Feel or Technique, importance?

donv

Silver Member
Seems that what's being implied is an audiance that has paid to see this or that group shouldn't have any expectations about what they are buying. If that intangible thing "groove" is what determines the value or quality of a show and the groove happening is determined by another intangible outside of technique know as "feel" which is determined by the emotional state of being of the musicians, then every show is a crap shoot. You don't know what is going to happen or "who" is going to turn up on any given day.

I don't believe that. There has to be something more to it. A professional should be able to leave their baggage at the door and deliver what's expected of them everyday\night.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I've been reading this thread and I've come to a conclusion. I don't believe in feel. I don't believe in groove. I don't believe in something that can't be quanitified or proved in some way, and I certainly don't believe in the supernatural.
All I can count on is my ability to play what I can play, that's what I bring to the drums, whatever it is that I've got in the way of technique. Lots of drummers have more technique than I do and some have a lot less. But all the really good drummers have one thing in common, which is a love for playing.
Think about it. Have you ever seen a drummer who hates to play the drums? I can't recall that I ever have. Now I have seen drummers who love to play but are just lousy musicians, but those don't even count in this or any other discussion about playing the drums.
Is it possible to love to play a musical instrument without loving music? I guess it is, but that's pretty weird.
Whatever groove and feel mean, then, is probably just a result of loving what you're doing while you bring all the technique you have to bear on the music you're playing.
I can't play sports at all, so I would never try to play sports. If I was in a position to have to try I sure wouldn't be very happy because I'd suck at it. But I can play the drums, so whatever feel or groove I get going is the direct result of me enjoying my technique. If I didn't have any technique there's no way I could have a good time trying to play the drums, and so there wouldn't be any feel or groove at all.
Does this make any sense at all?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Just clear something up before moving on:

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.
Matt, I have done nothing of the sort. I've shared experiences, asked questions, made observations and, mostly, soaked up people's knowledge. I really wish there was a forum like this when I was playing around the traps in my youth.

I admit to lecturing on this thread about the pointlessness of people imposing status in the arts, which should be the most egalitarian of pastimes. I detest competitiveness in the arts and remember the disappointment when being told bands I was in were entered into competitions - turning music into sport. And before I'm accused of sour grapes we either won or or were places in nearly all of them. All it meant is that some people liked what we did more than the other bands and some money/gigs. I love playing and listening to music and I don't care what about anyone's opinion is of my playing but those of my band mates and audiences. I enjoy constructive criticism but put downs are bad form in my books.

Is the motivation to encourage drummers who think they are taking short cuts that they are taking the long route? Or is this about trying to establish an informal status ranking on the site with the formally trained players at the top?

Normally I'd let this stuff ride but I think some of the words on this thread would be discouraging and suck people's energy rather than inspiring them.

I agree with RaggleTaggle. There is an undercurrent of politics in this - conservatism vs liberalism. I see two major poles in conservatism - those who simply want progress to be made a a slow and orderly manner and those are so intent on achieving this that they resent the breaking of rules which lies at the heart of innovative breakthroughs.

One lone self-taught pounder probably won't change anything much (unless he's called Keith Moon) but a whole lot of them whose stance is "Rules? I just do what I do things that I like" end up creating new genres. For example punk, which spawned new wave and hugely altered the face of rock music. As a "boring old fart" myself I prefer the "boring old fart" bands they decried, but it's all valid because the music touches a lot of people. Blues and jazz and rock'n'roll also stemmed from renegades who didn't do things "properly". My grandmother was disgusted by what she saw as the crudeness of the waltz, when it came in.

As I said, one allegedly inadequate self-taught musician won't change much, but if there's a lot of them, then new things happen.

Jazz appears to have become an elitist art from - the classical music of the 20th century - where a number of its proponents will look down their noses at those making "folk music" (in the sense of "music for the people") and discourage those seeking out new approaches without "earning their stripes" (like Brian Eno, Moe Tucker and Keith Moon).

I don't think this stern judgmentalism is such a great thing, given the jolly rebellious spirit of old jazz. I watch Gene Krupa whacking away at his kit and it seems light years away from the stern jazzers who look down their noses at the musical plebs. Thankfully, some jazzers are comfortable enough in their own skin to focus more on their joy than the alleged inadequacies of others.

Now THAT was a lecture ... lol

PS. Conrad, yes, it makes sense :)
 
Last edited:

brittc89

Pioneer Member
As I said, one allegedly inadequate self-taught musician won't change much, but if there's a lot of them, then new things happen.
I dont agree with this. Listen to John Coltrane play on Giant Steps. Then listen to Ascension. This was a man who learned the rules, and then he absolutely shattered them. And thats why it isnt just sqeuaks and squonks on vinyl, because he knew what he was doing, via his knowledge of harmony, to give substance to his music. Im a proponent of learning the rules before you decide you can just break them (many people dont even make that decision, they just try and pass off BS as something because they dont know what theyre doing. Sadly, sometimes it catches on).
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
From the article, What Coltrane Wanted (emphasis is mine) http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/jazz/strickla.htm :

... "Alabama," a riveting elegy for the victims of the infamous Sunday-morning church bombing in Birmingham in 1963. Here, as in the early version of his most famous ballad, "Naima," Coltrane is as spare in phrasing as he is bleak in tone. That tone, criticized by many as hard-edged and emotionally impoverished, is inseparable from Coltrane's achievement, conveying as it does a sense of absolute purity through the abnegation of sentimentality.

Sonny Rollins, the contemporary tenor most admired by Coltrane, always had a richer tone, and Coltrane himself said of the mellifluous Stan Getz, "Let's face it--we'd all sound like that if we could." Despite these frequent and generous tributes, Coltrane's aim was different ...​

Necessity is the mother of invention. If he could have played like Stan Getz hard bop may look a bit different today.
 
Last edited:

Steamer

Platinum Member
I dont agree with this. Listen to John Coltrane play on Giant Steps. Then listen to Ascension. This was a man who learned the rules, and then he absolutely shattered them. And thats why it isnt just sqeuaks and squonks on vinyl, because he knew what he was doing, via his knowledge of harmony, to give substance to his music. Im a proponent of learning the rules before you decide you can just break them (many people dont even make that decision, they just try and pass off BS as something because they dont know what theyre doing. Sadly, sometimes it catches on).
Yes indeed Britt and NOTHING comes out of a vacuum especially anything of lasting quality musically speaking as time has already shown us and the drumming element contained in it. The creative art of playing music is a constant act in motion always changing/evolving never sitting still as you go along when one put one's soul, heart, love of doing it, concept into the "feel' or feeling in the music that one wants to deliver with one's personal "technique" of playing the instrument at hand.

You have to learn to walk before you run..... this applies too to all the rebels and rule breakers in all forms of what makes up music as history has also shown us.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Technique we all understand, obviously. How many times do you see the books "Stick Control" or "The Art of Bebop Drumming," among many others, being mentioned here?
But feel, groove, now that are those? Perhaps it would be better for us to say what it means to us, personally, rather than try to say that these things represent some kind of universal standard, a standard that is to be applied across the board in the same way as a drummer's ability to play, say, a very fast and clean single stroke roll.
Does the WFD have a "feel" competition? Of course not, at least I sure hope it doesn't.
 

Deltadrummer

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 snowflakes 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 technique and feel.
Hi Stan,

It’s always great to read your posts.

One of the things that I've been struggling with and have shared with you both personally and on the forum, is really getting my group to groove. I read in The Jazz Drummer's Workshop where John said that many of the great rhythm sections did not play in sync. The bass was behind the drummer or vice versa. He said, “As long as the relationship between the bass player’s placement of the beat and the drummer’s placement of the beat is consistent, it will groove.” I read Peter Erskine saying something similar in Drumhead magazine. He says, “The role of the rhythm section is not to play in unison but to provide contrast.”

When he first joined Weather Report, he had a heard time with keeping the band together. One day when the band lost the downbeat he struggled to get it back on track. Joe Zawinul had a fit after the show and said he should just let the time happen with a lot of %^&^ #%%$, so it was important to him.

I've learned, the hard way that you have to allow the guys to do what they want to do, and as long as you are focused, it will come in to place, (and if not you can just roll!) I remember some one told me that once. You know I’ve been putting your great advise into action.

Knowing how to give players what they need is really the art form, and now when I listen back to my band, I am happy that we are able to groove.

Thanks Stan
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Hi Stan,

It’s always great to read your posts.

One of the things that I've been struggling with and have shared with you both personally and on the forum, is really getting my group to groove. I read in The Jazz Drummer's Workshop where John said that many of the great rhythm sections did not play in sync. The bass was behind the drummer or vice versa. He said, “As long as the relationship between the bass player’s placement of the beat and the drummer’s placement of the beat is consistent, it will groove.” I read Peter Erskine saying something similar in Drumhead magazine. He says, “The role of the rhythm section is not to play in unison but to provide contrast.”

When he first joined Weather Report, he had a heard time with keeping the band together. One day when the band lost the downbeat he struggled to get it back on track. Joe Zawinul had a fit after the show and said he should just let the time happen with a lot of %^&^ #%%$, so it was important to him.

I've learned, the hard way that you have to allow the guys to do what they want to do, and as long as you are focused, it will come in to place, (and if not you can just roll!) I remember some one told me that once. You know I’ve been putting your great advise into action.

Knowing how to give players what they need is really the art form, and now when I listen back to my band, I am happy that we are able to groove.

Thanks Stan
You are most welcome Ken and the learning curve for ALL of us regardless of experience and age is a creative learning process always in constant motion and flex directly related to our feel/technique/concept which all change and become fined tuned as time goes on.

Nice to hear where your personal musical journey, "drum wisdom" as Bob Moses calls it {has} is taking you Ken.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Actually Matt, they're grapes, and preferably not the sour kind.
So, is your contribution here to make snide comments when someone believes your cynicism is pointless? I mean, all you ever seem to do on posts is say something unsubstantiated and cocky, wait for the response, then make a comment like the one above if the other guy dares appear more clever. This is actually a pretty good thread. I'm also a big boy who can take it. Why not talk nice and you'll get better responses.

Later.

Polly,

I really do appreciate the depth of your responses and yes I agree with the whole political thing. But I will say this and as someone who has been doing the forum thing for awhile, it really is the truth. Guys like Jeff and I are usually minding our own business when yet another presents a thread like this, essentially reading as a manifesto against practice, in hopes that some extra dimensional spirituality premise will eliminate enough work to make a beginner sound professional. Believe me on these forums, that is the hope and dream of most, excluding those like yourself and others who actually take the time to think. As for competition, I don't like it either. But if you're not up for it, I wish you the best. But the competitor will still get the gig. After all, if you don't compete for the spot, then you're doing nothing, and all the readings of Effortless Mastery won't change that.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

As a personal challenge to understand the word 'technique' in the context of this thread, I scoured Google and came across an interesting perspective that I thought some of us might enjoy reading ( Stylus Magazine ):



"You have to divide expressions of technique into 2 camps: demonstrative and non-demonstrative.

The former is much easier to recognize, because it’s technique applied primarily toward the revelation of itself.

Long, unscripted solos, mind-scrambling compound time signatures, any execution of an excessively challenging part: These are examples of demonstrative technique.
If a musician is considered to have “chops,” chances are he’s expressed demonstrative technique in some form or another.

Non-demonstrative technique covers just about everything else.

There’s non-demonstrative technique at work in every song, ever.

A sloppy performance of some middle schooler’s three-chord ABAB sketch won’t express a lot of technique, but it will express technique, as will any performance that serves the pretension of form or even just intends the sounds it produces.
Most of what we consider to be great performances feature at least some demonstrative technique, but few—few in rock anyway—feature only that.

Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” solo at Woodstock, for instance, is more than just the testimony of one of the most technically gifted rock guitarists; it’s also an attempt to make a statement about the significance of a moment, an effort to rise to an impossibly huge platform. Not only can technique be marshaled to perform larger-than-music feats, sometimes it’s required.

Popular music routinely produces great bands whose collective grasp of technique falls short of expert.

The low-tech masterpieces of immortals like the Velvet Underground or Bob Dylan are no argument for why technique is trivial; if anything, they only encourage shoptalk because they stand as exceptions among exceptions.

You don’t wind up a great musician by ignoring your rudiments unless you’re some kind of genius who can rig up a whole anti-technique technique around your gaps.
And critics don’t nurture great musicians by setting technique low on the agenda, or omitting it altogether.


...
 
Last edited:

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Matt, yeah, this is a good thread, although not everyone likes it. It covers a lot of angles.

I guess it could be seen as a manifesto against practice. It doesn't have to be, though. The Louie Bellson comment in one of Steamer's posts put it well:

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" ...
Agree with aydee in that not practising much is generally poor career move, but I don't think genius is necessary to succeed with a simple technique. It's more about finding a fit with a band with idiosyncratic appeal.

Brian Eno was quoted as saying that his favourite musicians were those with either consummate technical skill or no technical skill because they were the ones who were most expressive; ie. technique is not an issue with them.

Ringo wasn't some genius with a vision to approach drumming with great musicality. He was simply down-to-earth and put the song ahead of his drumming, and he had a good imagination. He doesn't strike me as one who'd look for an opportunity to throw in his latest cool chops. It was as though he wasn't a drummer as such, more a listener who happened to play drums well enough to work in a few genres.

Still, I don't advocate anything over another in drumming; we all just follow our noses. No drama. I enjoy drummers who bring something a bit different to the table, who can bring distinctive and appealing "signature" patterns that capture the particular mood of a song - or create it, often by using space effectively. Maybe some drummers would benefit from including John Cage's 3'33" on their regular practice song list? :)

As for competitiveness, I guess if money and/or prestige is involved then it's always there. Fair point.
 

drumbandit

Silver Member
I think for a drummer to spend a lot of time getting their technique right, they must enjoy playing the drums so much that feel must be a part of their drumming in some way.

Drummers which have both are clearly the end to any debate over which is more important e.g. Benny Greb, technique and feel.

Tom
 

aydee

Platinum Member
..

I hear you Pollyanna, but with a small caveat.

I agree that in essence we are talking about the utilization of musical space with verve and imagination and one need not necessarily approach in a a very systematic or pre-ordained manner. That in fact really is the very definition of creativity.

My submission quite simply is that being equipped with 'technique' is something that enhances that rather than takes away from anything.
If I work on the "Art of Bop Drumming" by Riley, I wont become him or even play like him. I might understand why he does certain things and some new concepts might open up in my mind's eye. Which again I might or might not ever use.. or use in a completely different way. All good.

It makes 'you' a potentially more potent 'YOU', if that makes sense. And with all your idiosyncrasies intact. It could only help even if you choose discard it.

I do hear a drummer with technique and practice when I hear Glen Kotche pulling metal springs out of his drum head.

Agree & well said on 'expressiveness'.

Ringo's groove for 'Ticket to Ride' might have been somewhat different if he was a better schooled drummer, but it would have still been Ringo and it would have still been special.

For raw musicians to be remarkably expressive without some technique and rigor only means that they have imbibed it in some other way that isn't obvious or formal, thats all. Or they are prodigies.

Trouble is that this discussion is expanding to define artistic expression which then incorporates way too many other esoterical things like life, culture, politics, religion, etc etc .. as well in addition to feel & technique.

We will go around in circles.


....
 
Last edited:

brittc89

Pioneer Member
Brian Eno was quoted as saying that his favourite musicians were those with either consummate technical skill or no technical skill because they were the ones who were most expressive; ie. technique is not an issue with them.
I agree that technique is not an issue with someone having consummate skill, but having no technique makes technique an issue, unless your creative vision involves only things that involve no technique. I guess Im just reiterating the point that technique is a means to an ends, having a massive amount can never hurt if you know how to use it correctly, but having none can hurt even those with a high amount of musical sensibility. I just cant see why you wouldnt want a large amount of technique. How can it be detrimental. Its like someone who has a huge revolver in a holster, but they never shoot it unless they absolutely have to, but its always there and people can always see it so they never have to use it. Its when people get trigger happy that we have a problem.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Exactly. I'm so sick and tired of going concerts where the crowd is supposedly "enjoying" a performance without actually knowing the scientific concepts behind it. It smacks of typical leftist ideologies.
Care to expand on that? Leftist ideologies are characterised by a lack of scientific understanding? Huh?
 
Last edited:

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Interesting points being made here.

I think for a drummer to spend a lot of time getting their technique right, they must enjoy playing the drums so much that feel must be a part of their drumming in some way.
Hmm, that depends, Tom. What is the player's primary focus - their drumming or the songs? Does the drummer use his or her skills for good or for evil? :)

... It makes 'you' a potentially more potent 'YOU', if that makes sense. And with all your idiosyncrasies intact. It could only help even if you choose discard it.

... Ringo's groove for 'Ticket to Ride' might have been somewhat different if he was a better schooled drummer, but it would have still been Ringo and it would have still been special.

... Trouble is that this discussion is expanding to define artistic expression which then incorporates way too many other esoterical things like life, culture, politics, religion, etc etc .. as well in addition to feel & technique.
Yes Aydee, but, as per my reply to Tom's post, will our powers be used for good or will we turn to the Dark Side of Darth Dream Theater? :)

Would Ringo be the same drummer with extra "power" to do cool things? You know what they say about power ... power corrupts ... temptation and all that. He might have tried something a it slicker, something cool that his teacher showed him. If John Coltrane had been able to achieve Stan Getz's purity, would he have thrilled the jazz world to the same extent? Maybe ... but maybe not.

Limitations are not so bad as long as you are realistic about your abilities. There's nothing wrong with technique if it's not annoyingly self-indulgent.

It's like the Big Kits vs Small Kits discussion. Small kit players felt they needed to be more resourceful to create variety rather than just choosing which tom to play. The large kit players said yeah, but we can do all that and we have all these other potentials. However, most large kits players I've seen (with notable exceptions) don't squeeze the variety of sounds out of the instruments in their kit the way I've seen many small kit players do. The decisions for large kit players tend to be what combinations they use.

Neither approach is better or worse. One works inward and one works outward and it's all good. It's ironic that in these discussions jazzers tend to favour small kits and big chops while more rockers tend go the other way. Which way do we work inwardly or outwardly? Doesn't matter - if it works, it good. So most of us see that there can be value in our limitations. Lemons and lemonade and all that ...

Life, culture, politics, religion ... all grist for the musical mill, even if as drummers our role in a song's expression is so often just as a support. So yeah, bring on the non-musical stuff, I say :)

When I was young I was obsessed with music and, in particular, drums drums drums. If I wasn't listening to drummers I was playing to records or tapping on the pad. Eight years away from music and I listen to the tapes of my bands in the mid 80s and my musical expressiveness was simply not there. But I heard lots of the chops and tricks I'd been practising.

So I think there's something to be said for "fresh ears" that come from a healthy dose of the extramusical. Before you say it, yes, if your ears are fresh and you can't play in time or control your volume ...


... having no technique makes technique an issue, unless your creative vision involves only things that involve no technique.
Britt, perhaps it's not a matter of creative vision that involves no technique but a vision that barely even thinks about technical aspects?

Ok, a reason for not seeking a great technique. I'm no spring chicken and work full-time so I don't have time to do marching drum exercises starting with singles at 40 bpm to rebuild my grip and stroke from scratch for years on end. I hate rudiments too - LOL. I think to be a technical master you've got to love your rudiments. All the masters never seem to stop doing the darn things because then thei chops might slide. A lifetime of rudiments! EEEEK! It's not my preferred method of meditation.

Practising beats, fills and transitions is less efficient but it's more fun, and it at least allows me to say what I'd like to say. I like clarity and simplicity. I like it in speech too; it's how I like to speak when my head's screwed on right. Mum was a writer and I know LOTS of big words, but I never use a big word if I can think of a more down-to-earth alternative.

Or should I say, "My mother was an author and I have consequently been endowed with the innate characteristics required to facilitate the attainment of an extensive vocabulary. However, I eschew prolix and protracted language on occasions when a rather less grandiose alternative presents itself"?

There ya go. Feel and technique! Good grief, I've written so much on this thread that I should collate it all into a book and call it The Art of Effective Crap Drumming :)
 
Last edited:

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've been following this thread with amazement over the sheer intellectuality of the various contributers. While a lot of this is just way above my head, the main point I've taken from this is that technique and feel are 2 sides of the same coin, interrelated, like time and space...

Also I thought it would be a great help to this discussion if we could all point to certain famous drummers that can be "labeled" as predominately a technique drummer or predominantly a feel drummer. I just want to see if it is easy for everyone participating to essentially agree that famous drummer X plays with predominantly a technical approach and famous drummer Y plays with a predominantly feel approach. Of course there are many drummers who have both, but for the purposes of this discussion I would like to black and white it a little and name drummers who are mostly one and not the other.

I guess I'll start.

Ringo - feel
Portnoy - technique

First off does anyone disagree with this?
Can anyone name any other famous drummers who fit in one category but not the other?
I'm curious to the opinions of the members as to which drummer is labeled as what.
I hope this doesn't drop a lead weight on this high soaring balloon of a discussion.
 
Top