Drumming hasn't gotten better

Anon La Ply

Renegade
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.
Andrew, at about 10 mins he comes to taste and from around 14 he talks about the joys of limitations. You'll love it ... a jazz player who isn't a bit of lay philosopher is no jazz player :)
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
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.
You are most welcome, Chief - look forward to the next one.
 

Chunky

Silver Member
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".




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.




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.




A good question heeheehee
I can't so multiple quotes so bare with me...

There may not have been much Earl Palmer couldn't do with a kit but, there WAS alot he DIDN'T do.

Just like what's been said about it being impossible for modwrn players to learn everything, it was also impossible for Earl and co to invent and musically 'say' everything.

And as much as some of the new breeds might turn you cold they don't do that to everybody and even the old greats turn some people cold so just because it's technical does not make it less musical or good.
It's just good to whoever thinks it is and this is why I think this whole thread is a matter of opinion.
No-one on here can say or has the authority to say things haven't got better or that they have. Or that the old stuff was the golden age and because it's so old everything that was played was played tastefully.
It wasn't anymore so than todays musical expressions are (or not).

I'm not saying their playing was neanderthal i was just trying to put into perspective that we have a bigger dictionary to pull from and that is surely a good thing in the right hands.

I loved your comparison to politicians but, that only applies to great players who use their vocabulary and skill set wrongly.

Not everyone great instantly loses taste otherwise all great playing from ANY time is instantly rendered tastless and crap.

So MY opinion stays the same. But, it's only my opinion and I don't expect or want everyone to see it my way. I'm just glad to be alive in this time.

And Yep Haredrums! It seems no matter how hard I try to just fit in, I always seem to be skiing uphill! Lol
 

JohnW

Silver Member
This thread has triggered a minefield of conflicting responses for me to share. So I'll try to limit it. I don't think it can ever be perfectly summarized, but my take is that the playing levels of "average" players have increased, while the styles and sounds have become more homogenized, top to bottom. Drum machines have gotten audiences used to expecting solid time, and technology has gotten them used to hearing forward mixed drums. And the overall craftsmanship of even moderately skilled drummers has increased. But I think it's led to "typical" players taking fewer chances with their sound.

As new stylistic territories opened up, the top old school players could claim their individuality. But there was a limit to the number of markedly different territories offered to say, jazz drummers. So in order to get noticed after a few generations, the new top players had to either play better in "claimed" areas, carve a niche in some area of overlapping territory, or draw something new from an 'exotic' music. But now, with so many styles of music available through the internet, it gets increasingly hard for players to get noticed for being original. Some of that is probably good; not to be different for difference's sake. So you concentrate more on playing ability than style. But playing stronger does not necessarily mean playing bolder. I remember an interview with Elvin where he lamented players "trying to sound like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and everyone else all rolled into one."

AndyMC brought up the history of tabla for comparison with drum set. North Indian classical music is more or less a self contained system and is insulated from Western "devices" like counterpoint and harmony. But over the last few generations some of the top players have shared the styles of different schools (gharanas) within the system. There are still purists within each school and the training is unbelievably focused, so I don't see it getting lost in the modern shuffle anytime soon. As far as today's players falling short of the standards of the Greats of history; yes and no. Some of the younger players who get a lot of press but are still a bit green might fall into that camp (fast hands but not a lot of depth). But one day they'll be seasoned, have it all and the cycle will continue. Keep in mind the Great Masters of the past were young once too and had an immature sound. And some of the greatest players on the instrument are alive today. When you hear the best players, past or present, you'll hear unbelievably complex playing held in check by an intense, soulful groove. If it were just mathematically based music it would have died centuries ago. And the fact that it's both a classical form of music as well as improvisational, gives it a staying power and a timeless presence that keeps it from becoming a museum curiosity.

That might be the template to keep drum set fresh for generations to come.

-John
 

Chunky

Silver Member
John - that was an epic post. Really well made points aswell.

I actually have nothing else to say!
 

haredrums

Silver Member
This thread has triggered a minefield of conflicting responses for me to share. So I'll try to limit it. I don't think it can ever be perfectly summarized, but my take is that the playing levels of "average" players have increased, while the styles and sounds have become more homogenized, top to bottom. Drum machines have gotten audiences used to expecting solid time, and technology has gotten them used to hearing forward mixed drums. And the overall craftsmanship of even moderately skilled drummers has increased. But I think it's led to "typical" players taking fewer chances with their sound.

As new stylistic territories opened up, the top old school players could claim their individuality. But there was a limit to the number of markedly different territories offered to say, jazz drummers. So in order to get noticed after a few generations, the new top players had to either play better in "claimed" areas, carve a niche in some area of overlapping territory, or draw something new from an 'exotic' music. But now, with so many styles of music available through the internet, it gets increasingly hard for players to get noticed for being original. Some of that is probably good; not to be different for difference's sake. So you concentrate more on playing ability than style. But playing stronger does not necessarily mean playing bolder. I remember an interview with Elvin where he lamented players "trying to sound like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and everyone else all rolled into one."

AndyMC brought up the history of tabla for comparison with drum set. North Indian classical music is more or less a self contained system and is insulated from Western "devices" like counterpoint and harmony. But over the last few generations some of the top players have shared the styles of different schools (gharanas) within the system. There are still purists within each school and the training is unbelievably focused, so I don't see it getting lost in the modern shuffle anytime soon. As far as today's players falling short of the standards of the Greats of history; yes and no. Some of the younger players who get a lot of press but are still a bit green might fall into that camp (fast hands but not a lot of depth). But one day they'll be seasoned, have it all and the cycle will continue. Keep in mind the Great Masters of the past were young once too and had an immature sound. And some of the greatest players on the instrument are alive today. When you hear the best players, past or present, you'll hear unbelievably complex playing held in check by an intense, soulful groove. If it were just mathematically based music it would have died centuries ago. And the fact that it's both a classical form of music as well as improvisational, gives it a staying power and a timeless presence that keeps it from becoming a museum curiosity.

That might be the template to keep drum set fresh for generations to come.

-John
Hey John,

I think that this is a really interesting and nuanced perspective, thank you for sharing. I think the comparison with Indian classical music is very fruitful, and it is also something that I know almost nothing about, so this has been a history lesson for me!
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Thanks, Chunky and Andrew. But there are a few things I should probably revise and add to. For instance, there are North Indian musicians (including tabla players) from the late 19th/early 20th century who mixed styles. Centuries earlier, during the Muslim invasion, it switched more or less from temple music to court music; for entertainment. Other influences from say, Persia worked their way into the North. So with some exceptions, there has been a steady, but very slow assimilation of other musics and cultures. In South India, it has been constant and pure, for thousands of years.

Which one is better? I'm sure they have this argument there as well. :)

-John
 
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