Thread: Virgil Donati
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Old 08-31-2005, 02:38 AM
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finnhiggins finnhiggins is offline
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Default Re: Virgil Donati is the Buddy Rich of our time ("IMO"...I suppose)

Originally Posted by Adam
I don't really believe you've ever actually heard virgil then. His hand technique is the best I think I've ever seen, and just look at how fast/controlled/PERFECT his rudiment playing is.
Why is it that you guys always fall back on this one? "Oh, you must not have heard him". Read my posting history. Do I look like I regularly launch into opinions on drummers without bothering to listen to them? I might not like a lot of choppy guys, but I've at least listened to a good cross-section of their output to come to that opinion. And every time one of you guys comes out with this and then posts a video or something to watch it does nothing but re-enforce my impressions of the guy.

Yes, I've listened to Virgil. I bought a Planet X album. I've watched probably about half of what is out there to buy in terms of video footage. And I really, really think he's quite poor beyond his amazing fast chops. His part selection just makes me want to cringe. Do me a favour, if you're a Donati fan can you please, please invest in a copy of Drumkit From Hell and spend about six months programming up every uber-technical polyrhythmic groove that you can imagine? It'll be educational on two fronts:

1) The programmed ones will have a similar feel to what you hear from Donati, but with a bit more consistency and confidence.
2) You'll discover that maybe 95% of the possible complex "intellectualised" multi-polyrhythmic prog grooves and ostinatos actually sound like crap when it comes to listening to them as music. They lack musical shape, any conception of tension and release just gets jumbled up in complex co-ordination. Latin ostinatos and soloing works not because it has fifty million independent syncopated parts going at once, but because there's some core rhythmic logic behind the construction of those grooves, not just "Hey, I wonder what five plus seven plus eleven would sound like....". Where's the tension and release in that, other than whatever chance throws your way in the interplay of pure numbers?

Now, that's not to say that the other 5% that works well isn't amazing to hear, but like anything else in music it's the exception rather than the rule if you just pick things at random. Grant Collins is quite good at picking parts, he just suffers from excessive chops syndrome a bit. Fredrik Thordendal does a good job with the stuff he programs for Thomas Haake in Meshuggah. But Virgil Donati's parts... they just sound amateurish to my ears, like the early experiments you make when you start playing with that material in a sequencer. I'll forgive Thomas Lang for some of his more unmusical stuff on his DVD because he promotes them as co-ordination exercises and plays quite differently from that when he's actually performing. But Virgil... no. Can't stand it.

Oh, and yes, he has very fast hands. I just don't think his actual physical technique is as pristine as you guys would like to make out, it's quite heavy and unweildy at times. As I mentioned before, watch his hands when he goes to the toms and see how low he kills the rebound. That's a helluva lot of lifting he's doing there, folks. He's just practiced it enough that he's got it fast.
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