Feel or Technique, importance?

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
On a slightly different tack:

I urge all readers of any forums to "consider the source" when agreeing or disagreeing with a particular statement

For example: If I hear John Riley proclaim the importance of "feel over chops", I know that this statement is coming from a man who has put THOUSANDS of hours in on his technique. This statement is coming from one who has been through the forest and come out the other side. It has perspective and substance behind it.

Now take some guys who has played the drums for 3 years and has never worked on a serious practice schedule and have him say the same thing. His is a statement that has little to no substance behind it. It's coming from someone who is simply trying to justify his lack of dedication as somehow being an advantage.

Two people can say the same words yet one can be dead wrong and the other spot-on.

Remember what Bruce Lee said of martial arts:

" Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum. It is the halfway cultivation that leads to ornamentation."

He pretty much says it right there doesn't he?

He who knows nothing may mouth the same words as the master yet the meanings are worlds apart.

If you have devoted less than thousands of hours to the development of your technical and musical skills then you haven't even earned the right to comment. You are like Bruce before he studied the art. You don't even know what you don't know.
 

dale w miller

Silver 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.
This is a great point but WHO is it coming from? I know plenty of guys who feel Slipnot has done as much artistically as early Metallica has. I knew some guys from the older generation who would rather have listened to Doc Severson & the Tonight Show band over the Miles Davis Quintet.

This could simply mean they have bad taste.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Matt and Jeff

Yes, I know you are trying to say that if a drummer can't keep things solid for the band then the brief moments of smoothness between the clumsiness doesn't mean they have "feel".

Yes, I know you're saying that formal training means much faster and more efficient progress.

But you guys are getting carried away.

If a person cannot have a valid opinion on musical quality or attractiveness without mastering an instrument then a wine connoisseur cannot judge the quality or pleasantness of wine if they have never been a wine-maker.

Sorry Matt and Jeff, I think you've had a perspective malfunction.

I think feel is more important than technique when it comes to providing musical pleasure. That's what I think, not what everyone thinks. Some people prefer "herd of stampeding elephant" double-kick excitement to Bernard Purdie's subtlety.

My perception of "feel" in drummers is mostly about sensitivity of touch and sensibility, swing/groove, the ability to coax good sounds out of the instruments in the kit, and the creation of pleasing legato sensations. Formal training helps greatly, but it's not mandatory for a drummer to be formally trained in order to to drum with feel.

Moe Tucker performed with excellent feel in Venus In Furs even if her timing was dodgy at times; it fit the mood of the music beautifully. That is, she was sensitive to the sensibilities of the song. I wonder how many formally-trained drummers would have come up with her minimalist contribution that helped to give the song its exotic appeal? Necessity is the mother of invention so limitations can allow players to follow unique routes as long as they are aware of those limitations.

I agree that a guy trying to play a tasty Steve Gadd groove, employing complex little ghost notes and dynamic sensitivity while only landing in the pocket once every few bars isn't a joy to hear. There is a difference between being limited and being unaware of your limitations.

O You don't even know what you don't know.
This observation was best evidenced in that timeless poem by the famous bard, Donald Rumsfeld, The Unkown:

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Ken,

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


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.

But you're right about the historical importance of emotion in western music. It was not the intent of the Church Fathers that people have an emotional response to the music and actually a big part the concern of music at the first Vatican Council. was emotionalism that a lot of late Renaissance church music was evoking. The other thing is that to go back and understand the way the people of the time heard or understood that music is not really possible. I would say it's the same for any music whether it be from Africa or China. One cannot assume that another culture experiences the music the way we do. So I was just taking a go slow attitude when it came to that. So I think Brett has a good point, like usual. I am just asking the question do these rituals provide an emotional impact or is it something much deeper and also can we experience that as an outsider. And eis it the music aspect of the ritual the provides the emotion?


and Jeff great post. I would just add that this mess has gone way beyond the niceties of discourse and has become about the subtleties of vengeance. is that really going to attract pro drummers to want to post here? I for one, am tired of being told off by people. But I am even more tired of the fact that others stand by a let it happen. Let me tell you, it's been no great week for me either.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Matt and Jeff

Yes, I know you are trying to say that if a drummer can't keep things solid for the band then the brief moments of smoothness between the clumsiness doesn't mean they have "feel".

Yes, I know you're saying that formal training means much faster and more efficient progress.

But you guys are getting carried away.

If a person cannot have a valid opinion on musical quality or attractiveness without mastering an instrument then a wine connoisseur cannot judge the quality or pleasantness of wine if they have never been a wine-maker.
Bah!

I never said anything of the sort. I never said a non-musician couldn't judge music. I essentially said this:

" You may have the greatest musical thoughts in the world, but if you haven't got the muscles to press the strings down in the right places, all your idealism is for zilch"
Janos Starker (cellist)

A master has earned the right to "disregard technique" (look at Picsso, for example) but someone playing for 1 year simply hasn't.

Here's one more quote:

" The music must be dominant, not the technique. The two things are not of equal importance. You have to have both craft and emotion to make art but when you focus on your goal, you had best see it as a musical goal. When I'm playing, I don't want to think about technique.
A true artist is someone who can express emotions is such a way that it creates those emotions in others. When my 7 year old throws a tantrum, that's not art. You can't just throw paint at a canvas and say that's art. You can dump a bucket of paint on the floor in a fit of anger and say it expresses anger-but it isn't art. It takes organization and discipline to create art"
Pamela Frame

'nuff said from me
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
It takes organization and discipline to create art
But does it? I'm with you on most of that post up there, but I really don't agree with that last sentence. What matters the most to me, is the concept - or if you want to refer to another thread, the aesthetic of the piece. That might, in itself be, a lack of discipline and organisation. If you're making a statement, it doesn't need to be achieved through perfect technical merits in order for its aesthetic merits to be obvious. It's not the technique's organisation or discipline that necessarily garners the merit of the piece and often the best pieces are created haphazardly, at least within a post-modern perspective. But there are techniques being used, just not physical ones. Conceptual technique is where a lot of the 'art' lies and that doesn't always need discipline and organisation.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
On a slightly different tack:

I urge all readers of any forums to "consider the source" when agreeing or disagreeing with a particular statement

For example: If I hear John Riley proclaim the importance of "feel over chops", I know that this statement is coming from a man who has put THOUSANDS of hours in on his technique. This statement is coming from one who has been through the forest and come out the other side. It has perspective and substance behind it.

If you have devoted less than thousands of hours to the development of your technical and musical skills then you haven't even earned the right to comment. You are like Bruce before he studied the art. You don't even know what you don't know.
Very nice!

So do we post out resumes and hope that we be allowed to speak, or will we be allowed to speak and then ignored because we haven't lived up someone's sense of self importance?

Very nice indeed.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Bah!

I never said anything of the sort. I never said a non-musician couldn't judge music. I essentially said this:

" You may have the greatest musical thoughts in the world, but if you haven't got the muscles to press the strings down in the right places, all your idealism is for zilch"
Janos Starker (cellist)

A master has earned the right to "disregard technique" (look at Picsso, for example) but someone playing for 1 year simply hasn't.

Here's one more quote:

" The music must be dominant, not the technique. The two things are not of equal importance. You have to have both craft and emotion to make art but when you focus on your goal, you had best see it as a musical goal. When I'm playing, I don't want to think about technique.
A true artist is someone who can express emotions is such a way that it creates those emotions in others. When my 7 year old throws a tantrum, that's not art. You can't just throw paint at a canvas and say that's art. You can dump a bucket of paint on the floor in a fit of anger and say it expresses anger-but it isn't art. It takes organization and discipline to create art"
Pamela Frame

'nuff said from me
Don't leave, Jeff. This is the whole post-modern problem. everything is up for grabs. no one has authority, no one has ultimate perspective, everything can be defined only with in context. It's a wonderful, wacky world. Welcome to it!!
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Don't leave, Jeff. This is the whole post-modern problem. everything is up for grabs. no one has authority, no one has ultimate perspective, everything can be defined only with in context. It's a wonderful, wacky world. Welcome to it!!
...And it's a bloody wonderful place to be.
 

donv

Silver Member
On a slightly different tack:

I urge all readers of any forums to "consider the source" when agreeing or disagreeing with a particular statement

For example: If I hear John Riley proclaim the importance of "feel over chops", I know that this statement is coming from a man who has put THOUSANDS of hours in on his technique. This statement is coming from one who has been through the forest and come out the other side. It has perspective and substance behind it.
Excellent point! As I'm sure you're aware there are many conductors who wouldn't even take the time to talk to John. His resume lacks the requisite names of conductors he has played for. He comes from a jazz background which would automatically label him as unqualified.

Others would want to see the list of John's Reviews for Heads of States or the Tattoo's he had been invited to.

Face it, in some instances, John is not qualified so what difference does his opinion make? But that's OK. That's the way John wants it because obviously he has made the choices to put himself in that position.

The reality is most conductors, drummers and musicians would enjoy hearing John's opinion on anything when it comes to music. But to most here, that's a one way street.

Try explaining to someone that there are situations where if the word "feel" is used and you don't comprehend that it has nothing to do with emotions you are in way over your head. But rather then appreciate the wide and varied backgrounds that come with drumming they reply with a tone of--well let's just say not pleasant.

The way I see it, if John came on here and said 2 + 2 now equals 5, too many here would not question him, except it, and perpetuate the false belief. Sorry that's not me.

But then again, this place is for the "real" drummers, right?
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Very nice!

So do we post out resumes and hope that we be allowed to speak, or will we be allowed to speak and then ignored because we haven't lived up someone's sense of self importance?

Very nice indeed.
...

I think you might be missing the Zen in Jeff's point, SF.

Its in the principles of Shaolin monks for example. They master kung fu to keep the peace and meditate.

or the modern day idea of nuclear deterrence..to keep the peace ( ? )

The point I'd made about John Riley earlier is that he has been a very serious student & a very serious teacher of technique, and when someone like that makes a light hearted but accurate point about working drummers being mostly the ones that keep it simple & and keep it tasty and not the ones that fly all over the kit all the time, you have to take that in the spirit of his intent.

I also think this whole debate is getting lost in a sea of looseness of the definition of 'technique' ( surprise surprise ).

'Groove Pope' Steve Gadd is the groovers groover right ? 50 ways and all of that....

What is he when he plays the incredibly technical solo on Steely Dan's Aja? ( Which he sight-read for the album, btw !!! )...

... or when he blazed through Chick Corea's Leprechaun with a masterful samba?

Its the same guy.

Steve Jordan? Mr. Pocket, right? Anybody see him solo? I have..he can mix it up with the best of them.

Glen Kotche? A drummer doing some of the most artistic, non technically oriented linear playing... he knows his meat & potatoes

Matt Abts? Govt Mule..solid technique.


So its it possible too play like all these people without putting in the all the work on technique. Possible but unlikely. So where's the debate?


...
 
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Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Very nice!

So do we post out resumes and hope that we be allowed to speak, or will we be allowed to speak and then ignored because we haven't lived up someone's sense of self importance?

Very nice indeed.
I wouldn't say it's about someone else's sense of self importance. It's about earning your stripes.

In the end, would you rather listen to JoJo Mayer's opinion about left hand finger control or some kid who has played for 6 months?

Musical performance has nothing to do with democracy. The very concept of an audition implies that there are some who rise above the norm.



In my musical world, everyone does not get an equal vote. That's right, I said it.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Jeff, this thread isn't about discussing the particulars of a technical issue, it's about what makes drumming pleasing to our ears. So everyone's opinion is of equal weight and no one has to "earn their stripes". That only counts in some of the technique threads and even then the view of an inexperienced drummer may be of more value to a total beginner than a pro's view that's light years away.

Futher, a great jazz player's view might not be relevant to someone playing a completely different genre. For those who aspire to be a great jazz player, that view might be like gold.

I'm guessing that Ian's initial post in the thread was just saying that he preferred smooth drumming, for instance, as you might hear from Bernard Purdie over some of the more extravagant technical outings of Return to Forever or Dream Theater.

You said yourself that you can have sound musical judgement without having the chops, yet you wish to deny people without formal training the right to express an opinion about what style of drumming they like best, which is what this thread is about.

I'd like to think that the message you're trying to convey is that drummers with weak technique shouldn't kid themselves into thinking they can do awesome things on the kit. However, not having great chops and over-reaching yourself are two different things. Not everyone with weak chops plays outside of their ability and produces slop. Assuming that you have good chops, I still doubt that you could pull off Billy Cobham's lines in Mahvishnu's You Know You Know. By the same token, I don't pretend that I can play Steve Gadd's tasty beats. It would be nice to have that option but there are many other enjoyable things one can do.

It sounds to me that you would like a gated forum where only professional drummers can contribute, although others may look in to benefit from their knowledge. That would probably be a useful resource, but this forum is an open one so you have to sift the pearls from the swine.

Still, I think it's good that there is a forum where the pearls and swine can interact because you never know what interesting things come out of the friction, as long as we overcome this pointless class warfare between some jazzers and rockers on a few threads.

This a great forum, swine and all.
 
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mattsmith

Platinum Member
If a person cannot have a valid opinion on musical quality or attractiveness without mastering an instrument then a wine connoisseur cannot judge the quality or pleasantness of wine if they have never been a wine-maker.
Apples and oranges Polly.

And again...I totally get the intangibles issue/ really do...swear..

Respectfully, I'm just a little surprised that you and others feel the need to continually lecture about an epiphany usually attained by most people who are serious. I'm actually more perplexed that you don't exhibit the same aesthetic perspective when making what seems to be some very black and white points passing as something more highly vaunted. You have to assume a great deal to even make those things stick, while all Jeff and I are guilty of is responding verbatim. I wouldn't assume what's in your soul. I have enough going on with maintaining my own.
 

John Riley

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
John Riley here:

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study with Joe Morello when I was young. The lessons were 95% about technique but Joe always stressed that "technique was a means to an end, not an end in itself." To this day, most of my practicing is technique/coordination based because I've found that when my ideas are flowing effortlessly, my groove and feel are best.

On the bandstand, I've observed that the guys I am playing with feel the most relaxed and play their best when the feel from the rhythm section is the most centered. In those circumstances, the bandleaders seem the most creative and, curiously, more interested in allowing the sidemen generous solo space. So, the better the groove is, the more opportunites there are to explore the more virtuostic side of things. On the other hand, when the band hasn't been grooving, there have been fewer opportunities to stretch. So, for me, technique is critical but only a means to an end.
 
Apples and oranges Polly.

And again...I totally get the intangibles issue/ really do...swear..

Respectfully, I'm just a little surprised that you and others feel the need to continually lecture about an epiphany usually attained by most people who are serious. I'm actually more perplexed that you don't exhibit the same aesthetic perspective when making what seems to be some very black and white points passing as something more highly vaunted. You have to assume a great deal to even make those things stick, while all Jeff and I are guilty of is responding verbatim. I wouldn't assume what's in your soul. I have enough going on with maintaining my own.
Actually Matt, they're grapes, and preferably not the sour kind.
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
I remember back in 79 this very question coming up at a drum clinic in Seattle hosted by the great Louie Bellson. Louie's response was clear and to the point when the question of technique/feel came up to all those in attendance. You need to decide how much "technique" you need to get across your musical "point of view" and ideas on the drums and especially in regards to the context of playing ensemble music with others. After that the subject of stand alone technique/chops only becomes a case of "diminishing returns" according to Louie. In his case as a jazz musician he stated "if it aint got the swing it don't mean a thing" as a practical example of personal wisdom on the subject.

Everyone is different as are all snowlakes so as with what we want to get across musically speaking. So we each have to decide how to crack this personal equation and find a good balance point on what we truly need and have to say regarding this timeless debated subject of techique and feel.
 
Everyone is different as are all snowlakes so as with what we want to get across musically speaking. So we each have to decide how to crack this personal equation and find a good balance point on what we truly need and have to say regarding this timeless debated subject of techique and feel.
And that's really what it comes down to -- great point.You can say technique and feel are inseparable. You can also use that same definition of technique to say technique and breathing are inseparable. Technique is defined as a systematic approach to a means -- good or bad, and in that regard, everything we do as human beings can be linked to one "Technique" or another. I think matt and other drummers, who spend insane amount of hours honing and refining certain facets of their technique, feel like other drummers like to pull the "it's all about the groove" trump card to compensate for their own lack of skills -- and of course that happens. I guess the end result is that, as you mentioned, all that matters is whatever YOU personally feel is a priority. It's just that in my experience, and from my own maturation process, I am learning to appreciate the importance of "feel" more and more each day as it relates to music.
 
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