Are there simple things you struggle with even though you've been playing a while?

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
May I inquire, in a spirit of genuine curiosity, why you play solos if you're uncomfortable with them? Are you required to solo in a given performance scenario, or do you persist in soloing to confront and overcome what you perceive as a limitation? I ask because if you don't have to solo, you could always just stop doing it. I doubt anyone would think less of you as a drummer if you nixed solos entirely.
Thanks for asking. I play solos because the band stops and I have to. I would think less of myself if I admitted defeat and gave up attempting solos entirely, refusing to do them. I don't care what other people think nearly as much anymore. The bad solos bother me, because I know I'm capable of much better. I honestly don't know what people think of my solos. This could all be in my head.
But I don't think so. I've yet to have anyone comment on a solo I've done. That's enough for me right there. If they were any good, someone would have said something after all these years.

This is not something I tell my bandmates, that I'm retarded at soloing. It's pretty much the same scenario every time, a bar or two of passable stuff followed by a disruption of flow in the form of a time hiccup, and then some not very engaging melodic phrasing ideas on my way to beating a quick exit. I've never asked for a solo. It's automatically assumed that drummers have to show off. I so don't. Since drummers don't get spots in every single song, like a guitar player it's thought that a bone needs to be thrown in my direction at least once a night. In my other bands sometimes I'll get asked if I want a solo in the song we're currently playing. 9 out of 10 times I'll pass when asked. Sometimes I will take it if I'm feeling up for a challenge. Most solos are thrown at me on the fly, with no prior warning. No time to plan anything, just launch into something and try to figure it out as I go. I never seem to figure it out anywhere close to my satisfaction.

When I solo, I think melodically. But I don't play a melodic instrument. I can't do melodies on drums. I'm not good enough to carry a solo with really compelling rhythms, I just don't have the vocabulary. So hearing a drum phrase in my head that depends more on melody than rhythm...I struggle with translating a melodic phrase on a rhythmic instrument. Melodic soloing on a rhythm instrument...I'm not good enough to pull that off. I pride myself on my accompanying ability. I am a damn fine accompanist. Solos however are way outside my wheelhouse.

I don't want my bands to think they have to give me special treatment. I don't want to be tip-toed around. I won't approach them and say, yea, don't give me any solos ever. I'd rather do the bad solo. It's something I do want to overcome. I'm not giving up on them. I might have to grow some balls and just go out of time for the next solo. One of my self-imposed rules is that a dancer should be able to dance during my solos. I may have to re-think that. It adds too much pressure. No one ever dances to a drum solo anyway. If they are they're probably wack-a-doo anyway.
 
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gish

Senior Member
I’m not as independent with my hi hat foot as I’d like to be. I think
I should be further along in this area at this stage of the game but I’m working on it. I need work keeping time on the up beat, and just freeing up my left foot more for subtle accents and splashes.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Keep it to one or two verses, short and sweet. A few months ago I played a drum solo during a slow blues song. Impossible you say? Well it worked out just fine. And the audience loved it. Drum solos connect directly to the butt and leg muscles of the audience.
I agree with you in this context, Jim. I was referring to drawn-out drum solos that might demand several minutes of an audience's attention. It's that category I can do without.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
Another thread gave me the idea for this one. Is there anything that you feel is simple and yet you struggle with it even though you've been playing a while?
{snip}
Is there anything? Countless things.... heh heh. Always learning, or trying to.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Thanks for asking. I play solos because the band stops and I have to. I would think less of myself if I admitted defeat and gave up attempting solos entirely, refusing to do them. I don't care what other people think nearly as much anymore. The bad solos bother me, because I know I'm capable of much better. I honestly don't know what people think of my solos. This could all be in my head.
But I don't think so. I've yet to have anyone comment on a solo I've done. That's enough for me right there. If they were any good, someone would have said something after all these years.

This is not something I tell my bandmates, that I'm retarded at soloing. It's pretty much the same scenario every time, a bar or two of passable stuff followed by a disruption of flow in the form of a time hiccup, and then some not very engaging melodic phrasing ideas on my way to beating a quick exit. I've never asked for a solo. It's automatically assumed that drummers have to show off. I so don't. Since drummers don't get spots in every single song, like a guitar player it's thought that a bone needs to be thrown in my direction at least once a night. In my other bands sometimes I'll get asked if I want a solo in the song we're currently playing. 9 out of 10 times I'll pass when asked. Sometimes I will take it if I'm feeling up for a challenge. Most solos are thrown at me on the fly, with no prior warning. No time to plan anything, just launch into something and try to figure it out as I go. I never seem to figure it out anywhere close to my satisfaction.

When I solo, I think melodically. But I don't play a melodic instrument. I can't do melodies on drums. I'm not good enough to carry a solo with really compelling rhythms, I just don't have the vocabulary. So hearing a drum phrase in my head that depends more on melody than rhythm...I struggle with translating a melodic phrase on a rhythmic instrument. Melodic soloing on a rhythm instrument...I'm not good enough to pull that off. I pride myself on my accompanying ability. I am a damn fine accompanist. Solos however are way outside my wheelhouse.

I don't want my bands to think they have to give me special treatment. I don't want to be tip-toed around. I won't approach them and say, yea, don't give me any solos ever. I'd rather do the bad solo. It's something I do want to overcome. I'm not giving up on them. I might have to grow some balls and just go out of time for the next solo. One of my self-imposed rules is that a dancer should be able to dance during my solos. I may have to re-think that. It adds too much pressure. No one ever dances to a drum solo anyway. If they are they're probably wack-a-doo anyway.
I appreciate your detailed response, as it greatly aids my understanding of your plight. You're clearly an intensely analytical drummer (an introspective one, I would dare to say), and I can relate to that status in some ways. The tendency to explicate and devise can be quite advantageous, but there comes a time when it's a hindrance rather than an asset. If the need to solo usually arrives at your doorstep unannounced, perhaps abandoning your search for a solo "formula" and just playing what overtakes you in the heat of the moment would be fulfilling, allowing spontaneity to reign and accepting that no two solos will be alike. You write, "I'm a damn fine accompanist. Solo's, however, are way outside my wheelhouse." Given that identity, it's overboard to compare your solos to your timekeeping, as your expertise is in the second, not in the first. Treating solos as a no-rules way to step beyond your usual parameters might alleviate the pressure you encounter, making solos a lot more fun for you. It's not always easy to alter your mindset, but that's what I'd attempt if I were in your position.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I agree with you in this context, Jim. I was referring to drawn-out drum solos that might demand several minutes of an audience's attention. It's that category I can do without.
I agree with you. Those long drum solos, especially the ones that change the time signature and groove, are hard to listen to and enjoy. I don't like them either. I suppose a few specific drummers in those very large concerts are expected by the audience to do them. And it seems that the audience likes it.

When I said solos can be a beautiful thing I was just referring to those times when I'm playing a song like Mustang Sally, the audience is dancing, the band stops, and I get to groove on the cowbell, floor tom and do a verse or two of heavy 8th and 16th note runs. Honestly 80% of the rock, blues and R&B songs I play do not lend themselves to drum solos.

.
 

wraub

Well-known member
Well, was up late drumming with the radio (true) so, right now it's The End by The Beatles, Girls on Film by DD, Wipeout by The Ventures, and Hot for Teacher by VH... let me have some coffee and wake up the mind a bit, I'll do better. ;)

Edit- imo the drum parts to many early Primus songs could almost be solos by themselves.



Any examples of 'good' ones?
 
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MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Uncle Larry, here is a cheaters method to the solo, or what I used to do if I needed to solo: do the fills from the song. Back to back. The audience doesnt know any better, and you already know the fills. Play those dudes over and over if you must. Pick one and play 8 versions of it. No one cares really.

I'm surprised you are solo conscious. Arent you the one who said no one even notices but other drummers? Dont worry about it!
 

wraub

Well-known member
Uncle Larry, here is a cheaters method to the solo, or what I used to do if I needed to solo: do the fills from the song. Back to back. The audience doesnt know any better, and you already know the fills. Play those dudes over and over if you must. Pick one and play 8 versions of it. No one cares really.
Is this cheating? Or, merely... melodic reinvention? ;)
 

wraub

Well-known member
As a bass player, I would sometimes be offered a solo, and usually declined... But, I did find that rephrasing a previous section of the song, i.e. repeating the vocal melody or the guitar part in a different feel or rythymic counterpoint made for solos people liked.

"Melodic reinvention" is now yours to use for free...enjoy. :)


I felt like a cheater instead of creative. I only had to do it every so often, so I didnt bother to put much into it.

I like melodic reinvention better.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
"The audience doesnt know any better . . ."
When this premise is accepted, and it's an irrefutable one in most cases, all external pressure dissipates. Then the drummer must grapple only with self-criticism, though that can be a much more defiant demon than any source from without.

I've always been lucky in live settings. I don't suffer from social anxiety when drumming; rather, I experience social facilitation. I play better in front of crowds, as I find them energizing. Something about the pulse of the atmosphere transfuses me. I'm more alive, more free-spirited, more deft, and more musical. It's always been that way for me, and it's paradoxical, as I don't like being part of crowds. I just like drumming before crowds.

I think being mic'd also plays a role. Drums are thunderous when amplified. I feel like Thor throwing down his hammer. The power is immense.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Uncle Larry, here is a cheaters method to the solo, or what I used to do if I needed to solo: do the fills from the song. Back to back. The audience doesnt know any better, and you already know the fills. Play those dudes over and over if you must. Pick one and play 8 versions of it. No one cares really.

I'm surprised you are solo conscious. Arent you the one who said no one even notices but other drummers? Dont worry about it!
In fact you can just play the groove and don't change anything for the solo. When the whole band is playing, the drum part although essential, does not stand out very much. When you are playing alone the audience will consider it a solo. Start your solo with whatever you were playing during the song. Then all you need to do is add a few accent notes.

.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
In fact you can just play the groove and don't change anything for the solo. When the whole band is playing, the drum part although essential, does not stand out very much. When you are playing alone the audience will consider it a solo. Start your solo with whatever you were playing during the song. Then all you need to do is add a few accent notes.

.
Excellent suggestion.

Tempo and dynamic variations can be intriguing as well. A simple transition from light and slow to hard and fast can be stunning. You don't have to be complicated to get the audience going.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Treating solos as a no-rules way to step beyond your usual parameters might alleviate the pressure you encounter, making solos a lot more fun for you. It's not always easy to alter your mindset, but that's what I'd attempt if I were in your position.
This seems like the next step. Abandon the rules, abandon the social anxiety. Dance like no ones watching. That's great if you can dance lol. OMG I'm having a panic attack lol.

It's just that I feel the audience has these high expectations of me, because like I said, I am a damn fine accompanist lol.

As much as I promote don't the think, feel approach, I can't seem to follow my own advice when I solo.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
It's just that I feel the audience has these high expectations of me, because like I said, I am a damn fine accompanist lol.
Dont sweat it Uncle Larry. Even Garths single stroke nonsense is awesome to everyone but drummers. It's just fast and makes lots of noise. That's a good philosophy for solos too. Fast + noise = awesome solo. Throw a string of Bonham triplets in there and you are golden.

Check the dude at the end. He isnt a drummer.

 

Yamaha Rider

Well-known member
YouTube makes almost everyone else look like incompetent schmucks. It’s easy to forget all the different angles and camera shots make it so easy to take out flubs and insert perfectly executed parts. The more pizzazz the more opportunity to fix things.

You then get one guy posting something 99% accurate with one take and they get shredded, because they didn’t meet the fake standards. I also feel this “standard” is partly responsible for live gigs dying. Tough to compete with all the “top performances,” when everyone expects a band to provide the same level of performances others have posted on YouTube.
I &#8220 agree more! 😉
 

Yamaha Rider

Well-known member
Dont sweat it Uncle Larry. Even Garths single stroke nonsense is awesome to everyone but drummers. It's just fast and makes lots of noise. That's a good philosophy for solos too. Fast + noise = awesome solo. Throw a string of Bonham triplets in there and you are golden.

Check the dude at the end. He isnt a drummer.

LOL 😁
 
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