groove vs chops?

Duckenheimer

Senior Member
Pasting was not an option in recording back in 1983. I don't think you could even punch edit back then. Not to mention punch editing isn't really used for drums anyway. Hate to ruin your newer, lesser opinion of Lars but he played those takes from start to finish back then. No Pro-Tools not even a computer in the room. And Justice and the Black album were recorded that way too. Although by the Black album they had automated software to mix with and digital punch-edit capabilities.
I guess that's enough internet for me today.
 

John Lamb

Senior 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.
Yes. Tony Royster Jr, for example, Cora Coleman-Dunham for another.

In one of his DVDs, Tony Royster talks about the transition to playing with Jay Z, and how much he had to work at it. It was a rude awakening for him not to be the center of attention, and to keep a solid groove going.

I like your virtual Venn Diagram of the two overlapping techniques.... I think it is more complex, of course. A Jazz player (e.g. Buddy Rich) Might be able to swing into last week but not know how to play Rock. There are many types of physical technique as well as a lot to know about grooving in different styles
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
LOL! I love it. Although I mostly disagree :eek:

"Chops" is technique, or how you do something. Nearly always, and certainly in the course of this discussion, chops means the physical movements a player makes, specifically in regards to speed and dexterity.

Groove is a state of mind - a state of organization where everything lines up and swings together. (This is observable with brain scans, see the first book listed in my signature)

Now, you can have musical chops. These intersect with physicality (how can they not?) but they are not really two sides of the same coin. You can know all your fighting styles and master of the 1 inch punch but not be able to win a basic street fight.

Having great physical technique will certainly allow you to groove harder, but even those with minimal technique can groove hard on easy songs. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you can groove without playing a note. Watch Taj Mahal live, for example, and you'll be in the groove before he plays anything.
Great post - and effective - now I want to read your book! Are there any versions on websites that sell at normal price to Pacific Mexicans in epub or PDF formats?

Groove is physical in that it's like dancing. Grooving - going back and forth - is everywhere in nature - in space, seasons, biological cycles, etc.

Rhythms function in both nature and music as a way of maintaining equilibrium. Grooving is like balancing a pole on your finger ... the pole (hopefully) gently teeters around but maintains equilibrium on the balance point. The difference between a drummer and drum programmer is akin to one person balancing a pole on their finger while the other brings in a statue of a person holding the pole perfectly upright. That's why machine groove ain't the same - there's no danger of losing equilibrium. We physically enjoy the challenge and when everyone is in the flow, both as players and listeners.

Grooves also mirror tonality. A straight 2 and 4 like Meg's would be akin to a sine wave while a David Garabaldi's backbeat will contain not just the quarter note "sine wave" but the 8th, 16th and maybe 32nd note "harmonics". It would follow that the more skills (same as chops? yes? no?) a player has, the more harmonic richness they can add. The more accurate the timing, the more sonorous the harmonics will be.

I find that chops physically also have their own groove. When playing faster you get a feeling of flowing momentum between limbs / sticks that physically feels good. Following the harmony analogy, that would mean flamboyant playing has its own groove, but on a higher frequency - which of course does not mean "better", just more frequent.

// end thought bubbles
 

T.L.

Senior Member
Some people cite Stewart Copeland as a guy with chops who doesn't groove. IMO Neil Peart qualifies as well. If I'm not mistaken, Thomas Lang was cited as fitting this description too.

I'm not sure you're aware of the history of this exact topic here, but there are threads upon threads dealing with this precise issue. They are legendary for the polarizing effect they have on the forum. Some pretty heated debates have been the result of this topic. In fact it could be the most cliched topic here ever, it's been so beaten to death.
I don't want to weigh in on the "groove vs. chops" debate, but I'd be surprised to hear someone say Stewart Copeland doesn't groove... The guy grooves like mad, and (just ask Sting) is not exactly a human metronome.

(I've heard the Peart criticism, of course. I have mad respect for all three drummers mentioned.)

I find the older I get the more two things happen with respect to my perspective:

1. I become more aware of how little I know.
2. From a musical perspective, I find myself focussing on what players offer, as opposed to what they don't offer.
 
Sun Dog. watch "a year in the life of Metallica." movie . The making of the Black Album.
See if you notice Razor Randy.. He's Randy Staubb..

I can't remember if it was mentioned in that movie or the Classic Albums episode for the Black Album but Lars says he's never recorded a song front to back ever previous to recording the Black Album it was a totally new experience for him recording wise.

Groove is a funny thing because a great metal drummer has a killer groove.. For metal.

Or a great Jazz drummer for Jazz.. I'm not going to hire Bill Stewart to play in Dimu Borgir or Meshugga .. Even though he has chops and can groove in his style.. I don't think he could groove in those bands.. I may be wrong but doubt it.

Being able to groove in your genre whatever that might be is what you should be doing as a great drummer. Context is the main thing because for both metal and bebop you need chops and a groove that suits the music for it to be right.. The main thing is it needs to be the right groove..

To be on an other level you need to be able to groove and have chops in different styles.. That list gets smaller as you add styles.

One guy I'd put up there is Dave Discenso.

Here's an example of someone with killer chops and not much groove in this video.. It's a shining example of both how to be awesome and not awesome at the same time..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83N0PaGwDu8
 

Duckenheimer

Senior Member
If you can't groove, you do not have chops.

Is this true?
No... you could have well developed technique in some areas, but you might lack certain types of chops (the technical ability to manipulate time and touch in particular ways, aside from matters of taste in choosing/feeling the employment of these things). Or you might just lack in matters of taste and hearing, which is fuzzier territory.

There is a lot of fuzziness in these definitions, but most of the great groovers have killer chops, by just about any standard of these terms. You ain't going to groove a Purdie shuffle, or be versatile in grooving, without having a lot of different matters of technical control really together.
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
If you can't groove, you do not have chops.

Is this true?
Have you ever seen a drum major that couldn't play a trap kit? Some people know how to play every rudiment perfectly and some know how to rock the "@#$ out of a drum set. And then there are some that can do both.....the bastards.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
I continue to work on both groove and chops with no end in sight.
Except for the unusually gifted, there are no shortcuts for your average musician (such as myself) and I can't comprehend how some musicians I've met say they can just "hear" what to play or "feel it" without practice. Inevitably, their playing demonstrates a glaring shortfall.
Groove and chops- Study/learn both, work them, feel them through tremendous repetitions and make them your own. Then you can play with others musically, feel more creative and spontaneous, the goal of all study.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Except for the unusually gifted, there are no shortcuts for your average musician (such as myself) and I can't comprehend how some musicians I've met say they can just "hear" what to play or "feel it" without practice. Inevitably, their playing demonstrates a glaring shortfall.
Experienced musicians play new things straight up without practice all the time - jazz musicians used to make a living from doing exactly that. That ability flows off their musical vocabulary, which works more or less the same way as speech.

I suspect that's not what you're talking about and you're referring to inexperienced players bragging about their skillz* while not knowing how raw they're playing.

* fogey using modern term in a futile attempt to appear contemporary :)
 

newoldie

Silver Member
Experienced musicians play new things straight up without practice all the time - jazz musicians used to make a living from doing exactly that. That ability flows off their musical vocabulary, which works more or less the same way as speech.

I suspect that's not what you're talking about and you're referring to inexperienced players bragging about their skillz* while not knowing how raw they're playing.

* fogey using modern term in a futile attempt to appear contemporary :)
I was referring to your average non-pro player. My original teacher was a jazz drummer so I could see those skills intact. Watching pros pick up new things on the fly so quickly is what makes them so much fun to watch, like the jazz players you mention.
But is that ability mostly inherent within that musical genre? Can even the elite drummers just pick up another music style without putting in the requisite practice first? Jazz to funk, big band to rock, classical to contemporary, etc. all would seem to require studying or practicing to nail it, so it would seem not everything flows so quickly when crossing over, wouldn't you agree?
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
But is that ability mostly inherent within that musical genre? Can even the elite drummers just pick up another music style without putting in the requisite practice first? Jazz to funk, big band to rock, classical to contemporary, etc. all would seem to require studying or practicing to nail it, so it would seem not everything flows so quickly when crossing over, wouldn't you agree?
Joe Travers seamlessly covers a range of styles with Zappa Plays Zappa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOtuqYzJTsM#t=15m

Put it this way, no matter what the new style is, Joe Travers would make a much better fist of his first attempt at that style than I would. He might not play to his own satisfaction, nor satisfy specialists in that style, but he'd sound awesome to the average listener.

So, yes, if we're to play a style authentically and to our own satisfaction, then any player will want to practice and learn about it. However, some are skilled and knowledgeable enough to take a creditable stab at any style.
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
I don't know why we even have to divide drumming in two seperate disciplines, groove and
chops, in the first place. I think it makes no sense.
 
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