Feel or Technique, importance?

Average

Senior Member
That's the point exactly. I did some minor studio work many years ago, and I found the limitations of my technique quite a struggle. When you listen back it is not what you thought it would be because the mic picks up everything, the nuance or lack there of. Never mind the ability to do what you want to do. It's frustrating to be able to hear it but not be able to execute with the same ease and musicality that is going on in your head. Although I had studied a lot and had what I considered good technique, I didn't have the technical training necessary to really excel in the studio. It was a bad experience for me as a young drummer. Had I been more prepared, my story may have been a lot more positive.

Technique allows you to relax and that is a big part of it. I remember when I first played Home at Last with a band. There was those triplet figures on the bass drum. There was a certain place where I wanted those bass drum notes to land, and it was not easy getting that feel, getting them to land where I wanted them to land. It is splitting hairs because it is either in the pocket of it's not and the difference is minuscule. But when I got it to fit in, the pocket was so much deeper; it took it to a new level of expression.

You can talk about Rosanna as well, and the great feel; but the technique that it takes to drive the feel out of the groove is staggering, and Jeff Porcaro was one dude who certainly had it.
Porcaro was amazing. You can watch him play a groove unaccompanied and it still sounds great.

Studio work or just recording your playing with a band is a real eye opener for drummers.
 

John Riley

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
John Riley here:

This is an interesting discussion.

It seems to me that, on any given Saturday night, there are more grooving drummers working while all the technique guys are sitting home practicing.

The refinement of one's technique can improve one's groove. It's important to realize that the groovers always play within their limitations, while the technique guys are occasionally out to "prove" something...

Best,

John
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
John,

I was talking to this guy the other day about your Dizzy Gillespie story, he had gone to UT Austin. He interjected that he noticed that your set ups were the best he had ever heard. Upon hearing the live CD Monday Night at the Village Vanguard, that was the one of the first things that really struck me how good your set ups are. It's something every drummer needs to do regardless of what they play.How do you do those great set ups? Is it just the wisdom of experience? ( Is it a feel vs. technique thing. :) )
 
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donv

Silver Member
John Riley here:

This is an interesting discussion.

It seems to me that, on any given Saturday night, there are more grooving drummers working while all the technique guys are sitting home practicing.

The refinement of one's technique can improve one's groove. It's important to realize that the groovers always play within their limitations, while the technique guys are occasionally out to "prove" something...

Best,

John
Didn't realize technique and groove were mutually exclusive. Thanks for clearing that up.

Groovers always play within their limitations? Considering the number of "feel" drummers I've met that really get their feeling on after a bowl, you're damn straight about playing within their limitations.

All those years of marching wasted because the goal wasn't to be in some bar feeling a groove on a Saturday night? Shear Genius from a Pro Drummer? I can't even begin to imagine how many drummers you just took a dump on.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Didn't realize technique and groove were mutually exclusive. Thanks for clearing that up.

Groovers always play within their limitations? Considering the number of "feel" drummers I've met that really get their feeling on after a bowl, you're damn straight about playing within their limitations.

All those years of marching wasted because the goal wasn't to be in some bar feeling a groove on a Saturday night? Shear Genius from a Pro Drummer? I can't even begin to imagine how many drummers you just took a dump on.
A little respect for the finest big band drummer in the business would seem to be called for here. Let me apologise for donv, Mr. Riley.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I thought John's post was very insightful. I don't think he dumped on anyone, he was just stating things as he see's them. I would tend to agree with him on all points as well. I know many drummers whose first priority is to in effect say "look at me" instead of seeing the bigger picture....making the music feel the best you can.
 

drumhead61

Gold Member
I guess I'll attempt to contribute something of substance...

There are those who would say that you can't seperate feel and technique. Everything involved in drumming, including "feel" is technical. That is, everything can be broken down to technical specifics. This means that through technique, "feel" can be and is learned. These would be things like solid meter and subdivisions, internal dynamics, whether something is "behind" or "ahead" of the beat, and other nuances that are generally interpreted as "feel". There are also other aspects of "feel" that can be, like everything else musical, broken down to technical details, such as making the correct musical choices given a particular musical context. I believe this is along the lines of an argument that Matt Smith would make, along with social commentary on forum trends. I agree on most points. (feel free to correct me, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, in fact I would welcome your actual thoughts)

However, I would contend that there is such a thing as "feel" both from the performer's and listener's perspective, that is not technical in the traditional sense, unless we break it down to the technical workings of one's brain chemistry. What I'm talking about is creative, artistic choices. These are a thing of emotion, of motivation, something abstract and too complex and individual to be broken down to its component parts. We can teach someone to make the right choices in a style, but have you thought about what motivated the original player who made that very first stylistic choice? Why did he do it? I don't mean the why of "how to" which could be answered with "because that lick gets played in that place in a funk song". I mean "why" as in what was that person's original motivation, why did they make that particular aesthetic, musical, emotional choice to convey and express what was in their hearts? That type of feel I believe to be quite seperated from technique.
Maybe this'll get some kind of ball rolling if it makes sense...
I am going to move out of context (I usually read a whole post before I chime in). I was thinking this very thing last night as to why a particular artist made their original choices in forming their original piece and how it relates to the music at hand and that truly is something that is the inner workings of feel that is too complex to truly handle, but that original "feel" if you will was then brought forth into their technique which gives us much of the wonderful drumming that we know today. I believe that if we are not feeling our musicality then out technique is purely sterile and moves no one as music should...it is a movement after all that must involve the emotional ebbs and tides of the individual as they relate that piece of music on their instrument. To me both go hand in hand otherwise the movement is rather bland (technique alone) or too sugar (feeling alone). It makes sense to me anyway and what you said VerdranS is right along the lines of my thoughts last night.
 

donv

Silver Member
I thought John's post was very insightful. I don't think he dumped on anyone, he was just stating things as he see's them. I would tend to agree with him on all points as well. I know many drummers whose first priority is to in effect say "look at me" instead of seeing the bigger picture....making the music feel the best you can.
Whoever wants to kiss his backside is free to do so.

Think about what he wrote:

all the technique guys are sitting home practicing.

Using the word "all" doesn't leave room for subjecttive or objective thought. All is all. He's also wrong.

groovers always play within their limitations,

Always? Feel free to rationalize "always" all you want, he's wrong.

while the technique guys are occasionally out to "prove" something

Well amen brother, he's finally got something right. Most, not all, of the technique players I know are out to "prove" they can play the score in front of them. There is no improvising or making crap up as you go.

Of course I guess you have to be a "Real" drummer to catch his mieaning. Does it really elude you how many world class drummers and percussionists he dumped on? There is no hope those that are just aspiring.

I never expected such comments from someone of his stature. It's dissapointing, and I imagine upon reflection he might feel the same way.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Maybe we could swap "all" for "a lot" and "always" for "a lot of the time"?

I think John's point was just that the musical decisions we make (as per Drumhead's post) can go a couple of ways ... we can either look for an excuse to throw in that cool new chop we worked out or we can think symphonically or groovily and just serve the song. I think most of us have made the mistake of doing the former at some stage or another. Mea culpa.

So I think John's talking about how getting too caught up with technique creates a risk where someone might want to use all that stuff they've learned rather than using the stick control they gained from their practice to just make music. There's also more risk when trying to show off that you'll stuff up. Some music really is mostly about the chops so the risky stuff is cool there, and the occasional stuff up when pushing the limits is just part of the deal. I guess it's a matter of finding the band that's the right fit. I've heard Dream Theatre, for example, play stuff that seems like it has no feel but a lot of people dig their complexity and chops. Horses for courses.

Last night I was thinking about how lazy I am with rudiments and never enjoyed practising them *ducking for cover* (don't hit me - I'm very sensitive!). So I end up with my own "rudiments" - the beats and licks I want to learn of stumble across - and I try to play them with groove, dynamics and sound that pleases my ear and occasionally checking with a metronome to make sure it's ok (especially with slow tempos). It's not the most efficient approach in terms of the destination but it's a fun journey all the way if you're always playing things you enjoy hearing.

Warning: Kids, don't try this at home or you might end up like me, crunching statistics by day and drumming by night :)
 
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con struct

Platinum Member
Whoever wants to kiss his backside is free to do so.
How about just a modicum of respect for a drummer whose technique, reputation and achievements far outweigh anything you'll ever be likely to realize?
You've got a lot to learn brother. You can start by working on your attitude.
 

donv

Silver Member
How about just a modicum of respect for a drummer whose technique, reputation and achievements far outweigh anything you'll ever be likely to realize?
You've got a lot to learn brother. You can start by working on your attitude.

NOT!

I can see you're all about feeling because you can't be you can't be honestly evaluating whats been written, by whom and with critical thinking. I'm amused though. "Look what this man can do! Look at what this man has done! He can't be wrong because he's. . . "

lol
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Hey Donv we all have opinions, yours is just as valid as anyone elses. The fact that Mr. Riley is a pro didn't influence my post, I would have agreed with that statement no matter who made it. Also don't you think it is totally hypocritical of you to dump on me by implying that I was kissing his duff? You accuse John for dumping on others by stating his opinion, but it's OK for you to dump on me for stating my opinions? You sir "took a dump" right on ME.

While I don't think he literally meant ALL the technique guys are sitting home, I'm pretty sure that the message he was trying to convey was that the grooving drummers are the ones that other musicians are most comfortable with and therefore are more likely to get hired. Couldn't agree more.
 

donv

Silver Member
Hey Donv we all have opinions, yours is just as valid as anyone elses. The fact that Mr. Riley is a pro didn't influence my post, I would have agreed with that statement no matter who made it. Also don't you think it is totally hypocritical of you to dump on me by implying that I was kissing his duff? You accuse John for dumping on others by stating his opinion, but it's OK for you to dump on me for stating my opinions? You sir "took a dump" right on ME.

While I don't think he literally meant ALL the technique guys are sitting home, I'm pretty sure that the message he was trying to convey was that the grooving drummers are the ones that other musicians are most comfortable with and therefore are more likely to get hired. Couldn't agree more.
Larry,

I was thinking enough is enough. This isn't going anywhere and responding is fanning flames rather then creating a discussion. Then you post this! You are absolutely right and I do apologize. I had meant to "Quote" Con Struct and his comments and then apologizing for me to Riley. Your comment was balanced and level headed and I regret the error.

I do understand how most agree with John. I'm confident though that if some people here spent some time marching, spent some time with a symphony or orchestra or most importantly, spent some time keeping time at the direction of someone else there would be a new level of appreciation for what "technique" encompasses. There is no improv, there is no changing tempo because that's what's you're groovin. There is a lot of room for style though which would be a very different, but maybe relevant discussion.

Again, my apologies.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I guess, in summary, part of the game is in our hands and part of it is in our heads.

Some drummers have great hands and feet but don't entirely connect with the songs because they are doing their own thing.

Some drummers have weak hands and feet but their ideas would sound great if only they could execute cleanly.

Most of us are probably somewhere inbetween.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
NOT!

I can see you're all about feeling because you can't be you can't be honestly evaluating whats been written, by whom and with critical thinking. I'm amused though. "Look what this man can do! Look at what this man has done! He can't be wrong because he's. . . "

lol
Oh boy. What I'm about is respecting and learning from drummers who have something to show me.
You're going to go far in this business, I can see that.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
John Riley here:

This is an interesting discussion.

It seems to me that, on any given Saturday night, there are more grooving drummers working while all the technique guys are sitting home practicing.

The refinement of one's technique can improve one's groove. It's important to realize that the groovers always play within their limitations, while the technique guys are occasionally out to "prove" something...

Best,

John
John, I have immense respect for your talent and teaching skills and thanks for coming to share your perspective with us. I was practicing out of The Art of Bop drumming earlier tonight. I agree, refining technique can improve one's groove.

I apologize that others here treat you rudely.
 

brittc89

Pioneer Member
Whoever wants to kiss his backside is free to do so.

Think about what he wrote:

all the technique guys are sitting home practicing.

Using the word "all" doesn't leave room for subjecttive or objective thought. All is all. He's also wrong.

groovers always play within their limitations,

Always? Feel free to rationalize "always" all you want, he's wrong.

while the technique guys are occasionally out to "prove" something

Well amen brother, he's finally got something right. Most, not all, of the technique players I know are out to "prove" they can play the score in front of them. There is no improvising or making crap up as you go.

Of course I guess you have to be a "Real" drummer to catch his mieaning. Does it really elude you how many world class drummers and percussionists he dumped on? There is no hope those that are just aspiring.

I never expected such comments from someone of his stature. It's dissapointing, and I imagine upon reflection he might feel the same way.
This was very rude and disrespectful to someone who has a great amount of experience as a professional musician and educator who was simply trying to share his opinion. Youre coming off as a whiney little child in this situation and taking things just a little too personally. And Im almost certain we were talking about drumset musicians, so many of your points are invalid when you bring up marching and classical percussion (No one is bashing those arts either! Its just not what I believe this thread was originally about). ANd all youve done is picked on word choice and semantics when he was making a very valid point. I honestly dont appreciate the attitude you have and I dont think many people do, you come off as very combative and rude and I think you need to tone it down. Its a great thing that we have professionals like John here, maybe you should be more appreciative of that and let your ego deflate a bit.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Give Don a break man. So he's a little disrespectful. Mr. Riley can take it. He teaches and works in NYC. We're tough here in NY. You don't get to be where he is without letting a little slide. If he has to take a little grief, it will really make him feel like one of the guys.

In all honesty, I and others have put forth quite a lot of amount of work over the last week to get this point across and put up with grief as well. Don has really taken this issue to heart and really been open to thinking about it and growing with it in several conversations here on the board. Bless him for that.

And the whole idea was just to think about it. After people agreed with me, I was actually going to say "Yeah, but truthfully most music is really just about feel." So that's really what John did. I don't think John appreciates my Romantic ideals anyway. I've never been very pragmatic.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

I for one am extremely grateful to John for being here.

Most of the pros here on DW have their own threads where you can ask them questions which they answer, but John goes beyond that.

For a musician of John's calibre and history to be freely sharing his views & opinions on many threads & topics here,is a huge bonus for me.

When John says the groovers are working more than the techies, its really not that difficult a concept to grasp, specially when it comes from a guy who has played with Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Milt Jackson, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Scofield, Bob Mintzer, Gary Peacock, Mike Stern, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, Bob Berg, to name a few.

He is stating a fact not an opinion.

Also when the same guy also has studied with Morello and written a couple of definitive and timeless texts on drumming technique himself, he has all the back up he ever needs to represent both ends of the spectrum. If indeed there are two ends.

I understand the internet forums are a platform for winning debating points as well but lets draw the line somewhere, folks.

Disrespecting John Riley, is to disrespect your own love of drumming.

...

PS- Kenny, you're perpetuating our myth, bud!
 
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Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I don't know what myth I am perpetuating and who the our is that I am not a part of. I am glad you consider yourself part of the our. All I wanted to do was get to a point where you could talk about technique AND feel. Where you could have another way to think about this without someone always saying it's all about feel man. That took a lot of work because I had some one saying "everything is relative" or "music is about the heart." :)

I don't like to see everybody gang up on some kid because he was disrespectful. I was the first poster after Don's post and it read something like "Hey dude, it's okay to disagree but you need to respect John and the pro drummers that post here." Plus a lot of accolades about the great work John has done. Simple and sweet. I didn't need to tell him that he will never amount to anything. I didn't post it though. I just wanted John to answer my question and maybe we could have moved on without getting all hung up on it. But that didn't happen.
 
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