complicated blues songs.

Drum4ever

Junior Member
Does anyone know of any blues songs/bands that are strictly blues but are really complicated and are shuffles?
 

opentune

Platinum Member
there are many different shuffles in blues music/drumming. not sure of your question, are you looking for examples of different shuffles in blues music?
If so have a listen to :
Pride and Joy
Cold Shot
Tush
Further on up the Road
............many others
 

Drum4ever

Junior Member
Opentune i mean blues music that is really complicated like if rush did blues. I ask because then when i play blues at a blues jam it seems really easy.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Complicated Blues songs? Strictly Blues? Blues are based around the one four and five chords, so they are inherently simple as far as structure goes. The "complicated" parts, are really not complicated per se, but they require a feel for the ups and downs of the songs. It's more skillful than complex IMO.You can only get that by listening hard and get a ton of experience under your belt. And believe me, unless you really immerse yourself in what Blues is, those "complicated" parts just go right by most people, including drummers who think they can play blues, but don't do it justice. It's the simplicity that attracts. Kind of like drums. Easy to learn, difficult to master. It's the difficult to master aspect where your musicality comes in.

Sorry I can't offer much help, but the beauty of Blues is in it's simplicity. If you try to complicate it, well that's the most common mistake I hear. It just doesn't work. Blues takes a certain security in that you have to be able to hold a steady beat for a lot longer than most genres. This is harder than you think because most people think that they are being boring, and try doing something to break it up. Well you just ruined the hypnotic effect. Try going the other way and play it so stupid simple, yet make it sound engaging from the tones you extract, to your inner kit dynamics, all the while maintaining the perfect tempo and feel. The fact that you want complicated blues makes me wonder if you really understand what Blues music is. Trust me, playing a simple Blues, effectively, involves a certain skill-set that is not outwardly wow-ing to most, but involves a very deep feel for this music. You'll know when you have it right, the others will let you know. There are some songs with busy beats, Ray Charle's "What I'd Say" comes to mind, but the structure itself isn't complex in my mind.

The Cissy Strut, the way Zigaboo plays it, I would consider complex. But Zig has SUCH a deep feel for rootsy music, plus he has mad skills, that he can get away with complicating his beats. Stanton Moore I put in the same category. Their feel is a mile deep. That's the prerequisite. You can't just start complicating Blues beats until you really feel and understand the music. Better to listen to the soloists, give them a simple "grid" to cling to, and let THEM do the cool complicated licks and such. When you complicate your beats during someone's solo, you don't yet get what is required.

Like SRV's "Pride and Joy"...a double shuffle maintained for most of the song, a few fills before the stops, but the hardest part of that song for me are the dynamic build ups going into the 2nd measure of the solos. A unison triplet buildup that smoothly increases in volume, using every limb, is harder than you think. It takes a lot of energy

The thing you need the most is a good time feel. Time feel is everything in the Blues. EVERYTHING. So it is complicated, just not in the way you might think of initially. I'd say forget complicated and instead embrace the simplicity. Most people skip that part, because it's "too simple" lol. And they never end up getting it because they don't give enough credit to how great simple sounds. Blues drumming is a distillation exercise.

I could go on and on about this but I think you get it by now so I'll stop harping. I just hate seeing Blues drumming fall into the many pit traps that are out there. Complication being the broadest pit there is.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Most blues music is a standard 12 bar. "Really complicated" ?..I don't know, there are some very difficult shuffle patterns out there. Not sure why you need to play really complicated numbers at a blues jam.

hmmm, ever listen to Gov't Mule? there's some great drumming in there. Matt Abts the man.
Rush and blues? Not a traditional match. To me, Working Man is their only blues number.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Looking to complicate something that is inherently simple is a folly that I see a lot of young musicians fall into. There's an instant assumption that more notes are 'better' somehow and that playing the most complicated thing they can find gives them kudos.

Now, working on complex material can be useful. Some of us should do it more often (I'm referring to myself here) but there are certain prerequisites that are much more important in music than being able to play over a thousand strokes a minute in a 3:2 polyrhythm. The two most important criteria for creating music are time feel and listening. Blues (as much as I don't actively listen to much of it) is a musical form that requires listening and time feel. These are high-level musical skills that are developed through experience and exposure to a lot of musical situations.

So to simply wade into a thread and ask for the most complicated Blues number that everybody knows opens you up to a lot of criticism and accusations that you don't actually understand what Blues is about. I'm just going to say that it makes you look exceedingly naïve.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Well, if you're talking Blues Shuffle, it can be as simple or as difficult as you want to make it without, however, playing on top of the music. It's all about accenting the groove with feel and a good mastery of time and space. (you know what I mean.)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If you can't play something "simple" effectively, how are you going to play something "complicated" effectively? A lot of people think Blues music is beneath them, because it's so "easy". Lol.
Nothing could be further (farther?) from the truth. I think Blues music is the best area for drummers to start with, for a number of reasons. Most music you hear has roots in the Blues. The lessons you learn from playing Blues effectively carries over to every other genre. I'd go as far as to say if you aren't grounded in Blues, you are missing out on the very basics of drumming. And everyone knows that the basics permeate everything you play. So if you don't have a good foundation in the basics....there's not much to build on. The Blues are the foundation on which the great majority of popular music is built on.

But I do get the youth thing where it is thought that more notes played faster is better, as Duncan pointed out. It's a phase mostly all drummers must go through. After being there and doing that for a number of years, it eventually occurs to you that simple just plain works better. Recording yourself and listening back speeds that process up.

And it's not really simple, it's more of an understanding that you don't step on others solo, you compliment the soloist, you don't step on the vocalist, you compliment the vocalist, you come down in volume for the beginnings of leads and you build them up to a peak, then you drop it back down for the vocal. The endings are where you can release some energy. The guys who overly complicate the song and putz out on the ending have it backwards. "Complicate" your song with dynamics, not more notes. Most of the compliments I get, they mention the dynamics, meaning the wise use of volume in creating emotion.

Blues isn't for everyone. It requires patience, consideration of the soloists and vocalists and security. Security in knowing that you can keep a steady beat for minutes at a time and knowing down to your core that it sounds friggin fantastic, and that you are NEVER boring in doing so.

I may be the biggest Blues drumming nut you ever encounter so I apologize for the wordiness. I just have a lot to say on the subject. It is my goal to be the one of the worlds top Blues drummer, for real. That spot is up for grabs IMO.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Larry is absolutely right.

I'm going to make a distinction between skill sets.

On the one hand there are mechanical skills. These are the skills that allow you to be capable of playing 1,000 strokes a minute, double-bass, great rudiments, independence/interdependence and the like.

On the other hand there are the 'meta' skills. Skills that apply to music that aren't mechanical. Skills like note selection, part creation, listening and responding and musically appropriate dynamics.

The two sets aren't isolated from each other and they can certainly inform each other. Having great listening skills is no use if you can't technically use them because your mechanical dynamic control is lacking. Arguably though, there is a discontinuity between the emphasis mechanical skill is given and the 'meta' skills. A lot of musical forms seem to require more mechanical prowess and this is given precedence over the other skills and this can equate in the minds of some people as an inherent superiority within music that is mechanical.

This means that, in my experience, musicians can sometimes get away without great listening skills because of the demands of the genre. The really great players are highly skilled in both categories and know when to bring out the complex and - more importantly - not to.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Larry is absolutely right.

I'm going to make a distinction between skill sets.

On the one hand there are mechanical skills. These are the skills that allow you to be capable of playing 1,000 strokes a minute, double-bass, great rudiments, independence/interdependence and the like.

On the other hand there are the 'meta' skills. Skills that apply to music that aren't mechanical. Skills like note selection, part creation, listening and responding and musically appropriate dynamics.

The two sets aren't isolated from each other and they can certainly inform each other. Having great listening skills is no use if you can't technically use them because your mechanical dynamic control is lacking. Arguably though, there is a discontinuity between the emphasis mechanical skill is given and the 'meta' skills. A lot of musical forms seem to require more mechanical prowess and this is given precedence over the other skills and this can equate in the minds of some people as an inherent superiority within music that is mechanical.

This means that, in my experience, musicians can sometimes get away without great listening skills because of the demands of the genre. The really great players are highly skilled in both categories and know when to bring out the complex and - more importantly - not to.
This is a great post. For someone whom Blues isn't a burning thing, you really nailed it. I'd call that a Slam Duncan lol.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I may be the biggest Blues drumming nut you ever encounter so I apologize for the wordiness. I just have a lot to say on the subject. It is my goal to be the one of the worlds top Blues drummer, for real. That spot is up for grabs IMO.
& I'm pretty sure you're set to fulfill that ambition Larry, if your progression & dedication thus far is anything to go by.

I just knew this thread would entice you to educate ;) The DW forum Bluesmeister has spoken!
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
This is a great post. For someone whom Blues isn't a burning thing, you really nailed it. I'd call that a Slam Duncan lol.
Blues isn't a burning thing but for me, Jazz is. I'm by no means even a good Jazz player but I know that the best musicians have technique in spades but only apply it appropriately. In my own instance, my listening skills are much better than my technical skills; which are sorely lacking at the moment.

The basic assumption that naïve musicians make is that technical practice will make them great. It'll make them great at playing the instrument but it won't necessarily make them a great musician. I've met players on both sides of the track, i.e. those that are great musicians and those that are great players and I've known a few that are both. Making this distinction early on in any musical field is important, lest we end up with a thousand clones of Mike Portnoy.

This is a well-trodden argument in reality but one that many still forget.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
...You need mad skills ;)
Thanks for the compliment Bo, but my skills aren't that great I can assure you :)

Larry is absolutely right.

I'm going to make a distinction between skill sets.

On the one hand there are mechanical skills. These are the skills that allow you to be capable of playing 1,000 strokes a minute, double-bass, great rudiments, independence/interdependence and the like.

On the other hand there are the 'meta' skills. Skills that apply to music that aren't mechanical. Skills like note selection, part creation, listening and responding and musically appropriate dynamics.

The two sets aren't isolated from each other and they can certainly inform each other. Having great listening skills is no use if you can't technically use them because your mechanical dynamic control is lacking. Arguably though, there is a discontinuity between the emphasis mechanical skill is given and the 'meta' skills. A lot of musical forms seem to require more mechanical prowess and this is given precedence over the other skills and this can equate in the minds of some people as an inherent superiority within music that is mechanical.

This means that, in my experience, musicians can sometimes get away without great listening skills because of the demands of the genre. The really great players are highly skilled in both categories and know when to bring out the complex and - more importantly - not to.
This is brilliant Duncan, you nailed both skill sets perfectly, not only for blues, for almost every type of music...

Sadly, my listening skill and my theory knowledge are much greater than my mechanical skills on the drumset, but I keep working at it :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What it really boils down to is that since you can't really dazzle em with your ability to play complex music, you have to win them over with the depth of feeling that you put into the music. Which manifests itself, among other ways, in the form of dynamics, and choosing the exact right thing to play at the exact right time.

Dynamics deserves a thread of it's own. I mean it's just one simple word but it encompasses everything to do with the way you touch your instrument, which is directly related to EVERYTHING you play. So it's a pretty huge undertaking. The illusion that Blues is easy to play is just that, an illusion.

I was just listening to my sons band in my studio, and this is a perfect example of how dynamics come into play. My son is playing drums, not his first instrument, although he can get around them OK. So afterwards they ask me, so what do you think? Now my 21 YO son does not like the hi hat for whatever reason, so during the vocals he was riding just as hard on the ride cymbal as he should have been doing at the very top point of the song. And when the guitar solo comes in, he's still at the same volume level, and is still at the same level as when the vocals resume. He was basically playing way too loud for the context. Plus there's no sense of dynamic variations whatsoever, just one constant volume from the drummer for the entire song. It's not what you play, it's how you play it. If I had a tagline, that would be it. His note choice was for the most part, fine, but the way he played those notes just ruined the song. That's dynamics.

I tried to explain to him about how everyone needs their own "sonic space", and how you don't want to have anyone else step on your "sonic space" and how the ride cymbal frequencies, even if they were at an acceptable volume, still somewhat clashes with the singers natural frequencies. He wasn't giving the singer the "sonic space" he needed.

But they're young and for most people it takes a lot of gigging before these concepts creep in.
 

K.Howden

Senior Member
For the reasons that Larry and Duncan point out, blues is the genre that intimidates me the most; not because I don't have good listening or mechanical skills, but because it's not just a genre of music, it's a culture.

Yes the dots on the page are simple in themselves, but to really play it you need to live and breath that culture, unless you do that you'll never understand what is required to compliment soloists, vocalists and get those dynamics.

I'll readily admit I'm not immersed in that culture and wouldn't be able to do it justice for that reason. When I see or hear a great blues drummer or blues band full stop, I feel an overwhelming sense of awe to be quite honest, it's an authenticity and musical honesty that I can't say I can match with any style I play really. It's a powerful thing seeing players so immersed in the music in which they play.

If you want Rush, listen to Rush is the bottom line.

Kev
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Blues is honest Kev. That's why I love it, it's the most raw form of human emotion out of all the genres, IMO. It does a helluva lot with very little. It has A-M-A-Z-I-N-G power in the right hands. Real power that can move you. The drummer can ruin the band, or they can elevate a good blues band to be a great blues band. And everything in between.

BTW Kev, I feel the same way about jazz, that you do about blues, it's intimidating. You really have to immerse yourself in the culture to understand.
 
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