Drumming hasn't gotten better

Anon La Ply

Renegade
the infamous technique vs. musicality thing.
Surely not, young Matthias! We all know of players who are monster technicians who make a damn racket, the players who are mellow and tasty, those who have the whole game sewn up and those who are a bit iffy.

All are greatly loved within their genres.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
This is something I'm struggling with in my own life. It has something to do with the mentioned own identity, too. Nowadays it's probably harder for a musician to develop his own thing, while maintaining all the "necessary" abilities that are expected from a musician today. And even if it wouldn't be all "necessary" - as great as all the information may be - as hard it is to get beyond it, ignore it from a certain point, and actually work one's own thing out.
I've probably said this to you before, but it's a big enough deal to repeat: Not feeling like you have to compete internationally every day of your life will free you up to work some things that actually interest you. If you just work on necessary stuff for playing the gigs you could actually get called for soon-- the tunes, styles, and tempos your local guys are playing-- hopefully that will be challenging enough-- then you can pick a few special things of your own to develop.

Your identity just happens-- you can't contrive it. It comes as much from your listening as from anything you practice.

Things have become more homogenized now because we all have the opportunity to learn proper technique and see transcriptions of drummers so we can figure out what they're doing. You can go online and find licks broken down and demonstrated in slow motion. Drummers didn't have YouTube 50 years ago, and I suspect it allowed more idiosyncracies to develop in their styles. They had less opportunity to learn technique, but in exchange, they had less to imitate. They didn't get to hear as much music as we're exposed to now, so they were forced to "invent" more.
Even a few years ago. I'm not that damn old, but I had to actually see Dejohnette, Roy Haynes and Elvin in person to get to see what they were doing, after I had been listening to them for years-- there was no video of them available. There was one TV thing with Elvin that would turn up every so often. I'm not sure which is better; I drew some wrong conclusions videos would've prevented, but OTOH a lot of the video stuff available now is basically porn-- a distorted picture, often with not a lot of relationship to the actual job of making music. I don't think I've learned more about Elvin through the videos than I learned in a single night of watching him play an actual club date from start to finish.
 

AndyMC

Senior Member
On the issue of complexity being more desirable you can compare Indian drumming to western drumming. They have hundreds of years on us and it shows, and the greats can do things that are mind blowing, but everyone else that isn't great lacks that power and the music loses its soul and becomes noise (apparently even today's masters of tabla pale in comparison to the greats of their history). That said often I prefer to listen to something simple, its easier to get your idea across and what you lose in nuance you gain in simplicity of understanding. Unless you've gone to music school or studied a form in depth much music isn't approachable by people. Classical, like Indian music was a court art form that the rich supported and developed. And like the rich tend to do they get snotty about form instead of focusing on the soul of the music. Without an understanding of a complex form of music much of whats happening is lost, however then set rules form and lead to uninspired repeats. So I see complexity as a two-edged sword that needs to be kept in balance with your passion and voice. We can't all play like "insert great here" and if we did no one would care, so get as technical as the ideas in your head require, further technique would be a robotic planned movement until your mind can use it.

Hopefully my point comes across cleanly, if not I will try to expand on it.
 

Chunky

Silver Member
Hey Chunky,

I think my response to MAD applies to your point as well. Just because there is increased complexity or variety in drumming today doesn't mean that it is better overall.

Fundamentally, more is not always good. Sometimes more is just more, or sometimes it is even bad. More ice cream = good. More toenail fungus = bad. The same could be said of variety.
I see what you're saying but I think you misunderstood my point (or I didn't make it very well).

I meant it's better now because there is more choice. I'm not saying the new stuff is better than the old stuff, I'm saying the new stuff + the old stuff is better than either just the old stuff or just the new stuff. More sounds and feels.

In another 50-60 years I might (if I live til I'm 87) hate the new new stuff but, THAT new stuff plus the currrent stuff now plus the old stuff HAS to be better than being stuck with what we've got.
It seems some of the great new breed drummers of today are taking a bit of a hammering here for being pioneers and pushing our art but, isn't that exactly what Buddy and his pals were doing way back then?

We need the 'play for the song guys' as much as we need the 'new breed' guys.
No-one is any less of a drummer or musician for going their own way and like I said before, variety is the spice of life. More often IS better. No-one wants to get bored and the fact trends/genres come and go shows that people do.
it'll all come back around but, people need new stuff to keep the old stuff interesting and vice versa.

That's my take. I love loads of styles.
 
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plangentmusic

Guest
Vinnie Colaiuta is an evolution in drumming, isn't he? :)
I'd say Vinnie's biggest contribution is that he's the first virtuoso who plays any style truly authentically, rock, swing, funk, pop,fusion, country, you name it. Even Gadd has his wheelhouse and his areas where he wasn't quite the right guy.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I'd say Vinnie's biggest contribution is that he's the first virtuoso who plays any style truly authentically, rock, swing, funk, pop,fusion, country, you name it. Even Gadd has his wheelhouse and his areas where he wasn't quite the right guy.
I think Vinnie was the first chameleon

he has influenced so many young players spanning from bebop to metal ....and he pretty much pioneered what we now call "gospel drumming" without even knowing it
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I am sure we could have an excellent conversation in person about this idea...
I'd love to have a discussion head to head with you Andrew, maybe one day...

That being said, let me try to respond. I think Polly's house analogy is the easiest way to think about this.
Yes, I think Polly's analogy is spot on too, although I'm not sure about the "single" person living in a big 5 bedroom house, better to have more room than you need than not enough, I'd say, haha...

That is why I don't think that drummers have gotten better, they are just different.
Mmmh... to use Polly's analogy, I think that Brian Blade's doing just fine in his 20 bedroom mansion :)
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
I've probably said this to you before, but it's a big enough deal to repeat:
No, I don't think so, or I don't remember :).
I think I can put it like this: The perspective you're getting at is the "working side" of a
musician, the other thing would be more of an "artist side" point of view. Correct?
 

haredrums

Silver Member
I see what you're saying but I think you misunderstood my point (or I didn't make it very well).

I meant it's better now because there is more choice. I'm not saying the new stuff is better than the old stuff, I'm saying the new stuff + the old stuff is better than either just the old stuff or just the new stuff. More sounds and feels.

In another 50-60 years I might (if I live til I'm 87) hate the new new stuff but, THAT new stuff plus the currrent stuff now plus the old stuff HAS to be better than being stuck with what we've got.
It seems some of the great new breed drummers of today are taking a bit of a hammering here for being pioneers and pushing our art but, isn't that exactly what Buddy and his pals were doing way back then?

We need the 'play for the song guys' as much as we need the 'new breed' guys.
No-one is any less of a drummer or musician for going their own way and like I said before, variety is the spice of life. More often IS better. No-one wants to get bored and the fact trends/genres come and go shows that people do.
it'll all come back around but, people need new stuff to keep the old stuff interesting and vice versa.

That's my take. I love loads of styles.
Hey Chunky,

Thanks for explaining your perspective. I am disagreeing with you about the idea that more choice is necessarily better. The point I was trying to make is that sometimes more choice can be a bad thing. I think 8mile expressed this idea perfectly earlier in the thread:

"But the limitations of those times were reflected in the music itself, and I would argue that in some cases the limitations themselves played a crucial role in making that music sound so cool when we listen to it today. Drummers in 1945 didn't have access to all the music we do now, where you can listen, watch and learn from anyone ever.

Think about how different it was when you lived on the east coast and some cat on the west coast had something happening in a little club somewhere. You heard the talk, but short of driving across the country, you might never get to hear what he was doing and check it out for yourself.

Things have become more homogenized now because we all have the opportunity to learn proper technique and see transcriptions of drummers so we can figure out what they're doing. You can go online and find licks broken down and demonstrated in slow motion. Drummers didn't have YouTube 50 years ago, and I suspect it allowed more idiosyncrasies to develop in their styles. They had less opportunity to learn technique, but in exchange, they had less to imitate. They didn't get to hear as much music as we're exposed to now, so they were forced to "invent" more.

I equate this with "different," not necessarily better or worse. "

In other words, sometimes the lack of choice or variety can be a contributing factor in really excellent music. That is one reason why I don't think that "new stuff + old stuff" is better".

I also disagree with the idea of new stuff and old stuff existing simultaneously. We have recordings of what really old stuff sounds like, and we have musicians who spend most of their lives studying this old stuff, but nobody today plays exactly like musicians did 70 years ago (unless they are really old). There is always something lost in translation. That is why there will only ever be one Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, or Papa Jo Jones.

I do think that music is cumulative in the sense that we are all influenced by these great masters, but I don't think it is as simple as old + new. The reason for this is that people are limited by time. We can't do everything that someone else did and live in the present at the same time. We can learn from the past and try to apply it to our current musical situations (in fact that is all we can do!), but we can't somehow absorb the entirety of what made a master musician unique. Does that make sense?

Also, I am not picking up on this perceived "hammering" of newer drummers that you are mentioning? What are you referring to?
 
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plangentmusic

Guest
Hey Chunky,

Thanks for explaining your perspective. I am disagreeing with you about the idea that more choice is necessarily better. The point I was trying to make is that sometimes more choice can be a bad thing. I think 8mile expressed this idea perfectly earlier in the thread:

"But the limitations of those times were reflected in the music itself, and I would argue that in some cases the limitations themselves played a crucial role in making that music sound so cool when we listen to it today. Drummers in 1945 didn't have access to all the music we do now, where you can listen, watch and learn from anyone ever.

Think about how different it was when you lived on the east coast and some cat on the west coast had something happening in a little club somewhere. You heard the talk, but short of driving across the country, you might never get to hear what he was doing and check it out for yourself.

Things have become more homogenized now because we all have the opportunity to learn proper technique and see transcriptions of drummers so we can figure out what they're doing. You can go online and find licks broken down and demonstrated in slow motion. Drummers didn't have YouTube 50 years ago, and I suspect it allowed more idiosyncrasies to develop in their styles. They had less opportunity to learn technique, but in exchange, they had less to imitate. They didn't get to hear as much music as we're exposed to now, so they were forced to "invent" more.

I equate this with "different," not necessarily better or worse. "

In other words, sometimes the lack of choice or variety can be a contributing factor in really excellent music. That is one reason why I don't think that "new stuff + old stuff" is better".

I also disagree with the idea of new stuff and old stuff existing simultaneously. We have recordings of what really old stuff sounds like, and we have musicians who spend most of their lives studying this old stuff, but nobody today plays exactly like musicians did 70 years ago (unless they are really old). There is always something lost in translation. That is why there will only ever be one Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, or Papa Jo Jones.

I do think that music is cumulative in the sense that we are all influenced by these great masters, but I don't think it is as simple as old + new. The reason for this is that people are limited by time. We can't do everything that someone else did and live in the present at the same time. We can learn from the past and try to apply it to our current musical situations (in fact that is all we can do!), but we can't somehow absorb the entirety of what made a master musician unique. Does that make sense?

Also, I am not picking up on this perceived "hammering" of newer drummers that you are mentioning? What are you referring to?

...................


I'm missing where having more knowledge equates to playing "too much." There have ALWAYS been people who overplayed.




...
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I've probably said this to you before, but it's a big enough deal to repeat: Not feeling like you have to compete internationally every day of your life will free you up to work some things that actually interest you. If you just work on necessary stuff for playing the gigs you could actually get called for soon-- the tunes, styles, and tempos your local guys are playing-- hopefully that will be challenging enough-- then you can pick a few special things of your own to develop.

Your identity just happens-- you can't contrive it. It comes as much from your listening as from anything you practice.
I think I can put it like this: The perspective you're getting at is the "working side" of a musician, the other thing would be more of an "artist side" point of view. Correct?
No, I think it helps both-- targeting your practice for the gigs that are available to you both gets you more work and leaves you enough time to work on the unique things that interest you, which is what will help give you an identity, as you were saying. I was just guessing that when you mentioned having to maintain "all the 'necessary' abilities that are expected from a musician today", that you were thinking of the International Standard of Awesomeness, like we all do-- feeling obligated to chase that thing down is a big distraction and impediment for a lot of people. I hope that makes sense...
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
that you were thinking of the International Standard of Awesomeness, like we all do-- feeling obligated to chase that thing down is a big distraction and impediment for a lot of people. I hope that makes sense...
LOL, that might be true :). Thanks for your posts, greatly appreciated (as usual).
 

haredrums

Silver Member
...................


I'm missing where having more knowledge equates to playing "too much." There have ALWAYS been people who overplayed.




...
I am also missing this? I don't think anyone has said or implied that position. I agree with your point about overplaying being timeless for sure!
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Hey Chunky,

Thanks for explaining your perspective. I am disagreeing with you about the idea that more choice is necessarily better. The point I was trying to make is that sometimes more choice can be a bad thing. I think 8mile expressed this idea perfectly earlier in the thread:

"But the limitations of those times were reflected in the music itself, and I would argue that in some cases the limitations themselves played a crucial role in making that music sound so cool when we listen to it today.
True - more choice is not always better, maybe in the same way as more food or more renovations aren't necessarily better. There's a point of diminishing returns.

Perhaps a better analogy would be that more power or wealth is not always better. The options increase but so does the chance of excess.

Slightly tangential but there's a brilliant Ted talk by scientist, Dan Gilbert, giving a fascinating talk about his studies into the nature of happiness ... for a while he talks about the benefits of reduced choice.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
 

Chunky

Silver Member
Hey Chunky,

Thanks for explaining your perspective. I am disagreeing with you about the idea that more choice is necessarily better. The point I was trying to make is that sometimes more choice can be a bad thing. I think 8mile expressed this idea perfectly earlier in the thread:

"But the limitations of those times were reflected in the music itself, and I would argue that in some cases the limitations themselves played a crucial role in making that music sound so cool when we listen to it today. Drummers in 1945 didn't have access to all the music we do now, where you can listen, watch and learn from anyone ever.

Think about how different it was when you lived on the east coast and some cat on the west coast had something happening in a little club somewhere. You heard the talk, but short of driving across the country, you might never get to hear what he was doing and check it out for yourself.

Things have become more homogenized now because we all have the opportunity to learn proper technique and see transcriptions of drummers so we can figure out what they're doing. You can go online and find licks broken down and demonstrated in slow motion. Drummers didn't have YouTube 50 years ago, and I suspect it allowed more idiosyncrasies to develop in their styles. They had less opportunity to learn technique, but in exchange, they had less to imitate. They didn't get to hear as much music as we're exposed to now, so they were forced to "invent" more.

I equate this with "different," not necessarily better or worse. "

In other words, sometimes the lack of choice or variety can be a contributing factor in really excellent music. That is one reason why I don't think that "new stuff + old stuff" is better".

I also disagree with the idea of new stuff and old stuff existing simultaneously. We have recordings of what really old stuff sounds like, and we have musicians who spend most of their lives studying this old stuff, but nobody today plays exactly like musicians did 70 years ago (unless they are really old). There is always something lost in translation. That is why there will only ever be one Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, or Papa Jo Jones.

I do think that music is cumulative in the sense that we are all influenced by these great masters, but I don't think it is as simple as old + new. The reason for this is that people are limited by time. We can't do everything that someone else did and live in the present at the same time. We can learn from the past and try to apply it to our current musical situations (in fact that is all we can do!), but we can't somehow absorb the entirety of what made a master musician unique. Does that make sense?

Also, I am not picking up on this perceived "hammering" of newer drummers that you are mentioning? What are you referring to?
I understand what your saying and you make a great point but, this is a matter of opinion and everything you've said I could say back to you but for my side of the argument. We just see different things as negative and positive.

Don't get me wrong more CAN be worse, I mean there is loads of crap music but again that's also a matter of opinion. but there's no denying that there's loads of great new stuff and no, the new stuff doesn't erase the old stuff and it DOES co-exist with it today whether it's just in record form.
I'm not a beleiver of this lost age of drumming though where modern players simply can't play like them. They can. It's been done before and can be done again. more than likely the greats have taken the best bits of all the generations and stripped away the fat.
I think there's too much rose tinted glasses to the past going on.
It's rare that humans go backwards in any physical or skill based event/hobby or skill. Or stay still.

But this whole argument is futile as it's a matter of opinion, we just have different ones. your points still well made though.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I'm not a beleiver of this lost age of drumming though where modern players simply can't play like them. They can. It's been done before and can be done again.
Nope. Chunks, no one can play like anybody - only like themselves. Even Bermuda's mimicry isn't 100%. How can it be? He's using his hands, not Meg's or Ngudu's etc (even discounting production).

New players can play with the same or more complexity, detail, dynamic range etc, but they come from a different place. It's NOT the same - you have all the intangibles.

No one will ever be just like Papa Jo or Monk or Miles. They simply won't. No one will be just like Ringo or Michael Giles either. Top performers simply have times when "the stars align" and their musical personality and that of the band form a special synergy. Just as certain times in history are more profound than others, the same applies for musical history.

And I don't think the conversation is futile either :p hehe.

Bottom line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJuXIq7OazQ



.
 

Chunky

Silver Member
Nope. Chunks, no one can play like anybody - only like themselves. Even Bermuda's mimicry isn't 100%. How can it be? He's using his hands, not Meg's or Ngudu's etc.

New players can play with the same or more complexity, detail, dynamic range etc, but they come from a different place. It's NOT the same - you have all the intangibles.

No one will ever be just like Papa Jo or Monk or Miles. They simply won't. No one will be just like Ringo or Michael Giles either. Top performers simply have times when "the stars align" and their musical personality and that of the band form a special synergy. Just as certain times in history are more profound than others, the same applies for musical history.

And I don't think the conversation is futile either :p hehe.

Bottom line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJuXIq7OazQ
Well haven't you just proved this thread is futile?

If no-one sounds like anybody else then it's not just the old stuff that isn't the same it's everything! So we can't compare anything or anyone to anything!

That seems daft and unbelievable to me. There are sone great chameleons out there who are as near as dammit to other artists to the point you can't always tell which session guy is playing on what unless you read the credits.
just like impersonators, some of them get so close. Close enough to fool you.
Isn't that enough?

Musicians these days, especially session guys have it harder as to be deemed pro or competent in all styles you have much more to learn and therefore have more to say musically. so to me it's better.

Was our language better when we just had grunts and shouts?

I think drumming has progressed and is better. But, do I really want to go up against the mighty polly? ;p
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Well haven't you just proved this thread is futile?

If no-one sounds like anybody else then it's not just the old stuff that isn't the same it's everything! So we can't compare anything or anyone to anything!
Not at all. You can compare all sorts of things - touch, time, taste, speed etc. The idea of "better" can often be pretty obvious ... but not at the top levels. The creme de la creme drummers for many decades have always been astonishingly good players. Once music makes me feel good I really don't care about any "impressiveness".

I mean, what are we trying to do? If we agree that music is primarily about expression, does the person with the most impressive vocabulary necessarily express themselves better than someone with more limitations?

There's a two word reply to that: "Sheldon Cooper" :)

You might prefer a one word reply: "politicians".


Musicians these days, especially session guys have it harder as to be deemed pro or competent in all styles you have much more to learn and therefore have more to say musically. so to me it's better.
My understanding is there wasn't much that Earl palmer couldn't do with a drum kit. There are a bunch of modern players who are incredibly impressive - state of the art - but TBH they bore me a bit. I don't especially want to be impressed - I'd rather a band "speaks" to me.


Was our language better when we just had grunts and shouts?
In general no, but I'm not sure I'd describe someone like Papa Jo or Big Sid as grunters and shouters. In fact, drummers are a fair bit louder now than in the old days - maybe loud modern drumming is more akin to grunting and shouting??

Realistically, I don't know of a time when drumming was so basic that it was the equivalent of grunting and shouting, apart from modern minimalism - Africans, South Americans, Asians - they have a very long and sophisticated drumming history. Tons of fabulous drumming in western music history too.


But, do I really want to go up against the mighty polly? ;p
A good question heeheehee
 

haredrums

Silver Member
True - more choice is not always better, maybe in the same way as more food or more renovations aren't necessarily better. There's a point of diminishing returns.

Perhaps a better analogy would be that more power or wealth is not always better. The options increase but so does the chance of excess.

Slightly tangential but there's a brilliant Ted talk by scientist, Dan Gilbert, giving a fascinating talk about his studies into the nature of happiness ... for a while he talks about the benefits of reduced choice.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
Hey Polly,

I am going to have to watch that full video when I have a minute, seems really interesting, thanks for sharing. I think that the point Gilbert makes is actually really relevant to the conversation here, but in a much broader sense.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Hello All,

I would just like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread! You guys have really made me think about this idea in ways I could not have anticipated, and I love the way peoples individual voices come through so clearly even in this bizarre format.

Badtempered- Wonderful clarity and really forcing me to think hard about my choice of analogies as well as suggesting some brilliant alternatives.

8mile- The observation about Monk's playing and how it's limitations made it what it was, just beautifully put.

MAD- Your optimism and positivity throughout.

AndyMC- Very interesting historical perspective.

Polly- The breadth of your perspective combined with your offbeat humor is always a breath of fresh air in any conversation. See the massive thread devoted to this topic.

Chunky- Your determination and willingness to stick to a (somewhat) minority position. Way to be ballsy!

Todd- You brought not only rollerblading into the conversation, but also the phrase "International Standard of Awesomeness". Can someone please make a t-shirt of this or something? Seriously though, your observations are always razor sharp and deeply practical.

Everyone on the thread- Actually trying to listen and learn from each other and ability to disagree without shouting.

Thank you all!
 
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