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  #1  
Old 05-05-2009, 01:17 PM
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Default Keep it straight please..

My problem: as I start to really learn and understand the art of drumming i get more and more frustrated in my role as ”time-keeper” in my band. Go check out what it sounds like here.
We’ve played for 7 years starting from point zero as in no one knew anything about their instrument. Despite that, we’ve come a long way. Now we’ve decided to get better at actually playing. All fine. I read, I practice, I listen, practice some more and I begin to understand what can be done when it comes to groove and swing. I listen to Stanton Moore, Bernhard Purdie and the likes, and a whole new world appears. I get excited. Then I go to rehearsal and I, carefully, colour my rythm patterns with a tom here and there…”that sounds weired”. I chip in some ghosts…”sounds sloppy”. I play cross stick in the verse to get some dynamics… ”we need a solid backbeat”. All I get is ”if you wanna show off you can do a fill when told to. Playing like that doesn’t serve to song”. The main idea is the drums has to be static and metronome like and that’s what makes the groove. The only purpous beeing to keep time and to make way for others. My idea, as it comes with actually listening to drummers, is that the groove also can come from playing between the cracks, from syncopation, triplet feels and ghost notes. A drum pattern can be played using some tom's and still be rock solid. Well, keeping time is of course essential. That goes without saying. But what do you do in a situation like this? Creative drumming is a complete no-no and it bums me out. One thing is if someone says ”you have to work on that pattern. It has to be tighter”. No prob’s with that since that goes for anyone trying something out in rehearsal. But to be cut off for even trying? I could stick to page 1 in ”200 basic rock-beats” and they would think it’s perfect. How limiting is that? I’m afraid I’m proving the old prejudice that drummers should stay uneducated on their instrument or they will ruin the songs and claim too much space. Watch out for drummer-drummers and go find a duh-caracter that goes bom-bom-bom, or you'll end up playing fusion jazz. On the songs you can hear on our website I didn’t know anything, and I hadn’t really practised ever, never took a lesson or anything, no independence, a miserable left hand, footwork good for nothing and so on. I didn't know the difference between 2/4 and 6/8 and everyone loved it. Now I start working on those things and everyone goes ”Oh No, stick to straight fours. Don’t fiddle about. Keep time, Play it straight. Just snare, bass and hi-hat please”. Jeeeze I’m whining ain’t I?
Well, maybe my band is a dead end when it comes to drumming, and maybe I should just work on perfecting my time keeping skills within that context. I love those guys and I don’t wanna quit so I have to find a way.
Do I have a question for you since I started this thread? I dunno? I just had to get some frustration out, and perhaps someone recognize the situation I’m in and have thoughts on how to handle it. I would appreciate that.
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2009, 01:55 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Yes - the music you are playing is pretty much "creatively stagnant" I would say. It's "good ol' boy" music on a back porch - and maybe you can get creative with playing some metal doo-hicky you found out in the woods one day - but throwing in some tom fills and ghost-note syncopations are gonna get the singer[s] and the banjo[s] up in arms (a little bit).

Just for the record, I think a lot of jazz is creatively stagnant as well, so I'm not out to bust on anyone's style (rock too! actually - most styles are creatively stagnant and it's the few and far between who do more than just come up with a neat orchestration of parts.

And that's okay. Come up with a neat orchestration of parts. When you close your eyes and listen to the music - picture the sound *you* want. If it's some tom roll in the middle of nowhere - record it with the fellas and check on playback.

Maybe they'll go "whoa that's awesome and I never would have thought so [because I am stuck in not only my ways, but the ways of everyone else that thinks the same as I do]"

or they'll say "See? That is *terrible*!"

and you'll have to 1. agree; or 2. try really hard to convince them; or 3. start your own wacky band where there *are* no rules! Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!
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  #3  
Old 05-05-2009, 04:12 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Sounds like straight country to me. I play in a few country bands myself, I find there is little room for stretching out as well, I keep it straight and play for the song.

Maybe you need to find some other folks to get together with once in a while to play different styles and experiment?
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

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Originally Posted by rmandelbaum View Post
Maybe you need to find some other folks to get together with once in a while to play different styles and experiment?
That is a great idea.
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  #5  
Old 05-05-2009, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

you might be outgrowing them.....ya know? I think maybe trying to find others to play with would be a good thing as well. Don't completely stiffle yourself IF you are not happy. The ideal is to find musicains and the type of stuff you LIKE to play. If you are not happy with what they are doing I would check around- you might find playing in two situations gives you some balance as well.

I played in a few situations in the past where guitarists love to stretch and solo but get completely freaked ( lost?) if the drummer does anything similar. Just not right I tell ya;-)
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  #6  
Old 05-05-2009, 04:41 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

One thing you will notice about all the drummers you mentioned...while they do a lot of creative stuff in songs that allow for it, all of those guys, as well as all the greats, also know when to just lay back and NOT throw a bunch of "cool stuff" out there. The number one most important thing for a musician to do is to play to the music. And the music that you are playing doesn't really call for stretching out. I can see what the guys mean...if I was hired for a session with your bandmates, I would never even think of Stanton Moore or the other guys you mentioned.

On one hand, that can be really creatively frustrating, and even hold you back from growing as a drummer. On the other hand, it's what the music needs, plain and simple. Go listen to Shania Twain some day, then listen to the stuff JD Blair plays when he tours with Vic Wooten. He is a beast with Vic, but plays really simple stuff (to a click, and isn't even supposed to improvise his fills) with Shania. It's just playing what the music calls for.

Or think of it another way: What if your guitarist suddently started playing two-handed finger tapping and threw on distortion because that is what he has been studying? The whole band, including you, would think it sounded horrible with the music you are playing.

If you want to stretch out, start a side-project or something where you can. But with the style of music you are playing with your band, you will only hurt yourself if you try to do crazy stuff.
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  #7  
Old 05-05-2009, 06:01 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Just listened to your track from the website. Your mates are right in this one, what you're playing is what sounds the best in the music. Honestly, it's time for a gut-check, they're never going to change stylistically so that means if you're going to stay with them, you need to do what they need you to do. If you're not going to be happy doing that, either get a side band as suggested or look for, or form a new band.
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  #8  
Old 05-05-2009, 07:10 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Also, you have to suck it up a little. You have to find a way to keep it strait and not get bored doing it. Play it open handed, use dynamics, try making it fun, think positive. Instead of concentrating on what you can't do, try to do what is acceptable in the best way, with the best attitude that you can. Sometimes plain timekeeping sounds so good, and you have to wholeheartedly embrace it, otherwise, you aren't suited for that particular band.
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  #9  
Old 05-05-2009, 08:16 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

It's ALWAYS about the song, it's NEVER about the musician, no matter the instrument.

If you want to play more CHOPS you're in the wrong genera. Join a band that plays "chops" oriented music where the song is arranged to show the technical prowess of the individual members.

Dixie Dregs for instance!! Something like THAT!! But bear in mind, as awesome as it is, they're not just blowing chops to show off, it's a finely tuned orchestration that STILL has a SONG attached! It's not their most recent "cool chops" that take the president there.
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  #10  
Old 05-05-2009, 08:48 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vipercussionist View Post
If you want to play more CHOPS you're in the wrong genera.
I agree, maybe you should try evans G2s instead! (sorry)
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  #11  
Old 05-05-2009, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

You need a side project. I would suggest going to a local jam night once a week for a while and see if you can find any other musicians looking to form a band.
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  #12  
Old 05-05-2009, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

A lot of good points (especially concerning drumhead brand). If I am to play with these guys I have to do it with all my heart and not whine about limitations, and I do realize that this type of music requires a "behind the curtain"- approach. I was (still am) just a bit frustrated with that becoming so obvious when doing just a teenie weenie bit of something else. It's good thou to get the same from fellow drummers. It makes it a bit easier to take I guess. But I want to stress that "something else" was nothing even remotely comparable to Stanton Moore. I don't have the chops, and if I had I wouldn't be stupid enough to throw that in their face. The references was more like "that stuff inspires me to get better although on my low level". To find other ways for "chopping off" seems also like a good idea. I will check that one out when I can do pages 5-7 in Stone's "Stick Control" without goofing. until then I will keep time and keep practicing. Thank you all for chipping in.
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:41 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vipercussionist View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddiehimself View Post
If you want to play more CHOPS you're in the wrong genera.
I agree, maybe you should try evans G2s instead! (sorry)
Definitely stick with the G1's!!

DOH!!!!! My bad . . . I meant JOHN-Ruh!! L0L!!
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  #14  
Old 05-06-2009, 12:22 AM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

I do think it may be ok to slightly alter the grooves during different parts of the song, maybe add a bass drum note here, or switch to your ride during a chorus etc. These are subtle changes that won't disturb the flow of the music, but will also prevent your music from being repetitive. As for fills, keep them as to-the-point as possible, e.g. trying to hit a tom along with your snare on the 4th count, that's all you need. colouring your rhythm patterns with a tom here and there would be overkill.
Good luck!
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:10 AM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Also I find that the hi hat can be a refuge. You can get away with playing things on the hi hat that would never fly on the toms for instance. Get a dialouge going with the hi hat during timekeeping duties and it usually doesn't take the focus away from the groove.
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  #16  
Old 05-06-2009, 01:48 AM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

About a year ago I joined a Contemporary Bluegrass Band. I am a busy player! I like to stay just behind the line of overplaying. I encountered the same comments as Levon"s Pocket spoke about from my band mates at first. Their former drummer was extremely bland in his playing style. They were used to that style. I added a different flair to their music and they didn't like it at first. I decided to concede to their requests during practices. When we played our first gig I couldn't hold back anymore and I pulled the stops out! People who new the band before I joined them came to us after the gig and they said that they liked my lively style of playing. After that day it was all of a sudden OK for me to play the music in my style. I notice that the other musicians in the band have changed their style of play also over the past year. The band is starting to become mildly successful. We are being courted by local college radio stations to play live on the air and we are getting more and better gigs now. Change can be a good sometimes, But people are reluctant to accept change!
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:25 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

As John Lennon would have put it: Revolution starts with a hi-hat.
I'll keep that in mind.
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vipercussionist View Post
Definitely stick with the G1's!!

DOH!!!!! My bad . . . I meant JOHN-Ruh!! L0L!!
Not to mention you put the names on the quotation tags the wrong way round XD
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:10 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdadruma View Post
About a year ago I joined a Contemporary Bluegrass Band. I am a busy player! I like to stay just behind the line of overplaying. I encountered the same comments as Levon"s Pocket spoke about from my band mates at first. Their former drummer was extremely bland in his playing style. They were used to that style. I added a different flair to their music and they didn't like it at first. I decided to concede to their requests during practices. When we played our first gig I couldn't hold back anymore and I pulled the stops out! People who new the band before I joined them came to us after the gig and they said that they liked my lively style of playing. After that day it was all of a sudden OK for me to play the music in my style. I notice that the other musicians in the band have changed their style of play also over the past year. The band is starting to become mildly successful. We are being courted by local college radio stations to play live on the air and we are getting more and better gigs now. Change can be a good sometimes, But people are reluctant to accept change!
There is definitely some truth to what you are saying. I've found ...too often for some people "playing less" translates ( for them) into being bland as hell. One thing to think about if you water down everything too much ...there is nothing left to be considered unique either. Now before anyone thinks I am suggesting we all play like Thomas Pridgeon in a Country band...I am not. But I really think if you feel you are out growing your band and are feeling stiffled...you might not be playing stuff that makes you happy. Simple as that. Not only that many musicians can find themselves towing the party line on things so much that they never discover who they are as players....which should be a goal for all of us. Regardless of the genre...people pick up on whether or not you believe in what you are playing...and in my opinion there is nothing worse than a band who looks either scared or bored and disintersted in what they are doing.
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Old 05-06-2009, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdadruma View Post
About a year ago I joined a Contemporary Bluegrass Band. I am a busy player! I like to stay just behind the line of overplaying. I encountered the same comments as Levon"s Pocket spoke about from my band mates at first. Their former drummer was extremely bland in his playing style. They were used to that style. I added a different flair to their music and they didn't like it at first. I decided to concede to their requests during practices. When we played our first gig I couldn't hold back anymore and I pulled the stops out! People who new the band before I joined them came to us after the gig and they said that they liked my lively style of playing. After that day it was all of a sudden OK for me to play the music in my style. I notice that the other musicians in the band have changed their style of play also over the past year. The band is starting to become mildly successful. We are being courted by local college radio stations to play live on the air and we are getting more and better gigs now. Change can be a good sometimes, But people are reluctant to accept change!
Funny story. Something VERY similar happened to me. Started playing with really talented blues/rock singer/songwriter who's a very smart nice dude but very picky regarding speed, dynamics, placement of fills, etc. He's nice about it, but definitely knows what he wants. He's managed by his father (he just turned 18 - he's a prodigy, one of the best musicians I've ever encountered in my life, regardless of age or anything) and his dad was just as picky. I was feeling a bit restricted in rehearsals, but the guy and his dad loved what they heard. The first show came along and the adrenaline hit and I just said to myself "F*** it, I'm gonna do what I want". After the show his dad counted 27 people who came up to him seperately and complemented "the new drummer". From that point forward they let me do whatever the hell I want :) Not so much in a rebellious "I'll do what I want kind of way", but more in a way where now they trust that whatever I come up with will work for the song and will get the crowd into it. It's a good feeling.
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:18 AM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

When I record, I like to play less. Less is more when it comes to recordings. When I play live, I find that it is better to put a bit more in. A live performance seems to demand more input from the drummer.
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Old 05-07-2009, 03:18 AM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Dude,
You're advancing beyond what the band needs in a drummer. They want a dumbass 5th grader playing drums for them. Let them have it and move on. In 10 years, when they are still a stupid stixville band because they aspire to mediocrity and you have moved on to bigger and better things, they will be telling everyone they meet how they used to play with this one drummer who is now a bombass drummer.
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Old 05-07-2009, 03:38 AM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
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Dude,
You're advancing beyond what the band needs in a drummer. They want a dumbass 5th grader playing drums for them. Let them have it and move on. In 10 years, when they are still a stupid stixville band because they aspire to mediocrity and you have moved on to bigger and better things, they will be telling everyone they meet how they used to play with this one drummer who is now a bombass drummer.
Actually if you listen to the band, they are rather good indeed. They hardly appear to aspiring to mediocrity.
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Old 05-07-2009, 05:50 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Average and Funkybeat// Thank you both for wholly different kind of support, haha. Fact is that I'm proud of our music when it comes to the songs themselves. We've had a lot of good reviews and to boast a bit one of swedens most acknowledged critic of the genre had one of the songs picked as "best this week" and called it a nearly perfect creation. people often are surprised that we accomplish what we do considering that we all started playing our instruments a few years ago and never ever had any lessons. We just meet and play once a week. The problem for me is to realise that if I work hard on my skills only a limited piece of that will ever show in this band. I will be better within the limits of the format I'm sure, and that's a good thing. To have more than is required will always improve the quality of whatever "simple" task you do. But it ain't no use practicing a whole lot of independence or speed if it never can be executed when playing. Last week I just felt like Average is suggesting, go find a metronome and I'll go play something cool. What has been said in this thread has helped me to balance things up a bit and I'm honestly looking forward to mondays rehearsal. I'll do what the music needs best, maybe sneak in a little something on the hi-hat, have fun and be the best time-keeper they will ever have. When at home I will practice other skills and have fun with that. One day I might get good enough to let my new skills play out together with others. Then I'll have two bands which isn't a bad thing at all.
Thank you all for helping me seeing this "problem" as a potential opportunity.
Oh, and Al Perkins is playing on most of the tracks and he is all but mediocre.
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Yeah, I got that a lot in the "praise" band I was recently in. Our old leader encouraged experimentation and wanted improvisation as long as it fit the characteristics of the song. He encouraged creativity. Cool!

Our new leader we aquired only wanted to play straight 4/4, straight 4/4 rock beats, striaght 2 and 4 back-beats, etc. I beleive every drummer knows how boring that can get - real quick.

The rest of the band, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and two singers wanted to experiment, try new things, push the envolope, etc.

I believe there are many musicians out there who only think drums are for simple time-keeping duties. And that was the mentality around the early 1900's until the 1930's - 1940's jazz bands of Louis Armstrong, the Dorsey brothers, Glenn Miller, etc. Then the 1950's Be Bop and early rock and roll ushered in creativity beyond that of jazz and swing.

I may be wrong, but that is the way I view it. Any ideas or comments?
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:34 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Rogue Drummer: I'm not sure the drummer's primary role as timekeeper has changed that much since the 1900's. Whether we're playing a steady groove or playing lots of fills, it's all time. Keith Moon still played time. Elvin Jones was still playing time. But your general point - that things opened up significantly in the 50s and 60s - is true of the jazz world, and was true for the pop/rock world to a certain degree, for a limited time. Today, a quick listen to the radio reveals that drums are largely thought of as a support/timekeeping instrument. In many ways there is less stretching out in pop music today than there was 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

To the general topic at hand: Not every gig requires the same approach to time, and we have to check our egos at the door and do the gig. If the gig is straight country and you're not in a position to make creative decisions without the consent of the leader or the band as a whole, then you have to live with playing straight country if you want that gig. There is nothing wrong with the members of a band wanting a certain kind of drumming to suit the art they're trying to create. But there's also nothing wrong with you seeking to stretch out further.

If you want to stretch out, you need to find a new, or additional outlet for that. It has to feel safe to try things that might seem a little out of the ordinary for you. Trying to force the issue in your current band is only going to lead to conflict, resentment or worse; i.e. you losing the gig.

Depending on my relationship with the band, I would talk to them first to avoid any potential misunderstandings. If you like playing with them, say so. But tell them that while you want to play their gig the best you possibly can, you also feel like you need to seek other outlets for your own sake. You may even find that one or more members of the band might be looking to do the same thing and would be willing to start a side project with you. Moreover, if they're reasonable, they'll realise that a happy, dedicated you is better than a bitter resentful you who feels like he isn't getting what he needs. If I was simply a hired gun or side man on the gig, then I wouldn't even have that conversation unless there were contractual obligations involved. It all depends on the dynamics.

Personally, I never really care what the other members of a band are up to outside of that particular project, as long as it doesn't interfere with our preexisting commitments. I suspect that if you approach it gently and honestly, that your band members may feel the same way. If you're a tight-knit group, hopefully your friendship can withstand a small adjustment in the parameters of your relationship.

Last edited by Boomka; 05-07-2009 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:36 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mediocrefunkybeat View Post
Actually if you listen to the band, they are rather good indeed. They hardly appear to aspiring to mediocrity.
I'm sorry. I never meant to imply that the band was mediocre. They are pretty darn good, but they could probably be better if they would let their drummer grow a little.
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  #28  
Old 05-07-2009, 10:01 PM
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Good points, Boomka!

The particular group I was involved with and referring to, changed leaders in January. And the entire dynamics of the group changed. We switched strickly to 4/4 rock; gone were the jazz and swing beats, marches, Djembe rhythms, etc. And that was not a particularly good change, in my opinion. But nobody asked my opinon or consulted with me, nor any other members of the group, so it is probably best that I moved on. I was getting very bored playing only 4/4 with backbeats on 2 and 4 anyway. I didn't see myself progressing or growing my skill level; but I enjoyed volunteering and at least playing in a group once a week.

When I got the chance to help form a jazz - swing band with brass and saxophones, and a stand up string bass I jumped at the chance.

I can agree with you 100%, thanks!
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  #29  
Old 05-07-2009, 11:33 PM
Boomka Boomka is offline
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue_drummer View Post
Good points, Boomka!

The particular group I was involved with and referring to, changed leaders in January. And the entire dynamics of the group changed. We switched strickly to 4/4 rock; gone were the jazz and swing beats, marches, Djembe rhythms, etc. And that was not a particularly good change, in my opinion. But nobody asked my opinon or consulted with me, nor any other members of the group, so it is probably best that I moved on. I was getting very bored playing only 4/4 with backbeats on 2 and 4 anyway. I didn't see myself progressing or growing my skill level; but I enjoyed volunteering and at least playing in a group once a week.

When I got the chance to help form a jazz - swing band with brass and saxophones, and a stand up string bass I jumped at the chance.

I can agree with you 100%, thanks!
Yeah, it can be tough to stay fresh in that kind of a situation. That said, 2 & 4 is as deep as we want to make it. This thread ties in with a with a number of threads about musicality
(apologies to Deathmetalconga...) of late. Much of creating meaningful musical happenings is about having right intention and being 100% committed to what's happening right NOW. Simply trying to be completely there in every note is a neverending challenge that'll keep every gig challenging and fresh.
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Old 05-08-2009, 04:21 PM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Keep it straight please..

There is a way to play straight, but not get bored, you just have to find it. Of top importance is dropping the mindset that straight is boring. It's not! Playing straight does not sound boring...unless you play it with a bored approach, a bored look on your face, and a lackluster execution. It's really an attitude. It's not what you play, it's how you play it. Think Phil Rudd (from AC/DC) gets bored? Concentrating more on dynamics, great transitions, interesting hi hat figures, playing the perfect inflection behind the soloist, cool endings, that's 5 things that can usually be done in any song. If you're bored playing the rest of the song, it's kinda your decision. You have to remember that the audience has no clue that you think it's boring, so don't spoil it for them.
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