How much "wrong" is still alright?

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I have long been interested in stripping things down so I'm playing the bare minimum number of notes. I have a modest technique so it's partially from necessity but I also like space and clarity in the music and enjoy playing in an accompanist role. So once I know a song I'll often play "perfectly".

If you play a lot of notes you have a greater risk of playing wrong notes but the "little errors" as per the above are much less noticeable.
Polly I'm with you. The music sounds better with minimal drums, most of the time. (My opinion) Leaving space for the others to use sounds best to me. There are those spots that require some extra drum notes, but mainly, I support the others and stay out of the way. I cut loose on endings, only because it sounds better that way. But I make sure that when the rest of the band is ready to hit the last note to cap it off, that I'm right there with them because I don't want them waiting for me to finish my thing. I try and end with them. The less I play the bigger I sound, it's like reaping more benefits from less exertion.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Polly I'm with you. The music sounds better with minimal drums, most of the time. (My opinion) Leaving space for the others to use sounds best to me. There are those spots that require some extra drum notes, but mainly, I support the others and stay out of the way. I cut loose on endings, only because it sounds better that way. But I make sure that when the rest of the band is ready to hit the last note to cap it off, that I'm right there with them because I don't want them waiting for me to finish my thing. I try and end with them. The less I play the bigger I sound, it's like reaping more benefits from less exertion.
It depends. If it's Billy Cobham playing with mahavishnu, you want him to go for it because he's going to take you to another planet. For mere mortals, though, stripped back usually sounds best.

There are two drumming bummers in my book. One is the drummer who plays more than he (generally it'll be a guy) can execute cleanly so it ends up busy and sloppy. The other bummer is the drummer who plays loud but can't control it enough to make it clean and give it a vibe. Then it just ends up thump thump thump and is no fun.

If a player has nice sound and feel, the occasional blunder is no big deal for audiences, who will lap up the 99% of good stuff and quickly forget errors (if they notice at all). It's bad for the cred if s/he has ambitions, though.
 
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SickRick

Guest
It's ok to make unlimited mistakes as long as you cover them up so well, that nobody realizes them.

Amount of mistakes allowed that are not covered up well and that the audience will realize you made: none.
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
Some friend of mine saw Tool live here in Norway. Daney Carey was playing this fill-beat thingy and he missed the hi-hat and it said *click*. He then took the most insane fill ever and covered it up(while having this weird frown), and most of the people watching didn't even notice it.

I've also seen Vinnie C. screw up one time too(on youtube) . It was with Herbie Hancock in Vienna. He did this really weird and out-of-time fill so Dave Holland(on bass) completely missed the beat and had to recover. It was funny, and you could see Vinnie trying to restrain himself from laughing. I've also seen Jojo Mayer screw up a fill.

The moral of the stories are, everyone makes mistakes(except robots). Thats what's makes it more exciting and makes the music into a living organism, instead of a block of metal.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
Amount of mistakes allowed that are not covered up well and that the audience will realize you made: none.
Unless you turn into a joke, or anything else that keeps the audience entertained. That's the aim of the game, after all.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
It's ok to make unlimited mistakes as long as you cover them up so well, that nobody realizes them.

Amount of mistakes allowed that are not covered up well and that the audience will realize you made: none.
Yes and no, Lutz. I have a feeling that what you think of as mistakes I would be be happy with :)

Audiences can tell the difference between a groove that's ok and a groove that's great. They won't criticise the former but they will definitely notice if the groove gets them a high.
 
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SickRick

Guest
Yes and no, Lutz. I have a feeling that what you think of as mistakes I would be be happy with :)

Audiences can tell the difference between a groove that's ok and a groove that's great. They won't criticise the former but they will definitely notice if the groove gets them a high.
Yeah sure! I wasn't really serious about that one, it was more meant as a joke or the ultimate goal that you can strive for.
Mistakes are part of the game and part of what makes us all sound the way we sound - great things can happen if a mistake is covered up in the right way (like the mentioned joke, a great fill.... whatever).

But what really never should happen is a mistake that everyone in the audience will relate to as a mistake. And then the big "DAMN I MADE A MISTAKE"-expression on your face.

As long as it entertains the crowd, everything is allowed I guess (unless you're bandleader is a guy like Frank Zappa who fires you after the show, but I guess that's another story).
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Unless you turn into a joke, or anything else that keeps the audience entertained. That's the aim of the game, after all.
I like that a lot. That is the name of the game, it's not how good you are, it's how good a time you can make others have.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
But what really never should happen is a mistake that everyone in the audience will relate to as a mistake. And then the big "DAMN I MADE A MISTAKE"-expression on your face
Good point. How we handle blunders depends on both how quickly we recover and also how we can work our reaction to fit the show.

Last night the drummer in the band I saw made an absolute howler. I've never seen a drummer at his level take almost a bar to recover from a blunder. He cracked up laughing. The bassist was still laughing at him a few bars later. The rest of the time the guy was laying down really tasty blues drumming. I guess after the bumble he dropped down an echelon in my mind, but I'll still be turning up next week to see them again and still love the guy's work. If there's 2 hours of good stuff and a few seconds of rubbish, the only thing lost is a bit of cred.

In my old wannabe fusion days I was invited to a jam with a couple of guys. It was going ok and after an hour or so we had a break. I had a scoob and we started up again. First up was Red Baron and I made a major howler like the guy last night did because I was too crazy-brave (ie. deluded) to simplify one of the big fills to a level that fit my technique.

The guitarist who'd invited me to the jam, and with whom I'd played with plenty of times before, chewed me out afterwards saying, "I just COULD NOT BELIEVE it when you dropped the beat!" and carried on about how I'd embarrassed him in front of the bassist (who he was hoping to impress). He never invited me to play again. It felt bad at the time but I learnt some good lessons:

1. Know your limitations

2. Playing with people who are around your level is the most fun

3. There's a time and place for scoobs.

I'd rather not be the one to "bring down the neighbourhood" anyway. It probably worked out for the best because I went back to playing with people (and genres) that better suited me and I liked them more as people too. I expect they found drummers who better suited them too so it all would have worked out. There's a lot of trial and error in music.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
what did you go to the musical school of satan? my teachers always taught me that if you make a mistake, 9 times out of 10, you're the only one who knows you made a mistake. just keep rolling. and for the 1 time that everyone notices, you pretty much just keep going anyways.

mistakes happen, hell thats why i'm here. lol ^.^
Hahahahaha. I honestly had to come to the conclusion about the audience not noticing mistakes myself, because that's not how I was taught. My first teacher was a serious jazz drummer. My school program, both when I was in school, and still now, a decade later, consistantly wins Atlantic Coast Championships in Tournament of Bands. My jazz instructor always pushed me really hard. The thing is, I don't think I'd be able to have half the drumming career I currently do if it wasn't that way. I have to say, of the actual drummers who were in the drumline (meaning people who were drummers, as opposed to floutists who took up bass drum) , probably a total of 20 of us, I know that 5 of us make a living drumming (either performance or teaching or both), and another 4 have day jobs but are in high demand teaching drumlines in the area. That's a pretty amazing percentage.
 
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wy yung

Guest
I'm not that fussed about mistakes these days. Although there was a time I threw a stick at a bass player who missed a change.

The kind of "mistakes" I dislike are as follows: Being late. Not turning up.

Recently I had to play percussion with a band and my rig was large, 3 congas, percussion table, djembe, bongos timbales etc. 30 minutes before it was time to play I learned the drummer wasn't going to show!!! I had to take all my gear down in record time and fetch a drumkit. A nightmare!

I'm not calling that guy ever again!
 

aydee

Platinum Member
The kind of "mistakes" I dislike are as follows: Being late. Not turning up.... I learned the drummer wasn't going to show!!! I had to take all my gear down in record time and fetch a drumkit. A nightmare!
Thats not a mistake, that a crime. He should be arrested and booked.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
"The difference between a pro and an amateur is simply the time between mistakes."

-- Anonymous Pro


While we strive to make no mistakes, they're all acceptable.
A lot of it has to do wth the genre and expectations of the audience. If you are playing punk, drunken country, etc., sloppy playing is part of the style. If you are playing rigidly scripted classical music that the audience already knows well, perfection may be the standard and it is attainable with enough work.

For the gigs I do, a few mistakes are tolerated. We play a few times a month with a few practices where we work on new material also; if we played four or more nights a week, we would sustain mastery of the material and soon do the songs flawlessly. The most crucial standard is: can the audience tell you screwed up? So far, from what I can tell, they never can. Usually, my band mates cannot tell when I mess up and vice-versa.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I usually make one or two minor mistakes per gig. These can include; missing a cymbal (how I achieve this is beyond me when you see how many I use), missing the head contact on a rimshot, hitting a tom rim on a fast fill, etc. These are just fact of life mistakes that can easily be engineered out if you're sufficiently dedicated to perfection. I'm usually getting off on the gig too much to be bothered with little slips. If I was recording some tracks then these little slips wouldn't be tolerated.

The other end of the scale is the train crash of a mistake. In a gig some years ago, I broke a stick in half 4 bars into a track. In trying to get a replacement out of my stick bag I dropped the other stick. Now I'm trying to pick up the dropped stick whilst still keeping some sort of beat going with one hand, my stool moved about 2" backwards & slipped into a hole in the riser that had been gaffered over. Yes, you guessed it, I fell off the stool. The band carried on regardless. I composed myself quickly and finished the track. The audience did notice and everyone had a good laugh at my expense.

I think even the big mistake is tolerable once in a while. We're human after all. It's making mistakes on a regular basis that needs addressing. That's just sloppy and shows a disregard for the music you're playing and your fellow musicians.
 

thelimpingtoad

Senior Member
Hahahahaha. I honestly had to come to the conclusion about the audience not noticing mistakes myself, because that's not how I was taught. My first teacher was a serious jazz drummer. My school program, both when I was in school, and still now, a decade later, consistantly wins Atlantic Coast Championships in Tournament of Bands. My jazz instructor always pushed me really hard. The thing is, I don't think I'd be able to have half the drumming career I currently do if it wasn't that way. I have to say, of the actual drummers who were in the drumline (meaning people who were drummers, as opposed to floutists who took up bass drum) , probably a total of 20 of us, I know that 5 of us make a living drumming (either performance or teaching or both), and another 4 have day jobs but are in high demand teaching drumlines in the area. That's a pretty amazing percentage.
Have you always lived in the Mechanicsburg area? if so we probably know a lot of the same teachers. I went to Cedar Cliff (class of 99) and grew up around here. Took lessons with like 3 different teachers around here and worked with a billion different drum techs.
Do you ever gig in the immediate harrisburg area? I looked at your site and it said you have a lot of gigs in reading, lancaster etc. let me know if you are playing around here I'd come out and hear you play.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Have you always lived in the Mechanicsburg area? if so we probably know a lot of the same teachers. I went to Cedar Cliff (class of 99) and grew up around here. Took lessons with like 3 different teachers around here and worked with a billion different drum techs.
Do you ever gig in the immediate harrisburg area? I looked at your site and it said you have a lot of gigs in reading, lancaster etc. let me know if you are playing around here I'd come out and hear you play.
Pretty much always. Got here when I was like 4 or 5. That's cool.

We do get down to Harrisburg every once in a while. I actually have two shows with two different bands at Mr. G's sports bar in Harrisburg coming up soon...I think one is end of September, one is early October. It'd be great to have you come out.
 
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