Difficulty playing songs

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
OK Drum&Gym lets get started.

Listen to "Jump" and few times and write down on a piece of paper the different sections of the song you hear. Don't worry yet about how many bars of music there are. Just make a note of the different sections of the song.

And list them in order, like this:
Into
Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus



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Drum&Gym

Member
Ok Hollywood Jim

I am hearing:-
Intro
Verse
Chorus part 1
Chorus part 2
Verse
Chorus part 1
Chorus part 2
Guitar solo
Keyboard solo
Silent drums
Re-intro
Chorus part 2 fade out
 

limenine

Junior Member
This sounds like where I was at a few years ago with guitar. I could basically *play* and knew lots of song bits, but played very few songs start to finish.

That all changed when I started playing with friends. We weren't a band, per se, just a few guys screwing around on guitars, but it made a lot of difference playing with other people.

This is what led to my drumming, as well. Three guitars and a bass does not a band make - and I always wanted to learn to drum :)
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Ok Hollywood Jim

I am hearing:-
Intro
Verse
Chorus part 1
Chorus part 2
Verse
Chorus part 1
Chorus part 2
Guitar solo
Keyboard solo
Silent drums
Re-intro
Chorus part 2 fade out
Very good Drum&Gym !!

The only difference in my blocking below is that I'm calling your Chorus part one a "pre-chorus" or "build". But it is great that you noticed that!


Now let us dig down a little deeper.

At this point we could count how many measures and beats in each section, but I don’t want to go there. We could make a detailed drum chart for the song, but then we would need to be counting while we play. (An important thing to know how to do) But to just play along with songs, it is better to learn how to listen to the chord changes, the other instruments and the singer for signals that indicate what part of the song is coming next. We need to hear and feel when the next part of the song is coming.

OK, here is a more detailed blocking of the song:

INTRO part one (keyboard only)
INTRO part two (keyboard with drums and bass)
VERSE part one (“I get up……….”)
VERSE part two (“And I know………….”) (the reason for breaking this verse into two parts is that the last verse is only half as long as this first verse)
PRE CHORUS (“Can’t you see me standing here”) (called a “pre chorus” or “build”)
CHORUS (“might as well jump”)
VERSE
PRE CHORUS
CHORUS
BRIDGE (solos)
BREAK (short 2 bars long)
INTRO part one (keyboard only)
CHORUS (two choruses then fade)

Listen to the song a couple of times following this blocking then I will ask you some more questions. The next part is where it gets really exciting and fun for drummers!


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beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Write it out. If you don't know the song like the back of your hand this will help.

Even put reminders of what parts are which.

listen to a song OVER AND OVER until your sick of it, focusing on the drums.

playing a beat is one thing. making music is another.. It takes practice.



when i write out parts i don't write verse, chours, bridge etc.. that means nothing to me most of the time.. i'll write stuff like

Blast beat part
thrashbeat part.
big fill - linear tripplets.
slow break down part
fast double kick part
heavy part


sometimes I even name parts silly names to remember them

whatever works.. when my band sends me a click track with guitar that is 11 minutes long it takes a long time to get comfortable so at least I can fumble threw the song with a few pointers.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Where I’m going next is based on your initial post about being able to play some parts of a song, but not being able to play a song all the way through.

So here is where the fun comes in. This is where the rubber meets the road for us drummers.

First let me say, in this case we are talking about a rock song. Other types of music may have some rules that are slightly different.

I’m going to assume you know how to play the basic drum beat used during the verses of the song. And you could play this basic beat through the whole song without changing it or adding to it. Sounds boring to me. Now I have to be careful here. There is great value in playing a simple beat to back up the band and singer. I have found that most musicians love drummers who play a great groove (back beat) with very few drum fills and cymbal crashes. However, if done properly and with taste a few drum fills will really enhance a song. If you notice in the song “Jump” the drummer does a lot of fills, but they are not over powering fills. And some of them are really simple fills that help transition the song from the verse to the chorus.

I don’t mean to make it sound like we drummers are simply playing back beats and fills. When we play we need to be inside the song, inside the music. It’s our job as the drummer to provide a solid back beat and also send a signal to the audience and the band when the song is transitioning from one section of the song to the next. Kind of like introducing the listeners to the next thing that is going to happen. We do this by using one little cymbal crash, or maybe one tiny double beat on the snare. Or in some cases a big drum fill! This little fill spaces in a song are the drummer’s paradise. It is what we live and play for. When a song starts, I feel like I can’t wait to drive the band with the tempo AND find some of the spaces that call out to me for some little fills. Or I can decide to NOT add fills especially when the singer is singing. Just before a song starts I’m very excited, I feel like a horse waiting to start a race, waiting for the gate to drop.
OK, so how do you know where to add a drum fill? We need to hear and know and feel when the right time has come.

I want you to listen to the song again and notice that at the end of each section of the song there is a drum fill of some sort. Sometimes it’s an ever so slight change in the back beat. Even during the intro breaks where there is no drums the drummer added something. When is the drummer not adding fills and cymbal crashes? Yes that’s right, during the singing. And during the bridge the drummer is playing more active back beats and fills.
It so happens the only place where there is no drum fill is at the end of the first chorus as it transitions into the last verse. The drummer decided not to add a fill there.

You will notice these drum fills always happen in the very last measure of each section. Right at the end of the measure.

The way we know where to put the fills is, we hear the chords change and or the singer has come to the end his line. That is why it is so important to “listen” while we play. Listen for the chord changes. In this song Jump, at the end of the organ solos (bridge) the organ goes into slow triplets. This signals the drums to slow down and crash the cymbals. These little places in the song are the drummer’s domain. We can decide to fill or not to fill. And we decide how big a fill to use. Our technical ability is called on just at that moment. We use the drum rudiments and we design the fill to fit into these spaces. If I were with you I would have you sit down and only play a very short fill every time the end of a section comes along. Not play the back beat, only play the fills. Until you can anticipate and know exactly where these spaces occur.

And you don’t have to duplicate exactly what the drummer in the song is doing. In fact that is what makes drumming so cool. If you are a guitar player you must play the right chords and notes. But as drummers we can fill in the fill spaces with almost whatever we want. Unless of course you are a tribute band. Every time I play along with this song I play it a tiny bit differently. (My apologies to those of you who play everything the same in a song every time you play it.)

So give it a try and learn to hear where the fills are placed.



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Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
And here is how I blocked out the song.

On the top is what I would use as a guide to play the song. I don't need to notate where the drum fills go
because I can feel where they go by listening to the song a few times and by listening to the chord changes and how the music changes.
The notations in red mean no drums.

Below the normal guide I use is a detailed chart showing each measure of the song. Each "|" line gets four beats. The little red dots indicate a drum fill.







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Drum&Gym

Member
Hollywood Jim,
I have given what you suggested a try and although early days I can see this as a very good approach. Working through the drum changes in the song certainly makes you listen to it properly and gives you a better understanding and feel of how to play it.
I generally hear the drums in a song which makes me want to play it, but only listen to what the drums sound like and the different voices, and not what the drummer is actually doing throughout the song to connect and drive it, as you describe.
I like your method of mapping it out, and as you say you begin to feel when the changes are going to happen as you get to know the song. You have taught me something I never would have considered and I really intend to work on this now. Hopefully then the next step will be to become involved in a band situation as everyone seems to think I should, but just need a bit of confidence with that one.
I always set out to be a good technical drummer but it’s easy to become obsessed with this at the expense of actually being able to play the drums in a musical situation.
Thank you for your time and thank you everyone else for all your very good suggestions which I have also taken on board and will put into practice.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
D&G, could I suggest starting with something simpler, to get the feel of playing through a song?

I find Jump to be quite a challenging song. Hollywood has absolutely nailed the drummer's role, and done a great job of mapping out the song structure.

The earlier suggestion of finding an AC/DC song is a good one, but there is an awful lot of rock music out there where the drummer is getting on with the business of laying down a solid groove to support the band and the song. Find such a song and play along with it.

As drummers we have a great dirty little secret: Nobody acshly knows what the drums are supposed to do in any given. Everybody knows the one or two bars of signature beat or fill, and that's all. Approximate those signature bits, do what you have to (or what you can) for the rest of the song, and people will tell you "Dude, you nailed it!"
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
JustJames is correct. The song "Jump" is a fairly complex rock song. There are many more that would be easier to play.

Drum&Gym:

It is great to hear that you are making some progress. I wish I could be with you for a short while because there is something else that I could show you that I think would help you. It has to do with how you listen to music. It is impossible to show you this over the internet.

It has to do with learning how to listen to each individual instrument and vocal part in the song and concentrating on only that one instrument. You would do this for each instrument. If there are four instruments and one singer in a song, then you listen to the whole song five times. And then you would listen to the song again and hear how all of the instruments and vocals blend together. Imagine listening to a full orchestra and only hearing what the lead violin is playing. It is a learned technique. When you are playing drums in a band you need to be able to do this so you can, for instance, lock in with the bass player. You know, “get in to a groove” with the bass player.

When I play drums in a band I am constantly shifting my focus from one instrument to another. And at the same time listening to all of the instruments. Also, watching and listening to the vocalist is very important. As the singer is usually the person who is giving the cues for the song structure; the breaks, the end of the song, the fade outs, etc. It so happens that the musical relationship between a singer and a drummer is a very important bond. It is as important as the connection between the bass player and the drummer.

Well, here I go again getting into this stuff and creating long posts. I apologize.
I’ll go away now. I sincerely hope you find the happiness you seek in playing the drums.


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brentcn

Platinum Member
And there you have it: we can all talk on and on about how to play a song, and the suggestions and ideas have been great -- especially the charting -- but until you actually go and do it with a band, all the talk will only get you so far.

You picked a doozy of a song to start with. Jump is easy enough in the chorus, but the drums during guitar solo section are very syncopated, and, elsewhere, the fills are varied throughout the song. There are some little details in this song that could take a while to develop -- quarter note triplet fills, and triple strokes on the ride cymbal, for example -- getting hung up on these details can cause you to lose the forest for the trees.

You mentioned in your first post that you feel your sense of timing, speed, and technique are all reasonably good. They may be, but the act of playing an entire set of music continuously will challenge your technique in ways that individual practice, with all its starts and stops, cannot.

Without a band
You choose a difficult song, slow down the challenging parts (in order to learn them), then lose focus, and abandon the song. You rely heavily on written notation, and don't really analyze the rest of the music too often.

With a band
Pick an easier song (or have it picked for you by the band), simplify parts that don't come easily, and rehearse it with the band. As you continue to rehearse, work out the challenging parts on your own time, and add them in as you go along. Everyone else in the band is doing more or less the same thing.
 

Drum&Gym

Member
I have had some very good advice. As far as ‘Jump’ goes it is a bit of a challenge but it was the song I was working on at the time of my post, doing my usual stuff of playing all the bits, and it has proved a good one to learn about the listening and mapping. From your advice, I understand that I don’t have to play exactly what the drummer is playing; it’s more about listening and feeling the song right now. The Alex Van Halen version is some way off I admit.
And as you say choosing simpler songs is the way forward, to get used to playing them to develop this skill. I have started looking into some simpler ones as suggested, and ‘Jump’ is a work in progress.
Thanks again everyone
 

stellar92010

Senior Member
I never had that problem because the first time I sat on a drumset I could play a song, so I decided to take lessons.

However, here is what I do. I NEVER stop when playing a song, I just keep hitting the drums in time, right or wrong, through the whole song. After I know the basic structure, I then listen to each individual part and figure out the theme, i.e. the groove or fill theme, etc, used in each part. Then I go to the transition areas--places that change between groove and fill, groove and chorus, etc, and practice the bar before the transition, the transistional bar, and the bar that follows, and I repeat until that transition is mastered.

Almost every error that I know of IN MY OWN PLAYING occurs because I didn't count the bar, especially at phrase boundaries and transitions. The other error occurs because I have insufficient technique to do a part--at which part I go back and hammer out technique with exercises.

I have been playing not quite 3 years and I know well over 200. But I also learn lots of GROOVE SONGS--hit songs that are basically a groove and a modest amount of other stuff.

When I learn a song, then I LAY IT DOWN WHEN I PLAY. I don't hesitate, or worry, or anything else, I grab the feel and play like I'm in front of 20,000 screaming people and to hell with mistakes. Thats the only way to sound good.

Here are some typical Groove Songs--Not simple in any sense, but have tight grooves that one could play through start to finish without worrying about parts that kill them due to technique:

Deacon Blues: Steely Dan
What a Fool Believes: The Doobie Brothers
Steal Away: Robert Dupree
Taking It All Too Hard: Genesis
Hopelessly Devoted: Olivia Newton John
Love's Theme: Barry White
How Deep is your Love: The Bee Gees
Wichita Lineman: Glen Campbell
Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: Cher
You Got Lucky: Tom Petty and THe Heartbreakers

Here are some songs I consider moderately difficult:

Living Sin: Emerson Lake and Palmer
Three of a Perfect Pair: King Crimson
Victims of the Future: Gary Moore
Be Good Johnny: Men at Work

As you see there is quite a range of styles represented which I think is important. The songs on the easy list should take about 5 minutes to learn to play through.

In any event, use sheet music if necessary, and get a good teacher to help you through songs specifically. If your teacher can't teach you anything but exercises, I dont think he is much of a teacher.

AND NEVER SAY DIE! To be fair, I was a bass player and guitarist for about for 35 years before I ever tried drums, so I had some idea of what to do from the start.

And remember this: In bands, the guitar players/singers usually want a drummer who just plays a tight groove so they can get in front of the crowd and drop their pants. They have big ego's and don't want a drummer stealing the thunder.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
Spend the next several weeks only playing to songs. Put on a headset and maybe pandora or some other streaming music site and just play to every song that you can.
don't worry about how good at first. Close your eyes during a simple groove and listen to everything else going on in the song besides the drums.

After a couple weeks video record yourself and see what is happening. Make any obvious corrections.

Then find a way to play with real people soon and often.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
Drum&gym,
I think you're in the same place that I've been in, since re-learning the rudiments- it's the "where or how does this thing I learned fit into the timing of the song?"-place many drummers find themselves in when first working on bits of songs.
Seasoned drummers don't even think about which hand should start a part, which hand should it end with and how it works with the kick and the hats while you're balancing on the throne and reaching for whatever toms you need to hit.

That's why you should go ahead and plunge into drumming-play along to songs and cram those just learned parts into the music until you find a way to fit those into the song.

Good luck!
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
You sound more enamored with learning how to play the drums than actual making music with the drums-perhaps it really isn't your instrument? I have been the other way around always enamored with making music with drums but never really taking the time to learn how to play correctly. But I've done it my way-in my best Frank Sinatra voice lol. If it isn't fun or is boring-red flag alert. Sounds to me you don't really want to play-because playing and making music is what it is all about-even if you just play for an audience of one.
 

Drum&Gym

Member
Hi GetAgrippa

You are quite right I was making technique more of a priority than actually playing music. Since the time of my post, about a year ago now, all that has changed and I’ve been busy playing songs. On the up side, I had a lot of practiced technique ready to use which has not been wasted and I am really enjoying my drumming now. It was always fun and I was never bored, I just had a genuine problem.

It’s good that you have got to where you are and are happy with your drumming, as you say, without taking time to learn to play them correctly. Me being me in your situation I would be concerned about my technique if that’s what you mean by playing correctly. As my drum teacher at the time also explained to me, he referred to the fact that I was a technical guy, being an engineer, and that was the way I seemed to approach things, procedures, methods, analyzing, calculating, reading charts in front of me etc. But as I found, this approach does not entirely lend itself to playing the drums. As you rightly say at the end of the day it’s about playing and making music, and that was my frustration because that’s what I really want to do, I just had to get about doing it.

However, thank you for your comment and point taken.
 
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