What should I do?

Funnyman

Senior Member
I'm playing with a blues band from where I get some drum lessons every now and then. And they are other kids my age. (16-17). They need a drummer for the blues band. And I'm not sure what to do. Because I want to go but I can't read music very well. Also triplets are my weakness, and I heard something before about blues being mostly triplets.
 

Spectron

Silver Member
If your just jammin around and having fun - go for it!
It will be a great learning experience to play with others.

However if this is a group of musicians who want to play out (gig)
then I would wait until I got my chops down....

If you are having trouble with triplets then you have no business in a gigging band.

But jam with friends all you can for sure!!!!
 

BrewBillfold

Silver Member
Always take the gig.
Yeah, I basically agree with that, too, as long as someone has a basic level of competence. Some of the best advice I ever got when I was starting out (actually, when I was starting to do some union-type gigs, but this was when I was still in high school), was this:

"When someone calls you for a gig, NEVER turn it down unless it would conflict with another gig you have scheduled already, and NEVER lie about that because sometimes they'll find out. If the guy says, 'Do you play Dixieland?', even if you've never even heard of Dixieland, say, 'Yeah, of course man'. And then as soon as you put down the phone, head to the record store, the library--anywhere you can think of [this was prior to the Internet] and just immerse yourself in Dixieland records, studying them, trying to play along, cramming to learn as much as you can about it before the gig."

Nowadays, with the Internet, that is far easier to do than it was when I was starting out. No matter how obscure the genre might be, no matter what they want you to know, you can find it online.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Never fear. If you've been listening to music, all you're gonna do is emulate what you've heard. The only way to find out if you can play with other people, is to go out and play with other people. Go and have fun, and make mental notes on what worked and didn't work, but then at least you'll know!
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I'm playing with a blues band from ... kids my age. (16-17). They need a drummer .... I want to go but I can't read music very well.
Take the gig ... most of the cats who wrote those blues songs, couldn't read music either. Didn't stop them, now did it?
Also triplets are my weakness, and I heard something before about blues being mostly triplets.
So get with it. The more you play (some people call it "practice"), the better you're gonna get.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
Lessons are great to learn proper technique and add to your bag of tricks but where you get good at execution is through practice, practice and practice. My friends and family tell me that I've gotten much better that when I joined my first band on drums. I did this through taking lessons and practicing my butt off!

In my experience the best thing to do is write a part that's just a little to hard to get down. It's important that you can picture how you want it to sound in your head. Then just work at it on your own and with the band till you can nail that sucker everytime. Then repeat. This way you're constantly improving and have victories along the way to keep you encouraged.

Get yourself a practice pad, can't afford one? A mouse pad on a table will do fine. Then just lay it down on the coffee table and work out those triplets while you're watching TV or at the computer. If you can afford one or find one online a metronome really helps. start slow and try to get crisp clean triplets on both your hands. Like this:

RRR LLL RRR LLL

Hope that helps!
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Blues is a vocabulary all it's own. And the only way you're going to learn it is to hunt down some music and listen to it (find anything with Sam Lay on it). The only way to get a double shuffle to groove is to keep doing it with a bass player.

I've heard Wynton Marsailles say that it's more like waltz time superimposed over 4 than triplets.
 

Florian

Gold Member
recipe for playing the blues:

Take Tylenol PM or chug a bottle of Nyquil....set up drums...play.


F
 

Garvin

Pioneer Member
recipe for playing the blues:

Take Tylenol PM or chug a bottle of Nyquil....set up drums...play.
LOL! Totally. I sort of feel like the blues gigs I play are glorified practice time. Great to work on technique, dynamics and tempo. But there really isn't a whole lot that you have to do other than start and stop at the same time as everyone else. Work on feel at these gigs. But oh man, if I didn't have other bands to play with, these blues gigs would kill me. They can get really really really boring.

And take that from someone who plays about 2-4 of these a month.
 

Florian

Gold Member
LOL! Totally. I sort of feel like the blues gigs I play are glorified practice time. Great to work on technique, dynamics and tempo. But there really isn't a whole lot that you have to do other than start and stop at the same time as everyone else. Work on feel at these gigs. But oh man, if I didn't have other bands to play with, these blues gigs would kill me. They can get really really really boring.

And take that from someone who plays about 2-4 of these a month.
I used to play in a blues band for nearly 12 years.....It was awful for creativity, but it paid the bills.....I could drink all night long and still keep decent time. Thankfully I moved on to a different band which allows me to explore a bit more.

F
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Garvin brings up a good point: Once you learn the language of blues (8 bar, 12 bar, standard progressions), you can kind of set the plane on autopilot as far as timekeeping and pay attention to the dozen other things that we sometimes overlook. Dynamics, touch, feel, and definitely - definitely! - less is more. The drums very rarely take the spotlight in blues music; they drive the train. Lock in with the bass player (who should be laying down a very rhythmic, fundamental progression based on the quarter or triplet pulse) and feel where it is.

Do your homework. If the band has a website (and who doesn't these days?) see if they have music clips for you to practice along with. If they have a list of influences, grab some songs by those influences and practice along with them too.

One of the great secrets about the blues is that it's all borrowed and all new at the same time. A lot of what you hear is a song that someone put together sixty to eighty years ago, but played by yet another musician with a unique take on the song. So bottom line - as long as you can keep the time and stop on everyone else's stops, you can't really "get it wrong"... because there's almost no definitive version of ANY blues song (unless you are doing a note-for-note cover of one VERSION of the tune).

The blues is a very laid-back, collaborative musical genre - it ought to be fun and educational at the same time. Go for it!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Who's talking smack about Blues lol...

Blues is fundamental. It's basic. It's the roots. It's your alphabet in a way. Don't gloss over the basics. Remember, Rock (and everything else it spawned) came from a marriage of Blues and Country.

I think a good foundation in the Blues should be a prerequisite for everything else because it's probably the most basic form of music there is.

Granted, Blues doesn't work that well unless the whole band truly understands it.

People think blues is simple, and on the surface, it does seem that way. So if it's simple, then everyone should have no problem being great at it, right?

Not in a hundred years.

Take the gig and open your ears. Forget fills, just play the beat. Somebody has to keep the beat, who's gonna do it, the guitarist?
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
In the guitar world we call some blues traditionalists blues nazis. If you don't play it the way they did prior to 1960 they come unglued and complain that you don't have "respect" for the music. Any modern instrument or heaven forbid some sort of distortion device and they shun you like a rabid dog. Most of them are too young to remember trying to learn on them, but they collect junk cheap instruments from the 50's and 60's to get that "authentic vibe".

I've seen these guys screw with drummers at jams calling out obscure blues songs or 8 different shuffle variations, and then snarkilly complain to each other that that drummer didn't know what they were doing because they played the flat tire shuffle wrong.

You probably don't need this grief, but it's worth delving into the genre a bit to learn it's vocabulary. It's much deeper than ZZ Top. There's a famous exchange when Lighting Hopkins sat in with them once. Billy Gibbons told him later that he'd screwed up a song and missed the place where the progression was supposed to change. Hopkins' response? "Lighting change, when Lighting want to change". Welcome to school reverend Billy.

As Larry said, the blues is the roots of most of everything else we do. When you learn some of the breadth of it, your playing of all those derivatives improves.

Even in the modern blues, there are folks who get it. Listen to Pat Ford and how he uses dynamics. He will drop it down and then let it simmer. Build it slowly. And not jump back into full ffff at the flick of a lightswitch. If the soloist plays something loudly, Pat will stay down and let that loud phrase stand on it's own, as a dynamic landmark the soloist set. A good blues soloist will use the occasional loud phrase to tweak the listeners ears and keep their interest. And go right back to playing sparsely and quietly. Ramping up the dynamics in a sort of sawtooth manner. But they can't to that if the rest of the band is off to the races at the slightest hint they're picking things up.
 
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