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  #41  
Old 01-12-2007, 07:52 PM
Womble
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
So, could any of us play like Terry? Or Vinnie? Or Danny Carey? Or (insert name here)?

Well, in theory, yes! Why not? In its most basic conceptual form, drumming is simply hitting things with sticks, and stepping on pedals. That's really all they're doing.
I appreciate that this may be a useful belief in terms of motivation, but with all due respect it is in reality complete nonsense. There is a reason Vinnie plays like Vinnie and that no one else can or does, and it's not about how much they've practised.

In its basic conceptual form, composing music is simply writing down one note after another with different spaces of time between them. So I suppose anyone could compose like Mozart, or Chopin, or Schubert. Indeed, if you can't memorise entire musical works by age 5 on one listen, then go home and reproduce them perfectly on the piano, you just haven't been practising enough.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh but I think the attitude you espouse below is (whollly unintentially I know) quite disrespectful to these legendary drummers. You're essentially saying that they're only so good because they practised a lot, which attempts to deny them the quite obvious truth that they are natural born geniuses who operate on a level most of us will never, ever attain.

You can quite easily tell those famous drummers who are natural geniuses from those who have simply been born with a ready capacity for conquering coordination and the patience to practice . Vinnie and Tony fall into the former camp; Weckl and Donati into the latter.

Last edited by Womble; 01-12-2007 at 08:09 PM.
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  #42  
Old 01-12-2007, 08:02 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

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Originally Posted by NUTHA JASON View Post
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and simply practice it starting slowly and gradually speed-up until it sounded natural


how would you do this? how do you keep track of your progress and what kind of schedules do you use?
I have a very objective ear. If I'm playing something, I can usually tell how it sounds, as opposed to how well I think I'm executing the part. So, assuming I have a sample of what I'm supposed to play, I can tell when I've got it.

If it's something requiring a specific speed - particularly if it's very slow or very fast - I will use a metronome to gauge my execution. I practice as slow or fast as I comfortably can, and continue to work until the tempo and feel are met. The metronome lets me know how I'm progressing. If I hit a wall before I get to the proper tempo, I keep working until I make progress. If that doesn't work, I keep working until it does.

There have been a lot of (what I thought were) very difficult parts that I was able to work out over time. But practicing is not strictly about starting slow and speeding up. It's about starting slow, and staying slow until you can speed up. Otherwise, practicing becomes a series of exercises that start slow, then fall apart as the speed is prematurely increased. The learning process is severely hampered if not handled with a 'slow & steady' approach.

Bermuda
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  #43  
Old 01-12-2007, 08:09 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Hey Jon, I just noticed that "White and Nerdy" is at #5 according to the Yahoo rankings. I guess you're probably used to this, but to me that is probably the coolest thing in the world to know that so many people are enjoying something that you helped create. I'm sure it won't be the last time.

Scott
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  #44  
Old 01-12-2007, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

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Originally Posted by Womble View Post
I appreciate that this may be a useful belief in terms of motivation, but with all due respect it is in reality complete nonsense. There is a reason Vinnie plays like Vinnie and that no one else can or does, and it's not about how much they've practised.

In its basic conceptual form, composing music is simply writing down one note after another with different spaces of time between them. So I suppose anyone could compose like Mozart, or Chopin, or Schubert. Indeed, if you can't memorise entire musical works by age 5 on one listen, then go home and reproduce them perfectly on the piano, you just haven't been practising enough.
Vinnie's not 5. Terry's not 5. I'm not 5. Suggesting that from infancy to age 5, enough practice time could be employed, or a level of comprehension could be achieved in order to compose, is ridiculous.

However, although you were just making an example, you're right - "composing music is simply writing down one note after another with different spaces of time between them. So I suppose anyone could compose like Mozart, or Chopin, or Schubert". In theory - and PLEASE re-read my post where I initially said that word - that's true. Granted, levels of creativity vary for different reasons, but it certainly can be done.

And that's what I was saying about drumming. Can any of us move our sticks and feet in the same way that Vinnie and Terry etc do? With enough practice, yes. Could we create like them? Possibly not. As I said above, levels of creativity vary for different reasons.

there's also an issue of dedication. Do I carry sticks with me EVERYWHERE, like Vinnie does? Nope. That's the first sign that I'm not as dedicated as him, and therefore not ready to play like him. But, if I started carrying sticks and using them at every waking moment - dinner table, etc - that would be a step in the right direction.

Bermuda
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  #45  
Old 01-12-2007, 08:22 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

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Originally Posted by Guinness View Post
Hey Jon, I just noticed that "White and Nerdy" is at #5 according to the Yahoo rankings. I guess you're probably used to this, but to me that is probably the coolest thing in the world to know that so many people are enjoying something that you helped create. I'm sure it won't be the last time.

Scott
#5 eh? Guess we slipped from #1. Oh well... :)

Thanks,

Bermuda
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  #46  
Old 01-12-2007, 08:40 PM
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There have been a lot of (what I thought were) very difficult parts that I was able to work out over time. But practicing is not strictly about starting slow and speeding up. It's about starting slow, and staying slow until you can speed up. Otherwise, practicing becomes a series of exercises that start slow, then fall apart as the speed is prematurely increased. The learning process is severely hampered if not handled with a 'slow & steady' approach.
quite possibly the best advice i've ever read here and exactly timed and worded to my needs at the moment. thanks man.

j
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  #47  
Old 01-12-2007, 08:50 PM
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Suggesting that from infancy to age 5, enough practice time could be employed, or a level of comprehension could be achieved in order to compose, is ridiculous.
The whole reason I mentioned the young Mozart's ability to play pieces perfectly after one listen is precisely because it had nothing to do with practice: the man was a natural born freak. That's what I'm trying to impress on you. Your incredulity at the ability of some of these geniuses to compose at such an early age is understandable, but the fact remains that they could and did.

Quote:
Can any of us move our sticks and feet in the same way that Vinnie and Terry etc do? With enough practice, yes.
Even if you're referring only to the exact mechanics and trajectory, I still disagree. Everyone's different. All these top guys - Vinnie, Tony, Buddy, Jojo - they've all got or had ridiculous hands, and their sticks all move differently. You could watch a video of their hands only and know instantly who was playing.

Quote:
Could we create like them? Possibly not.
This little statement is all important. In your first post you claimed anyone could, given time, 'play like Vinnie'. Now you seem to have stepped back and are saying that anyone could move their sticks like Vinnie (whatever that means) but that they probably couldn't create like him, i.e. they couldn't emulate his feel, groove, phrasing, ideas, touch, etc. These being the things, of course, which really make a drummer. I'm more comfortable with what you're now saying, though I still disagree.
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  #48  
Old 01-12-2007, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Hey Bermuda,

I'm not sure if I agree with you or not -because I think I may be misunderstanding what you are trying to say:

If you mean to say that anyone can learn the techniques being used by tony, vinne, ...etc with enough practice, then, I totally agree with that. And that, with enough practice, any of us could replicate note-for-note anything they've done, I'll agree with that ...sort of.

To me, the thing that makes most of the greats truly great is that, when they play, I don't hear just drums or just doubles and singles and various combinations of notes, I hear them and their conviction and attitude and fire and personality. …And I don’t feel this really has much to do with technique.

Take, say, elvin. I think that, even if I practiced and listened non-stop and got to the point where I could play all of his parts note-for-note (which I think any of us could do with enough effort and dedication -as you say) it still wouldn't sound like him. I mean, I could probably fool some people, but I don't think any amount of practice would let me sound just like him (even if I played all the notes in exactly the right places) because I'm not him and I don't know where he was coming from when he played the way he did.

Now, I imagine it's not always the case that your job is to sit behind the drums and be yourself if you're trying to make a living (I say 'I imagine' because I don't make my living playing and wouldn't presume to know much about being a session player), but, regardless, to me, that's what makes the greats the greats. And, while I'm not putting her on a pedestal comparable to Elvin Jones, that's why I think meg white is great no matter what people say.

Another way to say it is that I think if I were Genie from 'I dream of Genie' (which would be weird because I'm a 246lb man, which I'm sure would have hurt ratings terribly) and I could go back in time and wiggle my nose at Elvin and magically make him loose all of his technique down the most simple skills ...or, even better, take away his technique and replace it with Tony Williams' technique, I think elvin would still sound like elvin when he played ...even if he was playing totally different parts.

I guess this is along the same lines as what you’re saying when you said we may not be able to create like these other players, even if we learn to play like them, maybe? Practicing their parts to learn how they play is what my teacher would call 'learning from result rather than inspiration' -not to imply there's anything wrong with that, but, once we listen and understand a part, we already know what a drummer did when they got there, right? It doesn't tell me how he got there, or where he came from. I hope that makes sense…

Just my opinion anyhow. what an interesting discussion in this thread!
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Last edited by Auger; 01-12-2007 at 09:17 PM.
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  #49  
Old 01-12-2007, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Womble View Post
The whole reason I mentioned the young Mozart's ability to play pieces perfectly after one listen is precisely because it had nothing to do with practice: the man was a natural born freak. That's what I'm trying to impress on you. Your incredulity at the ability of some of these geniuses to compose at such an early age is understandable, but the fact remains that they could and did.
Sorry, you said listening and practicing before, not composing.

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Originally Posted by Womble View Post
Even if you're referring only to the exact mechanics and trajectory, I still disagree. Everyone's different. All these top guys - Vinnie, Tony, Buddy, Jojo - they've all got or had ridiculous hands, and their sticks all move differently. You could watch a video of their hands only and know instantly who was playing.
No reason we can't do the same.

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Originally Posted by Womble View Post
This little statement is all important. In your first post you claimed anyone could, given time, 'play like Vinnie'. Now you seem to have stepped back and are saying that anyone could move their sticks like Vinnie (whatever that means) but that they probably couldn't create like him, i.e. they couldn't emulate his feel, groove, phrasing, ideas, touch, etc. These being the things, of course, which really make a drummer. I'm more comfortable with what you're now saying, though I still disagree.
Not stepping back, just clarifying.

I'm most notorious for copying other drummers, and a good portion of my income is derived from that specific function. But I don't fool myself into thinking that I create like those drummers. I have the luxury of replicating parts and styles without having to invent them. Believe me, I'm very sensitive to the difference between the two. So when I said 'play like Vinnie', I didn't mean 'do what Vinnie does'... I meant play. There's a difference.

Bermuda
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  #50  
Old 01-12-2007, 09:25 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

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Originally Posted by Auger View Post
Hey Bermuda,

I'm not sure if I agree with you or not -because I think I may be misunderstanding what you are trying to say:

If you mean to say that anyone can learn the techniques being used by tony, vinne, ...etc with enough practice, then, I totally agree with that. And that, with enough practice, any of us could replicate note-for-note anything they've done, I'll agree with that ...sort of.

To me, the thing that makes most of the greats truly great is that, when they play, I don't hear just drums or just doubles and singles and various combinations of notes, I hear them and their conviction and attitude and fire and personality. …And I don’t feel this really has much to do with technique.
That's pretty much my point (see post above where I clarified.)

The reason I brought up the practice/achievement thing is that so many young players want to play like Vinnie, or Gadd, or Portnoy etc etc. I don't believe I've ever heard anyone say they wish they were as creative as those guys - they always say they want to play like them. Big difference.

Am I as creative as Vinnie? Or Gadd? Or Ringo? Not by a longshot. No amount of practice will instill that in me. I'm just not terribly creative that way. But could I practice and replicate their parts? Yes. Could I replicate their sound? Yes. Could I get the exact flavor of the way they play? Well, that's a lot harder, and I would say that I can get close.

For example, listen to almost any Beatles track (and this is completely separate from whether you think Ringo was great, or okay, or just lucky.) Is there a better part for those songs than what he played? Probably not. Ringo was extremely creative (and yes, I know Paul threw a lot of parts at him as well.) Is it possible to actually play the parts he played? Sure, nothing terribly difficult there and Ringo never claimed otherwise. Could you get the same drum sounds? To a large extent, yes. Part of the sound had to do with miking, compression, and the way he hit the drums (he was a fairly hard hitter for a pop/rock drummer.) But, would it sound like Ringo playing? No, probably not. There were pushes and pulls and inflections that he had that are extremely difficult to copy. It's a feel, and that is certainly something that defines some players.

Same with so many other drummers. And yes, that does stem from their "conviction and attitude and fire and personality" But, I was really talking just about playing the parts.

Which is how this particular question arose - it was about how to approach a part (a theoretical rudiment.)

Bermuda
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  #51  
Old 01-13-2007, 02:52 AM
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DogBreath DogBreath is offline
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Nutha asks a great question, Bermuda takes the time to give a thoughtful and inspirational (and dare I say knowledgeable?) response, Nutha thanks him... and someone feels the need to tell Bermuda how wrong he is. I love this place. Some of you really don't want to be inspired, do you?

Let's accept the fact that there are a few pro drummers here who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, and have been doing so for decades. If you want to disagree with one of them, super. But the nit-picking and negativity astounds me. There are people here to help, and there are people here to seek help, and there are people here to argue. For an example of how to respectfully ask for clarification, read Auger's post. For an example of how to look foolish, read Womble's.

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Originally Posted by Womble View Post
with all due respect it is in reality complete nonsense.
Yeah, the respect just rolls off of that whole post in waves.

And now back on track. Jon, I see over and over how good advice applies to almost any discipline. As you know I train disabled people with mobility needs (usually with solutions involving service dogs), and I have said almost word for word what you said here about learning a new skill. Many years ago I studied two completely different martial art styles (one ancient, traditional, and Asian; the other modern, scientific, and European), and I heard the same things from each of my teachers. And I got the exact same advice from my small-arms instructor when I wanted to polish that set of skills after years of practicing on my own. The truth is the truth, and human nature is human nature, regardless of the situation or circumstances.

Of course one can dissect the nature-versus-nurture issue ad nauseum, but that wasn't the issue that was raised here. You were asked a very specific question about a hypothetical situation that is applicable in some way to every single member of this community, and you gave what I thought was a perfect answer based on your personal experience and observation. Thank you.
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  #52  
Old 01-13-2007, 05:41 AM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Thanks DB, and I'm glad that some of things I said came through for some of the members. Other things may not have been very clear... I know what I mean, but it doesn't always translate in the first post and I do my best to clarify when needed. I don't mind if someone has a different perspective than mine, and wonders aloud why I think the way I do. What works for me may not work for someone else, and vice versa. Sometimes I can enlighten someone, and sometimes it's me who is enlightened. I surely don't have all the answers to all the questions, and I'm still learning. I'm also happy to pass along what I've learned prior to today.

I think that's important: the give & take and being willing to learn. That's what I like about this and other select forums.

Bermuda
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  #53  
Old 01-13-2007, 07:08 AM
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I'm still learning. I'm also happy to pass along what I've learned prior to today.
and we (most of us) are thankful for that. thanks for the thorough response you gave to jason's question.
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  #54  
Old 01-13-2007, 02:43 PM
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The reason I brought up the practice/achievement thing is that so many young players want to play like Vinnie, or Gadd, or Portnoy etc etc. I don't believe I've ever heard anyone say they wish they were as creative as those guys - they always say they want to play like them. Big difference.
Now you see, when I hear someone say they want to 'play like' someone, I don't think they mean they want to have learned a stock set of their licks that they can pull out of the hat when it suits them. I believe the statement "I wish I could play like Vinnie" usually means that person wants to have the entire range of skills from Vinnie's bag, which includes the ability to improvise to a terrifying degree. In fact it necessarily must, because someone like Vinnie improvises all the time. Sure he's got a few licks he uses over and over again, but what is so jaw-droppingly astounding about his playing is the stuff he improvises. You could never 'play like Vinnie' by learning the parts he's played in the past. You might be able to 'play like Vinnie played on that record', but that is all. By the time you'd learned that, Vinnie would have laid down another dozen studio tracks!

I'm also not sure that one should encourage people to learn great drummers' licks and grooves in a drive to become that drummer's clone. The master drummers learned the licks of the previous masters so that they could then go on to do their own thing with them, and forge their own sound. Indeed, although you may try to sound like Ringo or Gadd or whoever, I'm sure "Weird" Al has you as his drummer because you sound like you. I can't readily imagine Vinnie laying down a track for Al!
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  #55  
Old 01-13-2007, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

i can. i imagine vinnie can do on the drums pretty much whatever is needed from covering a tony williams masterpiece to thrashing out a slipnot gig. i think what Bermuda is saying is that given enough determination there is no reason why he couldn't and why we cannot if we apply ourselves. the probability of becoming the next vinnie is low...granted ...but john is reiterating that it is not impossible... i would add that it probably is NOT possible if you believe it is impossible. why start the journey if you believe the destination is unreachable. but as frodo learned, you leave the door, put your one foot in front of the other and don't stop or give up and that way even mordor is not too far away (mordor being vinnie ...lol)

j
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  #56  
Old 01-13-2007, 05:04 PM
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but as frodo learned, you leave the door, put your one foot in front of the other and don't stop or give up and that way even mordor is not too far away (mordor being vinnie ...lol)

j
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  #57  
Old 01-13-2007, 05:23 PM
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There will never be another Vinnie. You're completely ignoring the other half of Vinnie. Vinnie the human being. No amount or practice or determination is going to develop that.

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Originally Posted by NUTHA JASON View Post
i think what Bermuda is saying is that given enough determination there is no reason why he couldn't and why we cannot if we apply ourselves. the probability of becoming the next vinnie is low...granted ...but john is reiterating that it is not impossible...
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  #58  
Old 01-13-2007, 05:25 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Unfortunately there's a lot of give and very little take in these forums. Often we ignore the message because of the messenger.

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I think that's important: the give & take and being willing to learn. That's what I like about this and other select forums.

Bermuda
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  #59  
Old 01-13-2007, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

and the 'message' i was referring to was vinnie as a measure of drum skill. :)

but you're right about the human vinnie tho. i think one of the most important aspects of drumming is taste. for instance i can appreciate the skill and amazing ability of virgil donatti but i just don't like his music. he has different taste to me. another way would be to look at john bonham. he had lots of skill but nothing like the drummers of today in terms of chops but john had taste. his choices were superb and that's what makes him a legend.
taste is something that can only be refined or learned to a certain extent by listening to a broad range of music a lot, but a lot of taste comes down to individual human character. some people like putting furry covers on their toilet seats and plaster ducks on the walls.
but i think the debate here is about a skill. what makes vinnie so cool is that he has loads of skills (which can be learned by the diligent drummer) and he has a great taste in choosing when to use which one or most importantly when not to use them (which cannot be exactly emulated by anyone but vinnie).
j
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  #60  
Old 01-13-2007, 07:41 PM
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I believe the statement "I wish I could play like Vinnie" usually means that person wants to have the entire range of skills from Vinnie's bag, which includes the ability to improvise to a terrifying degree.
I would say that most drummers who make such a statement are thinking specifically about the performance aspect, and little beyond. If someone says "I wish I could come up with the stuff Vinnie does..." then I know that means something different.

I'm really very literal. For example, if someone said "I wish I could play like Vinnie" or "I wish I had Vinnie's gigs" or "I wish I was Vinnie", I believe that those are three separate concepts.

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I'm also not sure that one should encourage people to learn great drummers' licks and grooves in a drive to become that drummer's clone... I'm sure "Weird" Al has you as his drummer because you sound like you.
True, most drummers are where they are because they have a certain style that they've developed (or at least are known for.) As a fundamental approach to playing, I also think it's usually detrimental to invent just for the sake of being original. Depends on the gig of course, but I'll guess that in 99% of the gigs out there, that's true.

Al has allowed me to be his drummer because I sound like everyone else... not because I have a particular style or flavor. On this gig, being a chameleon is key to the success of the tracks, and to my longevity as his drummer for over 26 years. He has yet to throw something at me that I couldn't do, and of course it's been a tremendous growth process for me. It's also fun being a dozen drummers on each album, and even more in concert. I don't think there's a more versatile gig around.

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I can't readily imagine Vinnie laying down a track for Al!
For a few reasons, you're absolutely right. First, Al wouldn't pay Vinnie's rate. Second, if the song was sequenced... well, let's just say that Vinnie and sampling/sequencing don't go together. Third, Vinnie wouldn't take the time to work out the parts note-for-note, and sound-for-sound, not without being paid a lot extra (see first reason.) Fourth, although it would be a feather in Al's and my cap - imagine me saying that it took Vinnie to replace me?! - I don't think there's an appeal to Al's fans one way or another, in the same way that many drummers will seek out the albums that Vinnie plays on, just because it's Vinnie.

Not to be immodest, but I know of no other drummer who does what I do with Al. It will be very interesting to see who can step in if I ever leave. It's truly a one-of-a-kind gig.

Bermuda
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  #61  
Old 01-13-2007, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

I don't like this reference. Your Virgil reference is much better. Did Bonham have superb taste or simply a lack of imagination because of a lack of technical chops - or a lack of influence from other players? If he had the blistering speed of today's drummers, might he have used it? We simply don't know.

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Originally Posted by NUTHA JASON View Post
another way would be to look at john bonham. he had lots of skill but nothing like the drummers of today in terms of chops but john had taste. his choices were superb and that's what makes him a legend.
Great taste in leaving his chops at home but you're forgetting he's got a great mind coming up with a drum part. 99.9% of all drummers, when hearing a tune that's in 5/8 would NEVER think of playing the right hand in 4/4. Forget about even making it sound like it belongs - which Vinnie does perfectly.

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what makes vinnie so cool is that he has loads of skills (which can be learned by the diligent drummer) and he has a great taste in choosing when to use which one or most importantly when not to use them (which cannot be exactly emulated by anyone but vinnie).
j
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:27 PM
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For a few reasons, you're absolutely right. First, Al wouldn't pay Vinnie's rate. Second, if the song was sequenced... well, let's just say that Vinnie and sampling/sequencing don't go together. Third, Vinnie wouldn't take the time to work out the parts note-for-note, and sound-for-sound, not without being paid a lot extra (see first reason.) Fourth, although it would be a feather in Al's and my cap - imagine me saying that it took Vinnie to replace me?! - I don't think there's an appeal to Al's fans one way or another, in the same way that many drummers will seek out the albums that Vinnie plays on, just because it's Vinnie.

Not to be immodest, but I know of no other drummer who does what I do with Al. It will be very interesting to see who can step in if I ever leave. It's truly a one-of-a-kind gig.

Bermuda
Why does Vinnie have a problem with being sampled/sequenced? I've heard that before and am asking out of pure interest. I heard that Vinnie once said that he sometimes choses not to play a certain thing he thinks is cool, because he is afraid that someone might sample it. Strange. Any thoughts/insights about that?

If you'd quit with Al, I'd be happy to give that gig a shot :). I love stuff that requires many different drumming-skills. Next week I'll be playing a gig that will require me to play jazz, hiphop, reggae, metal, techno, schlager and a few other things all in one Show. I am really looking forward to that night. I hate being reduced to one particular style..... that is just boring. I am totally not saying I could play that gig with Al, but I'd like to try. I'm absolutely sure that thousands of guys would like to try that though so my wish is probably no surprise. Does Al pay well, lol??

;)
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:43 PM
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I agree. Now that Zappa is no longer alive, I can't think of anyone having to play the variety of styles that you are required to play.

As for your replacement, I actually think there are a lot of chameleons out there. Those of us that earned our livings doing GB work could cut it, no?

So, I don't know if you've ever addressed it, but how DID you get the gig?

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Not to be immodest, but I know of no other drummer who does what I do with Al. It will be very interesting to see who can step in if I ever leave. It's truly a one-of-a-kind gig.

Bermuda
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  #64  
Old 01-13-2007, 08:43 PM
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If you'd quit with Al, I'd be happy to give that gig a shot :). I love stuff that requires many different drumming-skills.
I've had a couple of brief conversations with Jon, and he's not only talking about the different drumming styles that the Al shows require. Without going into too much detail Jon practically runs the whole live show from behind the kit (sorry if I'm overstating the case Jon). There is no possible way that Jon could be replaced with another drummer.
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:46 PM
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Everyone is replaceable. It might take two people, or time, but everyone is replaceable.

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There is no possible way that Jon could be replaced with another drummer.
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:51 PM
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So, I don't know if you've ever addressed it, but how DID you get the gig?
Al Yankovic was in the studio of the Dr. Demento radio show to perform a couple of his songs live. At that point he was just a kid with an accordion and some crazy songs that he had written, and he was getting huge response from the tapes that he had sent in to the Doctor's show. Jon just happened to be in the building at the time and Al asked him if he would accompany him by beating a rhythm on the accordion case!

I won a prize at one of Jon's clinics for knowing the exact date of that first "gig." I used to listen to the Dr. Demento show every week when I was a kid and I actually heard the show as it was being broadcast. All these years later and I can honestly say that I've been a fan of Al and Jon from day one.

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It might take two people...
That was exactly my point, thanks.
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Old 01-13-2007, 09:07 PM
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Maybe Bermuda could tell us what else he's doing besides drumming. Is he kicking off sequencers? Is he running sound for the band? What is it that makes him indispensable?

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That was exactly my point, thanks.
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Old 01-13-2007, 10:58 PM
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Why does Vinnie have a problem with being sampled/sequenced?
I meant that he apparently abhors electronics. That means that he won't (or can't) do what a lot of producers/artists require. Not that he doesn't keep sufficiently busy anyway!

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If you'd quit with Al, I'd be happy to give that gig a shot :). I love stuff that requires many different drumming-skills.
First and foremost, my chair is not available. Second (and co-foremost) the gig is far more than just playing the parts I play on the kit. There's a mess of cues, sequences, tracks, and hairpin turns that make each night's show. We're not doing a concert perfromance, we're doing a show. Do you sing? Doesn't matter, Al will make you sing in addition to all the other acrobatics that occur in the show. Oh yeah, hope you like doing shtick, too.

Between tours, the pre-production and demo-process involved in each album would make most drummers change professions. Every time I go into detail about working out parts & sounds, I'm amazed that I've gotten this far without bailing, or going crazy. Well, I still go crazy, I guess I'm just used to it by now.

Bermuda
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:14 PM
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I agree. Now that Zappa is no longer alive, I can't think of anyone having to play the variety of styles that you are required to play.
Certainly not in one night or on one album, no.

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As for your replacement, I actually think there are a lot of chameleons out there. Those of us that earned our livings doing GB work could cut it, no?
Don't know what GB is, and there are a lot of chameleons. But as I pointed out in the post above, my gig is much more than just playing drums. There are tons of players who can drum circles around me, but who could still not do my gig.

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So, I don't know if you've ever addressed it, but how DID you get the gig?
Geting the gig was easy and a chance meeting. (see www.bermudaschwartz.com/bio.htm for more details) and happened at a time when drumming skills were all I needed.

As for how I've kept the gig, it's by always rising to the occasion. Al throws all of us some new curves on each album and tour, and the only way to keep the gig is to learn and grow into the parts/techniques. So, when we did our first all-sequenced song in 1985, I bought a drum machine. When I got tired of keyboard players handling drum sounds on some of the sequenced songs, I bought a sampler. When we did a Zappa homage on 2003's "Poodle Hat", I studied every lick that Ralph Humphrey, Chester Thompson, Chad Wackerman and Terry Bozzio played, and woodshedded until they felt natural. And album after album, I've proven that I can acheive the parts - and sounds - required of me. Even when a track was originally sequenced and there was no drummer per se, I still have to take on the task.

So, basically, never saying 'no' (that is, never being afraid to say 'yes') has ensured my career with him. As I say in my bio: "Al's made me play parts I didn't know how to play."

Bermuda
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:30 PM
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Maybe Bermuda could tell us what else he's doing besides drumming. Is he kicking off sequencers? Is he running sound for the band? What is it that makes him indispensable?
Regarding the scope of my situation with Al, it involves creating sequences (not just drum parts, mind you,) cueing songs in concert (that doesn't just mean a countoff,) cueing countoffs from video, creating sounds and sound effects...

But most importantly, and something I haven't heard any other drummers do: duplicating sounds - both as samples and acoustically, and in particular, duplicating parts - both sequences and live - note for note. And I mean, NOTE FOR NOTE! I think I once said that I copy parts with at least 99% accuracy. But when I figured out that it meant as much as one wrong note every 8 bars, and my track record is far better than that, I'd have to say my accuracy level is probably at least 99.9%. Yeah, I've missed a few notes in 12 albums. literally... just a few.

That's a large part of what makes me indispensible. And I have some photos. (hey, why do you think Joey Kramer gets to stay in Aerosmith??!!)

Could another drummer play what I play? Yeah, not much hard stuff there. But running the show, creating the sounds and sequences, dressing like a woman for a photo shoot (what, did I forget to mentioin that?) and much more is not something that many drummers can or will do.

Bermuda
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  #71  
Old 01-13-2007, 11:34 PM
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Everyone is replaceable. It might take two people, or time, but everyone is replaceable.
Al's not.

But, I know what you're saying. It would be extremely difficult to replace me and everything I do, but no, not absolutely impossible. It might indeed take two people, and maybe additional talent when in the studio. I'm sure me not being around isn't something that Al looks forward to, and certainly not something I foresee. And there's still no guarantee that, in the case of sounds and parts, they could do what I do, the way I do it (meaning, to Al's complete satisfaction.)

Bermuda
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  #72  
Old 01-14-2007, 02:56 AM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Gday Bermuda.

Been a long time. I remember 'chatting' to you in the #rmmp days!

Glad to see all is well with you.
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Old 01-14-2007, 04:54 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

And the conversation comes full circle ("the way I do it")!

Thanks for the insight into your job requirements. And I knew you must have had pictures... ;)

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And there's still no guarantee that, in the case of sounds and parts, they could do what I do, the way I do it (meaning, to Al's complete satisfaction.)

Bermuda
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  #74  
Old 01-14-2007, 07:35 PM
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And the conversation comes full circle ("the way I do it")!
Specifically, I mean my approach to the parts, not necessarily my execution of them.

Playing parts is fairly easy. I think that a lot of drummers can play what I play.

Backwards engineering a track and dissecting an existing part, assembling the correct cymbal and drum sounds, and then playing those parts for an artist/producer who is right up there with Zappa, McCartney, and Becker & Fagan for being meticulous... that's a different matter. It's the approach to executing the parts that accounts for my longevity in this project; one has to be just as meticulous as Al.

Same goes for songs that are sequenced, except that the sounds are often layered and otherwise filtered... sometimes they're not drums at all. Yet, you still have to duplicate them. Usually, such parts weren't even originally programmed by a drummer, so it can be especially confounding when trying to play the parts live (and no percussionist to help out, the drummer generates ALL percussion noises either physically, or by programming them.) That aspect of the gig would send most drummers running.

Here's a fun test for those who have a little time and think they're meticulous enough for Al. Listen to the U2 song "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me" (which we parodied in 1996, and constructed completely from scratch.) It doesn't matter whether you like the song or are even familiar with it. I am asked to reproduce a lot of songs that I have never heard of, or might not normally listen to, or don't necessarily like... but that's part of doing the gig.

So, question: How many snare sounds are there in that song? And no guessing - you have to tell me where each sound is used.

Bermuda
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:44 PM
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So, question: How many snare sounds are there in that song? And no guessing - you have to tell me where each sound is used.
Damn you man, I've just spent about $1.50 downloading a U2 song, and I $%&$ hate U2!! But anyway...

I hear 2 in the intro fill, separate from the tom; 1 more in the next section; 1 more in the fill leading into the verse; 1 more in the verse; the snare leading into the chorus is the same as the one leading into the verse; 1 more which falls on beat 2 of the chorus (the snare on the 'and' of 2 during the chorus is I think the same one from fills before the verse and chorus); then there's another, filtered, snare sound in the third verse; and possibly a final 1 on the 'e' of 3 in the outro, but it's pretty hard to hear beneath the strings.

So my guess comes to...6, maybe 7?
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  #76  
Old 01-14-2007, 11:05 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

*pops popcorn, gets comfy*
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Old 01-14-2007, 11:18 PM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

Actually hang on - there's another ghosted snare in the verse.
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Old 01-15-2007, 12:44 AM
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I'm curious on why you're asking or why Womble is even counting the number of snare sounds. Are you saying that Al has become meticulous on trying to accurately duplicate the sound/style of the tunes he is parodying?

Is this a new development or is it strictly something he tries to acheive on actual song parodies? I ask because on the "Hooked on Polkas" tune from many years ago, you are nothing close to copying Alan White's "Owner" fill. But on another track you guys cover the Huey Lewis tune and the guitar (Rick Derringer?) is pretty accurate.

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Damn you man, I've just spent about $1.50 downloading a U2 song, and I $%&$ hate U2!! But anyway...

I hear 2 in the intro fill, separate from the tom; 1 more in the next section; 1 more in the fill leading into the verse; 1 more in the verse; the snare leading into the chorus is the same as the one leading into the verse; 1 more which falls on beat 2 of the chorus (the snare on the 'and' of 2 during the chorus is I think the same one from fills before the verse and chorus); then there's another, filtered, snare sound in the third verse; and possibly a final 1 on the 'e' of 3 in the outro, but it's pretty hard to hear beneath the strings.

So my guess comes to...6, maybe 7?
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  #79  
Old 01-15-2007, 01:21 AM
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Default Re: Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

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I'm curious on why you're asking or why Womble is even counting the number of snare sounds. Are you saying that Al has become meticulous on trying to accurately duplicate the sound/style of the tunes he is parodying?

Is this a new development or is it strictly something he tries to acheive on actual song parodies? I ask because on the "Hooked on Polkas" tune from many years ago, you are nothing close to copying Alan White's "Owner" fill. But on another track you guys cover the Huey Lewis tune and the guitar (Rick Derringer?) is pretty accurate.

Let me point something out - Hooked On Polkas was recorded almost 22 years ago.

Now, let me ask you a question, how were your drumming skills 22 years ago? Did you get better since then? Well guess what - so did we. Al's demand for perfection has simlarly grown, and we've grown along with it.

Sure, if you wanna go back 20+ years, it's easy to say that there are parodies which don't sound nearly-exact to the original. As time went on, our skills at the task vastly improved. Listen to something from the last album or two or three or four... or five... or six... and then tell me truthfully that we're "nothing close" to the original parts. As for the polka medlies, they're accordian-based re-arrangements of excerpts of hit songs, and there is seldom an intention to duplicate parts and sounds from the originals. Should I have played the Alan White lick better? Yeah, I suppose if the polka tempo wasn't quite a bit faster than the Yes track, and if (then-producer) Rick was as meticulous as Al, I would have had a better chance at getting it exactly right.

BTW, the reason I proposed that people listen for the snares, is because of the perception some have that my shoes are easily filled. Those who are counting are trying to prove a point. And so am I.

Bermuda

PS: Rick did not play the guitar on I Want A New Duck, Jim West did.

Last edited by bermuda; 01-15-2007 at 01:34 AM.
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  #80  
Old 01-15-2007, 01:38 AM
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Hey Bermuda,

I really don't think anyone's trying to have a go at your abilites. Rick wasn't launching a genuine bid for your gig, he just said he thought it would be a fun one! And X22 wasn't suggesting that 22 years ago you were unable to copy parts exactly, I think he was wondering why you (or Al) now feel you have to. Correct me if I'm wrong, X22.

It seems like I've misunderstood your intentions - I honestly wasn't counting the snare sounds to prove a point, I was counting the snare sounds because you asked us to. Now I'm genuinely intrigued: how many are there?
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