Country Music

drummer girl09

Senior Member
I was wondering if there was a significance of a difference between country music and rock music when it came to the drumming style. I don't listen to much country at all, but I was trying to kind of play the song Love Story by Taylor Swift and I don't know if it was just the song, but I didn't feel like I was playing it right; I was playing my own style. But can any one tell me if there is a certain method on playing country music? Or is it basically the same style as rock? Thanks for advance.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think some country music has a bit of swing to it and may be why you were having trouble with it.

p.s. I have to be a critic on your use of the word critique in your signature instead of critic.
I guess that makes me a critic.

Everyone's a critique!
 

Concrete Pete

Senior Member
Hey DrummerGirl,

I've been in a country band for over a year now, and most of the tunes have either a "swing-ish" beat, slow rock, or slow rockabilly.
Of course, there's the oddball ones like "Waltzing Thru Texas" that have a waltz type beat. We do all OLD country, BTW-- I'm not really into country, but it's kinda fun, and we gig like crazy around here!

I've listened to some NEW Country, and it seems like most of it is basically Rock-based.

In my opinion, you just have to hear the song a few times, and decide what beat fits best.
Heck, my Country band never rehearses...ever--we don't have to, it's that simple!

Cheers,
C. P.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
we don't have to, it's that simple!

Thank you for sharing my opinion of the simplistic musicality of country music. It might be why the newer stuff has morphed into basic rock music styles. They too are bored of their own genre.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
To me the standard country beat that springs to mind is in 2/4 time, based on quarter notes
hi hats play quarter notes
bass drum plays 1, 3
snare drum plays 2, 4

boom chock boom chock boom chock


as opposed to a standard rock beat which is based on 8th notes

hi hat plays 8th notes, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
bass drum plays quarter notes, 1, 2, 3, 4
snare drum plays half notes on 2, 4

Forgive my over generalazation here. The country beat snare hit's twice as much as a rock beat snare in these beats.

Love Story by Taylor Swift is based on an 8th note rock beat, in 4/4 time, so to me, it's not a "country beat". It's just a four on the floor beat (with some variations thrown in on the bass drum, boom, chock ,boom boom, chock....But it's not country rock either, it's a counrty feel song played over a rock music structure.
 

drummer girl09

Senior Member
Thanks for all the replies guys!

So critic would be the right word Gruntersdad? Sorry...ha. Thanks for the correction. And there are a lot of country songs that do have a swing to it. I'd think those would be the older country songs.

Thanks Concrete Pete. It's really that easy? I'm guessing you have to feel the beat for the most part

Thanks for breaking down the notes larryace, ha. I see what you're talking about. Now that I think about it, maybe most of Taylor Swifts stuff is country rock genre...more of rock than country, even though everyone considers her country.
 

Concrete Pete

Senior Member
Hey DrummerGirl,

You're welcome!

And yes, I have to admit that of the 150+ songs we do, I know about 20 of them! (not kidding)

I usually just watch the rythm of the guitarist's hand to pick up the beat if I can't hear the sound.....simple, huh?

Oh, and some of the songs we do involve the "Classic Country" beat of:

Thud, clank, whap whap, screech, thud clank boom! (just kiddin!)

Cheers,
C. P.
 

mcbike

Silver Member
country songs can be in alot of different styles.

alot of older country is in 2/4 cut-time
rockabilly 4/4 uptempo
western swing 2/4
6/8 ballads
4/4 ballads
trains

most country music has swing to it except for country rock and country pop.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
I took a listen.

The first part of the song is in half time with the snare hit on four.

After that most of the tune is straight rock. Snare on two and four.

Nothing tricky about it.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I like playing a bit of country. The newer stuff even has disco beats.

It is refreshing to discuss country. Metal and jazz are the two most popular genres to discuss here, but they aren't nearly as popular as country among the masses. Yet, hardly anyone ever discusses country much on this board. It's like our tastes and the audience's tastes are completely reversed. We want to play most what they don't care to listen to, and they want us to play most we we don't care to play. Go figure.
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
I was wondering if there was a significance of a difference between country music and rock music when it came to the drumming style. I don't listen to much country at all, but I was trying to kind of play the song Love Story by Taylor Swift and I don't know if it was just the song, but I didn't feel like I was playing it right; I was playing my own style. But can any one tell me if there is a certain method on playing country music? Or is it basically the same style as rock? Thanks for advance.
It depends on the type of Country music you are talking about. The example you give, Talyor Swift's "Love Story" is a modern Country Rock styled song, as opposed to traditional country. I played this in the opry band recently off of number charts. It has a rock beat in the pre-choruses and choruses and goes to a four on the floor groove in the solo section. It was fun to play!

When you are talking about styles, you have to remember what makes a style of music that style - the style has certain "cliches", if you will and these cliches are the subtlties which make a drumming part characteristic of that style. What components make up a Motown groove, for instance?

Let's take your country styles like you brought up.


For one thing, country music is usually based around a chord structure of 1-5-4 for the guitar/bass/steel/piano/fiddle players and this chord structure allows itself to what is know as relative minor. For any Country musician worth his salt, changing the key is no problem because of knowing about the relative minor. They usually agree on a key, for arguments' sake we'll say "E". If the singer has problem singing the song in E, the rhythm section can move the key up or down the scale to suit the vocalist's range. This is why the ability to read number charts in the studio is amost mandatory for anyone who wants to be a studio cat; you have to know the form of the song, no matter what you name is! Remember, Country music is all about the song, not about chops

Now, let's take a look at what playing a Country style means to a drummer:

Fills are more sparse and the groove is king. Toby Keith's song, "Dreamwalking" would lend itself to quite a few 'set-up the figure for the band type' of fills. But if you listen to the actual recording, there aren't any. Unison playing is usually a rule of thumb in country which makes it a different style than Rock, Jazz or Fusion. In fact, many Rock, Jazz or Fusion drummers actually get fired of off country gigs because they are playing way too much. Just because the guitarist plays a "push" (an old school Country music term) on the beat 3 doesn't mean the drummer will set him up; quite the contrary - the drummer won't set him up (not every gig is a jazz gig!). The drummer may or may not play that figure, however.

In a traditional country setting or western swing, you have 2/4 shuffles, 4/4 shuffles and waltzes which are either the 3/4 or 6/8 variety. The terms 2/4 and 4/4 really have little to do with time signature. They have to do with whether the bass guitar player will play half notes (2/4) or walk a bass line (4/4). These are "old school" Country player shorthand terms (every music form has its own vocabulary).

Contemporary country tends to throw out most of the rules and gravittaes more to Modern Emo Rock in both texture and style. More crashing the ride through a phrase more fills (than in past country; but not turning the song into a fusion gig however.) Also, Country music has migrated more towards the "Wlak this Way" groove on the bass drum as opposed to a bossa-influenced groove, especially in the ballads. However, one subltity most live countrys player lack is how the groove doesn't always stay static. Listen to George Strait's "Write this Down" and notice how the bass drum pattern changes from intro to verse to chorus.

I have tried to keep this answer to your question not quite so longwinded, but there are these subltities which make a drummer sound like he or she really knows the style they are playing as opposed to someone who is just playing a groove and doesn't know the style or the song. It is knowing these subltities which will help you get that gig with the next Taylor Swift!


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
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Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
I am now rehearsing with a country/pop band and I have found that there is also a certain amount of an R & B flavor as well, consider Tulsa Time for example, there are a few nuances that are mainly for country as in how you play your toms, fills etc. I will tell you one thing and that is I have had to keep my volume down at the present space we get together at and have been using Tala Wands and Regal blastix which has helped with that and with my development to be a better drummer. Just one other thing, with the exception of a few pop rock tunes we do ,most of the material is in the 3 min. range and we learn quite a few new songs every rehearsal so it feels productive.
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
Country has it's roots in Western Swing, and Folk music, but today's stuff almost seems more like a sub group to Rock and Roll. Like R&R and most genres of music (as well as all life forms on this earth), it is constantly changing and evolving. But there is no way it can be stereotyped today into predictable rythm patterns, like the old time shuffles or 3/4 Waltzes.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
The two old cats I played with a few weeks ago were into older country. I played a lot of swing and some shuffles. The bass player called a rhythm a "waltz" rhythm, as in "this song has a waltz rhythm" to it. I replied "you mean 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3" as in a traditional symphonic waltz? What he was referring to as the "waltz" beat was actually cut time with the eighth notes on the hats and the bass on 1 and 2 and the snare on the off beat on 1& 2&, etc. Simple enough. Ok Pops, if you want to call it a waltz, then it's your waltz beat. Then we played a few songs with the standard rock beat applied to C and W lyrics. Got it. I even played triplets to cover 6/8. Ok. got it.

In all it was pretty easy stuff to play. Just not my bag I guess. I can take some of it, but I was born and raised on southern rock and Texas blues and rock. Then came Jazz. If i hear all country for too long I want to dial up some ZZ Top or Lynard Skynard or Stevie Ray Vaughn. Twangy Bluegrass makes me wanna vomit after 2 songs, but I hear it's making a comeback. But traditional bluegrass doesn't really have drums per se, as I understand it.

Then some dude wanted to apply Djembes to bluegrass...Ok, I'm leaving the room now.....
 

ChipJohns

Senior Member
I've been starting to listen to country (I have always listened to country somewhat,) with a critical ear on drummers.

A couple my favorites:

Fred Eltringham with Dixie Chicks is doing some pretty cool stuff.

Also for Carrie Underwood
Lonnie Wilson - Wasted
Chris McHugh - That's where it is

All three use 4 piece kits very tastefully. These guys are solid, and, they have some good chops.

I am liking what I am hearing. Not typical rock approach, but, more of a "great drummer's" approach. Their fills are those that sound simple, but, really aren't as easy as they sound. Not exactly, but kind of/sort of of what it would sound like if Benny Greb played these songs..

Worth taking a good listen. IMO
 

mcbike

Silver Member
The bass player called a rhythm a "waltz" rhythm, as in "this song has a waltz rhythm" to it. I replied "you mean 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3" as in a traditional symphonic waltz? What he was referring to as the "waltz" beat was actually cut time with the eighth notes on the hats and the bass on 1 and 2 and the snare on the off beat on 1& 2&, etc. Simple enough. Ok Pops, if you want to call it a waltz, then it's your waltz beat.
We call that a bastard polka if it's swung... for lack of a better word. because the same beat in straight cut-time is a polka.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
We call that a bastard polka if it's swung... for lack of a better word. because the same beat in straight cut-time is a polka.

That's probably the best description of it - a bastard polka. These two old geezers could handle the snare on the off beats and still keep their time well enough to play solidly. They've been doing it since before I was in diapers probably.

But then some self-described "guitar expert" who has been "recorded in Nashville" I had the unfortunate opportunity to play with for 3 months couldn't handle the off beats on any style. He claim it "threw him off". Um....quite the expert there aren't you.....not!

You know the type, 100 + pounds overweight, wears loud paisley shirts, jeans, sandles, knows only 1 style, can't sing worth a flip, brags all the time, thinks he invented the guitar.......
 

drummer girl09

Senior Member
It makes a lot of sense, Skitch. Thanks. I'm getting to a point where I can listen to a few country songs and not complain, and maybe enjoy it some. It would be fun to learn the different country songs and styles. Thanks yall.
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
It makes a lot of sense, Skitch. Thanks. I'm getting to a point where I can listen to a few country songs and not complain, and maybe enjoy it some. It would be fun to learn the different country songs and styles. Thanks yall.
I will soon have my Country Fakebook for sale. It is my secret to being a success on Country gigs. Over the years, I have charted just about every Country song I have had to play in a notation that defines the song's form, groove, tempo trademarks fills and the like. It is a quick reference guide to about 800 songs (!). So when someone calls out "Just Call Me Lonesome" , I can quickly thumb over to the chart and there it is - just like the record - telling me that the choruses are a 4/4 shuffle, the verses are 2/4 suffle the tempo and the breaks. I even have songs like "Gunpowder and Lead" in there! it makes me sound like I actually belong on the gig and that I am just someone who doesn't care but had nothing better to do that night! I like making those songs sound great!


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com
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http://www.youtube.com/drummermikemccraw
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