Dynamics

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Internal dynamics are important too - syncopated accents have to be played exactly the right volume. If the notes are played too hard then the beat gets that clumsy "gallumphing" quality...
I agree... here's a perfect exemple, lol :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yvHWyvexZA

It's amazing how bad dynamics (or the lack of it) can ruin a song, even if it's on time and the correct pattern are being played.

Internal dynamics are as important as our inner clock we use to keep time, it's an intregral (pun intended) part of any musicians and just another skill we, as drummers have to learn in our multi-tasking instruments.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
That's a very understated topic Larry, good job you bring it up, dynamics is what gives life to a piece of music, without dynamics, the music feels bland, boring, like if the volume knob is set to a given power and never move from there, so there's a lot to talk about in terms of dynamics, brilliant thread as always Mr Ace :)
Multiple nice points in there, though I don't if know you intended to make them!

1) Dynamics must follow the natural contour of the thing you are trying to communicate.
2) Too much of a good thing can be distracting, and weaken the impact of what you are saying.
3) Real visual emphasis (as you used here) is rarely used to communicate variations in intensity in bodies of text; those come from the emotional content of the text itself. That's similar to a lot of music, which may communicate dynamics as much by other musical changes as by real volume.

One interesting item regarding the dynamics of fills in relation to the groove. This was something Jim Riley critiqued in my own playing. His position was that in pop/rock/country music today, the fill should be at a higher dynamic level than the rest.
Interesting, I've been arriving at something like that conclusion on my own. For one thing, if you're filling on the toms, in a pop tuning they don't speak as clearly as the rest of the drum set, and you need to bring them out. I guess it will also make you think a little more about what you're playing and where you're playing it-- and you'll notice a lot more if you're stepping on someone else's part. I'm sure Riley has much better-formed reasons for it than that...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Multiple nice points in there, though I don't if know you intended to make them!

1) Dynamics must follow the natural contour of the thing you are trying to communicate.
2) Too much of a good thing can be distracting, and weaken the impact of what you are saying.
3) Real visual emphasis (as you used here) is rarely used to communicate variations in intensity in bodies of text; those come from the emotional content of the text itself. That's similar to a lot of music, which may communicate dynamics as much by other musical changes as by real volume.



Interesting, I've been arriving at something like that conclusion on my own. For one thing, if you're filling on the toms, in a pop tuning they don't speak as clearly as the rest of the drum set, and you need to bring them out. I guess it will also make you think a little more about what you're playing and where you're playing it-- and you'll notice a lot more if you're stepping on someone else's part. I'm sure Riley has much better-formed reasons for it than that...

Wow great points Todd, the emotional content of the text itself, contouring the dynamics... Re: playing fills louder. I hadn't considered that with a toms tuned on the slack side, yea you may have to compensate. Great post. Puts a finer point on things.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Multiple nice points in there, though I don't if know you intended to make them!
Thanks Todd, yes I made a few points related to the topic of dynamics, being so early in the thread, I didn't want to go heavy on the comments, and tried an innovative way to highlight the context being discussed.

1) Dynamics must follow the natural contour of the thing you are trying to communicate.
Totally agree, it has to make sense, to be appropriate, musical and within the goal/effect of what you want to communicate, the size of the typing was entirely random and simply hilighting a point about "volume" :)

2) Too much of a good thing can be distracting, and weaken the impact of what you are saying.
Also agree, it becomes like "overplaying" and do the right opposite of what you want/wish to create.

3) Real visual emphasis (as you used here) is rarely used to communicate variations in intensity in bodies of text; those come from the emotional content of the text itself. That's similar to a lot of music, which may communicate dynamics as much by other musical changes as by real volume.
Absolutely, but this being a drummer's forum, it was bound to open a fruitful discussion, it's also why the content of my post is very neutral, the emphasis being the difference in volume, matter of speaking (reading) of course, it was not meant to be deep, just a fun way to interpret "dynamics" with some humour. :)
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
Not too much to add at the moment, just this:

You're alle talking about good drummers who use dynamics.
Well dynamic considerations are a constant must for every instrument!
Not at all just drums!

I dare say in modern pop/rock maybe even more so all instruments except the drums,
because the more an instrument has the role of giving the musical foundation, the more
constant and somewhat static presence it will have.
Instruments who are going to "float" on the foundation - the voice, a comping piano - can
or must be more dynamic.
(A guitar riff in a rock tune is considered foundation to me, in case someone will raise that
point)
 

Chunky

Silver Member
Not too much to add at the moment, just this:

You're alle talking about good drummers who use dynamics.
Well dynamic considerations are a constant must for every instrument!
Not at all just drums!

I dare say in modern pop/rock maybe even more so all instruments except the drums,
because the more an instrument has the role of giving the musical foundation, the more
constant and somewhat static presence it will have.
Instruments who are going to "float" on the foundation - the voice, a comping piano - can
or must be more dynamic.
(A guitar riff in a rock tune is considered foundation to me, in case someone will raise that
point)
Good point, in modern metal the drums are compressed to the hilt. There may be dynamic playing in there but, it's the trend these days to make even that stuff the same volume as everything else and you listen to the timbre to determine when something is 'quiet'.

And the guitars, these things barely resemble guitar anymore with the over comped and gated sound.

Genres and trends I suppose. But you need to know them if you want to play/record them...
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
I think the two ends of the spectrum are:

- an intimate venue: you can use an almost endless range of dynamics, it works and it reaches the audience

- stadium rock: not so much dynamics possible or useful
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
Dynamics are how different volumes interact with each other, via accents. What would be your definition of an accent if volume isn't at play here?
Well I don't really have a definition. You are saying the exact same thing I am trying to say, accents. Larry seems to think ONE volume rules all and is "dynamics" as everyone else in his camp seems to agree with (and Im not fighting Larry so relax youll get you 10k post eventually) its one dynamic, not dynamics. its his thread, but the name implies more than what he is talking about.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Anybody have any dynamic tricks, stories, or general musings they want to share?
Great post and very important. Nothing worse than listening to a drummer or band play at one volume. Or worse - loud and louder.

One of my teachers at the Eastman School used to say "out soft me", and he was playing extremely quiet (with sticks).

I have a warmup that I was taught and it's a killer but focuses almost exclusively on playing very, very soft. Almost impossible to do without complete control of the limbs and ability to internally feel all the subdivisions of time. Hones in on control which leads to the ability to play at any volume with full intensity.

So in one word, to me, it boils down to control. Without it, it's a runaway freight train.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Great post and very important. Nothing worse than listening to a drummer or band play at one volume. Or worse - loud and louder.
Glad you said "or band". The worst bands for me are those lacking dynamics. I get bored with that very quickly. How many drummers here talk of breaking sticks, ear protection, injuries or ask about louder gear because their brain dead powerhead band mates crank up to 11 as a matter of principle.

I also don't care for "samey" bands whose repertoire seems to be an aggregation of their attempts to write the The Perfect Pop Song (or rock) ... same volume, tempo, timbre, rhythm, chords ... zzzzzzzz.

Yet bands like this tend to do better commercially than eclectic bands because they have "direction", a sad indictment on the public's taste, or lack IMO

//end rant//
 

jjmason777

Senior Member
Also, if it hasn't already been mentioned here, learning to vary the volumes (dynamics) of each limb independently. Sometimes you just want the backbeat louder, for example, and leave the kick and hats at a lower level, so you just play the snare louder, etc. This is also very important, and separates seasoned players from novice and intermediate players. This too takes practice, and listening to recordings of yourself to get it right, but when you do, you sound much more professional and in control of your playing.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Also, if it hasn't already been mentioned here, learning to vary the volumes (dynamics) of each limb independently. Sometimes you just want the backbeat louder, for example, and leave the kick and hats at a lower level, so you just play the snare louder, etc. This is also very important, and separates seasoned players from novice and intermediate players. This too takes practice, and listening to recordings of yourself to get it right, but when you do, you sound much more professional and in control of your playing.
absolutely

I make my students work on their individual faders all the time

much harder they think every time
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Glad you said "or band". The worst bands for me are those lacking dynamics. I get bored with that very quickly. How many drummers here talk of breaking sticks, ear protection, injuries or ask about louder gear because their brain dead powerhead band mates crank up to 11 as a matter of principle.

I also don't care for "samey" bands whose repertoire seems to be an aggregation of their attempts to write the The Perfect Pop Song (or rock) ... same volume, tempo, timbre, rhythm, chords ... zzzzzzzz.

Yet bands like this tend to do better commercially than eclectic bands because they have "direction", a sad indictment on the public's taste, or lack IMO

//end rant//
Rant well received on my end....

Also, if it hasn't already been mentioned here, learning to vary the volumes (dynamics) of each limb independently. Sometimes you just want the backbeat louder, for example, and leave the kick and hats at a lower level, so you just play the snare louder, etc. This is also very important, and separates seasoned players from novice and intermediate players. This too takes practice, and listening to recordings of yourself to get it right, but when you do, you sound much more professional and in control of your playing.
Yes, yes, yes..... this gets back to control! Without it, a freight train running with no conductor.
 
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