Feel or Technique, importance?

con struct

Platinum Member
Two guys are listening to a band. One guy says, "I really like that drummer's feel." The other guy says, "Are you kidding? I don't think he has any feel at all."
Feel is something that's percieved. No matter how hard you try you're just not going to look or sound to others exactly the way you see or hear yourself. So your best bet is to get your technique down, play musically and let others decide how good your feel is.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
Two guys are listening to a band. One guy says, "I really like that drummer's feel." The other guy says, "Are you kidding? I don't think he has any feel at all."
Feel is something that's percieved. No matter how hard you try you're just not going to look or sound to others exactly the way you see or hear yourself. So your best bet is to get your technique down, play musically and let others decide how good your feel is.
I think that's an excellent point.

Imagine being in a music venue. The crowd is hanging out having fun. Then this song comes along and everyone gets on thier feet and they start dancing.

Is that because the drummer is playing doulbe inverted flamadiddles or because the song just has a great groove? Or one could say, a great feel. The word feel and groove overlap in a musical sense.
 
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Is that because the drummer is playing doulbe inverted flamadiddles or because the song just has a great groove? Or one could say, a great feel. The word feel and groove overlap in a musical sense.

Great point. Not to restate what you just said but the essential bit is getting a nice accessible groove. Play to suit the song, not vice versa.
 
Definitely both. When I first learn a song I concentrate on just getting the feel of it, getting a pleasant back-beat. Once I have a good feel, then I focus on the specifics and the technique. I like to learn songs with every note perfectly in sync, but I'd rather play simple and with soul then perfect like a robot.
A down-to-earth comment, robotic drummers are dry and emotion-less.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Being solid and having great time is a feel thing.
Heh, then a drum machine would have awesome feel :) Or maybe by "great" time you don't mean perfect time but timing that just sounds good, with the little pushes and pulls in the right places?

I think that what separates "feel" drummers from others is their subtle use of dynamics ... those little accents that are felt more than noticed in themselves. To me it's subtelty of touch, like Steve Gadd's and Harvey Mason's tasty nuances, Stewie Copeland's hat work, Bernard Purdie's shuffle ...

Going for too much "feel" doesn't work for me because it affects my timing. I was known as a "feel drummer" when I was young but when I listen back to old recordings my most solid tracks were the ones where I was less precious about it.

Larryace recently made a comment about how he finds he plays better if he uses his head more than his heart and I think that's what he was on about. Sometimes that attempt to get nuances exactly right can screw up the big picture performance ... not seeing the forest for the trees bla bla ...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Everyone has feel (good, bad or in the middle) and everyone has technique (again, good, bad or in the middle). It's all a matter of degree.

Good feel with bad technique is still good feel, who cares about the technique. Good technique with bad feel, is still bad feel, so I think of the two, I'd rather have good feel, if I had just one to choose.

Since I don't have to choose, I work on technique, and hopefully my feel improves in direct proportion to my musical maturity.

Which raises the question, can one really "work" on feel? Is it directly tied to our personality?
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Everyone has feel (good, bad or in the middle) and everyone has technique (again, good, bad or in the middle). It's all a matter of degree.

Good feel with bad technique is still good feel, who cares about the technique. Good technique with bad feel, is still bad feel, so I think of the two, I'd rather have good feel, if I had just one to choose.

Since I don't have to choose, I work on technique, and hopefully my feel improves in direct proportion to my musical maturity.

Which raises the question, can one really "work" on feel? Is it directly tied to our personality?
I think so. Some people are more expressive, listen better to others, don't let ego or negative emotions get in the way, etc. The more you listen to others and play with others, the better you will be able to develop your feel, assuming that is something you want to do. There are some drummers who don't play with much expressive feel but they are in genres where that isn't valued or wanted so much. As with everything, it all boils down to the context of the music and what you need to play for it at that time.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I think so. Some people are more expressive, listen better to others, don't let ego or negative emotions get in the way, etc. The more you listen to others and play with others, the better you will be able to develop your feel, assuming that is something you want to do. There are some drummers who don't play with much expressive feel but they are in genres where that isn't valued or wanted so much. As with everything, it all boils down to the context of the music and what you need to play for it at that time.
You both made very good points. I would disagree w/ Larry a bit though...you can't take your heart out of the playing and let your head control and dictate what you play. Like anything I think you need balance. The chatter in your head can impede your playing more than it can help.

When playing "in the moment", I think you have to let go and trust that all of your practice will come through, while you play with your heart. That's where the "feel" is.

The constant inner-chatter where you're asking yourself, "Am I playing the right thing? Am I overplaying? How are my dynamics? Is my time tight enough...I sure hope my pocket sounds deep..." - is self-destructive and stressful.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The constant inner-chatter where you're asking yourself, "Am I playing the right thing? Am I overplaying? How are my dynamics? Is my time tight enough...I sure hope my pocket sounds deep..." - is self-destructive and stressful.
Yea, that's the inner critic that someone dubbed here, and he needs to shut up when

you're playing. It's weird, I try to get into a place where my mind isn't thinking consciously

when I'm playing, I try and just let the music pass through me rather than think about

what I'm doing. I'm there sometimes, and when I am, I'm firing on all 8. For some

reason staring straight ahead and focusing on something at least 10 feet away and above

my head helps me to get there, as if my ears are where I'm focusing, listening to what the

audience hears, gaining the larger perspective.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Very good input. Drummers such as Ian Paice, John Bonham, Bill Ward and Carmine Appice, do they have feel and technique?


From the get go, GTBT, Bonham was playing those sixteenth note triplets on the bass drum. That requires technique and quite a bit of it. And he always had good hands. His placement of notes as well. You have to be able to tell the foot and hands exactly where you want them to place the note, and that is a technical question. Once you develop that technique, it becomes part of your feel.

I listened to Presence the other day because Achilles Last Stand was being discussed on the board. I noticed that Bonham's playing was quite different than on the earlier albums. His drumming evolved. it did become a little more refined. At that point, they were just a studio band so that had to have a profound affect on his drumming.

The over drawn rigors of having to play with a click is a different question. That is a technical ability that one can develop. I think that once you develop the discipline of being able to play with a click, it will help your groove. I got that from Purdie. Again, another great groover with great technique.

I would say that feel is like technique in the sense of once you have it, what are you going to do with it. One of my favorite bands was Stuff, and now that their stuff is out on CD, I have repurchased the recordings, One of the great feel bands like Booker T and the MGs. But to tell you the truth, as much as I love it, I tire of it because at points it just doesn't go anywhere. Why can't you have both?

When we talk about technique it is also necessary to know what technique is and what it does. I have heard musicians many times say things like "I love Jaco because he is not a technical player." Jaco had wonderful technique: wonderful tone and wonderful nuance and great expression. That is all anyone can hope that technique will give them..

I also wanted to add that the question becomes so much more interesting when it is phrased as "feel and technique" and one is not pitted against the other.
 
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aydee

Platinum Member
When playing "in the moment", I think you have to let go and trust that all of your practice will come through, while you play with your heart. That's where the "feel" is.
Bingo! This gent here wins the toaster oven, folks!
 

justjim

Senior Member
unless we break it down to the technical workings of one's brain chemistry.
more accurately neuropsychologically, there are chemical and structural components and they interrelate and can change in all kinds of ways (even your immune system is part of the show!)
It's one that's easy to discount as "beyond the scope of the conversation" and that may very well be why these convos come up (and it ain't just drummers) and with the tone they do and.
in a way, it could discount a real good platform for looking at the musical experience (as a perceptual/cognitive event...there are people with amusia for instance) and can take us from "This or That" discrete system view to a more highly interrelated type view.


The neuropsych of it can offer some very neat perspectives (Diana Deutsch UCSD does some very cool work on neuropsych of music - eh neither here nor there, but she does some neat and accissible stuff for those who are interested).

Married to a PhD in behavioral neuropsych myself (she was studying while we were dating so it was fun to see the process), it really opened my mind and my world's a lot freakier for it!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
more accurately neuropsychologically, there are chemical and structural components and they interrelate and can change in all kinds of ways (even your immune system is part of the show!)
It's one that's easy to discount as "beyond the scope of the conversation" and that may very well be why these convos come up (and it ain't just drummers) and with the tone they do and.
in a way, it could discount a real good platform for looking at the musical experience (as a perceptual/cognitive event...there are people with amusia for instance) and can take us from "This or That" discrete system view to a more highly interrelated type view.

QUOTE]

Huh? 2020202020202020
 

Jonesy

Senior Member
more accurately neuropsychologically, there are chemical and structural components and they interrelate and can change in all kinds of ways (even your immune system is part of the show!)
It's one that's easy to discount as "beyond the scope of the conversation" and that may very well be why these convos come up (and it ain't just drummers) and with the tone they do and.
in a way, it could discount a real good platform for looking at the musical experience (as a perceptual/cognitive event...there are people with amusia for instance) and can take us from "This or That" discrete system view to a more highly interrelated type view.

QUOTE]

Huh? 2020202020202020
I'm gonna go ahead and second that "what?"
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Thanks Jonesy. I'm not alone ha ha. Don't want to appear stupid, but I totally don't get the point as it relates to the thread
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Now I know what amusia is. I'll use it in a sentence. Amusia to make a point.

It is often the case that when something breaks down, in this case the ability to express music, we can come to a greater understanding of what it actually is we are dealing with. When a person has a specific brain injury we can learn which part of the brain actually is processing certain activities. Such may also be the case with music. We are fascinated by question like how do the deaf experience music? for example.

I think we as musicians are romantic in spirit. We believe that music is post-sensory; that it is not just a sensory or even cognitive experience. No matter how much you quantify the experience you can't take away the basic magic behind, "yeah, but how does it happen?"

It is no coincidence I bet that this research was pioneered at UCSC, which is a school that is doing a lot of research in finding the interdependence these kind of polar opposites. It's a very phenomenological thing. I remember when I first went to school you would do a paper like nature v. nurture. You had to take a side and argue it. But the whole time I was thinking it's kinda both. it is always kind of both isn't it? and it's kind of neither sometimes as well. :)

This whole post was pointless.
 

justjim

Senior Member
Thanks Jonesy. I'm not alone ha ha. Don't want to appear stupid,
oh dude, don't feel that way - it's just another way of checking it out

but I totally don't get the point as it relates to the thread

Probably a good starting point is to notice that it's a response to a particular part about "unless we look at it in terms of brain chemistry"

and that part was just used as a qualifier (as in "yeah, I suppose we could look at it that way...but we won't"), but I think that part (the chemistry/neuropsych) has a lot lot lot to offer in terms of perspective on it
It can give us a different take on how we might think about
"This is learned, but that is innate"
"Oh I'm right brained and he's left brained"
"This is the heart, that is the head"
hell even
"This is the nervous system - that's the immune system"

and a lot of times it begs more questions like "In what sense?" or can bring up the deal "It's not an exclusive OR nor even a discrete OR it can be a continuum, interactive processes, an integrated whole" (just as examples)


I first went to school you would do a paper like nature v. nurture. You had to take a side and argue it. But the whole time I was thinking it's kinda both. it is always kind of both isn't it?


Hell, there isn't even always a brightline between the concepts
 
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