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Old 03-11-2011, 10:59 AM
hello_rijo hello_rijo is offline
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Default Session drumming over?

I was just going through this video what do you people think about Mr. Lang's video, is he really telling young drummers to aim at live playing more ? The BIG question is is session drumming really over these days with software's taking up a huge role in making records, after all ?
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:17 AM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Its a really good question. I think the big chunk of it is over, or layered with a lot of electronics to barely retain the so called 'human element'. Having said that, I know Keith Carlok has left very lucrative gigging options in New York to concentrate on sessions work in Nashville, so it it aint over yet, I guess.

....
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Old 03-11-2011, 06:46 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

I don't think you could persuade a computer to play jazz, really. As with so many things, the niche markets will retain the human element while the big commercial things are streamlined for cheaper and quicker production.
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Old 03-11-2011, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

I wouldn't say it's over, but still, it is an interesting topic.

At the top:
In DrumHead magazine a while back, Kenny Arnoff discussed how he works more and makes less than he used to, and while Jonathan Moffett keeps implying Kenny is the only guy left who still does a lot of sessions.

In the current issue of Modern Drummer John Robinson discussing how the amount of session work is not like it used to be.

From everything I've gathered, session work has evolved. It's no longer so much "get the call, show up at X-studio, cut the track" as it is, the session drummer gets the file in his email, goes into his own home studio, cuts the track, and sends it back. The guys who get the work are the ones who have their own studio and can do their own engineering.

At lower levels, yes, it's long since been dead.
In the 60's, 70's, and 80's, local drummers could find work doing local session work for bands demos, local jingles, singer/songwriters, and such. Many even fully supported themselves and raised families on doing session work even though they weren't on any major albums. That stuff is long since dead. Drum machines and software has long since replaced the need for cheap sessions. It still happens here and there, but not much.

I don't think studio work will ever completely die off. Movie sound tracks and such still hire real people.

But it's very clear, it's a much smaller pool of jobs than it was.
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Old 03-11-2011, 07:23 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post

I don't think studio work will ever completely die off. Movie sound tracks and such still hire real people.

But it's very clear, it's a much smaller pool of jobs than it was.
I agree. In fact, the movie soundtrack business, I understand, is probably at a such a high level of proficiency you never hear about those people because they're so busy doing it. As far as L.A. percussionists go, I'm pretty sure it's still Joe Porcaro, Harvey Mason, John Guerin, and maybe Larry Bunker doing everything (I may be wrong on the names, but the top studio guys I think you can count on one hand!). And all of these guys are masters on not only drumset, but everything else percussion as well, and they read music like they're reading the paper. So it's a whole different ballgame when you see that level. And when you have a guy like Harvey Mason who can basically do it all, why would you hire just a drumset guy?

I got a chance to see a cartoon scoring session many years ago with a friend who was subbing in on just xylophone, and they literally roll the music in on a cart and they call it "music by the pound". I don't think I heard them stop once, let alone play the cues twice. The red light went on and didn't go off for over an hour. It was just one sight-read cue after another. Scared me to death and I was just watching. I think right then and there I told myself, I'll never get to that level.

So, I suppose the question is really, "what kind of sessions are you talking about?". There's session work, and then there's session work. When you put it in context of how much money is going out, for example, if I hire a 25-piece orchestra for a three-hour session, and each person is getting $350 each for the session, that's $8,750 just to hire the orchestra, let alone the technical support crew for the room and the recording, and then the composer writing the music, the copyist who prepped all the parts....no way would I be paying time to guys for a rehearsal. The music needs to be perfect right now. Not only do you have to be able to read like there's no tomorrow, but you have to play it like you've always been playing it so it sounds natural.

With all the music we hear all day, I think we tend to forget that people are still producing that stuff and the work is still out there. You just have to be aware that there are levels of session player that are out there that you never hear about because they're too busy working.

(They are definitely not on Drummerworld talking about it, that's for sure!) ;)
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Old 03-11-2011, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

As long as there are singer-songwriters wanting to create debut albums, there will be session work. Jingle work has slowed down, though, I've noticed...
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:22 PM
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inneedofgrace inneedofgrace is offline
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Is there any difference between the term "session" work and "studio" work, or do they essentially mean the same thing?
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:37 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Quote:
Originally Posted by inneedofgrace View Post
Is there any difference between the term "session" work and "studio" work, or do they essentially mean the same thing?
They are essentially interchangeable to most people, but I consider "session work" to mean when you show up and play, and "studio work" being anything else, or anything above and beyond that, like engineering, composing, etc.

If it's somebody else's project, and they have charts ready for me to read down = session work

If it's my own project, or I'm called in as more than just a player on the track = studio work
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:38 AM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

I know from a personal stand-point a LARGE amount of live work I have been asked to do over the last year has all been for bands who have programed drums on their recordings.
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Old 03-13-2011, 04:11 PM
timlovesdrums timlovesdrums is offline
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Just wanted to add my piece - been reading the forums for a while now but never needed to register... until seeing this thread!!

In my experience, session drumming is FAR from over

I've been earning a living from recording sessions from my home studio for 3 years now. Granted, it's not big film scores or super high-profile stuff, but it's mostly bands who are buying the gear to record themselves at home and for whatever reason need some drum tracks.
They don't need JR or a world-famous player, they just need an ordinary guy with some drums mic'ed up to record them some good quality drum tracks so they can get on with promoting their music.

It seems that as the home recording gear gets cheaper, more and more bands are going DIY and recording stuff at home and this has created an entirely new market for online session work. I think it's a mistake to look at the most expensive end of the market and say "yes it's diminishing, I guess session drumming is over". I think the whole market is shifting rather, as more players get themselves online and learn about it themselves.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:05 PM
hello_rijo hello_rijo is offline
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Wow, thanks all for your detailed responses.

I just wanted to ask the senior members in this forum who seem to be more aware of the scene about how they get called for a session.

1. Do you know of any websites where in we can post up for an audition in New York, or is it all about knowing people personally as Thomas Lang says.

2. What approach should a young drummer be looking forward to after he has really gone through a great time studying drums at places like The Collective or Berklee which
i suppose is the best place to be?


Cheers Drummers :)
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:32 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

I got a chance to view The Wrecking Crew, which is a documentary about the LA sessions musicians of the late 1950s, 60s and 70s. The wrecking crew was named by Hal Blaine. All the old jazz guys said they were going to wreck the business because they showed up for work in jeans and t-shirts smoking cigarettes. The film is directed by Denny Tedesco, son of Tommy Tedesco the world's most recorded guitarist. Tommy is on many of the tv these, Hawaii 50, Mash, The Monkees, and many of those LA hit records from the 1960s and 70s. Ronnie Spector showed up at the viewing I saw. She is great.

One of the things that Hal Blaine points out is that what really started to kill the studio business was that in the early 1970s, you started to have a generation of musicians coming up who could really play. He sites Crosby Stills and Nash as an example, although the wrecking crew played on those early Byrds and Buffalo Springfield singles. CSN had a great band.

I think it was a great time in music that is often looked down upon by certain musicians. One of the things they joked about in the film is that Milli Vanilli had noting on them. It is a Tin Pan Alley approach to music making where the songwriters, producer, singer and studio band come together to create the music rather than having a a singer/songwriter working with his/her band and producer. In today's world we really respect the musician who wears many hats. But a lot of great songwriters don't song, Burt Bacharach, or play an instrument well. it is amazing to think about all those great songwriters and teams that came out of the Brill bldg: Weil and Mann, King and Coffin, Neil Diamond, Bacharch, Sedaka, Paul Simon, even Lou Reed worked as a song hack. Alice Cooper said it was a crime that he is inducted into the R n R Hall of Fame before Bacharach. How many songwriters can people name today?
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:47 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hello_rijo View Post
I was just going through this video what do you people think about Mr. Lang's video, is he really telling young drummers to aim at live playing more ? The BIG question is is session drumming really over these days with software's taking up a huge role in making records, after all ?
It's not just drumming - MIDI / software / sample technology advancement allows all musicians to be bypassed (if a programmed line will suffice for the songs) - and it's the same story with studios - someone with talent can record albums "at home" quite easily now and produce studio quality......

The excellent sounds in the drum sample packages now just makes it easier for the non-drummers to use "drum machines".

The resurgence in live music in recent years shows that people still like to hear real musicians play, but I don't see the s/w part of the music industry disappearing....
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deltadrummer View Post
One of the things that Hal Blaine points out is that what really started to kill the studio business was that in the early 1970s, you started to have a generation of musicians coming up who could really play.
Correct then, and really prevalent now. Role models change, and as they've become better, so have the up & coming drummers who emulate them. One would imagine that the current generation of up & comers would have a sense of great time, considering how much music that's cut to a click that they hear and play to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
As far as L.A. percussionists go, I'm pretty sure it's still Joe Porcaro, Harvey Mason, John Guerin, and maybe Larry Bunker doing everything (I may be wrong on the names, but the top studio guys I think you can count on one hand!).
I don't recall either Harvey Mason or John Guerin being regarded as percussionists, and Johnny's been gone for maybe 6 or 7 years, and Larry Bunker died a year or two ago. But I don't think I can name any studio drummers or precussionists who are keeping very busy anymore. Josh Freese gets some of the work out there, but he's nowhere near as prolific as Hal, Earl Palmer, Shelly Manne, Frank DeVito, Jim Keltner or Russ Kunkel were in their day. It's a heyday that's probably gone forever. Again, less to do with sequencing than the fact that bands & artists have drummers who are quite capable in the studio.

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Old 03-17-2011, 02:09 AM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

I guess the studio is no longer a specialist working environment, now everyone can do it themselves. Being a studio musician is no longer a dedicated role. It's like producers becoming engineers, and musicians becoming producers...no longer are these jobs delegated to different people in the same way.
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:54 AM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

The home studio is taking over for sure. I put this video of me recording in my home studio out on facebook and already got two interested parties in having me cut tracks for them:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhrCxbMTR0A
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: Session drumming over?

Another interesting tidbit is that by the 1970s living in NYC became very expensive. In the 1940, 50 and 60s you could see a play on Broadway for less than you would pay for a theater ticket. But as rents increased, it became increasingly harder for young artists to live in the big city and that lead to a slow decline in culture. You need to have an environment where young musicians can spend five or six years playing and honing there craft while making little money before that blossoms into something. It's economics. you got the money, you have a big band. If you don't you have two turntables and a microphone.
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