Gavin Harrison here!

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hey CarterB_Junkie,
thanks for the kind words!

>Couple of questions : Do you know when the Porcupine Tree live DVD will be ready ?
I can't wait !

We're hoping later this summer. Still editing all the footage at the moment.

>A common question but : Who were your heroes when you started playing ? Your main influences ?

I listened to a lot of drummers: Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro, Harvey Mason, Stewart Copeland, Simon Phillips, Billy Cobham, Steve Jansen.

>Any recent players that caught your ears ? What do you think of Carter Beauford ? Danny Carey ?

Recently I've been listening to Tomas Haake, Morgen Agren. Carter and Danny are great too.

>Do you care that some metal drummers play tunes at 250/280BPM ?

Only that they might catch on fire at that speed!!! Really, I've never been interested in speed. I don't like to think of the drums as an 'Olympic event'.

>Do you care about metal at all ?

I've really been enjoying Meshuggah - and had the chance to meet Tomas - and see a gig on their last tour of the US.

Cheers
Gavin
 

T-1000

Senior Member
Gavin, can you play along to two different songs in different tempo's (ie. 125 BPM and 143 BPM?) I know you're quite the ace at this independence/co-ordination buisness, so I was wandering...
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hey T-1000,
that's quite an interesting question. The basic answer is no. I can't play in 125bpm and 143bpm at the same time.
Although it's not impossible - it's just a question of polyrhythmic mathematics.

For instance it would be quite easy to play in 100bpm and 75bpm - that would sound as 4 against 3. A rhythm I'm sure no drummer would struggle with.

A tempo of 100bpm and 125bpm together gives you a polyrhythm of 4 against 5 and if you take the 75bpm and the 125bpm and put them together it would produce the polyrhythm of 3 against 5.

100bpm together with 66.666bpm gives you 4 against 3.

All these are quite easily playable.

However, if you want to try something a little harder - mix the 75bpm together with 66.666bpm and you will get 9 against 8.

If you're interested in getting into this kind of stuff - I go through some of it in my books.
Rhythmic Illusions (Chapter 10) "Rhythmic Scales & Polyrhythmic Groupings"
Rhythmic Perspectives (Chapter 4) "Polyrhythmic Theory"

cheers
Gavin
 

Sonor

Member
Wow!!! Un'freaking'believable!! Great to have you around, Mr. Harrison...a real honor. (here I am talking like I've been here for along time...).

I'd just like to thank you for bringing drums back into my life. I switched instruments about 12 yeas ago, until one day a co-worker dropped In Absentia onto my desk, and it quickly became one of my favorite albums. Listening to your playing was truly inspirational and, much to my wife's discontent, drums are very much a part of my life again (just bought a new Sonor kit!) I love the way you play everything, and although I'm not a big fan of double base, I think you use just the right amount at the right time(s). Everytime I listen to Porcupine Tree I want to get behind the drums and play.

Had the pleasure of seeing your band live in October, and although I absolutely loved the show, I was disapointed I didn't get to see you play 'The Creator has a Mastertape'. I know you can't please everyone, but it so happens that's my favorite drum track from PT! Would have loved to see how you play that one.

Now a question!! What is your favorite PT tune to play live?
Also, I know you did some live work for Eros Ramazzotti; did you do any studio work for him as well? If so, which album(s)?
 

T-1000

Senior Member
Whoa, thanks for replying Gav.

I'll check out your books (and your cd's - I've not yet heard any 'Porcupine Tree, ignorant fool that I am. It sounds compelling stuff).

Meantime, I see you're a fellow Meshuggah-rer (and Londoner). Can you fathom out the intangible chaos that is 1:11 into 'Glint's Colide' off 'Nothing'. Tomas is doing some kerrazy offbeat china hits on top of an already complex and odd-timed groove. Definately creates an uncomfortable 'shifting' feeling...
 

finnhiggins

GONE MUCH TOO EARLY!!!
Gavin, I do have a bit of a book-related question.

In the intro to both your books you talk about various aspects of your practice methodology including recording yourself and listening back against the click with the audio slowed down, etc. This is great advice, and really useful when it comes to realising how horribly worthless some of the unisons I play are in places!

Now, question: Have you done any specific exercises or worked on any particular routine to improve these sorts of things from a general, technical perspective? Or do you just learn a lot of different patterns and do the whole record/check/improve routine on each one?

I'd love to know, since your co-ordination inside these kinds of patterns is extremely clean and tight and it seems to really help your control of time and groove. Similarly, do you ever work on this kind of material with a specific eye to deliberately placing things slightly out of metronomic time for a "feel thing"?

Apologies if any of this is discussed on your DVD, I've yet to get that far...
 

finnhiggins

GONE MUCH TOO EARLY!!!
T-1000 said:
Meantime, I see you're a fellow Meshuggah-rer (and Londoner). Can you fathom out the intangible chaos that is 1:11 into 'Glint's Colide' off 'Nothing'. Tomas is doing some kerrazy offbeat china hits on top of an already complex and odd-timed groove. Definately creates an uncomfortable 'shifting' feeling...
Not wanting to preempt Gavin, but this might save him some time if he's not in the mood for transcribing. That groove is actually much simpler than it sounds, it's just got some clever trademarked Meshuggah tricks to confuse and mislead you going on.

The key groove is actually relatively simple. It's in 7/8, and the bass/snare pattern looks like this:

Code:
     1e+a2e+a3e+a4e
sn:  O       O     
bd:     O  O  O
Now, here's the clever bit. The section in question is, despite appearances, actually in 4/4 over four bars (listen to the guitar!) so you have sixteen beats to play with. In 8th notes...

16 beats = 32 8th notes.

Now, the 7/8 pattern above is repeated four times in the bar, so that gives us:

7 8th notes x 4 = 28 8th notes.

So we have four 8th notes (or two beats) left over. So what do they do with those? Simple: They put one quarter note bass drum at the start of the pattern, and one quarter note snare drum at the end.

To see the whole pattern the bass drum and snare drum are playing, check out the first line in the attached PDF file.

Now, we haven't looked at the cymbals yet, and there's a good reason. The cymbals are actually NOT any kind of polyrhythmic pattern at all, they're also in 7/8 and they directly synch up to the bass drum and snare drum pattern. If you add the cymbals into the 7/8 pattern it looks like this:

Code:
     1e+a2e+a3e+a4e
cym:  X  X  X  X x          
sn:  O       O     
bd:     O  O  O
(the small x is a ghost note)

As you can see this is syncopated off the bass drum and snare drum hits, and like the bass and snare hits is mostly phrased in dotted 8th notes. This makes it sound like it is travelling accross the guitar part, but the drum part itself is actually fairly static.

Now to complete the part you put all that together in the same way, but with:

* A big china cymbal crash on the "1" of the pattern (with the quarter note bass drum)
* An extra small china crash on the "e" right after the last quarter note snare drum hit in the last bar.

The whole thing looks like the second line in the attached PDF. X-circles are big chinas, the ordinary Xs have accents for the normal notes and no accents on the ghost notes. All the bass drum and snare drum strokes should be considered accented.

Make sense?

Sorry for the thread hi-jack, but I had a listen to the groove and thought it was pretty cool.. I'll probably learn it later today.

Edit: Oh, and the section ends with a slight change: the last bass drum note is on 16th note later, with a china cymbal, and the groove stops on that hit.
 

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T-1000

Senior Member
Thanks man...what a genius!? You should get paid for this finns, I haven't yet figured out if what you have written is correct, but you sure sound convincing...

Right, at the risk of abusing your talents, do you have a clue what Chris Pennie is doing from 0:46 - 1:05 in the song 'Van Damsel' on 'Miss Machine'. The concept seems similar, but I can't decipher the time signature for the life of me. It's like a jazzy, syncopated snare/bass pattern with a seemingly non-repetitive china beat superimposed. And now there is extreme speed to contend with as well...

Come on finns, you know it'll only make you a better transciber...

(ps. seriously though, don't feel pressured into doing it, I'm grateful enough for your previous transciption)

I swear, when (yes 'when', not 'if') we make it big; I'm buying you a (slightly larger than average-sized) house...
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi folks,

Sonor - Glad you're back on the drums (apologies to your wife!!!) Thanks for the nice words about In Absentia. I don't think of myself as a double bass player - I've never really liked playing 16s on them. But I love trying to find little moments that I could slip in here and there (especially useful in a fill).
Sorry we didn't play "Creator" but I really need three hi hats to play it. When I recorded it I had an extra hi hat on my right (with a mini hi hat half open on top of it - actually two 8" splash cymbals) as well as my hi hat on my left. We did play it on the first couple of tours of In Absentia...but we dropped it and I don't carry the extra hats with me these days.

My favourite PT song to play? I guess at the moment it's "Start Of Something Beautiful".
I did one tour of Germany with Eros Ramazzotti - and I believe there's a live 3-4 ep from that tour. I played on one of his singles - but I don't remember the name of it.

T-1000 - I think finnhiggins has answered the question very nicely. I really do love this type of rhythmic design that Tomas does with Fredrik. His solo album (with Morgen Agren on drums) just blows my mind. I can't stop listening to it.

finnhiggins - thanks for transcribing that piece - I'm going to work on it tomorrow. Have done any other Meshuggah/Thordendal drum transcriptions?
To answer your question. I did do an intensive period of that self analysing recording thing - and it's hard not to get depressed by one's own short comings. But I heard improvement over a short time and so I stuck with it. I don't put everything I do through the "anal-iser" because I recognised the problems I was having were related to independence - and dependance. Finding out what needed to go where in any given pattern. When things really needed to be together ( sometimes it was lining up the hi hat and bass drum EXACTLY together) and other times was when some notes had to fit EXACTLY in between other notes. One exercise that really helped me a LOT was the first exercise in the Gary Chester's New Breed book. Where you play 16s on two hi hats simultaneously (without flamming) and then play the written melody lines on the bass drum....and pay VERY CLOSE attention to not flamming with the bass drum and hi hats. It’s quite hard actually.
I would do about an hour of that per day - and when I stopped and just played a groove everything felt really better. So I carried on doing it more and more just repeating each bar over and over until it felt as tight as it could be before I moved on.

Cheers
Gavin
 

finnhiggins

GONE MUCH TOO EARLY!!!
I might give it a shot tomorrow - I do have other things to do that I actually get paid for, and if I don't hurry up I will miss a deadline.

And in the interests of politeness maybe we should stop messing up Gavin's nice thread. I'll go start a "Nightmare transcription scraps" thread and post what I did below in it. That way anybody else to wants to help doesn't have to be a fan of Gavin to actually find it ;)
 

finnhiggins

GONE MUCH TOO EARLY!!!
Gavin Harrison said:
finnhiggins - thanks for transcribing that piece - I'm going to work on it tomorrow. Have done any other Meshuggah/Thordendal drum transcriptions?
Not a serious amount, to be honest - just enough to know a few of the regular tricks, and most of it is messy scraps on paper. I'm in the middle of working through the solo section in the middle of Soul Burn at the moment, the guitarist of my band absolutely loathes Meshuggah so the bassist and I are learning it to annoy him with at rehearsals.

I'll post it when I'm done.

To answer your question. I did do an intensive period of that self analysing recording thing - and it's hard not to get depressed by one's own short comings. But I heard improvement over a short time and so I stuck with it. I don't put everything I do through the "anal-iser" because I recognised the problems I was having were related to independence - and dependance. Finding out what needed to go where in any given pattern. When things really needed to be together ( sometimes it was lining up the hi hat and bass drum EXACTLY together) and other times was when some notes had to fit EXACTLY in between other notes. One exercise that really helped me a LOT was the first exercise in the Gary Chester's New Breed book. Where you play 16s on two hi hats simultaneously (without flamming) and then play the written melody lines on the bass drum....and pay VERY CLOSE attention to not flamming with the bass drum and hi hats. It’s quite hard actually.
I would do about an hour of that per day - and when I stopped and just played a groove everything felt really better. So I carried on doing it more and more just repeating each bar over and over until it felt as tight as it could be before I moved on.
Thanks heaps for that. Funny enough I've actually been doing the same exercise lately, although I've either been doing both hands on the same hi-hat (I've only got one) or one hand on hats and the other on ride. I've found that has helped a fair bit, along with another bunch of exercises I came up with to work on precise unisons (they're basically flam exercises with the flamming deliberately avoided!), but I was very keen to hear what your approach was.

Thanks heaps for those two books, by the way. They're excellent work, and they do a great job of making some seriously mind-bending stuff quite easily comprehensible. I really like your A-status and B-status terminology for the displacement stuff in Rhythmic Ilusions, it makes life so much simpler.
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Sticktrick,
glad you liked the DVD.
I used to record myself on a little 4 track cassette "portastudio" and it had a pitch wheel which governed the tape speed. So when I recorded myself I would have the pitch wheel all the way up so that the tape was running at double speed. Then when I listened back I could turn the pitch wheel all the way down and it would be REALLY slow (I think a quarter of it's original speed).
When it's that slow you can hear errors much larger and easier than when it's played back at normal speed. It's like an aural microscope. It's good for showing you if your "internal sync" is out. Things that are meant to be lining up together like the hi hat and bass drum or hi hat and snare drum for instance. Then I would record a click (or even a sequenced track like some Scritti Politti tune) and record myself playing along with it. After - I could slow the tape down and apply the same kind of listening procedure as before. It's what I call "relative sync". Most educational - and depressing at the same time. No pain - no gain. The funny thing is that I've just recorded a "Masterclass lesson" on this exact subject for the cover mount CD on "Rhythm UK" magazine.

The Vinnie Colaiuta track is indeed quite simple 16th note displacement. You need to write it out and play it slowly with a click. Rhythmic illusions work because we associate so strongly the sound of a bass drum on the "1" and snare drum on "2 & 4". When you hear that rhythm laid out in that way - but NOT starting on a downbeat your mind fools you into shifting your perception about where the downbeat has gone.

My books are full of this kind of rhythmic mind play.

Cheers
Gavin
 
S

Stu_Strib

Guest
Is the cymbal configuration correct on the Zildjian site? If so, I guess there's more proof that Ks and Constantinoples can and do sound good in harder music!
 
S

Sticktrick

Guest
Hey Gavin!

Thanks for the answer - real helpful!

I just orderd your book. Really look forward to check that stuff out. I studied with Ralph Humphrey for one year, so I should be familiar with the concepts of "rhyrhmic illusions". Lets see, where it will take me...

The recording thing is real good to improve ones groove I guess. I will get deeply into it in the future. As I said, I did that kind of stuff before, but I always had trouble analyzing it after recording. Slowing it down will really help. It is actually such a simple thning to do, I feel stupid that I didn`t have the idea earlier....

I have one more good idea on the subject: I use a Roland TD-12 for the recording because you can just use DI of a minidisc. Using an electronic set is helpfull, because you can choose really short sounds with a fast attack - that way it becomes very obvious if instruments don`t line up the way they should.

Greets!
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Stu,
Yes the Zildjian config is correct in a way. It doesn't show all the other alternatives that I have and use. The ride that I use on heavier stuff is a late 1940's Avedis ride with a really nice bell. I use a K Ride 20" when I play live with Porcupine Tree, and the Constantinople in the studio in lighter music. They're really beautiful cymbals the Constantinoples I don't don't want to play them too hard.

Cheers
Gavin
 
S

Stu_Strib

Guest
So what do you use in place of the Constantinoples in that Germany concert? I always get guys asking me if Constantinoples are too fragile. I only have a ride, so I can't comment on the crashes.

Also, I just moved here to the UK from the States, and I never heard of your band over there. Do you have a pretty good following Stateside, or is that something you are trying to break into more?
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Stu,
on the German concert I would have been using a K 20" ride
the main crashes would be
A Custom Projection crash 18"
K dark crash 15"
K custom dark crash 18"

The Constantinople crashes are beautiful but I certainly would not use them live with PT. I'd be too worried about cracking them!!!

cheers
Gavin
 

Sonor

Member
Gavin Harrison said:
Hi folks,

Sonor - Glad you're back on the drums (apologies to your wife!!!) Thanks for the nice words about In Absentia. I don't think of myself as a double bass player - I've never really liked playing 16s on them. But I love trying to find little moments that I could slip in here and there (especially useful in a fill).
Sorry we didn't play "Creator" but I really need three hi hats to play it. When I recorded it I had an extra hi hat on my right (with a mini hi hat half open on top of it - actually two 8" splash cymbals) as well as my hi hat on my left. We did play it on the first couple of tours of In Absentia...but we dropped it and I don't carry the extra hats with me these days.
Hey no need to apologize to the wife, I don't!!

That's pretty interesting about the 3 hats needed...explains a lot! Just love all the subtle stuff your doing there, and what I like about it most is that you if you don't listen hard enough you'll miss much more. I love that type of drumming. Of course the rest of the song is good to...ah crap the whole album is good! But I can't for the life of me figure out how you play "Collapse the Light" ;)

Great to have you around!
 

Tom Miller

Junior Member
Hello Gavin! Just like Sonor said, it is great to have you around! Your drumming is an inspiration and I epecially love the way you sometimes end fills with two cymbal crashes instead of the usual one. Beautiful one-two punch! Keep up the great work and I hope to catch you live and in person here in the States one day soon!
 
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