What is your focus, Chops or Groove

Formless Method

Senior Member
I humbly think that both of them are important. It is so important to groove and stay in context of the music (if you want to get hired...and called back). Yet, if they say "give the drummer some" then you should be able to rip (again, within the context of the music)

When teaching my students new patterns, drum fills, etc, I always show them how to play it with in a musical context first. I think it is far more impressive to play a extremely complex lick that fits with the music, rather than whipping our useless licks at any given time.

Honestly, drummers can go back and forth with this topic all day. I think it all comes down to what you want from your drumming. If you expect to be a working drummer, performer, session drummer, etc, then you are going to have to learn to contain the wild spazz moments. But if drumming is just a hobby or something that is fun or you are just messing around with friends, then there is nothing wrong with knowing how to execute some insanely fast spicy double pardiddle fla fla triple egg whites while crossing over from your hi hat to the trash can ;-)
My situation is the exact opposite. When I am playing with friends orlow key gigs I focus totally on the groove and love it. I can sit back, have fun, make money and enjoy the music and the other musicians...

BUT...

There are many times when I am on a paying gig that bands want me to take a solo and I'm not talking about one, I am talking around 4 per gig, OR the music calls for power endurance and fast fills and fast playing. When this occurs I do what I do and thats that. Some bands actually hire me because they like my groove but also like my chops.

So my laid back moments are usually with friends, at home with the headphones or low key gig where I have been hired to play soft jazz or maybe a wedding gig but I also have gigs and sessions come up where I am expected to bring the groove right along with chops.

In a nutshell it pays to have groove just as it does to have chops. Just as long as you can use them appropriately
 
Last edited:
I humbly think that both of them are important. It is so important to groove and stay in context of the music (if you want to get hired...and called back). Yet, if they say "give the drummer some" then you should be able to rip (again, within the context of the music)

When teaching my students new patterns, drum fills, etc, I always show them how to play it with in a musical context first. I think it is far more impressive to play a extremely complex lick that fits with the music, rather than whipping our useless licks at any given time.

Honestly, drummers can go back and forth with this topic all day. I think it all comes down to what you want from your drumming. If you expect to be a working drummer, performer, session drummer, etc, then you are going to have to learn to contain the wild spazz moments. But if drumming is just a hobby or something that is fun or you are just messing around with friends, then there is nothing wrong with knowing how to execute some insanely fast spicy double pardiddle fla fla triple egg whites while crossing over from your hi hat to the trash can ;-)
 

evilg99

Platinum Member
I just want to be Benny Greb.

I work on both groove and chops and grops and choove and all that, and yes you need chops so you can groove and vice versa...and without going over all the threads about this topic, I know several people have already mentioned it... my focus is on phrasing. How to execute ideas and thinking in musical phrases.
Playing a repeating groove or pattern, playing endless rudiments around the drum set is fine but what really gets me about guys like BG is the his mastery of the flow of musical ideas...so well constructed and it never sounds forced or like he's thinking. It just all sounds good. And it's chock-full of both groove and chops.

Neal

edit: yeah, i should have read a few more responses....I'm very much agreeing with the post above as well ^^^
 

_Leviathan_

Senior Member
My focus is flow. I was in one band where it was mostly acoustic/folk, and the drums were supposed to stay out of the way. In most of the music I play (funk/rock/metal, some electronic inspired and fusion grooves) chops can propel the music if used appropriately (e.g. Tony Williams, Keith Moon) as long as the player is listening and trying to make the music flow and feel good with their chops and rhythm they add to the music.

You need chops to play some grooves (try to play drum n bass or bop without some kind of chops) and to have the headroom to get to play the fills and grooves a situation calls for comfortably, chops can be helpful. Used too much or inappropriately, chops can make a lot of music that isn't metal/fusion sound terrible and utterly disrupt the music. But like I said, having chops is necessary to play some grooves which I think flow but rely on busier/ghost note heavy patterns and faster tempos.

When I hear groove, I hear a static, unchanging, simple pattern. When I hear chops, I hear a lot of fills, and playing really busy or technically demanding music. It's just semantics I guess, but I try to make everything I play flow, whether you want to call it chops or groove, and play things I and my bands like while connecting to the audience. Unless you are playing math rock or tech metal and the whole point is to sound disjointed and not flow, the music should be propelled forward and help to flow with every note you play on the drums in my view.
 

Formless Method

Senior Member
As a regular lurker and "fun" time poster I got to say that I admire those with the moxie to put it out there. Good job Jay. So IMHO groove sells. For most songs it's groove that counts most (let the song be heard), followed by fills and chops last. But the "chops" guy you had us check out doing double stroke rolls on you tube...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LjJZJJ5QBhc

well he's just sick! He makes me want to just sell my drums and quit.
He indeed takes the double stroke to the limits as Buddy Rich did with the single stroke.

When I see drummers like this and others it inspires me to pick upmy sticks and get better. This guy inspires me to work on doubles more because wow he gets such a sound from them and they really look amazing. He also looks like he is having a lot of fun playing those doubles. Good grief look at the height of his sticks. Looks like he's mixing up batter lol.
 

Skyking

Senior Member
As a regular lurker and "fun" time poster I got to say that I admire those with the moxie to put it out there. Good job Jay. So IMHO groove sells. For most songs it's groove that counts most (let the song be heard), followed by fills and chops last. But the "chops" guy you had us check out doing double stroke rolls on you tube...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LjJZJJ5QBhc

well he's just sick! He makes me want to just sell my drums and quit.
 

radman

Senior Member
In golf, it is said: Drive for show, putt for dough. I'll take the liberty of transferring this to the chops vs. groove discussion for drummers.

To possibly bore you with my journey thus far:

I wanted to be Buddy, Dave W, Omar, etc. and overplayed as a kid. I stopped playing during some traveling, young family, house building years. My tricks, thrills, and fills eroded. When I resumed playing, through a chance sequence of events, I was lucky enough to play with some swing players I really respected (and admittedly was intimidated by). I played very simply and locked in as best I could.

I think I was really listening and enjoying the other players ore than anything - lol. However, I was keeping time, comp'ing with them, and was hearing everything and contributing (rather than finding a spot to place a rehearsed Buddy lick). The compliments came forth from these very guys I respected. "A drummer who listens!?!?" was a common statement.

The light went on.

As been said by many ... chops are nothing if the groove isn't there. My four bar breaks are not the talk of the town and I'll never go viral on youtube. However, I keep getting the calls I want from the players I want to be with.

( I'm not convinced I ever got my chops back ... but likely I was not as good as I thought I was anyway! ha ha ha)

best,
radman
 

BachBeat

Senior Member
When I listen to some drummers, I find you need some chops to groove like they do, and sometimes I feel they need groove within their chops, it's all a question of balance and taste, some of the greats achieve this all the times, like Vinnie Colaiuta or Steve Gadd, just to name a couple...

There's also that cat called Benny Greb http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/bennygrebmdonenotesanka.html, a good example were you need both.

My focus is to play what I think and feel fits the music, but I admit I like to add some embellishments, even if it's very subtle.

^^^^This is great stuff.

Just to add a little to this thought...

Music, especially in its more 'complex' forms, is often referred to as a conversation. There are many ways to participate in a conversation - the person that's talking all the time and using fancy words often isn't the most popular, and often it's those that learn to listen well who are the most enjoyable company. This goes for drummers as well.

Secondly, I think that there's a degree of humility required to play for the song, as opposed to playing to impress other musicians. It's not easy sometimes - but it's the difference between playing to impress other drummers/musos (a 'sometimes' thing), and playing for people in general (an all-the-time thing). Most people can't relate to or even enjoy polyrhythmic permutations across time signatures and bar lines - and that's fine.

Drums are there to serve the music, rather than to be served by the music.

For every (insert choppy drummer here) record you check out, make sure you chase down a little Jordan, Keltner, Porcaro, Blaine...maintain a little balance in the diet ;)

Peace.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
the definition of "chops" has changed

but either way ....if your chops don't groove they are useless
 

yesdog

Silver Member
The most important thing is groove, thats what makes the band or song sound so good. I am also for having a great skill set. Basicly I would rather have a 500hp engine and only use 100hp of it. With great technique and groove you do not have to work as hard to play, which produces a great sound with out working as hard at it. I seldom ever use chops when playing classic rock or pop music, but sometimes its nice to have.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I tend to be of the chops being the ability to play, as discrete from flashy licks, camp. By being able to play, I mean the totality of playing an instrument. Being able to intentionally play any note at any point in time with a sound that is musically appropriate. Tone production gets left out of a lot of chops discussions. In my guitar playing world I get a lot of questions about my gear. As if it were the reason for the tone they hear. Well, partly it is. And it's hard to play for many people because I've selected everything on it's ability to let ME generate the tone. So if you expect the rig to create the tone, you're going to get a bunch of random sounds out of it, because that's how you touch the instrument. Same thing happens on drums. At a corporate event sound check once I sent the drummer out front to hear how his kit sounded and played a bit on them. The keyboard player came up to me off on the side and asked "How come XXXX's drums sound so much better when YOU played them?" And that drummer had studied with the famous Chuck Brown. It's because I grew up poor and didn't have the luxury of buying new stuff everything I didn't like how it sounded. So along with learning how to play the songs, I had to learn how to make it sound something like it did on the record. I couldn't (and still can't rationalize) just go out and buying a new pair of hi-hats because they didn't sound as good as so and so's. I had to try hitting mine different ways, trying to coax the sound in my head out of them. Same with everything else. One thing I've noticed is that people who can really play, can play on anything.

As to the typical thing of speed and flashy licks vs. concentrated on a solid groove; I don't want to become known as the drummer who loses it all the time trying to show off. I've played guitar over enough of these folks to sour me on playing it at all. One of the reasons I've retreated to the backline and the drumset. But I realize that some folks who see you just keeping time (no matter how well) think that you just must not be that good of a drummer. So I practice the fancy licks at home. Trying to get solid enough with them that they are in time and with the groove. And start adding them in to my playing as I'm able. But never at the sacrifice of interrupting the song.

As it happens, largely due to the last serious band I played guitar with having a drummer who did this, the "chops" that move me are the linear gospel chop type of licks. Mostly because they sing and keep the flow of the song. They remind me of a well played comp on a melodic instrument. And as I learn and practice these, I find that the key to making them sound like Tony Royster, Gerald Heyward or whoever, is the use of groove in execution. It isn't just "rlrklrlkk" but "rLrklRlkK" or some other dynamic variation, and done with a swing groove just as the previous beat pattern had laid down.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Right, ok well i can appreciate your opinion and at least you are honest with yourself and your ambitions. Those are all great things to focus on.

Me being a working drummer has a lot to do with making sure I can play what is thrown at me. Be it rock, jazz, blues, country, bossa novas,second line etc. Even if I wasn't a working drummer i think I would still work on my power, endurance and speed just as I would my on my dynamics, groove, and feel.

Different strokes for different folks indeed :)
Yep. I'm definitely not in the market to fill in playing country, bossa, jazz gigs.

Just because we all play drums doesn't mean we're doing the same thing - our aims, passions, hopes and irritations often differ wildly.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
My focus is on “chops” and “groove” and a whole lot of other non-mutually exclusive, equally important things.
Pretty much covers my approach.

When I was being taught, the term "chops" simply meant a players overall skillset.....nothing more, nothing less. It incorproated their whole approach to the instrument. It certainly wasn't the case that blistering speed a la Royster or Lang meant you "had chops" but guys like Jordan or Gadd (who incidently, has "chops" in spades) didn't because they were "groove drummers." I only encountered that definition of the term when I joined up here. I'm guessing it's a more modern approach.

Check the way in which the old jazz guys referred to the term chops. It's far more in line with Caddy's definition than the one that seems to get used these days.
 

Formless Method

Senior Member
That would be me. I decided some time ago that I wasn't interested in beating my instrument as though we didn't get along. Nor do I care for playing fast and being exciting and rushing around as though trying to catch a train. That's someone else's gig.

I focus on flow, feel, texture and tone. I am a hobbyist drummer :)
Right, ok well i can appreciate your opinion and at least you are honest with yourself and your ambitions. Those are all great things to focus on.

Me being a working drummer has a lot to do with making sure I can play what is thrown at me. Be it rock, jazz, blues, country, bossa novas,second line etc. Even if I wasn't a working drummer i think I would still work on my power, endurance and speed just as I would my on my dynamics, groove, and feel.

Different strokes for different folks indeed :)
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.........."

When playing music, nothing comes before the music. The context of that musical situation may or may not lend itself to more freedom but regardless, it has to fit musically - the groove you are playing and any kind of "chops" you're trying to execute within.
This ^^^

When I listen to some drummers, I find you need some chops to groove like they do, and sometimes I feel they need groove within their chops, it's all a question of balance and taste, some of the greats achieve this all the times, like Vinnie Colaiuta or Steve Gadd, just to name a couple...

There's also that cat called Benny Greb http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/bennygrebmdonenotesanka.html, a good example were you need both.

My focus is to play what I think and feel fits the music, but I admit I like to add some embellishments, even if it's very subtle.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
...but when they are playing in a high tempo kind of song and everything is building, the band, the power, and even the audience is on their toes the drummer just lags behind because he doesn't have the endurance, power and speed needed for a particular song.
That would be me. I decided some time ago that I wasn't interested in beating my instrument as though we didn't get along. Nor do I care for playing fast and being exciting and rushing around as though trying to catch a train. That's someone else's gig.

I focus on flow, feel, texture and tone. I am a hobbyist drummer :)
 

EarthRocker

Senior Member
I'm a pure groove drummer. I try to follow in the footsteps of Jean-Paul Gaster (whom I've been taken lessons from courtesy of bandhappy)

I can play some fills, but they're usually the last thing I think about. My function is to make sure the band sounds good as a whole, and if the drums are sticking out like a sore thumb, I don't feel like I've done my job. I've been called a 'solid' drummer many times, and for me that is the highest compliment I could ever receive as a drummer.
 

boltzmann's brain

Senior Member
i'm surprised that this topic would become heated. it's totally a matter of personal preference and priority. that keeps things interesting, eh? i guess some people take themselves too seriously. it's fascinating to see a musician's (or even a drummer's, for that matter) personality come out in their playing, don't you think?
 

dmacc

Platinum Member
"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.........."

When playing music, nothing comes before the music. The context of that musical situation may or may not lend itself to more freedom but regardless, it has to fit musically - the groove you are playing and any kind of "chops" you're trying to execute within.
 
Top