such terms, though. I don't see any real general evidence for it. I definetly would never put e.g. somone like Brubeck in that category. They experimented with foreign influence and made their own jazz like somnay others did.

When it comes to rules and a certain type and level of chops then Miles went against that a loooong time ago.

There are so many styles to consider.

In any case, I would ratherlook at it as playing with passion, fire and the right attitude. On the flip side I can often feel that when many Europeans interpret some styles it becomes a bit bland.

We live in a world now where it's very easy to get to the heart and essence of anything we want to learn. A Norwegian can even go to Cuba or Braziland sort of get it. That's not really the point, though. It's about expression who you are, and any serious musician will respect any type of honest musical expression from anbody.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Oh boy! This is opening up a real can of worms.....

I think what Odd-Arne Oseberg said is true. "All music is an expression of the culture and the time it was created."
And the evaluation of music is also very dependent on culture.

For instance you said "It seems the biggest difference is that the American way is more in the way of being technically proficient and correct with the sacrifice of musicality versus the European's "musicality trumps all" kind of attitude."
I see this as totally the opposite from how you see it. I am an American and when I hear Europeans play the blues, I find it very off the mark with a lack of feeling; the musicality of the blues is missing. I noticed this in the 60's and 70's when British bands tried to play the blues.

On the other hand some European rock music had a certain feel (musicality) that American bands had a hard time replicating. It's a culture thing.


.
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
I didn't mean to be harsh, it was just an observation that I need more inputs on. Being that most of my friends are in the european kind of mindset, it's difficult to get some different views.
For example the Christian McBride trio thing. I thought the concert was nice, but my friend who is a jazz-pianist didn't like it at all and called it wankery. My drum teacher loved every bit of it. It's really confusing for me at times, because I feel in the middle of it.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Putting it that way might be considered a bit harsh.

It's just different.

When I went to Players' School back in '99 I was considered the only European guy who could actually "swing". That included the bass teacher at the conservatory I later went to.

The thing is simply that I got the difference and what was considered important was the way you push the quarter note. People just seem unable to express and explain things that are just so natural to them.

Now we have all sorts of things and it's style dependent.

Our own sort of jazz, what we call "Nordic Sound" is a different animal altogether.

It's not like poeple don't know who Jon Christensen is. Any serious drummer and/or jazz musician knows.

All music is an expression of the culture and the time it was created.

Jazz swing was supposed to fill a certain need. That is the essence that was then built upon.

There's been showmanship in any popular style. Gene Krupa was not a jazz drummer in just any band. He was a STAR a household name.

I think it's impossible to generalise in such terms, though. I don't see any real general evidence for it. I definetly would never put e.g. somone like Brubeck in that category. They experimented with foreign influence and made their own jazz like somnay others did.

When it comes to rules and a certain type and level of chops then Miles went against that a loooong time ago.

There are so many styles to consider.

In any case, I would ratherlook at it as playing with passion, fire and the right attitude. On the flip side I can often feel that when many Europeans interpret some styles it becomes a bit bland.

We live in a world now where it's very easy to get to the heart and essence of anything we want to learn. A Norwegian can even go to Cuba or Braziland sort of get it. That's not really the point, though. It's about expression who you are, and any serious musician will respect any type of honest musical expression from anbody.
Miles Davis played in many places in the world, and in an interview he was asked about playing different places. He said Brazillians were very musical, they memorized his set and we're singing along by the YouTube vid.
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
The average Norwegian claps on 1 and 3 still to this day regardless of the music. They also shift around the feel of basic swing and shuffle in the same way.
I bet the average american, englishman, frenchman etc also does this.
I remember seeing this clip of a french pianist who played a solo while the crowd was clapping on 1 and 3, and he added an extra beat to one of the bars, and suddenly the crowd was clapping on 2 and 4. The only ones that noticed it were the musicians. Kinda funny.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Are we talking current day? Almost every group I've heard interviewed from England during, the "invasion" names American groups as their inspiration. Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin , Dave Clark Five, Herrmans Hermits. So it seems to me that that music was so heavenly influenced by American music that I find it hard to believe there is such a big difference.
 

singing drums

Senior Member
What I have noticed though, is that there seems to be a difference between the "American way of playing" to the "European way of playing".

It seems the biggest difference is that the American way is more in the way of being technically proficient and correct with the sacrifice of musicality versus the european's "musicality trumps all" kind of attitude.
I guess it's very noticeable in a contemporary setting, especially in jazz. I would listen to a concert of the Christian McBride trio and leaving with a sense of showmanship but not much else, while after listening to a local or european trio, it would seem kind of technically sloppy, but with great musicianship and groove.
...hummm...brian blade?...jack de johnette?....bill stewart?...ari hoenig?...elvin jones (at least till 2004)?...
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
...and expanding. After the invasion, tons of American kids tried to emulate these bands that were now taking over the airwaves, which seems to me to just bolster the idea of the world getting smaller and everyone doing pretty much the same thing. Now my question is, does Europe have an equivalent school to Berkeley for music?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I'm studying composition at the moment, I have been dissecting everything from Bach to Katy Perry.
What I have noticed though, is that there seems to be a difference between the "American way of playing" to the "European way of playing".

It seems the biggest difference is that the American way is more in the way of being technically proficient and correct with the sacrifice of musicality versus the european's "musicality trumps all" kind of attitude.
I guess it's very noticeable in a contemporary setting, especially in jazz. I would listen to a concert of the Christian McBride trio and leaving with a sense of showmanship but not much else, while after listening to a local or european trio, it would seem kind of technically sloppy, but with great musicianship and groove.
I guess it's maybe a traditional thing? I talked this with my drum-teacher who has had the whole american drum tradition Berklee education , and he kind of agree'd, but also said that correct execution of the music, was important.
Anyone else had this experience?
No. If anything, the opposite. As much as it's possible to generalize about extremely varied cultures of God-knows how many thousands of professional musicians: the vibe I've gotten is that European musicians may generally be more mannered, a little more intellectual, more aware of (and I would say more oppressed by) their culture and history-- and more interested in avant-gardism, mathematics, and cleverness in general. There's also still this lingering oompah/Dixieland influence that's problematic for Americans...

I think the general American attitude is more direct, and more about kicking ass than about high culture-- even what what we're doing is high culture. Among the better players I've played with I think there's a deeper connection to the tradition and to the groove. At least with players of a certain age-- a lot of American jazz musicians under the age of ~35 are a little more like Europeans as I described above-- except for the Dixieland influence.

It is a thing in the US that there's an almost total absence of education about the arts, and generally zero respect for it, so vast numbers of young players have no clue about anything musical except for certain flash-oriented drummer subcultures-- drum corps, gospel chops, Metal, WFD. But then my European music teacher friends say basically the same thing-- most of their students are also unaware of anything good.

I don't know how productive this is. To an extent people are products of their culture, but what is either culture actually doing to produce excellent drummers? Not a lot. I think good drummers in the US and western Europe are largely individualistic and self-made.
 
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KamaK

Platinum Member
Like speech, music has its own set of accents. You can try to quantify it by naming the obvious attributes (Ringo's cantankerous swing), but really, it's just our own unique way of speaking. Very often, people of a certain geography will have similar accents... The LA Sound, the Liverpool sound, the New York sound. Given our spoken accents, it's not surprising to me that this happens with music. It's also not surprising that our music blows each others minds.

This week, I was talking to a Brit about how much I like The La's and he asked how I could be into that when the US had bands like Big Star to dive into. Funny how it works.

I disagree with the OP that there's a measurable difference or distribution in virtuosity, I'd rather think it's difficult for us to mimic one another's accent. Something sounds complicated when it's really not. When we US guys hear "Ground controw to Major Tom", we think it's intellectually brilliant instead of white trash.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I can't say about jazz, as I've only really ever studied American jazz.

But when it comes to music of the last 15-25 years:

I find (in general) American bands get stuck on trying to fit in a particular box.
Mixing styles seems forbidden. Straying too far outside the lines is forbidden. Innovation is largely lost. It's just fit into a pre-defined genre. If one band is popular, dozens of others copy it.

While European bands just don't a flying leap about boxes, don't care about fitting into any genre, and if they feel inspired to mix up their classical with their metal, or their dark with their light, or whatever, they just do it.

Since the early 2000's I bought a a new album by a new (to me) American band one time. While I've discovered many European bands and bought their albums.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Can you guys hear a drummer and tell if s/he is European or American? I usually can't.

When talking about the difference between European and American music, it's worth considering which region. English and northern American tastes seem pretty similar, more different to mainland European and South American tastes. Europe and S. American audiences seem to enjoy non-commercial music much more than audiences in UK, US, Canada, Aust and NZ. Very generally, their tastes seem to be generally more mature than the Anglosphere's.

It's been like that for a long time. Henry Cow had to leave their native England to live on the mainland because there was simply not enough interest in England.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I can't really says that I've noticed a big difference in drummers, wherever they coming from, although general styles varies greatly depending which country's it's coming from, however, in a given type of music, you can't tell apart most players from across the planet, you can however sometimes tell which player it is just by the way he/she plays.

There's many "European" bands which display a lot of technical proficiency, like most of the progressive rock bands like Yes, King Krimson, ELP, Asia were the drumming is both musical and technical. Names like Bill Bruford or Carl Palmer come to my mind.

The Hiromi Trio feature Simon Phillips on the drums, the best example that an "European" artist can have it all, musicality, technical proficiency, groove, feel, creativity.

Here's the very latest piece from the Trio, a perfect blend or musicality, virtuosity, feel and technical prowess. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trs6FK6ZqpA
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
If you hang with a certain crowd, into a certain style, in a certain area, even mostly the same age then you really won't have to go far to find different opinios.

I just have to drive over the mountain and what dominates the main musical culture and ideas about how it should be done can be very different.

I've been living mostly in several small towns most of which usually have adopted some sort of American musical culture. Many things are misunderstood, it's just always been done that way. I've heard a lot of funk that was qanything but funky. Plenty of NO stuff to that's just seriously missing any feel. Swing that was well, ehm...

You'll find things like that everywhere, well maybe except Brazil then. :)

The kicker isn't that some piece of the puzzle is missing, but rather the attitude of everything not fitting into a certain stiff feel is wrong. Imagine Neil Peart with Stevie Wonder.
 
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