groove vs chops?

DancingMadlyBackwards

Senior Member
There is no correct answer to how one should play any instrument, really. There are only approaches, results, portability of said results and circumstances that present themselves based on the usefulness of the results, or, abilities.

If one individual wants to develop chops, I don't care; if they want groove instead, I don't care; if they want or have both, I don't care. If they want to sit in the garage and play music they love all day, I don't care.

All I care about is my approach and the validity of my approach to achieve the results I want. I'm nobody else and nobody else is me...that is an advantage and a differentiator!

This is not difficult. If we spent all of the time we worry about how others play....on our own playing, it would be time well spent. All one needs is a goal and a solid roadmap to achieve that goal, whatever it may be...let it be something based on who you are and not what someone else is, can or cannot do.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
You can't build a house with chops.
Those who build houses have to be fed.

...


Groove vs chops?

Is that not the same?

It's a bit like saying Simon vs Phillips?

Vinnie vs Colaiuta?

Dave vs Weckl?

Steve vs Gadd?

Jeff vs Porcaro?

Virgil vs Donati?

Benny vs Greb?

Steve vs Jordan?

Keith vs Carlock?

... and don't even start me on "swing".
 

Richatoullie

Junior Member
Styles of Drumming (Pocket Drumming vs Chop Drumming)

Howdy guys, I’m Rich Abidor, a 17 year old drummer from AZ. I’ve been drumming for 10 years, working to develop an eclectic taste for music. My drumming ranges from the blasts of Meshuggah to the grooves of Mars Volta, and then some Sinatra on the side. Note that I didn’t say I was good at, I just said I play it ;).

I’ve been doing a lot of analysis on some of the premier drummers today, and am working to categorize them into two groups. These two groups are pocket drummers, and chop drummers. I know there is a negative connotation attached to pocket drumming, as it is mistaken for the “easy” style, but in this analysis, I hope to debunk this myth.

First, you have the pocket drummer. The definition of such is a drummer, who is, “very solid with a great feel never wavers from the deep pocket allowing the other musicians to fit into the pocket well,” (Music Perception 443-461). This definition generalizes pocket drummers as simplistic percussionists pandering to the need for clarity of his accompanying musicians. I would say a pocket drummer is one who plays a solid 4/4 rhythm that one could easily tap along to. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy or simple to play; it is just easy to follow. Drummers of this ilk include Tony Royster Jr, Travis Barker (yes, I listed him with top drummers, give me hell) Dave Grohl (in many Nirvana songs), and many rock drummers who are mistakenly disenfranchised because of their lack of panache.

Now, from the other end of the spectrum, the other classification is a chop drummer. This style utilizes the amalgamation of various chops and rhythms to create somewhat of a collage of sounds within a piece. Many terms go hand-in-hand with this style, such as polyrhythms, musical bridges, (switching tempos) and broken up beats. This rather chaotic show of drumming is more appealing to the credulous demographic as it is often synonymous with speed and fury, and most people who aren’t well acquainted with groove believe speed and fury is the mark of a good drummer. Some drummers who evoke this style are Thomas Pridgen, Buddy Rich, and Gavin Harrison.

So… why is pocket drumming perceived negatively? I think this might have something to do with the Earth’s Tendency Toward Complexity. It’s far fetched, I know, but stay with me here… The Earth is constantly working toward the ultimate complexity, which is ambiguous it could be god, or whatever you believe is the most complex thing. In the human mind, we see anything that works toward complexity as good and anything that negates complexity as evil. (Adapted from a novel called Shantaram, great read). Hence, people tend to like the complexity of chop drummers more than pocket drummers, although pocket drumming is plenty respectful and difficult. This can be seen in the younger demographics’ taste in music, somewhat. This whole EDM genre, with dubstep and what have you, is really just a bunch of noise. Honestly, I thought someone was just banging on a trashcan for one of those Skrillex songs. Regardless, it is still music, and it’s complexity appeals to the masses.
I am not adamant on any of this, it’s just an idea I’ve been toying with, I would love some input in this, I know I’ll get flak for my drummer examples, just wanted to show drummers from different genres who could be classified together. Thanks, Rich
 

jackie k

Senior Member
Playing in the pocket Is great drumming. Nothing negative about it. As a drummer you will want a balance between both, that will make you both happy and creative.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
The real definition of "chops" is: a skill set. It has nothing to do with the ability to play 16ths at 280 BPM.

For example: " I need to work on my afro cuban 6/8 chops". This is referring to the skill set required to make that music work.

A rock drummer might have the chops for a rock gig but not for a broadway show.

You could even say: "I need to get my sight reading chops tighter"

What is Tony is right

Regarding which is "better". Honestly, when I hear the phrase "I am a groove drummer" I tend to think: " I never practice and my hands suck".

Every drummer has to be able to lay down some badass groove. That's not an excuse for never practicing or having sub par technical facility.

This has nothing to do with wanting to be able to play like Mangini, it has everything to do with being a pro.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Re: Styles of Drumming (Pocket Drumming vs Chop Drumming)

I’ve been doing a lot of analysis on some of the premier drummers today, and am working to categorize them into two groups. These two groups are pocket drummers, and chop drummers.
Pointless.

Because you can't.

Some guys make their living playing pocket on records and live, but are known in the drum community as chops guys because that's what they do at clinics or on their DVD.

Some great pocket drummers have amazing chops, but no one's ever hired them for chops, so no one knows that aspect about them.

Plenty of drummers have some of each. It's a blurry line at best.

Drummers don't come in one of two boxes, they come in a very wide variety of styles.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Re: Styles of Drumming (Pocket Drumming vs Chop Drumming)

Howdy guys, I’m Rich Abidor, a 17 year old drummer from AZ. I’ve been drumming for 10 years, working to develop an eclectic taste for music.
Tony Royster has ridiculous chops. Both as evidenced by various Gospel Chops vids and instructional videos where he shows what he learned from Jim Chapin. I've met Thomas Pridgen and watched him play with friends in local shows and he can groove like a mother ^$(&%. Just his typical clinic and Mars Volta public persona is of the wild man. Buddy could swing like everything. To do what Steve Jordan does takes serious control and facility with the sticks, or chops.

Sometimes what you see in a given band context or in clinics is just the tip of the iceberg. There are metal guys who can swing a big band. I saw Chad Smith sit down on a double kick set and rip blast beats better than the big name metal guy the kit belonged to. There are a few folks I see who seem to have trouble with groove even though I've seen them in multiple settings. But I'd never accuse someone playing a simple deep groove of not having chops. First it takes chops to play that deep of a groove, and second; you never know what else they're capable of.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Re: Styles of Drumming (Pocket Drumming vs Chop Drumming)

I know I’ll get flak for my drummer examples, just wanted to show drummers from different genres who could be classified together.
Some drummers are well known because of a type of music (which doesn't imply groove vs chops) and could be classified into a genre, like many other instrumentalists.

You also have drummers who play everything, rock, jazz, punk, pop, funk, fusion, prog, metal, jazz rock, reggae, latin and more... guys like Simon Phillips, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd, just to name a few, these cats cannot be classified into one genre and furthermore, they can play pocket, groove, chops and many more on depending of the context of the music they play.

Would a Mike Portnoy style of drumming fits AC/DC? no.

Would a Phil Rudd style of drumming fits Dream Theater? no.

It's not what Mike or Phil can or cannot play that's important, it's what they played in their respective context.

The style of drumming is determined by the style of music you play.
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
This is the best thread yet. Great answers from the yays and the nays. First a question; Has any of the big national drum contests gone on to be a member of a platinum selling band? I have rule of thumb I apply to drummers. It's the Ringo/Neil rule of thumb and it says that all drummers are either Ringo Starr or Neil Peart at their core. I have recently modified this scale to include Bonzos. These occur as the bastard offspring of Ringo and Neil. Essentially it amounts to cat people vs. dog people. Some drummers are all about feel. These are Ringos. Some are all about technical ability. These are Neils. And right in the middle is the Bonzo. Perfecly marrying feel and technique. This only a rule of thumb.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I have rule of thumb I apply to drummers. It's the Ringo/Neil rule of thumb and it says that all drummers are either Ringo Starr or Neil Peart at their core..
extremely narrow minded "rule of thumb" if I may say so

tell me this

Brian Blade
Eric Harland
Antonio Sanchez
Bill Stewart
Jeff Watts

are they Ringos or Neils ?
 
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Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
It's the Ringo/Neil rule of thumb and it says that all drummers are either Ringo Starr or Neil Peart at their core.
Mmmh... interesting thoughts.

What about the Ringo Peart and the Neil Starr, you know, the ones with both amazing feel and technique.

Please stop trying to put drummers into a type of category... it simply doesn't work that way.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
+1 Tony.There's LOTS of space in between there.Lets not forget about the music ...that's being....served.Does the tune allow for improvisational room?Is a steady back beat, something that serves that material,better for that some than the self indulgent , ..how many notes can I play every bar?Maybe a combination of both.Could Neil play a second line New Orleans jazz beat ...and make it swing?.In truth....the jury is still out.Could he play all kinds of odd time tempos,with lots of fills,yep....he could.

Chops vs.groove.........a good drummer knows the difference between and knows,sometimes they're linked.He also knows where and how..to use both,instead of..."hey look at me and how fast I can play".As oppose to" hey, let's play some music,and let's all make a contribition.Sometimes,it's about putting your ego,in you pocket,and staying...in that pocket.

The whole Chops VS, groove thing ........is just silly to me.One isn't better than the other,it's just different.As far as the Ringo thing,some very accomplished drummers like Mike Portnoy,and Rich Pagano,have said how they can get Ringo's parts down,note for note,they find it difficuly to make it swing,like Ringo did.

I guess if you don't get that,then,just play as many notes as you can,till you can't play anymore,and call yourself a drummer...but don't call yourself a musician.

Steve B
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
News flash! You are not the unique little snowflake you think you are. Name a few more drummers that you like and I've never heard of. Then i'll name those I like that you've never blah, blah blah. I don't care if you like the analogy. It's meant to be comical (and true). Showing how some emphasize feel while others emphasize technique and how most fall somewhere in the middle. The fact that you didn't get that from my previous post is truly comical. I don't think every drummer is actually Ringo or Neil. That's called being purposely generic. And I'm not impressed with all the "really great drummers" you've heard of Tony.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
This is the best thread yet. Great answers from the yays and the nays. First a question; Has any of the big national drum contests gone on to be a member of a platinum selling band? I have rule of thumb I apply to drummers. It's the Ringo/Neil rule of thumb and it says that all drummers are either Ringo Starr or Neil Peart at their core. I have recently modified this scale to include Bonzos. These occur as the bastard offspring of Ringo and Neil. Essentially it amounts to cat people vs. dog people. Some drummers are all about feel. These are Ringos. Some are all about technical ability. These are Neils. And right in the middle is the Bonzo. Perfecly marrying feel and technique. This only a rule of thumb.
So where do Latin drummers fit in?

Neither Ringo nor Neil nor even Bonham are particular known for their Latin playing.

I mean, a basic Charlie Watts version of Latin drumming is still pretty involved compared to basic rock drummer.

What about 1920's swing drummers? How are they Ringo or Neil when they were doing what they were doing long before Ringo or Neil were born?

What about the guys in 1890 who were first figuring out how to attach a bass drum pedal to a marching bass drum?

Drummers come in a million and one varieties.

Trying to pigeon hole all drummers into two boxes is just naive.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
News flash! You are not the unique little snowflake you think you are. Name a few more drummers that you like and I've never heard of. Then i'll name those I like that you've never blah, blah blah. I don't care if you like the analogy. It's meant to be comical (and true). Showing how some emphasize feel while others emphasize technique and how most fall somewhere in the middle. The fact that you didn't get that from my previous post is truly comical. I don't think every drummer is actually Ringo or Neil. That's called being purposely generic. And I'm not impressed with all the "really great drummers" you've heard of Tony.
I never thought you wouldn't have heard of some of the greatest players alive today nor was it intended to be impressive ....

it's not like they are some big underground secret kept under lock and key only to be heard of by special hip followers .... these are some major names in the drum community

I could drop some obscure names of fantastic players if you want.... but thats not what I did here at all..... these are some serious contributing players in the game today

....and I got the point of your post.... but it is extremely shallow and puts things in the tiniest silly little box .... I honestly don't think anyone who plays for a living thinks that way at all .... not for one second .... I don't and no one I know does


here is your quote... "all drummers are either Ringo Starr or Neil Peart at their core.."

that sounds like a conversation at an 8th grade lunch table

now you are trying to back out and say it was a joke .

you think cats sit around saying.... ok I'm a groove guy and this is my friend he is a chops guy..... that is comical my friend

..... oh by the way.... since you haven't heard of those guys... you may want to go check them out....

there are more drummers out there than the ones on the cover of MD magazine.....
 

picodon

Silver Member
Trying to pigeon hole all drummers into two boxes is just naive.
…and pointless. All drummers should work on their technique, not only the ones that "lack feel" whatever that may mean and whatever Mr Peart may think of such an insult.

Back to the throne...
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
WhoIsTony?; now you are trying to back out and say it was a joke . you think cats sit around saying.... ok I'm a groove guy and this is my friend he is a chops guy..... [I said:
that[/I] is comical my friend

..... oh by the way.... since you haven't heard of those guys... you may want to go check them out....

there are more drummers out there than the ones on the cover of MD magazine.....

I'm gonna try this one more time, after that you and I are done. I said that I say this about drummers, ME. That's why I started with I. I don't believe anyone says this about themselves or others. I prefaced the whole thing with the words "rule of thumb". Do you not know what that means? I'll tell you then. It means that it is a highly generalised statement and in no way applies to every situation. I have more. Here's one I love (rememeber this is a rule of thumb), did you know that about 80% of people are a type c personality and that 80% of people have an IQ between 90 and 110 (this is the average range). That means that as a rule of thumb, 4 out of 5 people you meet are c personalities with an average IQ. Do you know what you are? I have a guess, but that's just a rule of thumb.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
The SunDog:
Listen man - be careful with what you're saying. This is a warning. It takes a few clicks and you get banned. Just saying. I'm not doing this a lot but in this case I feel it's due. You've been warned. There won't be another time.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
This only a rule of thumb.
Okay... rule of thumb... analysis of your so called rule...

Are you saying that Neil Peart is de voided of feel?

Are you saying that Ringo Starr is de voided of technique?

If anything, it shows an obvious lack of respect for these two iconic drummers.

As a rule of thumb, is it not possible for a drummer to possess both and only display/play what's best in context for the music?

An open minded view of all drummers past, present and future can only benefit our task at hand in whatever style of drumming, there's something positive to learn from every drummers and that's include what not to do (or say)...

Oh... BTW, the "money beat" is the most played drum beat on the planet, so there goes a real rule of thumb :)
 
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