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  #1  
Old 11-02-2010, 06:21 PM
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Default Pocketless drummers

There's a lot of talk about "pocket" and it's one of a drummer's principal roles in most music. There are some styles, however, where the pocket is shallow or nonexistent, and the music sounds just fine. I'm thinking of Dave King with The Bad Plus; much of his playing is frenetic, complex, cerebral and has constantly shifting time signatures, but I like it. Billy Higgins, Ornette Coleman and other free jazz artists made great music that had no clear pocket.

Does anyone else have examples of great drummers who often play without a frim pocket, or of bands or styles like that?
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:34 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Chris Dave plays a lot of free jazz type stuff and his drumming is pretty amazing. Love Dave King! Did you catch The Bad Plus when they were in Boise a couple of summers ago? It was great to watch him up close.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
There's a lot of talk about "pocket" and it's one of a drummer's principal roles in most music. There are some styles, however, where the pocket is shallow or nonexistent, and the music sounds just fine. I'm thinking of Dave King with The Bad Plus; much of his playing is frenetic, complex, cerebral and has constantly shifting time signatures, but I like it. Billy Higgins, Ornette Coleman and other free jazz artists made great music that had no clear pocket.

Does anyone else have examples of great drummers who often play without a frim pocket, or of bands or styles like that?
The most well recognized pocketless drummer I can think of would be mr. TR-808.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:48 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

This is really funny DMC that you started a pocket thread...you beat me to it. I was going to ask everyone here to post their definition of pocket, just to see if we can agree enough to get a basic definition of it.

So how would you describe "pocket" before citing examples of pocketless drummers?

I haven't the foggiest idea of how to describe it in words, except that I know what it is when it's happening. I guess it's when things are undeniably grooving...
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:22 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Yeah it's hard to describe it literally too. For me, it's the feeling of being "tucked into bed" feeling very secure. The fundamental beats in my body match the rhythm of the drummer.
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

To me, a pocket means a strong and consistent downbeat, wherever it happens to be in the musical cycle. Drummers who play in the pocket emphasize, anchor and complement that downbeat.

Some songs, however, just don't have a pocket and that's intentional.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:08 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Strong and consistent downbeat eh...This is why I wanted to hear others understanding of pocket. I would not have described it like that, but I can see how you intrepret it like that.

I had a real "pocket" experience just last Sunday...(doesn't happen all the time) The band could do no wrong. (At least for the few songs that this certain black female singer was doing. It was an open mic jam situation that went really well) I had the feeling that I could almost drop out and it wouldn't matter, the groove was so strong. It's like I identify the groove, and really nail it, then after playing it for awhile, momentum gets built up and I find that I'm sometimes barely playing, just marking time, but it feels oh so good...

She did all shuffle tunes. A good shuffle tune is a great example of a pocket situation, if played properly.
I was playing a mid-tempoTexas style shuffle beat (my favorite sounding shuffle beat) when the good stuff was happening.

The band had really great top calibre players, and I felt great when the singer signaled a quick stop, and I was the only one who picked it up. I was paying the most attention to her. The other guys stopped slightly after me, but it didn't mess the song up, because I was on the money baby.

The black female singer went out of her way to give me a genuine complement afterwards, asked for my card and invited me out to her next gig to sit in with her band. I felt HIGHLY complemented that a soulful (and quite hot) black female singer acknowledged me. She TORE IT UP. I would have posted a recording but my recorder got mistakenly picked up by someone who mistook it for a friend of theirs recorder, and I missed recording that part of the gig. Damn! Lost forever!
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Strong and consistent downbeat eh...This is why I wanted to hear others understanding of pocket. I would not have described it like that, but I can see how you intrepret it like that.

I had a real "pocket" experience just last Sunday...(doesn't happen all the time) The band could do no wrong. (At least for the few songs that this certain black female singer was doing. It was an open mic jam situation that went really well) I had the feeling that I could almost drop out and it wouldn't matter, the groove was so strong. It's like I identify the groove, and really nail it, then after playing it for awhile, momentum gets built up and I find that I'm sometimes barely playing, just marking time, but it feels oh so good...

She did all shuffle tunes. A good shuffle tune is a great example of a pocket situation, if played properly.
I was playing a mid-tempoTexas style shuffle beat (my favorite sounding shuffle beat) when the good stuff was happening.

The band had really great top calibre players, and I felt great when the singer signaled a quick stop, and I was the only one who picked it up. I was paying the most attention to her. The other guys stopped slightly after me, but it didn't mess the song up, because I was on the money baby.

The black female singer went out of her way to give me a genuine complement afterwards, asked for my card and invited me out to her next gig to sit in with her band. I felt HIGHLY complemented that a soulful (and quite hot) black female singer acknowledged me. She TORE IT UP. I would have posted a recording but my recorder got mistakenly picked up by someone who mistook it for a friend of theirs recorder, and I missed recording that part of the gig. Damn! Lost forever!
That sounds as good a definition as any I've heard. So, can you think of music that has little or no pocket, and drummers who play that way?
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

The pocket, if the definitions given ahead of this post are accurate, doesn't seem that hard to find.

I jam with my keyboardist every once in a while, and it's entirely improvisation. All that's needed to create a groove is a basic beat from me, some chords from him, then off we go. If we're lucky, we'll find that pocket in a matter of seconds.

We just click.
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

I'll kill two birds with one stone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ul7X5js1vE

Great pocket, AND a prime example of how you DON'T have to keep a steady tempo to groove and feel good. (When you get to the end, play the beginning again and see how much it sped up!)
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:07 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Erm Meg White?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SBPE15uHwA

This isn't a Meg bashing, but I don't think she has any pocket.

Davo
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  #12  
Old 11-03-2010, 02:34 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
I'll kill two birds with one stone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ul7X5js1vE

Great pocket, AND a prime example of how you DON'T have to keep a steady tempo to groove and feel good. (When you get to the end, play the beginning again and see how much it sped up!)
In my transition from jazz drummer to rock/blues drummer, this is something I've studied the hell out of. A few common elements I've picked up from drummers with really good groove/pocket:
1) 2 and 4 is played very very very strongly (at least in 4/4) and very very consistently. This is accomplished very well by playing rimshots on EVERY 2 and 4.
2) The drummers with the best groove move with the groove with their upper body.
3) The best groovers will tap all 4 quarter notes or even all 8 8th notes with their hi-hat heel.

The drummer in the SW video linked above does 1 and 2. I couldn't see his heel for 3.
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  #13  
Old 11-03-2010, 02:56 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

As much as I like the band and the guy, I've always thought Carl Palmer has, at least, a strange pocket. When I listen to Karn Evil 9, it pushes and drags all over the place. In fact, most ELP songs feel like this. Maybe it's the music, and if it is, kudos to him for being musician enough to make it all happen, but his playing never made me feel comfortable and in the pocket. I associate pocket with bands like The Meters, and Motown, but never Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.....
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:42 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

To me pocket (although the term has been generified) is a subset of groove, related to four on the floor beats. The late or behind the beat effect caused by displacing the 4 (and only the 4) late in the bar. Pulling that beat back "into the pocket". Deep in to the pocket, meaning really pulling it back late. Thus increasing the swing value (or complementary displacement) between the 2 and 4.

Two of my favorite guitarists, Robben Ford and Larry Carlton, have been touring over the last couple of years with the same rhythm section of Larry's son Travis on bass and either Toss Panos or Gary Novak on drums. Toss has pocket. That natural inclination to push the beats around to create a feel. Gary is precise and pocketless in my book. I've seen him a bunch of times, sitting there swinging his head back and forth like he's a grooving monster, smiling at the bass player with this "aren't we grooving" look. And the whole time he is dead on the beat. Perfect time but no pocket.
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:52 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Keith Moon? Played his way around the groove a lot, didn't he?
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Old 11-03-2010, 04:23 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
As much as I like the band and the guy, I've always thought Carl Palmer has, at least, a strange pocket.
You beat me to it, Bo. And Mikecore beat me to Moonie. With both those guys they thrash around so much there's more of a textural legato feel than a pocket, which I understand is what free jazz players are about. Not to mention classical drummers ...

Michael Giles from the first Crimson wasn't much into pocket playing either.

Davo, I think Meg does have a pocket - just a shallow one that can only hold small coins :)
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Old 11-03-2010, 04:40 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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I think Meg does have a pocket - just a shallow one that can only hold small coins :)
Hahahaha! Like that one! But in this case, she needs a pocket as deep as a trench to be considered a pocket player, I say!
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:17 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by Davo-London View Post
Erm Meg White?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SBPE15uHwA

This isn't a Meg bashing, but I don't think she has any pocket.

Davo
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:42 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

...

..which brings me to the question, did Ringo have a pocket?

I dont ask this facetiously, and I happen to think Ringo is a great player, but would you call whatever it is that he does 'great pocket playing'? A shallow pocket, perhaps as Polly put it? I'm not sure.

Is Charlie Watts as much a pocket player as David Garibaldi or Purdie? Or Tony Williams as much of a pocket player as Peter Erskine?... Chris Adler compared or Tommy Lee?

Does pocket equal, appropriate playing, stuff that fits the music to the tee, or does it mean it in the sense of a rock, R&B, funk, hip hop, gospel kinda groove loop that give you a warm and tickly feeling in your belly?

To answer the original OP question, I think Ringo is an incredible player who created some great drum parts and played them with elan and wonderful dynamics and created music that will live forever in the consciousness of many generations, but he 'aint got no pocket.

( Forgive me, B for I have sinned. Please dont ban me )

To add more players who play the pocket only to break it, there's Mark Guiliana, Vigil Donati, Trilok Gurtu, Jim Black, Thomas Pridgen, Ari Hoening, the great free jazz drummer Han Bennick and a host of other great players from that genre..


...

Last edited by aydee; 11-03-2010 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:57 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Now I'm really confused. I would think of Ringo as having a great pocket. Songs like "Come Together" come to mind.

Porcaro had pocket
Purdie has pocket
Garibaldi , Gadd, have pocket.
Charlie Watts doesn't... too stiff
Bonham? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Motown music has it, even though it the meter is kinda snaky.

Pocket means different things to different people I think.
I think of pocket as not hurried at all, everything is laid back.

Good pocket song...Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"? I'd say yes.
Pocketless song...Devo's "Whip It"
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:03 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Tomas Haake has a very deep pocket.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:11 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Yea, metaphors are hard to qualify, Larry. I take pocket to mean 'Purdie' and Gadd and yet can see the beauty in Moon, Ringo, and Bennick's playing.

The face that comes ot your mind when you hear the word 'pocket' might be different. Which actually might be a fun question...

Who is the 1 drummer that you think of when you think of the word 'Pocket' ?

Coming back to the old debate about Purdie being the guy on a lot of Beatles tracks, even that can be argued both ways. The fact that Ringo didn't have a pocket which is why they got Purdie to ghost it, or that Ringo pocket was so great that they wanted to replicate exactly that in the recording studio, which wasn't really Ringo's comfort zone.

...
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:50 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Phil Rudd= POCKET. So simple it's a thing of beauty.
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:02 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by aydee View Post
To answer the original OP question, I think Ringo is an incredible player who created some great drum parts and played them with elan and wonderful dynamics and created music that will live forever in the consciousness of many generations, but he 'aint got no pocket.
Do ya fink he could fit his wallet in this one?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT5EJPu-8r0
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:06 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Charlie Watts doesn't... too stiff
I fink ya could warm your hands in this one ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOncnLgS3tA
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:17 AM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
To me pocket (although the term has been generified) is a subset of groove, related to four on the floor beats. The late or behind the beat effect caused by displacing the 4 (and only the 4) late in the bar. Pulling that beat back "into the pocket". Deep in to the pocket, meaning really pulling it back late. Thus increasing the swing value (or complementary displacement) between the 2 and 4.

Two of my favorite guitarists, Robben Ford and Larry Carlton, have been touring over the last couple of years with the same rhythm section of Larry's son Travis on bass and either Toss Panos or Gary Novak on drums. Toss has pocket. That natural inclination to push the beats around to create a feel. Gary is precise and pocketless in my book. I've seen him a bunch of times, sitting there swinging his head back and forth like he's a grooving monster, smiling at the bass player with this "aren't we grooving" look. And the whole time he is dead on the beat. Perfect time but no pocket.
Interesting thoughts ... what do you think of the relationship between the idea of pocket and someone like Bill Bruford? He's also super precise.

I agree with Abe that the idea of pocket is hard to make sense of. There are tons of players who play 4s with good time. Also, who you're playing with and their note choices make a big difference to how your groove will feel to listeners ...
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Old 11-03-2010, 12:27 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
Interesting thoughts ... what do you think of the relationship between the idea of pocket and someone like Bill Bruford? He's also super precise.

I agree with Abe that the idea of pocket is hard to make sense of. There are tons of players who play 4s with good time. Also, who you're playing with and their note choices make a big difference to how your groove will feel to listeners ...
So true! I played with some guys recently where I felt like a traffic cop directing everything. Tough to get into any kind of groove. Then I turn around and play with folks who are relaxed - it's like a different set of priorities, I guess. Very easy to play with and state the time. Pocket, although hard to describe and agree upon, is definable by who you're playing with.
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Old 11-03-2010, 01:44 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
I fink ya could warm your hands in this one ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOncnLgS3tA
Yup, he's in the zone there.. obviously he's been practicing a lot more after 'The Break Up' ( KIDDING!!! )... naw but he doesn't sound like that on most of his stuff, right?





Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
Pocket, although hard to describe and agree upon, is definable by who you're playing with.
Not necessarily. To hear a drummer play a straight up 4/4 without any accompaniment will also give you a sense of pocket, or the lack thereof, because it is the relationship between the notes played that make the magic, even if they are all played by one musician.

...
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Old 11-03-2010, 02:13 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Yup, he's in the zone there.. obviously he's been practicing a lot more after 'The Break Up' ( KIDDING!!! )... naw but he doesn't sound like that on most of his stuff, right?

....... Not necessarily. To hear a drummer play a straight up 4/4 without any accompaniment will also give you a sense of pocket, or the lack thereof, because it is the relationship between the notes played that make the magic, even if they are all played by one musician.
But what if he played along with a bassline like that in the old days? I think he'd find the pocket.

Agree that drummers can groove like mad all by themselves ... but if the other musicians are sloppy then they can - dare I say it - pick the drummer's pocket :)
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Old 11-03-2010, 02:41 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

I know I am in the pocket when I can feel a pulse between me and the other band mates I am playing with. Its not a tempo related feel, more of a pulse feel. One night the band could be playing a tune thats at 115BPM and it feels great, the next time we play the same tune it could be at 120 give or take a few ticks and feel great, I let the pocket find itself ( for lack of a better word ) I feel a playing in the pocket has mostly to do with emotion and your mood as well as the other musicians playing with you. Playing with a great bass player don't hurt either. One of my favorite drummers and "pocket player " is Michael Bland, He played with Prince's new power genration. I have never heard of pocketless, if it was pocketless it would not have any feel at all. Every one will have there own opinion of what playing in the pocket is and thats a great thing. All of the drummers mentioned in this thread so far have a great pocket/ personality. Thats my opinion.
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Old 11-03-2010, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Tomas Haake has a very deep pocket.
Yea, and Tommy Lee has a deep packet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
But what if he played along with a bassline like that in the old days? I think he'd find the pocket.
Right Pol, I'm not dissing him or underplaying his talent. All I'm saying is that he was coming from ' drumming goodness-other - than pocket'. ( sounds like a complicated Grammy category ), and not pocket playing, as I see it.

To me he was a 'musical construction worker' who build and played great drum parts that fit the Beatles music perfectly.

It isn't imperative or automatically follows, that great drum playing HAS to groove or it isn't great playing. I like it and I know you like it, but thats a preference not a pre-requisite.

So whats a pocket, again?



...
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Old 11-03-2010, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Great thread so far - interesting to hear that there is no consensus on what pocket is. However, I think DMC was looking for examples of drummers who play in a more obvious pocketless manner.

Would it be fair to say that we need more examples of drummers who don't play in recognizable, head-bopping patterns...such as "groove" drummers?
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Old 11-03-2010, 05:50 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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... drummers who don't play in recognizable, head-bopping patterns...such as "groove" drummers?
try this vin;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T39Za...eature=related

...
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Old 11-03-2010, 05:54 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Originally Posted by zambizzi View Post
Great thread so far - interesting to hear that there is no consensus on what pocket is. However, I think DMC was looking for examples of drummers who play in a more obvious pocketless manner.

Would it be fair to say that we need more examples of drummers who don't play in recognizable, head-bopping patterns...such as "groove" drummers?
That is a good way to summarize it. I knew I would start a discussion about the definition of musical pocket, but that is secondary here. There are many threads praising it as though it is something that a drummer must always pursue. I don't think that's the case, especially when you get outside of popular music. Some of the most beloved drummers around (Ringo and Bonham) are not known as strong pocket players, yet they are arguably the two most influential drummers here.
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:39 PM
Eggman Eggman is offline
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Zach Hill (from Hella) certainly has no pocket, and it's unlike any drumming I've ever heard. He's described himself as playing "lead drums"...sounds about right to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgErPa_SoY
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:49 PM
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zambizzi zambizzi is offline
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Yes! Chris Dave is a badass. He was actually the first guy I mentioned, second post. ;)
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:06 PM
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Yes! Chris Dave is a badass. He was actually the first guy I mentioned, second post. ;)
You got me.


....
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:24 PM
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Ian Williams Ian Williams is offline
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

Ha ha! Pamela knows that for sure ;-)

...a different size of money collecting sachet ;-) / I think money beating drummers, will have an accurate definition for pocket!

Cheers, mate.

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Yea, and Tommy Lee has a deep packet.

So whats a pocket, again?

...
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:57 PM
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Deathmetalconga Deathmetalconga is offline
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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Yes! Chris Dave is a badass. He was actually the first guy I mentioned, second post. ;)
HOLY COW! Talk about no pocket! That put an M-80 in the pocket, blew it to bits, then shredded his pants for good measure.
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:10 PM
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dairyairman dairyairman is offline
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Default Re: Pocketless drummers

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chris dave is a puzzling case. is he brilliant or certifiably insane, or both? i can't tell. his drumming is so out there on the fringe, it's startling.
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