Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

bsmntdrummer

Junior Member
I recently heard a bass player say that a particular drummer had a "deep pocket". I've certainly heard, and probably used, this term before, but when i really think about it, I'm not sure I know exactly what it means. Is it more about what you play, or how you play it?

Off the top of my head, Steve Jordan and Neil Peart might represent opposite ends of the "pocket" spectrum. To be clear, I'm a fan of both, but I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone praise Peart's "pocket".

Now, if Jordan played a Rush groove, would we still feel his deep pocket? And if so, what would he do differently from Peart? Is it about note placement and dynamics? Or playing behind the beat? Or leaving space in the groove?


Conversely, if Peart played a Jordan groove, would it still make the girls want to shake their thing?
 

_Leviathan_

Senior Member
Why does Neil Peart have to play dance grooves? Let Steve Jordan be Steve Jordan, and Neil Peart be Neil Peart. Peart plays note heavy orchestrations around a very large setup that don't "groove" in the traditional way, would be inappropriate in most situations, but fit Rush like a glove. If Steve Jordan played Rush then since the music involves busy playing, it still wouldn't groove like a funk band because that is comparing apples to oranges. Maybe Neil Peart can't groove like Steve, but he's a different kind of player. Pocket is both what you play and the feel you put into it, along with the time and sound you produce.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It just has to do with the quality of your time, and the way you place your notes-- some quality beyond just playing accurate time. I'm sure someone has made up a scholarly definition for it, but I don't know what it is. It kind of suggests groove music, which Rush really isn't-- I don't known if it would become groove music if you had different musicians playing the same notes.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Why does Neil Peart have to play dance grooves?
It was never suggested that he should. It was simply a hypothetical question to open a discussion.

I think that pockets are more associated with music that has less drumming because the pocket seems to come more from the notes you don't play. For example, I can visualize a speed metal pocket but I'm not sure I've ever heard one.


And, I would assume that both of these mega players could fill each others roles to some degree.
 

bsmntdrummer

Junior Member
Ahh. As i should have expected, it is a bit of both.

Or a fruit.

Thanks for the clarification.

If I might follow up, do people tend to associate a "deep pocket" with playing behind the beat, rather than on top of or in front of it? Or is it more about just playing whatever the song requires and making it feel good, like No Way Jose suggests?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It just has to do with the quality of your time, and the way you place your notes-- some quality beyond just playing accurate time.
This rings true with me as well. It's how well you can make the music feel. Jeff Porcaro....Al Jackson...Steve Jordan, Levon Helm, James Gadsen...Those guys have pocket.

Every notes full value is savored. I don't think Steve Jordan can make a Rush song groove unless he really changes it all up. A Rush song is what it is, somewhat frantic... a one of a kind creation.

I think that pockets are more associated with music that has less drumming because the pocket seems to come more from the notes you don't play.
That's pretty cool too
 

PeteN

Silver Member
Pocket.....Play billy jean over and over as your drum to it, after 100 times or so you'll see improvement in your playing but keep going till you're sick of it then go more. Tom Petty songs are great for that too, learning to fly comes to mind.

All simple beats are difficult to own. Simple is not really simple if you want to make make people move to your drumming. You'll know when you own simple, it will be a feeling of understanding and control and you'll embrace it.
 

bsmntdrummer

Junior Member
Thanks for the wisdom and suggestions.

KIS, I love your idea of "time attention to the spaces and dynamic attention to the notes". I'd not thought of it that way before, but it makes total sense!
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
90 year old friend of mine played swing/big band back in the hey day and explained to me once, that a musician, whatever the instrument, was in the pocket when everything came together as one. Timing, improve, sound, etc. Said when you're grooving with the others you're in the pocket.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
trying to define "pocket" is like trying to define Love

just let it be what it is and you will know it when you feel it
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
trying to define "pocket" is like trying to define Love

just let it be what it is and you will know it when you feel it
pock·et noun \ˈpä-kət\

: a usually small cloth bag that is sewn into a piece of clothing, a larger bag, etc., and that is open at the top or side so that you can put things into it

: the amount of money that someone has available to spend

: a small bag or container that is attached to something and used to hold things

love noun \ˈləv\

: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person

: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
pock·et noun \ˈpä-kət\

: a usually small cloth bag that is sewn into a piece of clothing, a larger bag, etc., and that is open at the top or side so that you can put things into it

: the amount of money that someone has available to spend

: a small bag or container that is attached to something and used to hold things

love noun \ˈləv\

: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person

: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship

I rest my case
...................
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Most people wouldn't know a pocket if they were gagging on lint. Quite possibly the most overused term in the music world.

"Pocket" refers to the relative positioning between two or more sound sources; be it a drummer and bassist, a kick drum and snare drum and hi hat, a quintet, etc.

When we play as an individual on a drumset, the groove that we create has in its own right a "pocket". It's the way our elements flow together and create motion.

When we play with another musician, it's our relative positioning together and the way we flow that gives the music a feeling of life, bounce and movement. "Pocket".

When we play with a group say, a trio... the relative position of the drummer's kit elements (kick/snare/hats) fitting in with a bassist and guitarist and the margins surrounding each of those elements will dictate a pocket.

When playing music it's as if we are on at least a two dimensional plane, like a football field (measurable in latitude and longitude). Think of the bassist, drummer and guitarist trio as if they are in a sort of a triangular positioning; as long as they flow in that same positioning as we march through the song then they are maintaining some semblance of pocket. If it's an obtuse triangle when the tune starts then it ought to be an obtuse triangle when it's finished and not have morphed into a right or isosceles triangle which is what occurs with bands who are not paying attention to the finer points of time and flow.

Once you can visualize it on this flat field then float the concept of "pocket" into space where you add the "z" axis so you now have Latitude, Longitude and Altitude. (X, Y, and Z axii...)
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I prefer the term "Groove", no idea where pocket came from, its not even descriptive of of a band being "Tight".

When a song sounds "right", and moves you in some way, then the musicians are working as a unit and that is the groove, or pocket if you must.

It is posible to play something technicaly perfect but not make it groove, groove is an almost other worldly state that the whole band feels, when it happens, without having to communicate.
 
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