At the end of the day it's all down to the musicality...

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Right friends, this thread's inspired by the "Drums easier than other instrument?" thread.

While it might be easier to "learn" the first steps to become a musician on a drumkit, no matter how hard or easy are any instruments to learn and master, the bottom line is this, at the end of the day it's all down to the musicality, and that's the most important factor, and in my eyes it's not always as easy or understood as it seems.

This clip from Simon Phillips explain it well IMO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruIYSANvMiU

It's not about technique, about how much one is practicing, how fast and how many chops one might possess, it's about playing music, for some it's easy, for others it's harder and some will never get it.

Thoughts?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Musicality trumps technique everyday of the week AFAIC.

Best to have both, but if I had to pick one, musicality FTW. That's what guys like Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, Ringo bring to the table. You don't think of these guys as master soloists, but just take a look at the echelon of musicians who request their services. That, to me, says it all.

People are judged by the company they keep.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
I agree. I am always improving my chops in the basement but feel like a complete beginner when I jam.

The musicality, for me anyway, is something I am learning by playing with others and I think, but I could be wrong, that it is the only way to do so. Maybe not... I certainly wasnt born with it and struggle with it every time. I can tell you that my jam buddies arent interested in my roaring triplet fills as much as a nice fat beat.

I think, once i am more accomplished, that much of the musicality requires letting go of your ego and really listening/cooperating instead of trying to show off and to me that really is the drummers role- support and foundation.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The musicality, for me anyway, is something I am learning by playing with others and I think, but I could be wrong, that it is the only way to do so. Maybe not... I certainly wasnt born with it and struggle with it every time. I can tell you that my jam buddies arent interested in my roaring triplet fills as much as a nice fat beat.

I think, once i am more accomplished, that much of the musicality requires letting go of your ego and really listening/cooperating instead of trying to show off and to me that really is the drummers role- support and foundation.
You are on the right track with these thoughts IMO. The fastest way I found to increase musicality, and I agree that you have to play with others to develop that, is to record yourself and listen back and critique yourself. For me, I had to reconcile what I thought sounded good onstage as opposed to what actually sounded good onstage. Of course I still do it, its a never ending thing. There's a certain song that my trio plays.... and my brain so wants to play a certain thingy at a certain place. I feel it. Yet it doesn't translate well on playback. So I don't play it anymore because the song sounds better without it. I would not have had that realization if I didn't critique my own playing. On stage, I thought it sounded great. Wrong.

My point is what you think sounds good and what actually sounds good can only be determined by listening back when your brain isn't trying to play drums. Recording and then critiquing allows me to progress ever so slightly with every gig. Drop what sucks, keep what works. After a while, by dropping enough things that suck, that automatically improves you by subtraction. I can do that lol. Subtraction is easier for me than addition in this case lol. I liken it to distilling, getting rid of the impurities.
 
Last edited:

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Musicality trumps technique everyday of the week AFAIC.

Best to have both, but if I had to pick one, musicality FTW. That's what guys like Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, Ringo bring to the table. You don't think of these guys as master soloists, but just take a look at the echelon of musicians who request their services. That, to me, says it all.
Yes it does Uncle Larry, but the same can be said about Simon Phillips, Steve Gadd or Vinnie Colaiuta, these guys possess HUGE technique and they have MONSTER chops (which BTW are not "easy" to come by and master, that's for the drums are easy to learn comment, lol), but they're in demand and played hundreds of records in many types of music, and the key for those session musicians is indeed musicality.

In the OP clip I think Simon explain it well, certain music can be very demanding and extremely complex, but still a masterpiece of musicality, as it's the case for more "simpler" and "easier" music.

It is important to have the baggage necessary to express yourself, that's why we learn the technique, that's why we practice, that's why we built up our chops and skills, it's a mean to an end, it's what we do with it that's important, "flashy" can be musical and "simple" can also be devoted of musicality.

It's generally a long process gained by experience, big ears and letting the ego behind, in the best world, you'll have it all, the technique, the skills, the chops to be able to express yourself in a musical manner, no matter what type and how challenging the music could be... I still have have a long way to go, but I'm getting better everyday :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I operate under the assumption that Gadd, Vinnie, Simon...these guys are the pinnacle of drumming, and have it all. Technique, musicality, and knowledge of when and how to mix the two.

I don't put Keltner in the same class as Gadd, Vinnie and Simon, but I have an equal amount of respect for Jim as I do for the other 3.
 

iwantmemoney

Senior Member
I operate under the assumption that Gadd, Vinnie, Simon...these guys are the pinnacle of drumming, and have it all. Technique, musicality, and knowledge of when and how to mix the two.

I don't put Keltner in the same class as Gadd, Vinnie and Simon, but I have an equal amount of respect for Jim as I do for the other 3.
Well said, Ace of Bass(Drum). Can't open the Evelyn clip, Magenta.

Did you see the Japanese girl Senri? She's all over Youtube, another prodigy who's been doing amazing stuff since about the time she stopped poopin in her diapers.
Luckily this thread came up right after I discovered her, so I won't have to shoot myself. All I can do is bring what I have to the table, and what I want to express, very conscientiously prepared. Is it good enough to benefit other peoples' life experience, such that they'll pay money to hear it more than once? Then that's where I land and go forward(or backward) from there.

Next, where does the musicality lie? I saw Gavin H, for instance, on the drummer week on Letterman. Flawless execution, precision like a Swiss watch, power, finesse, etc....in a word: perfection. But musically it didn't do shit for me, because it was one of those exercises written specifically to showcase the chops. Believe me, I'm not saying anything against him- I'm sure he can deliver plenty of heart and soul when and if the song requires it.

There's just so much stuff that, tho yes, it is music, it's just more athletic than artistic, and ending up there is almost inevitable when you achieve a certain level. Like a big chunk of your customers are other musicians who either worship or hate you. I'm good enough to put my toes in the water, but old enough to know it's ruthless and often thankless too. Too old to pursue it for real, which is good, cause one of you new kids would come up each day and eat me for a snack anyway.

Luckily, unless it's just way ahead of its time, people will always respond to beauty(musicality in this case), with cash.

It's telling on my end that I'd probably include the Phillips clip and the song, "Conspiracy" in the athletic category. I'm not an intellectual, not an ultra-high level technician, so only the most heartfelt of this style is getting A-rotation on my player. Again nothing against it, because it's just one of many great ways to express!
 
Last edited:

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
at the end of the day it's all down to the musicality, and that's the most important factor, and in my eyes it's not always as easy or understood as it seems.

This clip from Simon Phillips explain it well IMO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruIYSANvMiU

It's not about technique, about how much one is practicing, how fast and how many chops one might possess, it's about playing music, for some it's easy, for others it's harder and some will never get it.

Thoughts?
Absolutely. Although one man's music is another man's mess, and one man's art is
another man's nonsense, right?
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
When the goal is anything other than focusing on the music, we have lost sight on why we're here in the first place.

The only thing is, the opinion of what is and what isn't musical is where we begin to venture onto a slippery slope.
 

iwantmemoney

Senior Member
When the goal is anything other than focusing on the music, we have lost sight on why we're here in the first place.

The only thing is, the opinion of what is and what isn't musical is where we begin to venture onto a slippery slope.
Oooh. And the Mel Lewis quote...well I'm not in the class he is that's for sure. I know we have plenty of room for all classes, and you said that very diplomatically in your second sentence, which is right where I'll leave it. Because we need the pioneers.

So focusing on ourselves: we can do that regardless of what we consider to be a "musical" genre. And I like what TooLate and Uncle Larry said in that regard, particularly recording ourselves. That's the most powerful tool I've ever come across. It's scary some of the things I think are appropriate to the musicality!!
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
When the goal is anything other than focusing on the music, we have lost sight on why we're here in the first place.

The only thing is, the opinion of what is and what isn't musical is where we begin to venture onto a slippery slope.
Totally agree on both points David :)

For me it was just the fact that no instruments are easy to master and each and everyone of us have their limits, Larry's right, some guys out there are the pinnacle of drumming, the point I was making is that we should always put musicality first, and that mean the quality or condition of being musical no more no less, whatever the music at whatever level.

Simon's happen to highlight that very point in a complex and demanding music, but it applies to all music, then as a listener it's down to taste, some will like it, some won't like it, it's a very subjective choice.

Generally speaking, complex and demanding music requires complex and demanding drum parts as opposed to simpler music which requires simpler drum parts, as long as the main goal is being as musical as possible, the rest is just poetry, ego matters and blablabla, we could have 10 pages of discussion on this thread.

Sometimes it's hard not to be able to put that fill or lick we've practiced for weeks until it's perfect, but if they doesn't fit the song musically, they shouldn't be there, and more often than not I'm seeing drummers in band using their hard earned fill and lick and killing the song, as I said early, experience is the key, we've all been newbie drummers once in our lives.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Musicality is king but a few years back I found I wasn't able to express the things that I wanted to because I didn't have the facilities.

And given that we look up to so many drummers that have these technical abilities, we are steered towards learning them too.
 

lowdowner

Senior Member
Just as an aside - as a 'never can be sure which instrument to play' sort of person until I took up drums, through my longish life i've managed to learn piano, flute, classical guitar and bass all to a moderate level (well, into the latter grades in some cases) but drums are the hardest I've started to learn, and I'm still only just beginning to learn them.

It's not really just about coordination, but about how to make them 'sing', or have texture, or have flavor or however you describe it.

Learning drums is hard, *really* hard. Mind you, they're the most satisfying (to me) too :)
 
Last edited:

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Search for Evelyn Glennie, How To Truly Listen. The whole clip is pretty long, but the part that's most relevant to this discussion is just a couple of minutes, if that, and worth the effort IMO.
Yes, Evelyn's just superb, isn't she!

Henri, I've not seen that clip featuring Simon before. Thank you for that :) Just how good is his playing on those clips! Man, every time I see him play, either recorded or live, my admiration grows more & more. Live performance still pulls by far the best out of Simom. He's the consummate recording artist, yet live still offers him that 3rd dimension push he eluded to, & it's dynamics he exploits to the full live, that you just can't replicate on a recording. We need also to remember when listening to his playing in these clips, he probably walked into that session cold that morning. overall run through , chart up the snags, detail learn the sections, then press the button. Given the complexity of the piece, I'm in awe of just how relaxed & accomplished he is in the video. I think the reason behind that is headroom - he's underplaying 99% of the time. Damn him & his stellar talent ;)
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Henri, I've not seen that clip featuring Simon before. Thank you for that :) Just how good is his playing on those clips! Man, every time I see him play, either recorded or live, my admiration grows more & more. Live performance still pulls by far the best out of Simom. He's the consummate recording artist, yet live still offers him that 3rd dimension push he eluded to, & it's dynamics he exploits to the full live, that you just can't replicate on a recording. We need also to remember when listening to his playing in these clips, he probably walked into that session cold that morning. overall run through , chart up the snags, detail learn the sections, then press the button. Given the complexity of the piece, I'm in awe of just how relaxed & accomplished he is in the video. I think the reason behind that is headroom - he's underplaying 99% of the time. Damn him & his stellar talent ;)
You're welcome Andy :)

Yeah, Simon never cease to amaze me, and lately he's participated in some wonderful projects, PSP, the Hiromi Trio, now this Steve Weingart & Renee Jones album, I just love where is going on those projects, I really look forward to the new Protocol II solo album too.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I think some people are just more tuned in to music in general. Some people just have a knack for playing the music tastefully without stepping all over it. Because of their musicality and the way that they interact with the music, they just come up with better ideas. They can reach beyond the cookie cutter stuff they teach at PIT or wherever. Even a lesser skilled drummer can sound better than a chops meister who can play every fill in the book. At the end of the day, Simon is right.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I also happen to believe that the more active listening one does, the bigger the ears become. I stress active listening though. The bigger the ears become, I think so does a more in tuned sense of musicality.
 
Top