Thoughts and questions on "simplistic" drumming from a beginner's point of view

double_G

Silver Member
2) Why do certain drummers, like the Coldplay drummer, do nothing? No fills, no nothing? While playing, sometimes I can just "feel" that there is a fill there, and I do my own thing, and it sounds good (not my execution itself, but the element within the song...). Is it a concious decision by the drummer that musically it makes sense to do nothing, or is it a skill limitation?
it depends on the drummer, but in a lot of cases...especially if they record themselves or do a lot of studio gigs, i think it is intentional to play less to focus more on the groove, music. Steve Jordan is a perfect example & he plays studio gigs on guitar, bass & drums. so he definitely plays for the music & groove...what the other rhythm players want from a drummer.

i also feel like you might be getting at "how do these guys play so simply but still nail the time, breaks, simple fills & groove ?" in general, they are constantly moving / swaying / dancing / bobbing their heads to the time. i.e. the time / groove doesn't stop just because there was a break.
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
1) For me, playing a slow piece correctly is equally as hard as playing a fast piece. It takes more concentration to play something slow, and it takes more technique to play it fast.

2)That's playing to the music and to the audience.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
1) I noticed that in slower tempos, like in these two sons, although they are in essence very easy songs, it is harder to be precise and keep the beat in synch with the track's drums then compared to other faster tempo songs. Is it true? Or am I just too much of a beginner?
The slower the song, the more space in-between notes there is, so the more noticeable it is if there is a mistake.

2) Why do certain drummers, like the Coldplay drummer, do nothing? No fills, no nothing? While playing, sometimes I can just "feel" that there is a fill there, and I do my own thing, and it sounds good (not my execution itself, but the element within the song...). Is it a concious decision by the drummer that musically it makes sense to do nothing, or is it a skill limitation?
On the flip side, ask yourself, why play a fill at all? What is the purpose of a drum fill? Why do other songs contain so many fills?

Once you start to understand that, then it's easier to go back and see why sometimes they are not there.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
1) I noticed that in slower tempos...
Slower tempos are more difficult for exactly the reason Polly stated - that there's so much space between the notes that there's extra opportunity for error, and yes, the biggest mistake any drummer can make, noob or otherwise, is to take the time for granted. Like most things, it's a skill that needs to be developed.
2) Why do certain drummers, like the Coldplay drummer, do nothing? No fills, no nothing? While playing, sometimes I can just "feel" that there is a fill there, and I do my own thing, and it sounds good (not my execution itself, but the element within the song...). Is it a concious decision by the drummer that musically it makes sense to do nothing, or is it a skill limitation?
This is an excellent question, and one that gets debated an awful lot.

At the moment, I'm listening to Smashing Pumpkins and don't think that because Jimmy Chamberlain is taking some liberties by playing tasty fills, that he's taking anything away from anything. If anything, he's adding a very nice flavor.

To me, the guys playing like the guy from Coldplay are playing it too safe (I don't think for a minute that it's because he can't, though). I think he contributes to making the band sound sterile. And it's not just hiim, it's really the whole band, producer included; it's that deliberate approach to sanitize all the humanity out of the music that bothers me and I couldn't be happy being that kind of drummer. But I still like Coldplay and listen to them quite a bit because I really enjoy the songwriting. I just think they could be "better" for lack of a better word. Maybe "more interesting" would be a better way to put it.

Of course, just my personal opinion. There are no rules governing this stuff.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Following on from Karma's points, yes, recording yourself is a reality check.

Just wait until you're playing with a band and you're setting and controlling slower tempos rather than playing with recorded music. Then the bassist is looking at you funny because you've sped it up by 15 bpm and he or she's having to play like Jaco Pastorius to keep up and the vibe of the song is spoiled.

The bigger the spaces between the notes, the more room there is for error. It's easiest to lock into the groove at medium tempos. Playing fast and slow present their own challenges.

If a drummer isn't playing fills, with rare exceptions, it's by choice, not because they can't. When I started I thought tasteful drummers weren't any good - players who were 100 times better than I was. I didn't notice the subtle variations - not fills, just moving the patterns with the music.

The biggest noob error is to assume that timing is a given - something that happens naturally - because recorded music is always bang on time. Timing is all - the crux of the biscuit - and one of the most obvious differences between good and ordinary musicians.

There are a few reasons for not playing fills ... to not disrupt the sense of groove ... to put the emphasis on voice or lead instruments (after all, most of us are accompanists, not the feature) ... to create a mood (eg. hypnotic) etc. In short, it's because music is a team effort rather than just being about the drummer.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
RE #1: Yea I definitely agree, playing slowly is tough. First song i learned was Simple Man by Skynrd. Like you said the beats/fills themselves are easy, but playing well and in time is very difficult because there's so much space between everything and I get bored and subconsciously wanna speed up, but usually just when I'm having a bad day. Sometimes I get into it, and that makes it go better.

Added to that, its a drumless track and the bass is low in the mix, so the strong pulse isn't there. Plus, given that song's age, I doubt it was recorded to a click so I wouldn't be surprised if the tempo fluctuates a bit.
 
1) I noticed that in slower tempos, like in these two sons, although they are in essence very easy songs, it is harder to be precise and keep the beat in synch with the track's drums then compared to other faster tempo songs. Is it true? Or am I just too much of a beginner?
I suggest you tape yourself playing the faster songs (preferably with the rest of the song lower than your drums) and listen to yourself esp. with a metronome handy, I am sure you will find that you might not be as in sync as you think you are. Slower songs with less stuff going on just make it a lot more obvious where you're not 100% on time compared to faster. This said there ARE some tempos that are just harder to play for some weird reason...

2) Why do certain drummers, like the Coldplay drummer, do nothing? No fills, no nothing?
decision by the drummer? decision by the band? decision by the producer? could be one or all three in different amounts, pretty much any drummer you see at the pro level would be able to do whatever they want fills wise, but might choose not to for musical reasons: drums in a lot of genres are a supporting instrument, like bass, something you really notice if it's not there, but not something you want to drive a lot of attention towards.

While playing, sometimes I can just "feel" that there is a fill there, and I do my own thing, and it sounds good
sometimes less is definitely more, what might sound "good" to you now might not sound good at all in a few years, it is pretty common when you start playing a new instrument (esp. drums) to want to overplay things a bit :) I don't think I've ever met anybody starting to play drums that was really into just keeping a solid beat, everybody seems to go through a phase of wanting to put a fill in every 4 bars or so :)
 

haroldo_psf

Senior Member
Hello all again,

I have been learning to play for the past 3 months or so. While my favorite bands are nowhere near anything I can even attempt to play (Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Riverside, Rush, etc), I also like other more rithmically simpler bands like Coldplay, Red Hot Chilly Peppers, etc.

As I am playing along In My Place and Yellow by Coldplay (thanks DrumNinja!!!!), I had two thoughts that I would like to share and ask questions on:

1) I noticed that in slower tempos, like in these two sons, although they are in essence very easy songs, it is harder to be precise and keep the beat in synch with the track's drums then compared to other faster tempo songs. Is it true? Or am I just too much of a beginner?

2) Why do certain drummers, like the Coldplay drummer, do nothing? No fills, no nothing? While playing, sometimes I can just "feel" that there is a fill there, and I do my own thing, and it sounds good (not my execution itself, but the element within the song...). Is it a concious decision by the drummer that musically it makes sense to do nothing, or is it a skill limitation?
 
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