Don't just listen to drummers!

haredrums

Silver Member
Hi guys,

I just put up a blog post about the idea of drawing inspiration from other instruments that I wanted to discuss with you all:

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2012/07/food-for-thought-listening-outside-of.html

I have become increasingly conscious of how important it is to not limit my listening/focus to just drummers, and I wanted to see if you guys have similar feelings. Do you listen to other instruments for inspiration and ideas for your drumming? If so, who are some of your favorite non-drummer musicians for this sort of thing? What are some examples of things you have learned and applied to the instrument from non-drummers? If you disagree and think that studying non-drummers isn't very productive, why do you feel that way?
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
awesome as always Andrew

I feel like as drummers we have to do this

I pull from other musicians as much if not more than I pull from other drummers.

I'm constantly thinking of a Monk melody, an Art Tatum run, a McCoy Tyner comp, a Coltrane lick, a piece from an Art Pepper solo , a smooth Coleman Hawkins syncopation, a Mingus bass line , some Ron Carter magic .... there is a verse in the Dizzy version of "Sunny side of the street" off "Sonny Side Up" at the end of the tune that resonates with me where he sings a piece of the old standard in his own slick way.....I pull from it all the time......love it!!!!
listen to him sing the verse at the end.....its almost percussive already.....you can play everything he is singing on drums.....it's brilliant !!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otLaaoyWmIg

it is important for us as drummers to be able to translate melody through our rhythms.

frankly I find drummers who are not melodic quite irritating, hard to listen to and selfish

we need to understand how to be sympathetic to the way a musician we are playing with is approaching a tune

we also need to understand how to react when a musician we are playing with passes us a phrase......we need to respond appropriately and accordingly

nothing more important for a musician then to be able to understand what those around you are playing , and how they expect you to play with it

pulling from musicians other than drummers is one of the best ways to broaden your horizons and become a player that cats love to play with

thats the whole idea right?........to be someone cats love to play with and someone that people who love music want to listen to
 
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Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Absolutely agree.

I think a tendency to concentrate solely on your own instrument can make for a very insular musical approach. As you noted in the blog, there is a hell of a lot more going on than just the rhythm and even in the context of rhythm there is more going on than just a drummer. I've always been a "big picture" kind of person, there's just too much going on that I want to absorb.....ideas and concepts that I want to explore, that I'd have missed out on if all I did was maintain a musical view as limited as the confines of my own instrument.

I've always been an avid believer that music is the sum of many parts, drums are just one of them. If there's one danger of drum forums, it's that I see many younger or inexperienced players forgetting that. The idea of being "the drummer" become paramount to them and at times it's at the expense of musicality. There's much to be learned and plenty of inspiration to be drawn from listening to other instruments.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Yeah,

You guys are definitely picking up what I am laying down!

Anthony, loved that Dizzy clip, and I definitely see your point about his phrasing. In my experience, being able to draw on other instruments vocabulary is one of the things that really distinguishes you as a drummer and makes people want to play with you. I think you expressed that idea perfectly.

Pocket, exactly right about the dangers of being to content on "rhythm island". I am hoping that this thread will help to pull some of the bigger/broader musical ideas into the picture. We can still talk about all this other stuff (melody, harmony, other instruments) through the filter of the drums, or how to translate ideas on to the drums, or how to interact with it through the drums, I just want to make sure that we include it in the conversation.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I draw a lot of inspiration from non-drummers.

It's funny that your blog post cites St. Thomas, because Sonny Rollins, and that tune in particular, would have been my textbook example. When I'm introducing people to jazz for the first time, I often play them that song and point out that very two-note phrase you're talking about. Sonny's sax playing is a big influence on my drumming, so there's exhibit A for me.

Another thing I like to do for the uninitiated is hum the melody from the head of the tune during Max's solo. It really demonstrates how he's clearly working within that structure. I find that it's an eye-opener for those who think jazz improvisation is just some random noodling. Blue Seven, from that same record, is another great "introduction" piece for demonstrating the composition aspect of jazz soloing and improvisation.

Probably my biggest non-drummer influence is Monk. His phrasing and unexpected melodic choices have always inspired me.

Miles Davis is another. Miles plays such elegant, often sparse, lines. It really makes me think about the importance of space.

I'll give you another example: Clark Terry. Dig his solo on Monk's Bemsha Swing, off the Brilliant Corners record. Listen to the contrast between Monk's thing, then Rollins' more "modern" stylings, followed by Terry coming in with his smooth, bop phrasing and tone. The cat just swings that mother*****r into bad health.

That's the type of thing that really makes me want to express myself behind the drums.

One more thing: I forget on which thread, but someone was asking for examples of where one soloist picks up the phrase another one ended with. On Bemsha, Rollins does this by mimicking Monk's last notes before launching his own thing.
 

SticksEasy

Senior Member
I'm obsessed with bass patterns that are more complex. The bass player for my current band has been playing since he was like, 8 years old. His parents put him in classes, and heavy study, and the dude has become a musical genius. The stuff he writes for our songs always blows me away. It's deeply inspired me to try to play with more variety.

I'm also easily inspired by corps drummers (corps drums could be considered different instruments than the drum kit in my opinion). I'll watch a youtube video of a drum team like the Blue Devils, or Japan's Drum Cats, and I'll hear something interesting they all play, and I'll try to duplicate it, or get something close on my set.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Larry, completely agree re: Monk and Miles. When I listen to their music they're the ones I'm listening to. (and Trane and Coleman Hawkins). Thanks again for the blog Andrew - always great ideas.

SticksEasy, I'm keen on basslines too - but for me they don't need to be complicated. Meaty and groovy bass works for me too. Love riffs. In most music bass plays an important part of establishing the groove. Getting locked in is the best sensation.

But I've never been a student of the drums, just a music fan who started playing them and kept playing. I've had phases where I've been really focused on the drums. It's either that or the whole band effect, or the vocals or lead instrument.

I don't often isolate keyboards but I was listening to A Love Supreme on YouTube (I think for the second time) and suddenly noticed McCoy Tyner - the chord voicings, the harmonies he chooses and how he leaves space for the resonance and other instruments ... beautiful. And Cecil Taylor is my biggest inspiration in recent times. I love the chutzpah of it - challenging people to let go of their conservative, restrictive mindset - embrace rather than reject. I don't know if he means but find his playing funny (and brilliant) and it often makes me smile - it's like a sophisticated Bugs Bunny soundtrack at times ... I want a piece of that on the drums :)

Thus Spake Tharathustra.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Unless its a solo artist, of course, music is a jigsaw puzzle. Lots of pieces that all have to fit to make the musical picture.

I never listen to drummers. If a song really grabs me it is because I love the whole song. If I listen to a song often enough I end up dissecting all the parts, not just the drums.

I particularly like Stewart Copeland and Ian Paice, but only because of what they played as drum parts in great songs. If the songs had not been great, In my opinion, they would probably have passed me by because I would not have listened to Purple, or the Police.

To me the drum kit is an accompanying instrument and without good music for it to be part of its appeal is limited. The song is all.

Just my personal take.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I saw the Steve Kimock band Wednesday night. He has amazingly talented musicians with him. The drummer's name is Wally Ingram. Rodney Holmes also did some shows with him in the past. The music he plays has such a good vibe and feel to it that it lends itself to more melodic and creative drumming. The way it all comes together is phenomenal. Sometimes the music was laid back like in his Thrill Is Gone rendition. The drums are quite simple on these songs as they should be, but most of the music is just an open canvass. Can't wait to see him again. This is the stuff we play in the studio.

I always found it kinda ironic that Peter Criss wrote and sung Beth, considering the fact that the song has no drums in it, nor does it require any drums to be played. I had a band ask me to play drums in the Landslide song. I told them I wouldn't do it. The song doesn't need drums and drums would only take away from the vibe and feel of the song. What the heck would you do on that song anyway?
 

Talismanis

Senior Member
I find it strange that anybody WOULDN'T listen to other instruments. I like good music because of whatever appeals to me about a certain song, and just because I'm a drummer it doesn't have to be drums - infact sometimes I watch other drummers and wish they'd stop playing for a bit, y'know, the kind of people who want to make everything a drum solo.

I'm a music fan because I like music, I'm a drummer because it's the most fun instrument! :D
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I think some are missing the point here Andrew
like maybe they only read the thread title
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Great topic Andrew!

Some of the greatest guitarists get their inspiration from horn lines. I love it when a guitarist makes his guitar sound like an organ, tone all the way down with heavy chords. However, I can't say that I try and emulate other instruments when I play.

What I try and do, when the vocalist is off mic, is to listen to whoever is soloing, anticipate the length of their phrases, and try to do tiny flourishes in the spaces they leave (if no one else takes it, and if it is appropriate, sometimes space sounds better as space), give them the perfect beat at just the right dynamic to compliment the tone and mood of their solo. I do try and gently steer them to some sort of a high point in their solos. A buildup of intensity. Generally speaking, solos should climax IMO

They are the boss of the space and I try and read their minds with my ears, and compliment compliment compliment. In other words I totally play off the soloist. I'm not good at melody on the drums, I don't think the drums are a melodic instrument in the first place. So I leave that to the melodic instruments. I like to give them the contrast they need so their solo works.

My philosophy is like this: A red object on a red background doesn't pop. A red object on a black background pops. They are the red object, I try and be the black background. I give them contrast.

Mainly I work on vibe and listening. I'm not a very studied person, I just play my drums as much as I can. I do admire you studied guys though, big props.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I think some are missing the point here Andrew
like maybe they only read the thread title
I'm not missing the point, the point is missing me. You mean to say that there are other parts to "music" besides just rhythm? And we should listen to those parts too? For ideas? Dare I say, that IS quite profound.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I'm not missing the point, the point is missing me. You mean to say that there are other parts to "music" besides just rhythm? And we should listen to those parts too? For ideas? Dare I say, that IS quite profound.
defensive are we?

what makes you think I was talking about you ?

feeling guilty about not understanding things?


....and no thats not entirely the point actually ....so maybe I was talking about you now that I think about it
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Honestly, I've never listened to music for the drums! I like music for the song, the emotion, just the pure aesthetics of it... If a cool drum part is part of the package, great! If not, that's fine, too.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
defensive are we?

what makes you think I was talking about you ?

feeling guilty about not understanding things?


....and no thats not entirely the point actually ....so maybe I was talking about you now that I think about it
Exactly. You know me too well. I really don't know who you were talking about. That was a rather sweeping statement, but ya, the point missed me.

Before you judge, have you ever listened to Steve Kimock? Archive dot org. It's all right there. His music is relevant to the topic, I think.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Exactly. You know me too well. I really don't know who you were talking about. That was a rather sweeping statement, but ya, the point missed me.

Before you judge, have you ever listened to Steve Kimock? Archive dot org. It's all right there. His music is relevant to the topic, I think.
I only know of him via his Grateful Dead connections

never really heard any of his own music

I'll have to check it out
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I only know of him via his Grateful Dead connections

never really heard any of his own music

I'll have to check it out
Yeah, great stuff. I just found out about him this year when I joined this group. It's Steve Kimock and Friends. Friends meaning a whole slew of the most amazing musicians I've ever heard play rock n roll. Enjoy!
 
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