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  #1  
Old 02-20-2013, 10:16 PM
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Default Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

I watched a Simon Phillips clip recently, it's a long display of the man showing his skills, signature grooves, amazing fills and licks, creativity and so on, it's very long, 47 minutes, but within the middle of the clip, there's an interview of Simon while he's still sitting behind the kit, at one stage the interviewer asked questions about his feet technique, and he replied with the following quote:

"It's really control of your feet, you know, when you do this, one foot goes off into the distance, it's really weird, you have to find the speed were you're totally in control, sometimes to really control it, it's amazingly slow actually, to do individual stroke, to be totally in control of it, when you're playing live in front of people, anything happen, you just revert to whatever you've got in store, but I think by practicing with this it really does help, building up something, you just need to be very patient"

Another quick example before I go in the core of this thread, on another clip, I watched Rodney Holmes doing a demo of how to play two completely different patterns together at a high speed, once he stopped, someone in the audience said "do it slower", to which he replied "slower? it's much harder to do it slower...", he did play it slower and perfectly, of course.

Now this brings my reason for this thread, while I understand Simon's view on control, which could mean to be perfectly in control, it won't be that fast when you play something, but, on the other hand, I also agree with Rodney who said it's harder to slow it down.

I'm finding that depending what I'm practicing, it is very hard and difficult to slow down a pattern, while I have no problem at the "right" speed, it could be what's involve in the movement, different motion at lower and higher speed perhaps, but in any case, it does affect the control of what I'm playing.

The inverse effect is also true, some patterns are more difficult to play faster, but I can understand this much better, there's a speed limit of what I can achieve at the kit while playing certain patterns, but to slow it down, should be easier, and often enough, it is not.

Does this happen to you? if so, what did you do to overcome this aspect of "control"?

Thought?

Sorry for the long post :)
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:22 PM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

Was just practicing single stroke 4s (RLRF) at 60 and it felt weird and took some time to get into. 100+bpm is no problem; they kind of 'snap' easily at that speed
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:06 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

Good stuff Henri. I think everyone finds that many patterns have a sweet spot, or at least a range in which they're comfortable to play. Taking things real slow certainly takes practice like anything else. I find I can slow stuff right down that I'm used to playing at higher speeds without too many problems. I guess I'm naturally a slow player, & have no inner clock issues with lots of spaces to play. Where I do struggle, is with slowing down new stuff. If it isn't burned into my brain, it takes a while for me to get that micro timing nailed down.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:32 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

I would interpret Rodney Holmes' comment more like: It's harder to play slower because I've spent so many years playing it at faster tempos that it's become second nature. In order to slow it down I actually have to consciously think about what I'm doing.

I recall seeing a clip when I first joined here where someone (memory is a bit sketchy on the exact player....I wanna say Weckl, but could be completely wrong there) was asked to break one of his licks down. For the life of him it took him several attempts to play it slow without fluffing it. It was obvious to me that it was more a case that he'd been applying it a certain way for so long that he could do it with his eyes closed.....he had the mechanics at that speed down, knew what the pattern sounded like in his head and could pull it off with little to no conscious thought. But when asked to change the approach, it "felt" and possibly "sounded" wrong to him and caused confusion he wasn't used to.

I get where you are coming from, but at the end of the day fast is just slow speeded up. if you can do it quickly you can certainly do it slowly. I have no doubt it's a hell of a lot easier to play patterns slower......but once they are learnt, memorised and applied over a period of time. quite often those slow tempos get forgotten due to no longer being utilised or practised, so in turn cause a degree of initial difficulty when called upon.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:35 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

Great topic Henri and yes, two very different things...

Took me a long while but I've learned to get comfortable at practicing with the click at 40 BPM and then work my way up. There are days that go by when I'm working on my drum set studies that I never turn the click faster than 40 bpm.

Jim Blackley's material emphasizes the need to do his entire book "The Essence of Jazz Drumming" at 40 bpm.

May sound crazy but ironically, by working at 40 bpm for so long, it no longer feels slow.

The other drum set book I'm working out of is Ari Hoenig's book "Systems I" and I do those at 40 BPM as well.

What this does is makes you concentrate on the feel no matter what. Jim Blackley's book says someplace within something along the lines of many people fall asleep between notes and this is where the feel begins to suffer. By focusing on so much space at 40 bpm, you begin to resolve that issue.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:48 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Great topic Henri and yes, two very different things...

Took me a long while but I've learned to get comfortable at practicing with the click at 40 BPM and then work my way up. There are days that go by when I'm working on my drum set studies that I never turn the click faster than 40 bpm.

Jim Blackley's material emphasizes the need to do his entire book "The Essence of Jazz Drumming" at 40 bpm.

May sound crazy but ironically, by working at 40 bpm for so long, it no longer feels slow.

The other drum set book I'm working out of is Ari Hoenig's book "Systems I" and I do those at 40 BPM as well.

What this does is makes you concentrate on the feel no matter what. Jim Blackley's book says someplace within something along the lines of many people fall asleep between notes and this is where the feel begins to suffer. By focusing on so much space at 40 bpm, you begin to resolve that issue.
just ordered the Hoenig book a few days ago....very much looking forward to its arrival

I have read great things about it
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:01 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
I would interpret Rodney Holmes' comment more like: It's harder to play slower because I've spent so many years playing it at faster tempos that it's become second nature. In order to slow it down I actually have to consciously think about what I'm doing.
Agree Jules. There are patterns that my hands know that my brain doesn't. I've been working on cleaning some of that up.

I find that various patterns sound best at certain tempos, where they sound most satisfying, and I find it difficult to get them sounding the way I want at other tempos. I also find that when I start slow I never seem able to build it up to a good speed, I think because I'm not sussing out the transition to different strokes needed when the tempo reaches a certain point.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:16 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

It does to me , especially on independence stuff. Working at 40 bpm and 1st 1/16 is left foot and right hand then nothing on /md , etc etc. it gets very , very confusing. But speeding it up after having it fown that slow , it then starts to "make sense". But I believe that working it that slow is very much beneficial in the long run (to me anyway).
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:36 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

One of my favorite (few) practice routines is to do double stroke rolls from extremely slow to extremely fast and back and forth again a few times. Not only is speed and slowness a factor, but so is a smooth linear acceleration (and deceleration for that matter). There's a certain transistion point where my double strokes turn into rebound strokes. There is a certain way to play it slow and a certain way to play it really fast. The muscle memory is a little different. IDK, just brainstorming here...
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:46 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

I think we tend to spend more time practicing rudiments and original patterns at higher speeds...so it tends to be easier to play there.

What we practice is what we usually do best.

Its easy to assume that if we can play it fast, we can play it slow.

That assumption has made an azz of me before ; )
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:05 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Originally Posted by Midnite Zephyr View Post
One of my favorite (few) practice routines is to do double stroke rolls from extremely slow to extremely fast and back and forth again a few times. Not only is speed and slowness a factor, but so is a smooth linear acceleration (and deceleration for that matter). There's a certain transistion point where my double strokes turn into rebound strokes. There is a certain way to play it slow and a certain way to play it really fast. The muscle memory is a little different. IDK, just brainstorming here...
that is how rudiments are taught traditionally

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18MCVaBd4Vc

Last edited by Anthony Amodeo; 02-21-2013 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:41 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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that is how rudiments are taught traditionally

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18MCVaBd4Vc
That's exactly what I do. <<mind blown>>.

Same sticks I started out with too. Shows how much time I've spent with a teacher. I was just making a point about muscle memory really.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

I spent 20 years in the Army & training others & myself I have learned a very valuable lesson

"Slow is smooth & smooth is fast"

I have used that idea for drums for years & it works perfect.
Control does create speed.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:06 PM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

Thanks for the replies guys and gal, very interesting answers indeed, even if we're talking multi topics here...

Quote:
Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
I think everyone finds that many patterns have a sweet spot, or at least a range in which they're comfortable to play.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
I find that various patterns sound best at certain tempos, where they sound most satisfying...
Yes indeed my friends, there's a tempo where certain patterns sounds better than faster or slower...

We also all have comfort zones in regard to various tempos, there's the Benny Greb's exercise from his DVD which is set to help to broaden up our comfort zones. You play the very same pattern of your choice with a metronome, at various bpm values, Benny recommend to write down the bpm value were you're struggling or do not feel at ease, it will highlight instantly the comfort zones for that pattern, so you can focus on the weak ones for practicing.

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Originally Posted by Midnite Zephyr View Post
There's a certain transition point where my double strokes turn into rebound strokes. There is a certain way to play it slow and a certain way to play it really fast.
Absolutely Bon, and in some cases, that's were I struggle, how do you run slowly, eh? ...impossible, lol.

There's a line between walking and running, isn't it... and how to make that line as smooth and not perceptible to the listener to provide a continuous flow, with all the little tweaks and adjustments with the movements involved, adding the fingers, playing more with rebound, adding that little sliding twist on the feet and so on...and there's a different transition point between hands and feet too, just to make things a little more challenging :)

I know it's practice stuff, as generally speaking, we'll play our patterns and grooves at a given tempo, so the motion needed is set at a particular peak, so to speak, but there's exception in music were that transition is needed or when you change subdivision value within a pattern.

That's were control is at its peak for me, to make that line invisible, easy in theory, harder in real life :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
I would interpret Rodney Holmes' comment more like: It's harder to play slower because I've spent so many years playing it at faster tempos that it's become second nature. In order to slow it down I actually have to consciously think about what I'm doing.
I agree too Jules, there's many patterns we play without even thinking about it, we've played them for so long :)

And in some cases, it's indeed the reason why we struggle to slow down some of our own playing, except Andy of course :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmacc View Post
May sound crazy but ironically, by working at 40 bpm for so long, it no longer feels slow.
Good stuff David, it reminds me Uncle Larry's 40 bpm exercise :)

So if working at 40 bpm doesn't feel slow, does it implies that working at 160 - 180 bpm feels lightening fast?
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:02 PM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Originally Posted by Mad About Drums View Post
....
Good stuff David, it reminds me Uncle Larry's 40 bpm exercise :)

So if working at 40 bpm doesn't feel slow, does it implies that working at 160 - 180 bpm feels lightening fast?...
Depends on what I'm doing. Wilcoxon Snare solos at 160-180 would be ridiculous for me to try to attempt. Medium/Uptempo swing grooves at 160-180 are just getting started though. When I practice, I generally cover the range of 40 - 330. After 330bpm, I can play it speed wise but with little to no control - which means to me, I can't play it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Amodeo View Post
just ordered the Hoenig book a few days ago....very much looking forward to its arrival

I have read great things about it
Excellent! You probably already know this but it's much like Syncopation / New Breed, etc.. but emphasizes the triplet. For kicks I started with the last group of Systems and am now working backwards through them in the book. I'm enjoying it, hope you do as well.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:09 PM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Originally Posted by dmacc View Post

May sound crazy but ironically, by working at 40 bpm for so long, it no longer feels slow.
I can totally relate to this David, I went through the same transition. My perception changed, along with my time feel. Playing slow is harder, everybody knows that. Drumming requires very precise yet relaxed physical coordination. It has to flow. It requires your strong and weak sides to sync up for the common good. A good sense of metronomic time and a deeply ingrained quarter note makes playing slow easier. Doing what's harder is what makes you better. It makes you work for it. Practicing with a metronome and counting aloud to the Tables of Time at 40 BPM is the best thing I've ever done for my time feel and subdividing skills.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

I've been teaching my self for 2 years now and it took me 2 years to realize this, I wish I had done it sooner.

You can play certain stuff slow forever but you will never be able to play them fast unless you either practice it fast enough so that your limbs are flying in a continuous motion or rest in the up position with all limbs.

So if you want to practice something slowly that you intend to play really fast you should practice everything as free strokes with hands and rebound strokes with your feet (not stopping the beater an inch off the drum but letting it rebound all the way back).

You guys who have the fortune of having a good teacher probably think this is obvious but I thought I should share in case anyone finds this helpful.

Playing something slower is harder because it requires better timing.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:08 PM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Playing something slower is harder because it requires better timing.
Not necessarily, timing is another whole issue, something you practice with a metronome to develop a good time on the kit, at whatever bpm value, you can certainly control patterns, grooves, rudiments at a low setting bpm value.




Lets recapitulate the topics discussed here...

1. Slowing down and speeding up a given pattern/groove. (OP post)

2. Doing crescendo and decrescendo while keeping a continuous flow, involving both different speeds and dynamics. (different movements and motions)

3. Patterns/grooves feeling and sounding better at certain bpm value.

4. Practicing at very low bpm value (dmacc's and larryace's 40 bpm)

5. Practicing most of the time at higher speed.

6. Breaking down patterns/grooves we've been playing for years, making us to think about and to analyse our own playing.

Each and everyone of these topics requires control of course, but the emphasis of "control" is really the #1 element for me on topics 1, 2 and 6, control being different than accuracy (timing) if you know what I mean.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:17 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Originally Posted by Mad About Drums View Post
... how do you run slowly, eh?

... There's a line between walking and running, isn't it... and how to make that line as smooth and not perceptible to the listener to provide a continuous flow, with all the little tweaks and adjustments with the movements involved, adding the fingers, playing more with rebound, adding that little sliding twist on the feet and so on...and there's a different transition point between hands and feet too, just to make things a little more challenging :)
I'm so primitive that I never thought of this but I find that analogy very helpful, Henri. I think I've been frustrated by my consistent failure to be able to walk at running pace and to run at walking pace - despite repeated attempts over the years. Having a bit of an aha moment here :)

Ah, the joys (and illogic) of self-directed learning.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I can totally relate to this David, I went through the same transition. My perception changed, along with my time feel. Playing slow is harder, everybody knows that. Drumming requires very precise yet relaxed physical coordination. It has to flow. It requires your strong and weak sides to sync up for the common good. A good sense of metronomic time and a deeply ingrained quarter note makes playing slow easier. Doing what's harder is what makes you better. It makes you work for it. Practicing with a metronome and counting aloud to the Tables of Time at 40 BPM is the best thing I've ever done for my time feel and subdividing skills.
Indeed Larry! Practicing with focus at 40 bpm can be totally transformational and transcending.

One of my teachers used to say - "Everyone gets the notes right, it's the spaces they play wrong".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad About Drums View Post
....

Lets recapitulate the topics discussed here...

1. Slowing down and speeding up a given pattern/groove. (OP post)

2. Doing crescendo and decrescendo while keeping a continuous flow, involving both different speeds and dynamics. (different movements and motions)

3. Patterns/grooves feeling and sounding better at certain bpm value.

4. Practicing at very low bpm value (dmacc's and larryace's 40 bpm)

5. Practicing most of the time at higher speed.

6. Breaking down patterns/grooves we've been playing for years, making us to think about and to analyse our own playing.

Each and everyone of these topics requires control of course, but the emphasis of "control" is really the #1 element for me on topics 1, 2 and 6, control being different than accuracy (timing) if you know what I mean.
Interesting perspective Henri how (and please correct me if I'm misinterpreting you) you're parsing out 1,2 & 6 from the others.... I combine them all together as relational.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: Control vs speed ...a difficult aspect of practice?

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I think I've been frustrated by my consistent failure to be able to walk at running pace and to run at walking pace - despite repeated attempts over the years. Having a bit of an aha moment here :)
Hahaha.. you're taking my analogy a few steps further :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmacc View Post
Interesting perspective Henri how (and please correct me if I'm misinterpreting you) you're parsing out 1,2 & 6 from the others.... I combine them all together as relational.
Yes David, all topics are relational indeed in terms of accuracy, feel, dynamics, notes value, space and control...

However on topics 1, 2 and 6, there's elements within the playing and the way we lay down certain patterns and grooves which differ from the other topics listed here...

For example, when you slow down a groove, you're loosing the momentum of movements at a higher speed which gives a specific feel to the pattern you're playing, to reproduce that momentum and feel at a lower speed has more to do with control (and analyzing the movements required) than it has to do with timing, note value and dynamics, hence my analogy: how do you run slowly?

Another example, say the normal "speed" of your pattern/groove has very specific intricate hi-hat openings effects, to reproduce the same feel and effects at a lower speed requires a lot of control of your left foot and your right hand, just playing the time correctly and accurately does not necessarily mean it will sound and feel the same, it's really the control of the instrument via specific movements that's the key, when you play faster or slower on the hi-hat, the cymbals react differently.

Finally, when we play our own creations and improvisations at "normal" speed, often we don't think about how certain patterns movements are actually working together and with each other, we're just playing music, reacting emotionally and musically to what's going on, but when we decide to slow them down, that's were we analyse what we've played within the patterns and that's were the control of those movements are crucial, don't get me wrong, sometimes I find it impossible to slow down a groove or patterns to make it sound good, and that's not a timing, a dynamic or an accuracy error, it just doesn't feel right and sound downright horrible to my ears.

I hope it makes sense to you David, it does to me, lol.
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