Feel or Technique, importance?

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Until I think it was Delta Drummer who said something in my defense, thank you and my apologies to someone if I've got that wrong, most of what was directed at me came across to me as an attempt to intimidate me into some submission and that was not going to work.

Anyway, thanks for your input and explanations.
Actually, most of us just thought you were terribly rude to someone here who is very well-respected. If you sense possible intimidation, consider that it may just be your conscience.
 

donv

Silver Member
Don,

You get no argument from me about any of that. And I hope you read the other part of my post, because I tried to make the same point you were making.
Matt,

I read all of your post and took it as additional knowledge to be prepared with in the future. Again, I am new to this and I view recent events as my baptism. I still can't get over how John got away with making the statements he did, but I understand why he made the comments he did. It underscores the dynamics of how the boards work and how they can be hi-jacked by perceived communication when allowed. I wonder how many people are reflecting on their part and participation. I sure did. I'm not sure who Bernheart is, but before I'll go to the lengths of investigating whom I may be responding to because it will effect what I write, I'll just quit writing. As far as I know only one person has been given the accolade of perfection and I know that person isn't me, and I'm confident it isn't anyone else here either.

I'll tell you what Matt, your family may be harsh, but they sure do sound interesting. Got to give them that!

Again thanks. Your level headed point of view and honesty about it have been helped with my education.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I think I'm making a different argument here than most are, or maybe my definitions are out of whack with everyone else's, but I'm going to attempt one more time to articulate what I'm trying to say.

People are making the argument that technique and feel are interrelated, inseparable. I can agree on this under certain conditions, with a very specific definition for "feel". "Feel" then would refer to certain technical nuances that allow one to play a specific drum part and have it sound good. Examples of this "feel" would be how does the volume of the ghost notes relate to the volume of accents, or to the bass drum, or their sense of subdivision, if there's a degree of swing to the playing, the overall meter, basically more subtle technical matters. I understand that these aspects of "feel" are technical in nature and cannot be separated from the drummer's technique.

When I speak of "feel" however, I'm using a very literal interpretation of the word, probably one that most people reading here don't share. When I say feel, I mean the perceived "feeling" or emotion carried by a piece of music from the performer to the listener. This feeling doesn't have to be something as simplistic as "happiness" or "sadness". There are feelings that can be communicated through music, such as kinesthetic experiences of "vertigo" or the feeling of "pressure" and other more abstract "feels". In fact, the way I see it, the primary function and asset of music is that it can communicate matters of feeling and emotion in a way that spoken language lacks, in an immediate way, almost like it's mimicking those feelings instead of just "communicating" them.

I believe that this kind of "feel" that I'm talking about is quite separate from what is traditionally known as "technique". The one arguing point I would make is the case of Thomas Lang. He has been honing his technique to an amazing degree for many years. I don't mean just the technique of complexity and of speed, but also the subtleties and nuances involved in technique. However, despite all this, his performances leave me absolutely cold. They have no "feel" to me, in that they don't communicate anything other than the fact that he can do all those things. I think this is because music is an emotional vehicle, that it is best used and finds its purpose in communicating feelings. I think Tommy simply doesn't have the depth of feeling, is lacking some abstract connection to his fellow human beings and to the core of human experience, to move me.

People are going to accuse me of reducing "feel" to some mystical, non-definable concept that can't be talked about. I'm simply saying that it (at least in the sense I mean) is SEPERATE from technique, and I used the example of Lang to argue the point, as he still seems to lack that elusive "feel" no matter his technique. I would hope if somebody responds that they would respond to that point in particular.

I think of music as art, I want artists to move me. Technique can only give you a better vocabulary, but one has to have something to communicate first, which is separate from the technique itself (like MFB said, it should be a means to an end). Personally, I'm not interested in technicians and mechanics and crafters, I'm interested in artists whose souls are screaming to be expressed.
I read a lot of your posts and haven't gotten a chance to respond, though I think you are bringing up a lot of good points and asking a lot of good questions. You've also had some kind things to say to me and I do appreciate that.

Your post is the reason why I brought the idea of expression into the equation. Feel and technique are expression.Expression may be what you are talking about. I think when a lot of people talk about 'feel' they mean expression. What is the musical expression? That can be something emotional or psychological or even intellectual like you were saying. You want to feel something musically. It's a very romantic idea. The Romantics were the only ones who got it right :)

But music does not need to be about emotional expression. Stravinsky essentially argued that in his Poetics though years later he said he was wrong. he said taht musci couldn't express anything but music. Bringing in punk rock to the equation like we were doing last week also puts another cog in the world. There is a lot of music that wants to fore go technique so music is pure emotion. I was listening to Keith Jarret talk about his time with Miles and he said, it wasn't about music it was about energy. There is also a lot of music where feel is important and technique is not. it jsut gets in the way. Most folk oriented music. Where would you put Bob Dylan in that equation?

The kids love Tommy Lang and Joey Jordison for that matter. I don't have any problem with virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity. Some body needs to define the limits of what can be achieved on the instrument.

I think there good questions to ask. Don't really know the answer. :)
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
Does more feel make BB preferable to Al? To some it does. To others, not. Some people seek mental stimulation in music and some of the best groovemeisters don't provide that. You can be as thick as pig droppings and still be a groover, but you need brains if you're to play in King Crimson or ELP.

Those with more wish for emotion will prefer "feel". Those who seek mental delight from music will put less weight on it. There's always an implication that feel is better than technique but it isn't. It just appeals to a different crowd.

"Feel" is hard to define with drumming anyway. It's like swing in that way. You just know it when it's there.

What you're talking about here is a musician playing with feeling. You're not the only one BTW.

When someone says, "what a great feel" that's not what they are talking about and that seems to one of the problems with this thread. There are many who simply don't understand what the word feel means in a musical context.

If a drummer is playing a groove too stiff, another band member may ask that he put a little swing on it. That changes the feel of the groove. That's feel!
 

donv

Silver Member
Actually, most of us just thought you were terribly rude to someone here who is very well-respected. If you sense possible intimidation, consider that it may just be your conscience.
Nope! I think John got out of this exactly what he wanted although I suspect he is pondering the value, extent and maybe even responsiblity of blind faith.
 

VedranS

Senior Member
Don,

You get no argument from me about any of that. And I hope you read the other part of my post, because I tried to make the same point you were making.

When I started forum participation 4 years ago, I only knew jazz drummers, maybe 5 fusion drummers and Bonham. I come from a proud family of jazz snobs who would actually leave a table at a club if people were even talking about rock music with any kind of respect. You don't argue with them about anything, because they believe that your need to question that view means you are already an inferior intellect unworthy of their time. With that said, when I started coming to DW, there were probably 100 drummers on Bernhard's roster I had never heard of.

So when I would see a DW forum poster with the Bernhard designated title of PRO DRUMMER, I would just do a little fact check before I responded. Besides I always like to know who I'm talking to. A few times after listening to their music I really didn't care what their opinions were, because I was going to be a lost case. I also knew that some pros, especially on the other forums only dropped by these places to spam before going away usually forever.

Once, my response to one in particular got me in a lot more trouble than anything that happened to you, and inside I still don't care what that guy thinks thinks of me, or how many wing men show up to mouth off, because they think that makes them look cool to a hero. But I did learn it was best to tip your hat respectfully anytime the opportunity presented itself, even when you disagreed.

Again, I think it's also correct for the pro to respectfully perform a back and forth with others, for if for any other reason to educate everyone and elevate the conversation. To DW's credit, most of pros will do that here, and it's fun to have those conversations. Frankly I think it would have been cool to have seen how this conversation evolved had John Riley been responded to with the same tone he demonstrated himself. That's also the only reason you got jumped here.




No, most who are debating you understand exactly without a shadow of a doubt what you are saying and and merely wonder why you attach such selective reverence to something so obvious. Mostly, it just doesn't make the case for a separation of technique and feel under any reasonable circumstance. Yeah, they really are inseparable.

Emotion and feel are an integral part of the musical experience and are the ones stated first by most people because of their kinetic qualities. Stating it is the most important only opens another much larger can of worms. For example my father once wrote a novel about the Cherokee where the primary realization was that the original Cherokee spoken language was actually music claimed to have powers beyond a three dimensional understanding that would 1 day take people to their version of heaven. Well, is that more important than your emotion angle?

See, you can take that one point you made and forever travel down a road you never intended.

In other words all great music isn't about getting a rush and let's face it, a lot of crappy music can do the same thing. This is also why I agree with Average. It's just too easy to go to that old well. Sorry if that's harsh, but that's my take.

I don't think it's harsh at all, though it's a good point, I guess you can say that in a rational discussion there's no point in arguing something you don't consider rational, like emotion. And you also seem to be saying that the "argument" then could be extended to other vague and mystical realms, such as the Cherokee language thing. I can see your point there.

However, we're obviously still going to disagree, because personally I'm saying that the very core of musical experience is that of emotional communication and reaction. I'm not just talking about the "rush" one can experience listening to music; I truly believe that music can communicate a wide variety of feelings and emotions and that this emotional quality is its main purpose. I guess this is a subjective take on it, as music has many functions to many people, though I'd say that to most the emotional aspect is an important one. You disagree. That's fine. We obviously have different uses for music, which highlights to me the variety of purposes it has in society.
 

VedranS

Senior Member
I read a lot of your posts and haven't gotten a chance to respond, though I think you are bringing up a lot of good points and asking a lot of good questions. You've also had some kind things to say to me and I do appreciate that.

Your post is the reason why I brought the idea of expression into the equation. Feel and technique are expression.Expression may be what you are talking about. I think when a lot of people talk about 'feel' they mean expression. What is the musical expression? That can be something emotional or psychological or even intellectual like you were saying. You want to feel something musically. It's a very romantic idea. The Romantics were the only ones who got it right :)

But music does not need to be about emotional expression. Stravinsky essentially argued that in his Poetics though years later he said he was wrong. he said taht musci couldn't express anything but music. Bringing in punk rock to the equation like we were doing last week also puts another cog in the world. There is a lot of music that wants to fore go technique so music is pure emotion. I was listening to Keith Jarret talk about his time with Miles and he said, it wasn't about music it was about energy. There is also a lot of music where feel is important and technique is not. it jsut gets in the way. Most folk oriented music. Where would you put Bob Dylan in that equation?

The kids love Tommy Lang and Joey Jordison for that matter. I don't have any problem with virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity. Some body needs to define the limits of what can be achieved on the instrument.

I think there good questions to ask. Don't really know the answer. :)

Good points Delta, and thanks for the kind words yourself. Yeah, I've heard that thing about music only expressing music before also, very interesting quote. Personally, I'm a guy who thinks in metaphors and everything is something else to me, so music can never be just music to me :) You're also on to something with the virtuosity thing, I guess music has a lot of functions to a lot of people, and different ones get a different degree of priority depending on who you are. Wow, I sound like an apologist, don't I? Just sayin' it's all really complex and I don't think any of us are really going to have one definitive answer on musical expression anytime soon, but no harm in wondering.
 

donv

Silver Member
I'm saying that the very core of musical experience is that of emotional communication and reaction. .
We are the sum total of our experiences and they are only ours.

About your quote, in classical western philosophy music was considered\believed to surpass emotions. Music was in the realm of reverence. It's still there with many people and philosophies.
 

Xalky

Member
Just my opinion: If music didn't move me in an emotional way, why would I even listen to it. I may as well look at mathematical formulas.

Music for me, has the capacity to tell an emotional story of any emotion from anger, lust happiness, beauty, sadness, depression, love, etc...the whole gamut.

When MTV came out, I didn't get it....I still don't get it. The pictures ruin the music. They leave out the power of the imagination. My imagination is far better than something any video director could ever conjure up.

I still say it's the "feel" that works for me.
 

VedranS

Senior Member
We are the sum total of our experiences and they are only ours.

About your quote, in classical western philosophy music was considered\believed to surpass emotions. Music was in the realm of reverence. It's still there with many people and philosophies.
Unless I'm mistaken, Gregorian Chant was one of the mucial roots of western music, and so even from its earliest instances music has been strongly tied to the spiritual. African musical events in a lot of instances were an integral and inseperable part of weddings, funerals, and other religeous functions. it's just interesting that music has had such powerful spiritual connotations throughout history. I'm always teetering between atheism and agnosticism myself, but if I've ever had a spiritual experience, it's been because of music.
 

druid

Silver Member
I think perhaps one day we will see a drum off where the goal will be to be the most "uninspired,slow,unimaginative player"....that would be fun to watch.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Unless I'm mistaken, Gregorian Chant was one of the mucial roots of western music, and so even from its earliest instances music has been strongly tied to the spiritual. African musical events in a lot of instances were an integral and inseperable part of weddings, funerals, and other religeous functions. it's just interesting that music has had such powerful spiritual connotations throughout history. I'm always teetering between atheism and agnosticism myself, but if I've ever had a spiritual experience, it's been because of music.
This is an interesting polemic. Gregorian Chant was neither an aesthetic nor an emotional experience. It was there to engage the words, which of course were divinely inspired. The music was probably a pneumonic device. Don's point about it "suppressing the 'hostile' beast" emotion is a good one.

The music was not really that important in the western tradition until the biggies came along Bach, Mozart and esp. Beethoven. Even in opera, it was the great texts that were seen as the artistic expression and the music served the text.

Your point about spirituality is most interesting because I think in the modern world people do look for a spiritual or trans-consciousness relation to music whether that was something that happened historically is a good question. I don't see why not. I mean if your listening to Josquin or Bach in church it would seem possible. But it was not the intention of the Church Fathers that you get off on the music, and if they knew you were, they would have banned it.
 

VedranS

Senior Member
it was not the intention of the Church Fathers that you get off on the music, and if they knew you were, they would have banned it.
Ha! Yeah, my new-agey spin on the matter is probably very different from how it actually went down at the time. It's that romanticism again.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
What you're talking about here is a musician playing with feeling. You're not the only one BTW.
FredStead, when I compared Al DiMeola and BB King I wasn't only talking about playing with feeling. I was talking about touch - the sense of hearing finger on fretboard.

I liked what you said in the rest of your post, though. I still see "feel" as being about sensitivity of touch and taste. It seems there are a lot of definitions of "feel" here (anyone fancy collating them? :).

I think both feel and technique have been massively overrated in this thread. I've seen drummers with crap feel and drummers with crap technique who were highly effective in their genre and gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure.

Druid said:

I think perhaps one day we will see a drum off where the goal will be to be the most "uninspired,slow,unimaginative player"....that would be fun to watch.
More power to the slowhands, I say. Drummers often struggle with slow playing. I guess they'll only have an "uninspiration drum-off" after they first try having an "inspiration drum-off". You don't see a lot of drumoffs where the goal is creativity either :)
 
I hate to throw the word out there, but this has really become a semantics playground. Of COURSE technique is required to play an instrument competently. Technique is even required to plan an instrument incompetently. Technique is required to roll out of bed in the morning, and that's regardless of what kind of day it becomes. I think we all know what the original thread starter means by "feel" vs "technique":

In the tragically limited hours we have in the span of a day, should the practice of 64th-note ostinatos over a double-pedal blushda pattern in permutating time signatures be the priority, or should it be about listening to the groove, listening to phrasing, note placement, beat placement, dynamics, etc?

I think we have some techy drummers on here who get flustered by all the discussion of the importance of the intangibles, those things not so easily quantifiable. And yes, at its essence, you could probably say that what makes Steve Gadd sound like Steve Gadd can all be quantified as varying "techniques" of one sort or another, but at the end of the day, we all know what the difference is between a "technical" drummer and a "feel" drummer, and where each one's priorities lie.
 
This is an interesting polemic. Gregorian Chant was neither an aesthetic nor an emotional experience. It was there to engage the words, which of course were divinely inspired. The music was probably a pneumonic device. Don's point about it "suppressing the 'hostile' beast" emotion is a good one.

The music was not really that important in the western tradition until the biggies came along Bach, Mozart and esp. Beethoven. Even in opera, it was the great texts that were seen as the artistic expression and the music served the text.

Your point about spirituality is most interesting because I think in the modern world people do look for a spiritual or trans-consciousness relation to music whether that was something that happened historically is a good question. I don't see why not. I mean if your listening to Josquin or Bach in church it would seem possible. But it was not the intention of the Church Fathers that you get off on the music, and if they knew you were, they would have banned it.

Wait, are you saying music was not intended to originally evoke an emotional response? How do you explain roots of music and its implementation in general, be it African, Aboriginal or other? Couldn't you really utilize the same argument for any art form?
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I didn't say that in its earliest implementation music in the western tradition was not intended to evoke an emotional experience. Don said that. That's my man Don there. :)

As far as explaining other world music, I am smart enough to beat myself at my own game and try not to 'explain' it. :)

Much world music that you described is about the ritual of community making. Music is usually accompanied by dance, costuming, make-up, ceremony, or the acting out of myths, etc. Is there an emotional component? probably. But that might not be the basic focus of the ceremony. The idea of individual subjectivity that we associate with Romanticism may not be present either. The ritual is after all, a communal experience. My focus here is not to grant a prescribe understanding of all cultural rituals in the world. It is just to say that we should not project our own preconceived ideas on those rituals. We're modernists who came through Romanticism who came and the Enlightenment. That's a lot of baggage to be carrying around.
 

donv

Silver Member
Ken,

I wrote a response and took it out. Nobody said or implied music didn't provoke emotion.
 
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brittc89

Pioneer Member
I didn't say that in its earliest implementation music in the western tradition was not intended to evoke an emotional experience. Don said that. That's my man Don there. :)

As far as explaining other world music, I am smart enough to beat myself at my own game and try not to 'explain' it. :)

Much world music that you described is about the ritual of community making. Music is usually accompanied by dance, costuming, make-up, ceremony, or the acting out of myths, etc. Is there an emotional component? probably. But that might not be the basic focus of the ceremony. The idea of individual subjectivity that we associate with Romanticism may not be present either. The ritual is after all, a communal experience. My focus here is not to grant a prescribe understanding of all cultural rituals in the world. It is just to say that we should not project our own preconceived ideas on those rituals. We're modernists who came through Romanticism who came and the Enlightenment. That's a lot of baggage to be carrying around.
I dont think its possible to seperate these rituals and ceremonies from the emotional niche that they filled within society.Whether it is the conscious or stated purpose of the act, I think the emotional element of these rituals are too apparent to just be cast aside.The idea of building a community and becoming closer to one another through art is something that I dont think can be absent from the entire process and I view to be a driving force, but Im no ethnomusicologist. I just know that I cant listen to African music and not hear an emotional outpour.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
I think we have some techy drummers on here who get flustered by all the discussion of the importance of the intangibles, those things not so easily quantifiable. And yes, at its essence, you could probably say that what makes Steve Gadd sound like Steve Gadd can all be quantified as varying "techniques" of one sort or another, but at the end of the day, we all know what the difference is between a "technical" drummer and a "feel" drummer, and where each one's priorities lie.
I would counter by saying that you assume a great deal about what you call techy drummers. You further imply that a drummer grounded in technical application is frustrated by aesthetic intangibles, then immediately resort to labeling, which is the least aesthetic and/or intangible road to travel.

All I personally have ever said about this topic is the following/

There is an initial period in the development of a person's playing when the primary goal should be technical grounding. And yes, if you do it right that process takes years. I can't tell you how many times I used to get ripped on a forum about my old WFD experiences from a guy giving me a groove cop lecture. Then you'd ask him how long he had been playing, and he'd reply, 1 year, 2 years. Well, sorry but that's a joke. If you've been playing drums for even less tahn 5 years, you have no business yacking on and on about percussive aesthetics when you don't even know enough about the drum itself to speak coherently. Then there are guys who have been behind drumsets for 20 years or more and have never learned a single rudiment. A lot of these guys call themselves feel drummers, because they have through sheer willpower figured out a way to occasionally sound respectable. But for all their bravado, they are still people who are going into their 20th year as 1st year drummers. Besides if they are getting by, you have to wonder how many more actualizations they could have attained had they not taken this road as opposed to the other.

Then I think there is that next period when yeah, aesthetics are the only issue, and I'm fairly certain that the technically grounded drummer who travels that road will fly past that 20 year guy who did it the hope for the best way in about 20 minutes. A lot of groove priests don't like to hear this, but it is what is, especially when a groove pope like Gadd has all those obvious chops that came from years of having all that drilled into him when he was in school, the military and elsewhere.

We all tend to obsess about tech specialists as if they're the dominant force in drumming and the ruination of civilization, when it has already been correctly established that few guys like that work real gigs. So that problem fixes itself anyway. And I'm not talking about clinic freaks. That's an entirely different subject. I'm talking about grounded, solid totally musical drummers.

Therefore, a technically grounded drummer has to come to the mountain, just like all the groove priests who got there first but forgot to take communion. The problem for the original guys is they get upset when the technically grounded drummer becomes a far better groove and feel drummer than they could ever be. and in most cases, that is exactly what happens for those who travel that road.

Again/ feel and technique/ inseparable.
 
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