Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?"

gobears10

Member
Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?"

Hey guys,

So right now, I'm in an interesting spot in my drummer where it is actually "easier" for me to play more technical drum parts than more "feel" and "groove" based drumming.

For example, I covered both Rush's Tom Sawyer and Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man, and I had a significantly easier time nailing the odd time signatures and technical fills in the Rush song than getting the "slightly swung" feel of Son of a Preacher Man down.

Here's my Tom Sawyer cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RACrMqcYpiI

Here's my Son of a Preacher Man cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p4hIgOBez4

For reference, I have a marching band background from highschool where I played drumline. Maybe that's added a little to my potential stiffness in playing?

Thanks a ton for your help :)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

Hey guys,

So right now, I'm in an interesting spot in my drummer where it is actually "easier" for me to play more technical drum parts than more "feel" and "groove" based drumming.

For example, I covered both Rush's Tom Sawyer and Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man, and I had a significantly easier time nailing the odd time signatures and technical fills in the Rush song than getting the "slightly swung" feel of Son of a Preacher Man down.

Here's my Tom Sawyer cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RACrMqcYpiI

Here's my Son of a Preacher Man cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p4hIgOBez4

For reference, I have a marching band background from highschool where I played drumline. Maybe that's added a little to my potential stiffness in playing?

Thanks a ton for your help :)
First, there's no magic to playing grooves that have a little swing. It's not a "gift" -- it's something you can practice. But, if you don't specifically target this skill, it won't come to you.

On this website, https://www.bluewaterkingsband.com/songs-and-media you can find a cover of Preacher Man, and that's me on drums.

For reference, I have a marching band background from highschool where I played drumline. Maybe that's added a little to my potential stiffness in playing?
In the last couple decades, at least, Modern drumlines tend to play in a very straight manner, with little to no swing. Parade drumming used to swing quite a bit, but that fell out of vogue some time ago. So, modern drumline experience won't help with playing a "slightly swung" feel. But it won't "add stiffness" either. More accurately, your technique, experience, and "inner clock" will help you to quickly acquire this new skill.

Learn to play this:

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The goal, of course, is to play with a slight swing, somewhere in the grey area between the measures above. To practice that, use a drum machine (Monkey Machine is a great online, free tool), enter in a string of 16ths on the snare, and adjust the swing slider to somewhere between zero and 100%. Then, practice playing the above 16ths, and really lock in with the slightly swung snares coming out of the drum machine. After a few days of this, practice simple 16th note grooves and fills, along with the drum machine slightly swinging.

Hope this helps! Good luck!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

Opinions and suggestions only:

I didn't think your "Preacher Man" video was bad at all. Everything can groove deeper though.

To surgically work on groove, my recommendation would be to get yourself in the mental mode of what drummers think of as "just keeping time"...which your's ain't bad to start with. But everyone knows the real test of groove is leading a band. That's where everything is in the white hot spotlight.

More suggestions:

All the hi hat work and the bell work...just for practice....to try and address the groove aspect only, maybe try losing that stuff temporarily and just playing straight through the whole song, no fills, no extra anything...just keep time and do dynamics. Easy, right? :)

ALL your focus goes on landing the hits so they feel great....no creative ideas for now...maybe even straighten the bass drum pattern out to quarters, for now. Definitely simplify it to some ostinato. I believe that's what has to happen in the head to address groove. Lose everything extra, play ONLY what's essential, try not being great, simplify not complicate, and focus on the dynamics....coming down for the vocals, smoothly build the solos, whatever needs to be done, without losing that feel.

It's really hard to resist those creative thoughts, and even though I thought your playing felt good, I understand that it has to feel good to YOU as you're playing it.

I think that's the real issue here. I contend that the extra thoughts of the creative stuff you played, is mentally rocking your boat. It's 100% mindset based.

After simplifying the thoughts, and when you're happy with your groove, then add the other tasty stuff back in. The trick is to not lose that groove in your head when you do the tasty stuff.

Groove is a feeling and feelings are conveyed very simply.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

You just really have to want to.

As said, I don't think there's any secret or quick fix. You just have to put in the time and effort you've done with the stuff that's more comfortable for you.

Everything's like this. There's depth to every style. There's not a little swing there. It's just that very few up beats are played. My guess is that you in general haven't played much shuffle, swing, reggae etc... All that stuff will help.

Get your Home at Last, Rosanna, Buffalo Soldier and SRV on and get so you can do it relaxed and comfortably flowing at any dynamic.

I don't really think a marching background is a hinderance, it just might mean that you haven't done this other stuff so much. A lot of the old greats have a marching background btw. Gadd definetly pays homage to his every time he plays Crazy Army.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1j1_aeK6WA
 
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Mongrel

Silver Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

I don't know...maybe it's me, but "Son of a Preacher Man" ain't got no groove to speak of from the start. Sooooo many other tunes you could use to work on feel man.

So maybe that's part of the problem?
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

I call that “bouncy time” where there’s more of the feel in the hats and combined with the kick(which was hard to hear on my iPad.)
 

hawksmoor

Senior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

I would suggest listening to a lot of swung soul and funk grooves, funk-era James Brown especially, songs like Escapism and Make It Funky, or Stevie Wonder's Superstition, to get you in that mindset. Because I play this kind of music, I find it hard not to swing a groove. I mean I find it hard to play a groove straight if it's required because I'm so used to playing soul and funk.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

I don't know...maybe it's me, but "Son of a Preacher Man" ain't got no groove to speak of from the start.
This track oozes groove! Have you listened to the whole tune, specifically, the ride cymbal near the end?

And do you realize that the Muscle Shoals crew performed this tune? The same crew that recorded with Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

With groove, in some cases, space has to be left to allow the listener's imagination to fill it in. If I pass up a fill opportunity, I will get tension in return. Which is a really great deal. Fills are the antidote to tension. That's the secret weapon of leaving some space that no one mentions, the aspect of the listener's imagination. Not doing something could be considered as another tool to use to achieve an effect. Just like a rest can be used as a musical statement.

Ringo did this well IMO.

With groove, my attitude is to pass by the low hanging fruit of easy fill opportunities. When I do that, groove/tension starts to build up and accumulate.

I like to keep the release part of tension and release a tiny percentage of the tension part, and only use it only at key points in the song. Groove can be looked at like tension, fills break tension. Groove...relies on tension IMO.

Some things...especially Blues and groove based stuff... work way better merely implied...even completely passed by...than played.
 

hawksmoor

Senior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

This track oozes groove! Have you listened to the whole tune, specifically, the ride cymbal near the end?

And do you realize that the Muscle Shoals crew performed this tune? The same crew that recorded with Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin?
It was recorded at American Sound Studio in Memphis, with Gene Chrisman on drums. The Memphis Boys sure as hell backed some big artists, including Elvis but not Pickett or Aretha unfortunately. Bobby Womack was a guitarist in the studio band and did record there as an artist.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

It was recorded at American Sound Studio in Memphis, with Gene Chrisman on drums. The Memphis Boys sure as hell backed some big artists, including Elvis but not Pickett or Aretha unfortunately. Bobby Womack was a guitarist in the studio band and did record there as an artist.
True. Preacher Man was also recorded at Muscle Shoals for Aretha Franklin, before being given to Dusty Springfield.

Personnel aside, who dismisses Preacher Man as not having groove?
 

hawksmoor

Senior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

True. Preacher Man was also recorded at Muscle Shoals for Aretha Franklin, before being given to Dusty Springfield.

Personnel aside, who dismisses Preacher Man as not having groove?
Not me, my friend. I've played it.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

If I pass up a fill opportunity, I will get tension in return. Which is a really great deal.
+1

Fills resolve tension. Sometimes it's better not to resolve the tension.

If you maintain a solid groove while the band is ramping up tension before a transition, sometimes that can be more dramatic than ramping up with them. Especially if you then make a nice clean cut from one part to another, with no fill to hide the seam. Then you sound like the grownup in the room.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

This track oozes groove! Have you listened to the whole tune, specifically, the ride cymbal near the end?

And do you realize that the Muscle Shoals crew performed this tune? The same crew that recorded with Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin?
Well....it looks like Mongrel has signaled for a time out.... He's over at the turntable with his headset on. Wait...wait a minute-I do believe his toe is tapping. Can we get confirmation on that from the sideline? Bill? Ahh, yes Frank we have confirmed a definate toe-tap....annd....aannnd....yes we have head bob! I think he will have concede defeat on this one Frank. No way can he continue to hold his "no groove" position after this fiasco. I mean a head-bob?

Ok, I think he is about finished...headphones off, turntable slowly spinning down. Let's go to the field for Mongrel's response.....

Ahhh....ermmmm....*cough*....sputter.....(toe digs into dirt etc.)....

Upon further review of the tune, and several versions compared with proper headphones and NOT listening to a drum cover on an iPhone, I humbly submit my previous response in this thread was hasty, and incorrect. I now concede defeat on this issue, and will stand in agreement with Officials, that this song, "Son of a Preacher Man", has got groove. Furthermore, it is precisely the subtlety of the groove that makes it so "groovy"....

I now will subject myself to a voluntary time out of 30 days from posting opinions on what grooves and what don't.

Yours Truly,

Mongrel
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

Well....it looks like Mongrel has signaled for a time out.... He's over at the turntable with his headset on. Wait...wait a minute-I do believe his toe is tapping. Can we get confirmation on that from the sideline? Bill? Ahh, yes Frank we have confirmed a definate toe-tap....annd....aannnd....yes we have head bob! I think he will have concede defeat on this one Frank. No way can he continue to hold his "no groove" position after this fiasco. I mean a head-bob?

Ok, I think he is about finished...headphones off, turntable slowly spinning down. Let's go to the field for Mongrel's response.....

Ahhh....ermmmm....*cough*....sputter.....(toe digs into dirt etc.)....

Upon further review of the tune, and several versions compared with proper headphones and NOT listening to a drum cover on an iPhone, I humbly submit my previous response in this thread was hasty, and incorrect. I now concede defeat on this issue, and will stand in agreement with Officials, that this song, "Son of a Preacher Man", has got groove. Furthermore, it is precisely the subtlety of the groove that makes it so "groovy"....

I now will subject myself to a voluntary time out of 30 days from posting opinions on what grooves and what don't.

Yours Truly,

Mongrel
Hahahahaha! Sorry if I came down hard there!
 

Flaflaflafla

Junior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

To turn things around, anyone want to cover Tom Sawyer with a swing feel , or maybe second line?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

+1

Fills resolve tension. Sometimes it's better not to resolve the tension.

If you maintain a solid groove while the band is ramping up tension before a transition, sometimes that can be more dramatic than ramping up with them. Especially if you then make a nice clean cut from one part to another, with no fill to hide the seam. Then you sound like the grownup in the room.
Extremely well said. Especially the more dramatic part. Like you're keeping your cool when everyone else is gearing up for some big change, except the drums. He knows what's coming and isn't changing a thing because he absolutely knows it works best that way. (exceptions abound) That creates something palpable and hard to describe.

IMO it's nothing short of one of the secrets to playing groove, basically not filling. It's a constant that when it's watertight, it transcends. I read it described somewhere as novacaine. You just keep hitting the same spot over and over and after a little bit, entrainment starts to set in. Fills IMO ruin entrainment essentially.

Copy and pasted:

Entrainment in the biomusicological sense refers to the synchronization (e.g. foot tapping) of organisms to an external perceived rhythm such as human music and dance. Humans are the only species for which all individuals experience entrainment, although there are documented examples of entrained nonhuman individuals


It's definitely the goal in groove, entrainment, despite the misguided fact that it's perceived by a lot of drummer as being boring. There's a higher purpose to entrainment than the drummers perceived boredom. It's for the other musicians and the listener's benefit.

"Sometimes it's better not to resolve tension".

I'd go one step further and say that the longer I don't resolve tension, the better it feels when I do. It works so well and it's really so easy (in theory) to do, that I consider it a shortcut or hack lol. The hard part IMO is not doing stuff. That's the challenge. I substitute dynamics for tom fills, more dramatic.

Things that always seems to work for me are closed and open rolls, cymbal swells followed by a choke, (dramatic) instead of crashing on beat one at the end of a solo, do a flam on the snare and go soft for the next solo or vocal and build that. So dramatic. Single noted fills IMO ruin the smooth buttery smooth texture that's needed for groove. Exceptions abound like riding on a tom, but still the hypnotic effect is still at the core.

Love groove. My heart beats in a shuffle rhythm.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

Hahahahaha! Sorry if I came down hard there!
Not at all...no need to apologize-I needed it!

When I first heard the cover....

Anyway, let's just say I realize now what gobears10 was talking about regarding"stiffness" and because I wasn't hearing the original it totally threw me off. When I listened to the Aretha and Dusty Springfield versions I saw...rather heard the light.k
 

TMe

Senior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

...Like you're keeping your cool when everyone else is gearing up for some big change, except the drums. He knows what's coming and isn't changing a thing because he absolutely knows it works best that way.
That's the illusion I try to create. In actual fact, I'm just not a great drummer and the simpler I keep things, the better I sound. So I might as well sell that as an artistic choice and dig into it.
 

Forcer

Junior Member
Re: Tom Sawyer was easier for me to play than Son of a Preacher Man. How can I develop better "feel?

If I pass up a fill opportunity, I will get tension in return. Which is a really great deal. Fills are the antidote to tension.
Holy moly - I absolutely love this phrase!! Jedi level stuff.
 
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