Developing a mechanical groove.

It may seem odd but I am trying to develop a more "mechanical", drum machine like technique for some music that requires it. Needless to say a metronome will be seeing some heavy usage.

Anyone else ever do this?

Techniques, approaches, pitfalls etc.?
 

Gunnarsen

Member
take care of eveness in your volume. check your stick heights. everything should sound very even, so you have to play very even... ;)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Use few (or no) inflections or variations. Expressive cymbals and hats can be a real giveaway, same for variations on the snare, so play them evenly.

Be redundant. Sequences are often done in 4 bar loops that repeat throughout a song, and are quickly apparent that they are repeating. So if you break that cycle, you lose the vibe.

Keep fills simple with a hint of syncopation, and use the same or a portion of the same fills throughout.

Good luck, sounds like fun!

Bermuda
 

Drum-Head

Silver Member
Not so long ago a wonderful drummer named Julian Percy (he sadly passed away last year... Please check out his Youtube Channel he was amazingly talented!) gave me some valuable advice.

What he suggested to me is to consider the "bip" of the click as 8th notes instead of quarters, starting around 100-120 (so you are actually playing in the 50-60 bpm range), playing simple grooves and locking in as much as possible to avoid flaming with the "bip". Obviously it's inhuman to be able to do that perfectly but the idea is to get as close as possible.

Once the grooves are satisfying, he told me to start playing 8th note fills with the same principle, then triplet fills, 16th note fills etc. It takes a couple of months to see results so you have to really keep at it.

At the time I was hard headedly trying to play with precision at 30-40bpm tempos for precision, but he told that those exercises are more to feel space than anything else, and playing with 8ths on the click at "real tempos" is to give you more subdivisions and meters to play with while having a guideline for being precise. You can also to this when you practice rudiments. One important point: he insisted very much on counting out loud the quarters "1, 2, 3, 4..." while practicing this!

After some time, have some fun recording yourself to music minus drums (preferably ones with only the click to count you off) you'll hear the difference. I did at least.

These exercises should help you build the foundation for the sound you are looking for. From there you would need to go for a "stiff" sound and you should get that mechanical vibe you are going for.

It's looks and sounds simple but it is much harder that it seems. I'm no virtuoso like he was, but thanks to his advice my drumming has gone the direction I want it to go. I'll always be grateful to Julian.

Hope this helps.
 
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toddy

Platinum Member
i play a lot of dubstep, drum and bass, trance, electro house, etc. dance in general. indie dance too. this music is all to a click, it's bang on, all the time. if you lose the click then it's over. i play 60 minute sets. with the same tempo click constantly ticking away. it's like a time bomb waiting to go off.

but do you know what gets me good comments from producers/dj's? it isn't that i play like a drum machine, it's that i play like a drummer to a certain tempo. sure your timing has to be more or less perfect. but that isn't really difficult. the click is there constantly, like a safety net. plus you get breaks in songs here everyone cuts out and you can play some percussion for a bit to relax.

this post probably seems really really weird, but i find producers/DJ's prefer me to play like a drummer than like a stiff. they like it to be slightly lazy, they don't like it when i get really stiff.

i suppose i'm just playing devils advocate. you can no doubt play mechanically, what i'm saying is that even in the music that is mechanical the other musicians don't necessarily like it. after all they can all program drum machines anyway! :)
 

Drum-Head

Silver Member
I suggested to play stiff because he said the music calls for it.

Take Aquiles Priester for example who plays in heavy metal bands, if he didn't play like that it wouldn't stick. Just as much as if a jazz drummer played mechanical it wouldn't either.

But I totally get where you're coming from in regards to DJ, Drum&Bass etc. It reminds me of Jojo or Johnny Rabb who both have plenty of human touch to their music. Which reminds me of this awesome vid:

- Rabb

Sorry for going slightly off topic...
 

toddy

Platinum Member
oh yeah definitely man. if he's playing anything related to metal then i entirely agree. with a name like sonofchaos it is entirely possible! :p
johnny rabb is such a nice guy, he posts the most random stuff on facebook lol. there are a few of these kind of drummers, KJ sawka is another awesome one that comes straight to mind. absolute machine, got picked up by pendulum as their live drummer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kp5OxEzxuSg

personally this is the sort of stuff that takes up most of my practice time. i really really love it, it's so refreshing to play this kind of stuff rather than only playing with bands. plus you can play live gigs on your own and do all your own sequencing. pretty fun really.

i'm not really playing alot of modern day drum and bass live though. i like old jungle with tons of breaks etc. the tempo of todays average jump up dnb is a little too rushed for my liking. in a club situation i'd rather play something really groovey. somewhere between 120-150 is pretty much fine. it's not fast for playing along too, but it's quick enough that it doesn't drag.

this is one song that i really love to play - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThKNt-GY1ww . electro house is so good live, the energy from a crowd that are all high is just mental.

edit: i'm the worst person for going off into tangents ever lol. sorry. haha.
 

abe

Senior Member
It may seem odd but I am trying to develop a more "mechanical", drum machine like technique for some music that requires it. Needless to say a metronome will be seeing some heavy usage.

Anyone else ever do this?

Techniques, approaches, pitfalls etc.?
Take a listen to this:
http://drummerworld.com/m3u/ahmirthompsonyougotme.m3u

For your question I have two part answer.

Firstable, old drum machines had certain limitations. That means very ''level'' like dynamics, totally nailed notes, little tonal variations. So hit drums perfectly in time, on one place of drum head and use mostly formal strokes.

However when you start to mess around with more advenced drum machines or loops sound, it's totally different beast. Loop itself doesn't have to be ''perfect'' in anyway, but all the little timing, tonal or dynamic ''mistakes'' must repeat in next two or four bars.

To achieve first depending on your current level you might spend few months, but second...
Ahmir Thompson in one of few drummers who can really do it. Check him out. Here is little vid of him in studio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgMiGqA6xtA

Notice how he makes all the little inaccuracies always in the same place, just like sampler. Even more interesting is that Thompson is not slave of his machine skills; he can any time play ''normally''.
 
Nice video of ?uestlove. Badass. I'm using a beatnik rhythmic analyzer right now which seems to be helping. Where should one focus their practice to get timing that dead on? (dynamics will come later).

Should I focus on smaller intervals (i.e. 32nd notes) to improve or longer intervals (i.e. 1/8ths)? etc.
 

abe

Senior Member
Nice video of ?uestlove. Badass. I'm using a beatnik rhythmic analyzer right now which seems to be helping. Where should one focus their practice to get timing that dead on? (dynamics will come later).

Should I focus on smaller intervals (i.e. 32nd notes) to improve or longer intervals (i.e. 1/8ths)? etc.
Virtual badge for you:) I have beatnik for 2 years now and use it everyday. Stick to it and you will become timing monster.

1st exercise.
With each hand. Put 16th notes on subdivision analyzer at 60 bpm. Play it at least 5-10 minutes. When you feel they're stable, go to 8 notes. Don't make strokes higher to get better timing. Again play like that for 10 min. Then switch to quarters.
After this go back to 16th notes, but this time at 50 or 40 bpm. And do the whole cycle. This way work down to 25 bmp.

2nd exercise.
As in first exercise put 16th notes at 60 bpm, but this time play only upbeats - E's and A's. Work your way down to 25 bpm.

3rd exercise.
1st exercise, but this time both hands together.

4th exercise.
Go to Phrase analyzer and program it to one measure of any divisions(in the begining 16th are good) and one or three rests. This will make you great at starting beats perfectly and getting back to them after pauses.

5th exercise.
Program phrase analyzer to one mesure of 16th notes and of 5over1. After few hours with this you'll be much sharper at feeling any beat dragging.

These are just few of my personal exercises.

Also you could plug in some phones and replace your snare or hihat with beatnik. Play this way your beats.

There are countless exercise possibilities, so try to be creative and analyze what's problematic about certain beats. That way you'll soon have a large collection of exercises to work on. Don't forget to use higher analyzing level(H or E) after some high scores.
 
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Hey abe!

LOVE the reply, it is good to get a little guidance, and I WILL be using it.

I WILL be doing your exercises as recommended as they sound better than my current practice. I'd like to share a little bit more about my position and current exercises so that if you have any additional input that would be great. (All found thanks to my Beatnik!)

1. My rhythm is better at slower tempos than fast. This is why I'm using a quarter, quarter, 1/8th, 1/8th phrase at 135 bpm as an exercise. Seems to be working. Drumming is my second instrument so I do NOT have the "need for speed" that so many drummers have as I have no need to be a tech monster, which is why I've spent more (too much) time on slow tempos. I want solid timing. I'm aiming for mechanical first than I can learn to displace as necessary.

2. My 16th notes are NEVER steady. I don't mean perfect, I mean not even vaguely steady. I don't work on them enough so who knows. I think your practice will be excellent for this :). Of course steady is a problem with everything I play. I rush than drag etc.

I have always had timing issues. I've had the beatnik for awhile but only REALLY started using it a week ago and I am seeing tremendous improvement. It lets me see things I couldn't hear, and then I can start hearing them. Opening my mind.

Question: What kind of stroke do you recommend technique wise, single I assume?

Should I use a higher, less efficient stroke or a short highly efficient stroke, does it matter?

It feels great to find a beatnik user with some exercises that appear to be directed at me! I'm JUST starting to develop the "measuring stick" of time in my head so this should help.

*note: When you say play the "E" and "Uh" in the 16th notes, should I just let regular 16th note subdivisions play? Also, should I turn the metronome on to only the first click and not the subdivisions. Sorry to ask so much but I will be doing this exercise shortly.
 

abe

Senior Member
1. My rhythm is better at slower tempos than fast. This is why I'm using a quarter, quarter, 1/8th, 1/8th phrase at 135 bpm as an exercise. Seems to be working. Drumming is my second instrument so I do NOT have the "need for speed" that so many drummers have as I have no need to be a tech monster, which is why I've spent more (too much) time on slow tempos. I want solid timing. I'm aiming for mechanical first than I can learn to displace as necessary.
That is interesting since usually the slow tempos are hard accuracy wise. Faster tempo= smaller the gap between notes to make mistake
However 135 bpm for 8th isn't that slow . My guess is that your stroke technique itself is bit unstable yet.


I have always had timing issues. I've had the beatnik for awhile but only REALLY started using it a week ago and I am seeing tremendous improvement. It lets me see things I couldn't hear, and then I can start hearing them. Opening my mind.
It will be a tremendous help, especially if you don't have teacher.

Question: What kind of stroke do you recommend technique wise, single I assume?
Free stroke singles. This is the foundation. Get Dom Famularo's book ''It's Your Move'' or at least start to practice free stroke from those videos.

http://www.vicfirth.com/education/drumset/domfamularo/dom2HQ.html

http://www.vicfirth.com/education/drumset/domfamularo/dom4HQ.html

http://www.vicfirth.com/education/drumset/domfamularo.php

Also this was nice thread:
http://drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18274

Practice those a lot, do the ''2-50'' exercise. Practice full strokes at the beggining then got to low and half strokes. They will probably be your main strokes.
Also before you can play decent free stroke, you could not use Beatnik. It will make you worry about timing when your main focus should be perfect form.

*note: When you say play the "E" and "Uh" in the 16th notes, should I just let regular 16th note subdivisions play?
Yes

Also, should I turn the metronome on to only the first click and not the subdivisions. Sorry to ask so much but I will be doing this exercise shortly.
At the beginning use subdivision, later when you get more stable, go to tracking analyzer.

It's always good way to ask many questions, everyone is different and although things might sound simple, over internet it's hard to explain all the details. It's much better to ask three extra questionand get it right , rather then to keep silent and start to practice ineffectively.
 
Thanks for the advice. I just got in touch with a local teacher who is considered one of the best drummers and teachers in the area to help me fine tune my "free stroke".

I've been trying to do the free stroke off the videos you linked.
The good news is that even with my bad form, I've naturally used the rebound enough to where I don't pull up on the sticks. Yay me.
My question is about the "fulcrum". When I strike the stick does not return to the upright position, but rather past it somewhat. The fulcrum weirds me cause I'm not sure where it should be etc.

That is interesting since usually the slow tempos are hard accuracy wise. Faster tempo= smaller the gap between notes to make mistake
However 135 bpm for 8th isn't that slow . My guess is that your stroke technique itself is bit unstable yet.




It will be a tremendous help, especially if you don't have teacher.



Free stroke singles. This is the foundation. Get Dom Famularo's book ''It's Your Move'' or at least start to practice free stroke from those videos.

http://www.vicfirth.com/education/drumset/domfamularo/dom2HQ.html

http://www.vicfirth.com/education/drumset/domfamularo/dom4HQ.html

http://www.vicfirth.com/education/drumset/domfamularo.php

Also this was nice thread:
http://drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18274

Practice those a lot, do the ''2-50'' exercise. Practice full strokes at the beggining then got to low and half strokes. They will probably be your main strokes.
Also before you can play decent free stroke, you could not use Beatnik. It will make you worry about timing when your main focus should be perfect form.


Yes


At the beginning use subdivision, later when you get more stable, go to tracking analyzer.

It's always good way to ask many questions, everyone is different and although things might sound simple, over internet it's hard to explain all the details. It's much better to ask three extra questionand get it right , rather then to keep silent and start to practice ineffectively.
 

abe

Senior Member
Thanks for the advice. I just got in touch with a local teacher who is considered one of the best drummers and teachers in the area to help me fine tune my "free stroke".
That is great, it is a big help to have a teacher.

My question is about the "fulcrum". When I strike the stick does not return to the upright position, but rather past it somewhat. The fulcrum weirds me cause I'm not sure where it should be etc.
What do you mean? Where thew fulcrum is on the stick or with which fingers to make it?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The fulcrum is defined the point on the stick where it changes direction. So it depends where you hold it, you dictate where the fulcrum lies.
 
Sorry for my poorly worded question. Basically, I was already using ALOT of rebound, but definitely don't have it down right. 2 issues.

1. My "fulcrum" keeps moving. i.e. I find myself further and further up the stick on my right hand than left.

2. When the stick bounces back up it sort of goes PAST the vertical position and leans outwards like I am bouncing it too far. Also, the stick never contacts the pad of my hand at any point in this process.
 

abe

Senior Member
1. My "fulcrum" keeps moving. i.e. I find myself further and further up the stick on my right hand than left.
Well, your teacher will help you on this a lot. Normally I would make a stroke, stop, check out my fulcrum, adjust if necessary and make next stroke. After time things, will start get better. Only way to get better at stable fulcrum is using and adjusting.

Other thing that I find helpful is finger control. At the very beginning of my own drumming I quickly learned some basic finger control for right hand just by playing around, but not the left hand. I thought that wrist strokes are basics anyway so I didn't bother to work on my left hand. Then I started to practice free strokes and right hand was much more comfy at gripping stick. When I got back to some left hand finger control exercises, my left free strokes got better too. Although fingers don't generate basic full stroke, they are actually working; they must adjust pressure. I suggest you to buy Jojo Mayer's DVD; there are great finger exercises in French and German positions.

2. When the stick bounces back up it sort of goes PAST the vertical position and leans outwards like I am bouncing it too far. Also, the stick never contacts the pad of my hand at any point in this process.
If you're really not pulling back then it could be a good sign that you're really getting most out of the rebound. It's hard to comment this since I don't see your hand and I'm not an free stroke expert.
 
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