Picking out drum parts (especially kick) by ear

aaronmcd

Member
Hey, just wondering if this is something that comes with time spent on drums, like the ears/brain just learn to hear more drum parts as one progresses?

I started like 6 months ago, and learned a few beginner songs from sheet music (AC/DC, CCR, Eagles). Today I learned a simple CCR song (have you ever seen the rain) in about 20 minutes with the sheet music, and with the music in front of me I could see/hear the drum parts. (side note, the Roland TD-11K doesn't do a half open hi hat very well).

But I put on some Lynyrd Skynyrd to try and learn by ear and couldn't find the kick probably 3/4 of the time. I'm definitely better at hearing the hats and cymbals. I have no chance of picking out toms at this point & I assume that's normal, but I feel like the kick should be easier.

Yes, I have good headphones (ATH M40x). I feel like the kick gets lost behind everything else (especially bass).

Does it get easier? Is it often hard to pick out the kick? Does it just take a dozen listens to start hearing everything?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
The short answer is yes, it does get easier. The same is true for guitar and other stuff, too... The longer you play the easier it is to know what's going on in music and what you're hearing.

You're already on the right track learning to read and matching that to what you hear... Now start doing the opposite. Start writing out drum parts you listen to. Replicate what you wrote at the kit and try to hear if anything is missing.
 

ConcertTom

Senior Member
Also, sometimes the kick is just buried in the mix, especially in older recordings, and its just damn hard to hear.

That's when experience helps and you can make educated guesses about what would've *made sense* there to play.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
Completely agree with both responses above. Other thing you can do is boost the bass on the device you are using, that will help a little along with some quality ear buds or headphone. The buds that ship with phones are kind of junk in my book.
 

ConcertTom

Senior Member
Along the lines of messing with eq, I dont know if you have a DAW or other recording setup, but if you can do some surgical eq, there's often a lot of mudiness between the bass and drums in the range of 150Hz to 350Hz (approximately). You can fool around with bringing stuff down around there and see if the kick pops out more. Would also work if you have a graphic eq on your stereo system (do people still have stereo systems??)
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Listen to some Led Zep or early Deep Purple albums. Not only is the BD easy to hear, its also worth hearing and learning what those guys did with the BD.
 

aaronmcd

Member
Watso, how would you go about writing out the drums? Print some blank music paper and hand write/erase/rewrite by pencil while looping 10 seconds over and over?? Seems difficult! I probably should but it would be eating into kit time and I would probably feel compelled to go to the kit lol.

ConcertTom, I just use Spotify through headphones. I could check and see if spotify allows messing with eq but I doubt it.

Mikel, funny you mention Led Zep I just started listening to them more due to a series of unrelated references to Stairway to Heaven (my wife randomly mentioned it, then my bro played it in the car on the way to his jam session, then my drum teacher played it to show me a few drum parts. I never realized how awesome they were until literally a couple weeks ago.
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
I don´t know if before drums you played any other instrument. If not 6 months is too less, specially if you can´t read much. The transcribing process has to do with your level of reading/writting/performing.

In other words is REcognition, but if your level of reading is low you will not be able to transcribe correctly even if you try out simple drumming like the one you mentioned (Lynyrd Skynyrd).
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Watso, how would you go about writing out the drums? Print some blank music paper and hand write/erase/rewrite by pencil while looping 10 seconds over and over??
Sounds like a great idea.

Seems difficult!
At first, it is. It's like learning another language... But as you do it more it gets easier and you're better at picking out what's going on as I said. While at first you need to loop a few bars over and over to write them out, eventually you'll be able to get the majority of it in one pass, pausing between sections to write them out.

I probably should but it would be eating into kit time and I would probably feel compelled to go to the kit lol.
Learning to write english probably ate into your playground time, too, but I bet you're happy you can come here and use written communication to talk to us, and because you know the written form, you have a much better understanding of how the language works. There are lots of people who can speak but not read or write, so it's one way to go, but I think it's a dis-service to yourself.
 
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