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  #1  
Old 01-10-2010, 04:24 PM
handito handito is offline
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Default creating drum parts for songs

Hey folks

It's been a while since I've posted anything here but I hope everyone is doing great and are having a, so far, great new year.
I would like to ask how you guys come up with drum parts for a song - sometimes when I want to play to, for instance, a play a long track I cant think of anything to play. I really don't know why because when I just play I can easily come up with rhythms and like wise when I have been in bands. Anyway I would love to know how you folks conjour up your parts.

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 01-10-2010, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Hi Handito!
For me, I usually listen to the song, and unless it's a really odd time jazz piece, I can "feel" the time and structure for the song. From there, I can put in the basic beat to give the song it's backbone, then begin to put in accents, ghosts, suggestions from other bandmates, and fills where I feel they would add to the core of the song and not overpower anything. Usually this rounds out the song to a nice creation and I practice from then on until I can play it in my sleep! :-)
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:58 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

I first listen to the song(s) for awhile to orient myself on where everything is. Then I sit down and play along with the simplest beat I can manage for that particular song. After that I'll try to find what drumming suits it best and make some beats and transitions. Then I record and listen to how it sounds. If I have some trouble with making everything tight, I practice the parts I'm struggling on, very slow to a metronome.
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Usually, and while it may seem boring or complacent to some, I rely on the kind of parts that have worked in similar sounding songs. I don't directly steal another part (necessarily) but I won't avoid an obvious and classic part, just because I feel I must be creative.

I have no problem thinking inside the box. There's a calendar with a busy playing schedule in one corner of that box, and a pile of money in another corner.

But there are also times where I'm asked to deliberately fight the urge to play the obvious part, and then it becomes a matter of gradual experimentation, which I also enjoy. Yet there's still a single rule: it can't ruin the song. It can't be wacky for the sake of being wacky. If people walk out of a performance, that's not good. Maybe it's art, but it's not good art.

Trust me, every artist has their 'box' even though they won't readily admit it. And they all want their music to be heard and to make a buck, no matter how much they decry commercialism.

Bermuda
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:57 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
I don't directly steal another part (necessarily) but I won't avoid an obvious and classic part, just because I feel I must be creative.

I have no problem thinking inside the box. There's a calendar with a busy playing schedule in one corner of that box, and a pile of money in another corner.

It can't be wacky for the sake of being wacky.

Trust me, every artist has their 'box' even though they won't readily admit it.

Bermuda
Only someone who is secure with their playing can say this. Right on Bermuda. The box

already has so much great stuff, and it has been proven to work beautifully, that's why it's

in there. It's not like you don't have to do something that's never been done before, you

just have to choose a rhythm that will sooth the music.

To answer the OP's question, before I create a part, I try and classify the song. Is it a

country song, rock, waltz, swing, latin etc. Then I listen to the bass part because

ultimately that's what you have to partner up with anyway. Then I need the words to find

the tone of the song. Is it an angry song, a fun song, an anthem type song, a sappy

ballad? This gives me a sense of which "feel" to put to it.
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  #6  
Old 01-10-2010, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Finding the pulse of the song is crucial. The audience has to feel that or you're pretty much done before you begin. then figure out what the best thing for your bass drum to do is. Sometimes it's just to do steady four-on-the-floor. Most times I try to marry it up to what the rhythm guitar and/or bass are doing. Your cymbal work should never go against the grain of the melody or be overly complex compared to the melody. You don't want to be doing 16th notes on the hat while your guitar player is doing a shuffly quarter note feel. Throw in a hi-hat bark if appropriate. Switch to your ride when you need more air in the sound, or when the hats might overpower another instrument (like during the guitar solo). Use fills as needed. Use dynamics between verse and chorus... maybe the whole song builds from quiet to loud? Another way to build throughout a song is to slightly increase the complexity and impact of a fill through the song.

Bermuda has a great point about the 'box'. Some drummers have made a career out of defining every square inch of that box, and it has served them well.

Listen to what you consider to be great drum parts for great songs. Chances are, they are not technical wizardry, but just good solid tasteful drumming that complements the song and the other musicians.
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  #7  
Old 01-10-2010, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
But there are also times where I'm asked to deliberately fight the urge to play the obvious part, and then it becomes a matter of gradual experimentation, which I also enjoy. Yet there's still a single rule: it can't ruin the song. It can't be wacky for the sake of being wacky. If people walk out of a performance, that's not good. Maybe it's art, but it's not good art.
Sorry if I'm being abit of a nitpicker here, but theres no such thing as "good" art. There will always be people who like the stuff that you don't, and popularity hasn't anything to do with it being "good". Art is and will always be subjective, so bands that make wacky songs for the sake of being wacky, are always going to be considered "good" art for somebody(namely me).

Spastic Inc, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, etc are fantastic bands who make songs in this sort of fashion. The one thing is that they put humour into their music, so it doesnt get "pretentious", and even then, some people find that to be "good" art also. Frank Zappa also did this years ago, and he's pretty well known. What about Weird Al's polka-versions?
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  #8  
Old 01-11-2010, 12:37 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

I was reading a book with a blurb about something Einstein said about the types of students who populate any science building that really resonated with me. He said that they roughly fall into 3 major categories:
1. Those who want to use their smarts and expand them in order to lord it over those who they feel are inferior. Competitive personalities, mostly.
2. Those who see the utilitarian value of such an education, such as a good career afterward. I know science majors who don't give a ff about the actual science!
3. And the rest who are more motivated by an innate interest in the science itself, without any regard to how anyone is going to perceive them or how much money they may one day make. It's all for its own sake.

I read this with drumming in mind, of course. I have known an awful lot of drummers who fall into the first two categories and not nearly as many from the 3rd.

To get to the OP's point. When I take a first stab at a new drum part for a new song, it really is just about what the rhythm and melody are inspiring me to play and what seems most interesting at the time. I try to live only in that moment. If straight up is the way to go, then that's what it gets. If it's 4/4 but there's something looping over the bar line, then that's where I go - although I may return to a more grounded foundation for something like that - or a combination to come and go with the vocals, even if guitar and bass parts don't change.

I guess it's worth mentioning that I go through this creative process before I've figured out the "road map" through the song. If I look at the big picture first (by learning the arrangement), I will invariably miss out on that initial inspiration. It's also worth mentioning that it's important to leave the tape rolling when working through things first time. Good ideas are often fleeting. There's always time to integrate them later.

If overall, the music doesn't prompt me to think about, or doesn't allow for these adventures, then I'll think about finding another band.

I try to keep an open mind to new possibilities and try not to think about what might typically go over this part or that. I have no desire to make any money at drumming, or making anyone's jaw hit the floor with my amazing "chops" (a word I detest). I just want to create something that I think is interesting that I would want to listen to, and, as Bermuda points out, doesn't ruin the song. The idea is to make the song come alive!

Last edited by MikeM; 01-11-2010 at 01:27 AM.
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  #9  
Old 01-11-2010, 01:13 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

I think with experience it gets easier.

And nothing wrong with thinking "inside the the box" either.

And nothing wrong with taking someone else part, and changing it to fit the current song.
I think for the most part, when it comes to typical 4/4 songs with typical sub divisions,, most everything that can be played as been played. Most beats and fills you hear can also be found on numerous other albums.

The key is putting together the right combination of beats and fills with the right feel to make a song work.

For myself, generally coming up with the right parts is when I'm not behind the kit. Thinking about the song, humming the melody while I'm doing something else, and looking at the song from the point of view as a music fan will generally make me think of what seems the most appropriate part.
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  #10  
Old 01-11-2010, 01:22 AM
ccsimms ccsimms is offline
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

as larry said, defining the genre of the song is a great starting point
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  #11  
Old 01-11-2010, 03:08 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
I think with experience it gets easier.

And nothing wrong with thinking "inside the the box" either.

And nothing wrong with taking someone else part, and changing it to fit the current song.
I think for the most part, when it comes to typical 4/4 songs with typical sub divisions,, most everything that can be played as been played. Most beats and fills you hear can also be found on numerous other albums.

The key is putting together the right combination of beats and fills with the right feel to make a song work.

For myself, generally coming up with the right parts is when I'm not behind the kit. Thinking about the song, humming the melody while I'm doing something else, and looking at the song from the point of view as a music fan will generally make me think of what seems the most appropriate part.
This is a great post from top to bottom. Even though everyone has already played everything, (there's nothing

new under the sun) nobody plays it like you. Nobody has your sound, nobody has your particular feel, and that's what makes existing beats sound fresh, your particular

intrepetation. They are like letters in an alphabet. Nobody ever downed the Bard for not thinking of a new letter ha ha. You use what's there to create beautiful poetry.
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  #12  
Old 01-11-2010, 03:11 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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as larry said, defining the genre of the song is a great starting point
(spoken like a 30's gangster)

Yea, see, just like I said :)
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  #13  
Old 01-11-2010, 03:29 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Lots of good comments.

This will probably sound even more "lowbrow" (for want of a better word) than Bermuda's "in the box" comment but I find myself gravitating towards patterns played in songs that sound most similar to the song at hand. It's not conscious; that's just my first impulse. Being a limited drummer, I'll often strip that "original" pattern back (which has been peobably borrowed from someone else who borrowed it from ...)

My current band likes to play standards, but a bit differently (you get the great song plus much of the creative fun of playing originals). Since my first impulse is to copy I often experiment to find something less obvious, especially if the whole song is sounding a bit too stock-standard. To this end, I find that listening to playbacks is invaluable. However, sometimes the standard pattern works best and it's up to someone else in the group to put a different slant on the song.

There are lots of other considerations. Do I play the second verse the same as the first? Or do I play the same pattern but with different dynamics? Or a variation on the pattern itself? Should I scale right back or drop out altogether? Where are the climaxes in the song that might give people the tingles? Am I helping or getting in the way? Is there a motif that can give the song its own "signature"?

I was PMing with John Galt (I know he won't mind me sharing this) and he was thinking about where to put his fills. His teacher suggested that he try playing the song without doing any of those typical lead-into-the-chorus or into-the-solo fills and listen for where the fills "want" to be.

That makes sense to me. I have a feeling that Ringo did this, which is why he so often plays fills where other drummers would stick to the beat and doesn't play them when many other players would.

Last edited by Pollyanna; 01-11-2010 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:33 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Quote:
Originally Posted by handito
I would like to ask how you guys come up with drum parts for a song - sometimes when I want to play to, for instance, a play a long track I cant think of anything to play
Handito, I'm not sure what you mean by a LONG track. Are you talking about jamming for ages and not coming up with ideas? Playing a grandiose Rush style song?

I wish more people got involved in threads about creating drum parts. Abe started one months ago and it was largely ignored. What if people give examples of songs where they admire the drum part and what they like about it?

To get the ball rolling, I always loved Rick Marotta's part for Steely Dan's Hey Nineteen. Funky, clean and solid (ie. typical Rick M), and he plays a cute motif that introduces each new sections. It perfectly fits with the song's sassy, poppy but restrained feel - about an old guy who can no longer relate to the sweet young things that turn him on. On a casual listen the motif sounds the same each time but each time he plays the fill, it's subtly different.

Last edited by Pollyanna; 01-11-2010 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:43 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Originally Posted by Thaard View Post
Spastic Inc, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, etc are fantastic bands who make songs in this sort of fashion. The one thing is that they put humour into their music, so it doesnt get "pretentious", and even then, some people find that to be "good" art also. Frank Zappa also did this years ago, and he's pretty well known. What about Weird Al's polka-versions?
Oh my god Mike Patton is practically the definition of pretentious.
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:48 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

I think a drum track in a song should build. I like to use a basic example when teaching this. Hurt so good. Listen to how Kenny builds the track bit by bit. A masterwork in song support.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:18 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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I think a drum track in a song should build.
Good point. Most music I enjoy builds up as it goes. It goes somewhere. Sometimes the drums don't obviously build but everything else does, eg. Tomorrow Never Knows, Showbiz Kids or Green Onions.

The hard part for me is working out where the buildup should ideally accelerate, slow or plateau - or will there be little peaks? Big peaks? Twin peaks? (sorry, couldn't resist), times to leave space, times to get busy, etc etc. In part it's emotional but there's logic too.

Last edited by Pollyanna; 01-11-2010 at 09:18 AM. Reason: "Good point" not "God point" :)
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:37 AM
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  #18  
Old 01-11-2010, 11:27 AM
handito handito is offline
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Hey everybody

Im glad to see so many replies to this thread, it is really cool.
I'm sorry to confuse people by saying play a long track, I meant playalong tracks as in music minus drums.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Oh my god Mike Patton is practically the definition of pretentious.
I was talking about the music itself, not Mike Patton as a person.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:58 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Ego's are quite often a huge barrier to creating a successful drum track. depending on your defination of 'successful' of course!

sometimes taking direction from bandmates can restrain YOU when you need it, i try all the time to hear out my bandmates and any suggestions. keep a reign on your ego if possible!
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:06 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

I try to let the song dictate what I am going to play. I try to think as musicly as possible.
sometimes the drum parts naturaly fall into place. In a rock setting most of the "original rock songs are pretty predictable "
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  #22  
Old 01-11-2010, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

In my genre's (rock, to a lesser extent, funk) I usually work the part from the backbeat up. I insert the hat or ride rhythm next. Without any kick drum, I play the number through. At this stage, the drum part should groove perfectly with the song. If it doesn't, I work on it until it does. I then insert the kick drum to provide drive, accent & drama. Cymbals come next with careful selection depending on the required effect. These are often placed without snare or kick support. Finally the fills. These are selected either to maintain the groove, provide build to the next section, deliberately interrupt the groove or define an ending. There, job done. It may sound like I'm treating each kit element in isolation. I am to some degree, but always with an eye to the whole.

The above mainly applies to original material or substantial rework of a cover song. With covers, I just get on the kit, play it as original then maybe deviate slightly according to mood/taste.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:25 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

I once read a Steve Gadd interview and he said whenever he goes into the studio he asks himself the following:

"How can I get the songwriter what he/she wants while playing the least?"

I think this "less is more" approach is more often appropriate than not. Also, I always take several things into consideration when writing parts:

1. The Genre. This alone will help you determine what is and isn't appropriate in terms of phrasing and rhythmic structure (both in grooves and fills).

2. The Song Form. One rule of thumb is to never play fills over the verses but rather in between them. If there's singing going on, just lay it down. Also, give the solo sections some structure. For example, if there is to be a guitar solo after the bridge and it's 16 bars long, play a fill going into the 9th bar.

3. The melody and harmonic rhythm. I always structure grooves around both as they will give you clues as to what rhythms should be outlined therein.

4. The songwriter. Ultimately it's their tune, so make sure they dig what you're doing. Encourage ideas on how to develop your part. Sometimes when I'm in the studio and we're listening to a take I'll keep an eye on the songwriter and see their response. You can always tell when they're not digging something.

It's already been said in many ways on this thread: play for the music, not for yourself, and you'll be fine. ;-)
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:17 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintageludwigs View Post
I once read a Steve Gadd interview and he said whenever he goes into the studio he asks himself the following:

"How can I get the songwriter what he/she wants while playing the least?"

I think this "less is more" approach is more often appropriate than not.
Gadd is a wise man, and despite some obvious occasions where he played some great parts we revere him for, he's played a lot of 2&4. As has Vinnie. And as have many of our technical drumnming heroes.

The truth is, in a lot of music, the funk & groove & rhythm & excitement comes from the bass, keys, guitars & horns... NOT the drums. For a drummer to get caught up in the rhythm and deny the other players the backbone of the song, is a death sentence in terms of future work.

Quote:
It's already been said in many ways on this thread: play for the music, not for yourself, and you'll be fine. ;-)
Well put, and I'm gonna paraphrase a bit:

It's already been said in many ways on this thread:
Play for the music, not for your head.


Remember, drummers are rarely called in to play what they want... they're called to play what the artist wants. What the artist doesn't want is a study in rhumbas and halftimes, and we all know drummers who fit that bill (and probably don't work much!) The majority of the time, the artist wants a solid beat to work around and complement their songs, not a drummer who finds a way to punch every beat possible.

As mentioned above, it's best to start out with the backbeat and gradually fill-in with the kick and hat/cymbal. If a part feels like it's out of place, it is. If a beat is a little tricky to play and might require some work, it probably sounds just as awkward - lose it. Parts that need to be forced, shouldn't be. When the artist says to make it less complicated, do it. Immediately, and without question. And play the same way the next time you work with them, without first being asked. Artists get tired of reminding other musicians how to do their job. They want someone who'll come in and nail it without having to give many instructions.

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Old 01-11-2010, 08:35 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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The truth is, in a lot of music, the funk & groove & rhythm & excitement comes from the bass, keys, guitars & horns... NOT the drums.
I respectfully disagree. Not that the other instruments don't work to create excitement, but it's pretty hard to state with a straight face that it doesn't come from drums. I have a hard time understanding why drummers are okay getting short-changed for their contributions to how a piece of music turns out. Not all drummers are.

Quote:
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Remember, drummers are rarely called in to play what they want... they're called to play what the artist wants.
Here you're making a distinction between drummer and artist. Why are they mutually exclusive? This is exactly why I have no desire to make a living playing music. I consider drumming art - not a service job. I much prefer collaborating with songwriters, not simply taking direction from them. Many "artists" aren't drummers and appreciate a drummer that actually brings something to the table - a partner in the artistic process - rather than merely "not getting in the way."

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
As mentioned above, it's best to start out with the backbeat and gradually fill-in with the kick and hat/cymbal. If a part feels like it's out of place, it is. If a beat is a little tricky to play and might require some work, it probably sounds just as awkward - lose it.
This approach would not have resulted in this drum part where the drum part moves around a bit and gets "tricky" even during vocal parts. To me, that's interesting - and nobody had to play a rhumba!

Sorry Bermuda, I don't mean to sound rude: I understand your opinion and your unique perspective, but not everyone wants to be a studio cat. I want a seat at the "artist" table and I have other sources of income. There's not many people my age (42) still slogging it out in the trenches writing original material that they believe in and recording it on their own dime. I've never had a hard time finding bands or people to play with. At this point, I'm just looking for a body of work that I can be proud of, that's says something about me, and that I will like to have riding with me in my casket.

Last edited by MikeM; 01-11-2010 at 08:53 PM.
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  #26  
Old 01-11-2010, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

When I get a song that has already been written, or a demo recording, I like to listen to all of the other parts -- vocal melody, bass, rhythm guitar -- and steal ideas from what they played. Most demos that come with programmed drums are created by songwriters, not drummers. They often will just put a loop on there and write over it -- not paying attention to accents or form.

So, I'll listen for accent schemes in the other parts, and build a drum part based on that.

For example . . . I did a session last year where I was replacing another drum track. The song had a long "Everybody Wants Some" type drum intro. To figure out what to play, I took the rhythm that the vocalist used in the chorus of the song, and used it to create my intro. That way the two parts were connected rhythmically, rather than just being a random bunch of notes played at the same tempo. To me, it more musical and artistic to think this way.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
Not that the other instruments don't work to create excitement, but it's pretty hard to state with a straight face that it doesn't come from drums. I have a hard time understanding why drummers are okay getting short-changed for their contributions to how a piece of music turns out.
The drummer's contribution is of the utmost importance to how music turns out! That's why it's essential that the drummer in particular does his job accordingly.

Also, please note that I said "in a lot of music..." and did not say all or in the majority or even in most cases. But a quick listen to some classic funk songs will reveal just how simply the drums are played. Indeed, if the drummer joined in the fray, the great grooves would be lost.

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Here you're making a distinction between drummer and artist. Why are they mutually exclusive? ... I consider drumming art - not a service job. I much prefer collaborating with songwriters, not simply taking direction from them. Many "artists" aren't drummers and appreciate a drummer that actually brings something to the table - a partner in the artistic process - rather than merely "not getting in the way."
When I say artist, I am talking about the person in charge... whether they've written the song, are the producer, did the hiring, whatever. Very few bands are complete democracies in which every member plays an absolutely equal part in the creation of the music.

And it's true, artists want drummers who play the right parts for them. Often this means staying out of their way, and obviously there are drummers who bring their specific flavor to that artist's songs.

Drumming is not a "service job" to me. While I am priveleged to make a full-time living playing, I've played just as passionately in the past when I've had day jobs, and would do the same if I enter the workforce again. Perhaps my problem is that I simply love drumming, and don't insist on any kind of artistic distinctions from behind the kit. Maybe that innocent approach to drumming has helped me, maybe it's hurt me. Hard to say. All I know is what's worked for me, and that it's worked for the hundred or so working pros that I'm friends with.

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  #28  
Old 01-11-2010, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Sorry Bermuda, I don't mean to sound rude: I understand your opinion and your unique perspective, but not everyone wants to be a studio cat. I want a seat at the "artist" table and I have other sources of income. There's not many people my age (42) still slogging it out in the trenches writing original material that they believe in and recording it on their own dime.
No problem, and I'm pretty far from just a studio guy. I'm actually in 4 local bands apart from my primary gig, and three of them are doing mostly original music. In some cases I can play just about whatever I want, and in others, I take some specific direction. Fortunately in all of the bands, I'm the drummer because of what I bring to their table, and no, it's not always just the 2&4 whose virtues I extole so highly.

Well, most of the time it is... :)

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  #29  
Old 01-11-2010, 10:44 PM
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vintageludwigs vintageludwigs is offline
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Perhaps my problem is that I simply love drumming, and don't insist on any kind of artistic distinctions from behind the kit.
Bermuda brings up an interesting point here, even if he didn't mean to. ;-)

Like him, I simply love to play the drums regardless of what I'm playing. Furthermore, I don't ever feel that my artistic integrity is undermined when the proper part is something very "basic" or "simple". On the contrary, I feel that if my part isn't right then the song suffers, therein undermining the artistic integrity of the entire project.

Trust me...I want to express myself like any other musician. This is one of the main reasons why I started playing in the first place and why I've devoted my life to establishing a career in the art.

I think it's important to understand how to approach the instrument artistically regardless of what we're playing. For me, if I'm playing a part that is appropriate for the song, then I feel I'm contributing to the artistic endeavors of the songwriter. This alone fulfills my artistic "desires" because I know I'm part of something bigger than myself. Writing tunes collaboratively with a band is one of the greatest experiences as a musician IMO.

By the way, this approach doesn't just apply to studio gigs. It's an approach that should be used on any gig requiring the drummer to compose parts for original songs. I work with several groups that have not recorded yet but do play live gigs consistently and this approach has never failed.
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  #30  
Old 01-11-2010, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

If you really are perfectionist about finding the right part for a certain song, (other than give it enough time) record your performance! Sometimes I feel and "hear" certain things, and listening to a recording of my performance might make me change most of it, as I suddenly hear differently. Doesn't happen all the time, otherwise I'd have to really rethink my abilities of "hearing" what to play on the spot. :)
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:07 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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For me, if I'm playing a part that is appropriate for the song, then I feel I'm contributing to the artistic endeavors of the songwriter.
This is the correct mindset IMO. To think that playing inappropriately in service of personal expression is a positive thing is something amateurs believe. That is why they are amateurs. Drummers who play this way are a nightmare to play with.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:24 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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This is the correct mindset IMO. To think that playing inappropriately in service of personal expression is a positive thing is something amateurs believe. That is why they are amateurs. Drummers who play this way are a nightmare to play with.
I was like this, and still struggle abit with it. The thing is that I want it to be perfect for the song while leaving something personal in it. Maybe a fill or something technical, but sometimes it just doesnt fit and I have to leave it out. It's frustrating but I have to leave my ego out, and listen to the big picture.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

"You exist to serve the music. The music does not exist to serve you" -- Bill Bruford
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:54 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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To think that playing inappropriately in service of personal expression is a positive thing is something amateurs believe.
I don't remember anyone saying that personal expression had to come at the expense of appropriate playing - just that there's usually more than one appropriate part for a given song for those inclined to spend the time to find them.

For me it's fun to find one that isn't always the most obvious. Of course, the most obvious part is the default and shouldn't be ignored, but one can certainly play against it using one of the others without sacrificing the song.

BTW: I've seen Bill Bruford with Earthworks and King Crimson and love the way he plays. One of my trailblazing hero's for sure. There's a guy who liked the getting off the beaten path - perhaps to a fault.
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:59 AM
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I don't remember anyone saying that personal expression had to come at the expense of appropriate playing - just that there's usually more than one appropriate part for a given song for those inclined to spend the time to find them.
I was not saying anyone said it here. I've often had to deal with it with drummers on a gig.

That quote is actually what Jamie Muir said to Bill Bruford when Bruford first joined King Crimson. Apparently Muir was quite blunt. :-)
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  #36  
Old 01-12-2010, 05:18 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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I simply love to play the drums regardless of what I'm playing.
It's interesting that everyone has their own take on this. I love drumming, too. But unfortunately, there are any number of factors that can quickly make it not fun. Lame songwriting drives me nuts (which of course is entirely subjective!). If there's nothing to work with, material-wise, the best drumming in the world (whatever that is) can't save it, or make it a happy situation for me.

I have friends that are great players that I never play with because they just like to "jam" and that doesn't fit my compositional style. I'd rather just practice by myself than play music I don't enjoy - and like most people, there are lots of styles I don't enjoy.
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:48 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

It becomes especially interesting since the lines / dynamics / timbres that others in the band play tends to change the way we play and vice versa. As a general rule, the more the bassist plays the less the drummer plays and vice versa.

Generally verses in songs are a fill-free zone although Ringo often flouted this one to good effect.

Another general rule (none of these are hard and fast, of course) is that in fairly regular rock, pop, blues and related genres, the more notes we play, the lower our volume should be.

It's taken a long time but the penny has finally dropped for me that it's not compulsory to play a fill to lead into choruses, bridges and solos.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:37 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
Generally verses in songs are a fill-free zone although Ringo often flouted this one to good effect.

It's taken a long time but the penny has finally dropped for me that it's not compulsory to play a fill to lead into choruses, bridges and solos.
What do you think of the "fill-free" A Hard Day's Night? I was practicing along to that and other songs on The Beatles' Red Album and was relieved I didn't have to play any difficult single stroke roll or fill. (I say difficult because I'm still not fast enough to play the single stroke roll on Ticket To Ride.) It's just a straight pattern all the way through.

EDIT: Actually, I can play that single stroke roll. For some reason, I didn't think I was fast enough. Doh.

Last edited by nocTurnal; 01-13-2010 at 03:22 AM.
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  #39  
Old 01-12-2010, 09:05 AM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

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What do you think of the "fill-free" A Hard Day's Night?
I've never played along with it and never picked up that it has no fills. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQwwqajZXD8.

The band was mainly playing skiffle music back then and the drummer's job was just to keep it grooving, which Ringo does in spades. He loves getting that cymbal wash going and pumping out the beat. He does the same thing, but to arguably even better effect, in Tomorrow Never Knows. It really establishes an atmosphere.
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:43 PM
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Default Re: creating drum parts for songs

This "expressing yourself" stuff gets me too. The drums aren't the best choice of instruments for that, because the drums perform such a necessary function in a song.

I don't even think along those lines. I want to make the song feel good. That is expressing myself, but the focus is the song, not "my expressiveness".

If you can "express yourself" and make the song feel good to your bandmates, and the audience, then great.

If you really want to express yourself, write a song, or at least the lyrics, and leave the drumming to someone who understands the role and function of the drumset.
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