Feel or Technique, importance?

The Colonel

Silver Member
Maybe I'm missing a pattern to his 100+ posts but I didn't find anything particularly insulting in Conrad's earlier post...even finished with a hearty "I hope everything turns out awesome for you" which seemed sincere. I thought it very diplomatic, and on point.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I agree, Colonel. I see nothing here to warrant angst.

Ontopic: I was thinking a bit more about feel after practising at a slow tempo tonight and working on accents. It seemed to me that my feel related to placement of minor accents within the major pulse.

To break it down, imagine you have a fabulous drummer playing eights on the hats or spangalangs on the ride and trying to make it sound as pleasing as possible. Then put him or her next to a drum machine playing the same patterns, what's the difference, other than sound and precision? Placement and weight of accents in a balanced way that renders the notes musically meaningful. That's an example of feel IMO.

If you take that same drummer and the drum machine and get them to play 32nds down a rack of toms (or tom sounds in the case of a machine), the great drummer with feel will still sound better due to his/her feel. That's a very basic example of technique. If the drummer lacks the technique needed to play a pattern - be it a basic rhythm, fast fill or rhythms that require independent limbs then that drummer won't have good feel. That's the link between technique and feel. If you have strong technique then you are capable of playing more things with feel, but whether you choose to do so is another matter, although you'd expect those willing to work hard to gain a high level of control will be more likely to be learned in the finer points of music than someone who doesn't. However, that isn't a certainty either because it depends on a drummer's priorities.

This brings us to sensibility, where opportunities to make a musical section sound good can be seized or missed. Our sensibilities can stem from training, experience, listening and/or being "a natural".

One things that I'm not sure has been covered is that in some styles and/or passages, playing with less feel (in the Gaddesque and Purdie-esque sense) is actually desirable. For instance, I'm not sure you'd hire them to play on a Devo or Sex Pistols album. I guess a drummer who loves and relates to the syle s/he will play with good feel as long as it's within his/her technical cpabilities.
 
Last edited:

John Riley

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
John Riley here:

I agree, feel is determined by an individual's specific micro placement of the inner divisions of the beat and their particular dynamic balance. In a band, feel is also determined by the specific chemistry created by the sonic stew of a particular group of players. The "feel" is a fluid dimension.

Groove is not subjective. Groove is generated by metronomic precision and is either "in the pocket" - conveying the sense of an unwaveringly secure pulse - or not.

Feel is a more subjective issue relating to the flow of both grooving music and music with a non-repetitive pulse.

The feel that one person finds absolutely compelling may not touch anyone else in exactly the same way.

Steve Gadd has a great groove and, to many people including me, a fantastic feel. Elvin Jones has a great groove and, to many people including me, an equally fantastic feel. Even if we heard them playing the same tune, on exactly the same drum set, with the same band, no one could confuse these two great players; you can easily identify them within 1 bar by the placement of the inner partials. That being said, you may prefer one and someone else may prefer the other. Feel is subjective, but the music community clearly tells us what it considers a good feel, in each idiom, by consistently hiring certain players to play in certain contexts. Let their choices inform your concept of feel.
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
Groove is not subjective. Groove is generated by metronomic precision and is either "in the pocket" - conveying the sense of an unwaveringly secure pulse - or not.
Are you meaning in the sense of being perfect to a metronome?

I hope not because there are many great recordings that groove hard that are not even close whether it be an old Motown classic, John Bonham or Philly Joe swinging. If so, I think I would have to disagree.
 
Last edited:

con struct

Platinum Member
Steve Gadd has a great groove and, to many people including me, a fantastic feel. Elvin Jones has a great groove and, to many people including me, an equally fantastic feel. Even if we heard them playing the same tune, on exactly the same drum set, with the same band, no one could confuse these two great players; you can easily identify them within 1 bar by the placement of the inner partials. That being said, you may prefer one and someone else may prefer the other. Feel is subjective, but the music community clearly tells us what it considers a good feel, in each idiom, by consistently hiring certain players to play in certain contexts. Let their choices inform your concept of feel.
Excellent way of putting it, Mr. Riley. Righteous, I fully agree.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Polly, you have a way of articulating things so well....Technique and feel are very closely linked, yet have different aspects...We all possess both for better or worse.
 

Stoney

Senior Member
There's no point having one without the other but I'd say feel is more important.
Technique can be taught whilst feel comes through own experiences. Experiences of life, other people and your state of mind, individualities, etc.
If you have great feel but no technique you can go away and practice.
If you have a great technique but no feel then you're a bit stuck in my opinion......unless you just want to be a clinician.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I like this:

feel is determined by an individual's specific micro placement of the inner divisions of the beat and their particular dynamic balance. In a band, feel is also determined by the specific chemistry created by the sonic stew of a particular group of players.
... micro placement of the inner divisions of the beat and their particular dynamic balance ... there it is, along with the group synergies. A lot easier to say it than do it!

"Sonic stew" LOL ... a tasty concept! I love poetic references; they help put my head in a creative space, ready for music making. It reminds me of a quote from Max on Swing (very old drumming book):

[The rhythmic sixth sense of swing] ... is an atmosphere which surrounds the band like a cloud. So long as it covers the whole unit, that unit will swing together. But let the cloud shift; even from one member, and the swing will be lost by all.​

Feck, John can correct me if I'm mistaken but my guess is he was referring to "near metronomic precision", taking human frailty as a given. I tend to associate the semantic of groove with funkiness (a flaw in my definition? dunno) and you have to be pretty well bang-on to achieve a pleasing funky feel.

I see your point in that a drummer can drift away from metronomic precision if the whole band is moving together and the result can still be pleasing, but funky feels strike me as less forgiving than other styles in that regard.
 
Last edited:

Steamer

Platinum Member
John Riley here:

I agree, feel is determined by an individual's specific micro placement of the inner divisions of the beat and their particular dynamic balance. In a band, feel is also determined by the specific chemistry created by the sonic stew of a particular group of players. The "feel" is a fluid dimension.

Groove is not subjective. Groove is generated by metronomic precision and is either "in the pocket" - conveying the sense of an unwaveringly secure pulse - or not.

Feel is a more subjective issue relating to the flow of both grooving music and music with a non-repetitive pulse.

The feel that one person finds absolutely compelling may not touch anyone else in exactly the same way.

Steve Gadd has a great groove and, to many people including me, a fantastic feel. Elvin Jones has a great groove and, to many people including me, an equally fantastic feel. Even if we heard them playing the same tune, on exactly the same drum set, with the same band, no one could confuse these two great players; you can easily identify them within 1 bar by the placement of the inner partials. That being said, you may prefer one and someone else may prefer the other. Feel is subjective, but the music community clearly tells us what it considers a good feel, in each idiom, by consistently hiring certain players to play in certain contexts. Let their choices inform your concept of feel.
Yes indeed.... excellent summary Mr. Riley.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
At the risk of being labelled a hysterically blind follower of " All things Riley" on this thread;

.." Well said Mr. Riley", and kudos Stan for punctuating them every time.
 
Last edited:

Boomka

Platinum Member
John Riley here:

I agree, feel is determined by an individual's specific micro placement of the inner divisions of the beat and their particular dynamic balance. In a band, feel is also determined by the specific chemistry created by the sonic stew of a particular group of players. The "feel" is a fluid dimension.

Groove is not subjective. Groove is generated by metronomic precision and is either "in the pocket" - conveying the sense of an unwaveringly secure pulse - or not.

Feel is a more subjective issue relating to the flow of both grooving music and music with a non-repetitive pulse.

The feel that one person finds absolutely compelling may not touch anyone else in exactly the same way.

Steve Gadd has a great groove and, to many people including me, a fantastic feel. Elvin Jones has a great groove and, to many people including me, an equally fantastic feel. Even if we heard them playing the same tune, on exactly the same drum set, with the same band, no one could confuse these two great players; you can easily identify them within 1 bar by the placement of the inner partials. That being said, you may prefer one and someone else may prefer the other. Feel is subjective, but the music community clearly tells us what it considers a good feel, in each idiom, by consistently hiring certain players to play in certain contexts. Let their choices inform your concept of feel.
Thanks Mr. Riley.

I'm going to add to the chorus. Your two short posts have had an impressive signal-to-noise ratio. And if I may join the party and dispense with a few more words than necessary, I think it's allegorical. Lots of technique gives you the potential to make a lot of noise, but it's knowing how to tune in and produce a strong, meaningful signal that seperates the real masters from the rest. The same economy of thought and action can be seen in your playing, as in that of all great musicians.
 
Last edited:

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Martin France was asked, "What do you think makes a good drummer?" and made some comments pertinent to this thread:

Drummers get hired for their understanding of music, not necessarily because of the notes they can play. People still want good well-trained musicians who…are just very good at making music. The important thing is to get the best people who you feel are going to play the right thing for your music.

I just like to hear people playing music. You sense the music coming out the musician, not just the notes they’re playing, or the technique. The first thing you think is “What a great musician they are”, not “What did they play, what fill was that?” What’s going on musically in them, what are they expressing with the instrument they have in their hands.

Some players are technically not very good at all, but the music still comes out. I did a workshop in Denmark a few years ago and this guy got up behind the kit and he had absolutely zero technique. He was almost standing up, he couldn’t play the bass drum or high hat in any conventional way at all. But the music was just pouring out of him.

It’s about expressing yourself through the instrument. You’re a musician, not just an instrumentalist. In quite a lot of situations, looking at it in a commercial sense I think there probably is a difference between being a drummer and a musician. I could be put in a situation where I’m given freedom, or put in a situation where I’m given no freedom at all to express myself. You’re in the “engine room” as Jo Jones once said. You have a responsibility; you have to do the job you have to do on your instrument. People book you as the drummer, you can’t get away from that role of just playing the instrument: you have to play the drums!

I think that sometimes people don’t understand the drums and what they’re doing. If you’re a very extrovert player and you’re playing in a very open place where you’ve got space to really do what you like, then people can really hook into that. But this goes for music critics as well, I think a lot of them don’t really understand what drummers do. Which is a shame. A lot of it goes back to that cliché of the drummer just keeping time in the background which is something we all have to do now and again – it’s part of the job, but not the end of it.​

Full interview: http://www.mikedolbear.com/story.asp?StoryID=809
 
Re: Feel and Technique, importance?

I think, Technique is a wonderful thing to have. I compare it as a tool-box with the right tools to do the job, the more tools you add easier the job will be.

For me - at the end of the day, the main instrument is your brain to achieve Feel and Technique.
 

FunkyLover999

Junior Member
I believe that if we open up a little the conceptual frame of this topic we´ll arrive to better and more arguable conclussions.


Drumming is essentially an artform; since it´s a part of music, and music is considered to be one of many artforms. What is the goal or the reason of existence of art (music)? Many would say: to create beauty/pleasurable esthetic manifestations, to evoke emotions, to express dissagreement or social dilemas/troubles, to tell stories... and so on. All of this things has something in common: in all of them music is acting as a form of communication between someone (creator) who passes a message (music) to another (listener).
Like all forms of communication, it implies the existence of some kind of ever-evolving language or shared code that organizes every sound or sign under a comprehensible manifestation(Gestalt) or meaning.

Having this said; now let´s go to the core of it: it seems to persist in this kind of discussion topic the idea of an unsolved duality between two instances, sometimes it´s a versus kind of relation: technique hardens feel, feel doesn´t requires technique etc... and sometimes both are simultaneous and correlative: feel implies technique, technique explain/allows feel. However: feel seems to be always on the side of groove, musicality, tastefull, moving... and technique on the side of sophistication, complexity, not-spontaneous, sometimes uninteresting, etc.
So... the discussion doesn´t ends early and welcomes a few more "dysfunctional couples" into the technique-feel axis, like: complex-simple, moving/touching-not interesting, groundbreaking-cliché. They are nothing but idiomatic bricks of the constructor (feel-technique), qualities of the work (complex-simple, groundbreaking-cliché) and perceptions of the listener (moving/touching-not interesting).


Now let´s recapitulate the "music as a form of communication" thing: what is music trying to say to us? how is that being said?
Well; we finally arrived to the famous "content and form" paradigm. From here, every possible combination of the previous hot couples is allowed, since they´re mutually both exclusive and inclusive in themselves and towards each other.
For example: based on feel, complex and touching? ask Tower of Power, based on feel, simple yet groundbreaking? ask James Brown! Based on technique, complex yet cliché? ask your local fusion "dinner/elevator-music" composer... based on feel and technique, sophisticated simplicity and absolutely groundbreaking? ask Miles Davis... and so on. The predominance or simultaneity of one element over the other/s will depend on genre, composer´s taste, fashion, era, functionality, etc.




The goal of music (and art) is to pass the torch of human experience by expressing different views and conceptions of the world in many heterogeneous subjective ways. It can have some sort of social functionality (like dance music, church music, etc) and be entertaining, but ultimately: true and high-end art expressions (and artists) are recognized for invoking conflict between what the majority believes it can be said/made/understood and what the groundbreaking artwork-artist is actually saying/making/involving.
So... true art is there to push the boundaries of existence by bringing new meanings to the surface of experience and thus expanding mankind´s perception of reality. That´s it.



Fearing (and not wanting) to go a little off-topic here... feedback will be MUCH appreciated. :D


Regards
 
Last edited:

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Fearing (and not wanting) to go a little off-topic here... feedback will be MUCH appreciated. :D


Regards
You are overthinking this. It can be engrossing to overthink things, but it's very simple:

The best musicians will have well-developed feel AND technique, and seamlessly combine the two. Lesser musicians will have less proficiency in either feel or technique or both.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
This thread has come full circle.



We are back at the beginning.

.....When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness.....
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Technique(& we all have our own)will come from the feel u have from the music u play
We all have our own technique? Technique isn't a genetic or personality trait like hair or eye color. It is a learned skill which must be earned through dedicated practice.
 

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
What are we calling technique - solidity with timing, coordinated independence, speed or a combo of those things?

It also depends on the genre. Since the 1980s the poppier brands of rock require perfect or near-perfect timing. If you're going to play math metal or complex fusion you'd better have serious techique. If you play jazz, your limbs need to be more independent than in, say, soul or blues.

Then, what about Ian Paice's comments in his DW interview:



Does he have a point or is he an old fogey railing against modern progress? If he wasn't such a monster player you'd be tempted to say the latter, but we know for sure he isn't trying to make excuses for crappy playing.

Is the imperfection - that moment of slight weakness when slowing down to resume a verse after speeding up and adding excitement to a climactic section - too high a price to pay?
I was going to pipe in on this thread anyway but Ian Paice seems to have some of the same ideas I had (not as coherent as him though). It really does depend on what you play anyway, Did you study music etc. It comes down to what is feeling good to you I would suppose. I am told I am a very good drummer and although that is nice to hear I will say thanks but it has much to do with what and whom I am playing with and I point out that I may have excellent feel for the music, my technique is lacking because I am self taught. I just like being honest I am happy with what I am playing etc. but there are times when I will be playing and I get the instinct to try something in a tune and I end up having to cover my tracks because I just didn't have the correct chops to pull it off, I cover my mistakes pretty good. The point is that both are important but if you are involved with mostly rock,soul or blues as I am feel is very important and technique is less so, if you are in the jazz mold you need both in spades or anything that is sophisticated. I prefer feel because that is my main weapon, if I played Dream Theater I would say technique. That is of course only my personal opinion and should not be taken as gospel. I think also that technique comes into it's own after awhile as well. I should point out that I do not rehearse much on my own, I like to just jump in and play, that is rehearsal to me. It is not right but there it is. Just one more thing, in a video interview with Graham Edge of the Moody Blues he mentions that they tour with another drummer in the line up to help out with some of the more rigorous aspects of the songs, he mentions the other drummer name and that he has very good technique but that he (Edge) has better feel; the look on his face and the conviction in which he says it lets you know which he feels is more important. I wouldn't be a surprise if this is a common feeling within my age group (born in 54).
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
There is a technical aspect to everything you play. When you are sitting with a beginner, it can be a chore to develop the basic technique required to do boom-chuck. But like everything you do on the drums, that becomes part of your feel of expression. Hopefully, after a few weeks, boom-chuck becomes fluid and smooth: effortless.

Even some of the progressive bands found that developing a good groove was pivotal to making a song work. Listen to Yes, South Side of the Sky from Songs from Tsongas.

I think there is a problem when people start to exemplify guys like Graem Edge and Ian Paice. As respectable as their playing and career are, they are known for their work with one band over the course of forty years. That is the luck of the draw. Guys like Steve Gadd and Elvin Jones are featured on thousands of recordings. Emulating guys like that is the most beneficial way to develop as a drummer. I wish some one had said that . . .

oh, someone did. :)
 
Top