I can't believe how much I sucke when it comes to soloing.

martinbr

Member
You would think that after 40 years of playing drums, I would be able to take a decent solo. I just have come to conclusion that I probably will never be a good soloist.

I practice every day. I practice out of Wilcoxon, Stone, and Chapin with the Ramsey book most every day and constantly work on my rudiments, but when it comes to executing them on the drumset, I just have a difficult time. I don't know what the answer is. I can play time all night long. Have wonderful feel for swinging since most of the music I get called for is jazz classics with all small combos. I get a lot of work lately, but just can't get the soloing together.

I am thinking about just scrapping the books except maybe Wilcoxon and just start working on solos period......martinbr
 

Brian

Gold Member
Alan Dawsons or Gary Chaffee's materials may be a good place to start. Maybe working on ostinatos with hands or feet and those combinations of stickings and rudiments, melodic creativity, phrasing and so forth would be beneficial? Or maybe you're looking for something else...
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
So you've worked out of books that develop hand technique, but have you listened to master drummers playing solos and tried to transcribe them? Solos are something you have to work at, just like every other skill in playing an instrument.
 

coolhand1969

Senior Member
After 30 years for me, I cannot really do a solo. However, it has never bothered me. I do not play Jazz, where it is expected and honestly cannot stand guitar solos or drum solos. As much as I love Zep, when Dazed and Confused or Moby Dick comes on, I hit Fast Forward.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Try playing nursery rhymes. Play Mary had a little lamb for example. Funk it up with some ghost notes or flams and swing it.

I find soloing very natural, perhaps because I'vespent time listening to solos.
 

cornelius

Silver Member
I think Dre is on the right track - think melodically - something simple. If you’re playing a solo, you’re creating something - composing on the spot. That’s working with the creative side of your brain, playing out of books is more left brain - which can be helpful, but it’s not going to make you a creative musician.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
Try playing nursery rhymes. Play Mary had a little lamb for example. Funk it up with some ghost notes or flams and swing it.
I remember either you or somebody else recommending this in the dim and distant past, and when I tried it, it worked. Then it went completely out of my head. Thanks for suggesting it again!
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Well, you've been working out of books that don't directly deal with soloing. The Drumset Soloist is a good resource for this sort of thing. It deals with trading fours, 8s, 2s; soloing over a vamp, catching figures and filling between them, etc.

Also, you can learn rudiments all day every day, but if you never practice making up your own little combinations with them, then you're not going to learn how to incorporate them into a solo. If you're at a loss about how to do that -- nothing wrong with getting a few lessons to sort that out.

Someone mentioned the Chaffee books. This one has the sticking combinations that lend themselves to fills and solos. Your command of the rudiments will come in handy.
 

Funka

Junior Member
I think Dre is on the right track - think melodically - something simple. If you’re playing a solo, you’re creating something - composing on the spot. That’s working with the creative side of your brain, playing out of books is more left brain - which can be helpful, but it’s not going to make you a creative musician.
Totally agree with this, A few years ago I couldn't play a decent solo too, but with the years I began to think more melodically, triying to play solos thinking on a form and repeating the form like a song. Play simple things that you can sing while playing the drums. But this is a process that take many years and you have to be PACIENT and sure you will notice great improvements. I think the key is feeling a phrase and have the ability to play instantly in the drums but feeling not thinking.

Here's a great video of benny greb talking on the subjet and sry if I make mistakes in the text I'm a spanish native speaker

http://youtu.be/Pa3rRdDAWpc
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Bo mentioned this on another thread:

" Max Roach told a story of a Gretsch Drum Night the company did eons ago when he and other drum luminaries were there to play and demonstrate. Everyone, including him played all their best licks and demonstrated their athletic capabilities on the drums.

Then Gene Krupa arrived and played his famous "Sing Sing Sing" solo which is really all just 8th notes. The crowd went crazy.

Max said that was best drum lesson he ever got! "


.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I learned a valuable lesson a few weeks ago.

I have always had trouble constructing a solo. I start out great and then I get lost as to where to take it. My solos progress quickly to a point where they get very complicated. I never lose the beat, but my solos usually get very complicated. This even causes me to make mistakes during the solo.
Other drummers might enjoy my solos, but I think the audience cannot relate to them.

A few weeks ago I tried playing a more simple solo. I took the normal groove pattern of the song I was playing and during the solo I kept playing that same groove. I accented the groove in different places. I added some different drums (toms) to the basic groove. I played very soft at one point then I got loud at one point. Basically I kept the solo simple but dynamic. My solo seemed stupidly simple to me.

After the song ended a guitar player in the audience told me that it was the best drum solo he had ever heard. I was surprised.

The drums are the foundation of the music. It is sort of a background sound for the melody and words of the song. Consequently most people hardly recognize the drum part during a song. So when a drum solo comes along, it can be a very simple solo, however now people are listening to the drums alone. In a way, it is a part of the music they have never heard before.
While we drummers think, for a solo, we have to play something very different than the groove and much more complicated; the audience is happy to hear a nice simple accented dynamic groove.


.
 

geezer

Senior Member
I was struggling as well, but then I started focusing on trying to repeat a little melody over and over, and move it around the kit. For a great example of that being done just check out some of the Youtube clips of Steve Maxwell demoing kits for his shop. I also have been working on playing a melody on just one drum, so just the snare, just the rack, just the floor - and then do it combining two of them: snare & bass drum, or snare & floor, rack & floor etc. Or I'll work on a solo but it has to a specific rudiment incorporated as a recurring theme - drags, flams, 5 stroke rolls. I set aside time each practice session to focus on this and it feels like it's giving me a wider vocabulary now when I'm trading fours etc.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The reason I can't solo well is because when everybody stops....I have nothing left to play from. I need input to tailor my drumming to. Perhaps thinking of a nursery rhyme might be just the trick I need so I can have something to play off of. I've heard this before but it joined Madge's thought and flew out of my head without me even getting a chance to use it.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
After 30 years for me, I cannot really do a solo. However, it has never bothered me. I do not play Jazz, where it is expected and honestly cannot stand guitar solos or drum solos. As much as I love Zep, when Dazed and Confused or Moby Dick comes on, I hit Fast Forward.
I'm beginning to realize that there really is a solo inside me, but I've always discounted it because it doesn't resemble the highly technical and complicated performances I admire. My solo style is more along the old Gene Krupa extension of what the band is playing before and after his solo. It's not really complicated or technical, but it's very rhythmic and "toe tappable."

My attitude has always been that if I can play it, it must not be very good. But playing for fifty years must have yielded something good. I think we all need to simply focus on what we like, and stop comparing ourselves to other soloists.

And, by the way, a drum solo is best when it is short and to the point. We should leave the audience wanting to hear more rather than wearing them out. Regardless of how good a soloist is, just a few minutes of drumming becomes a blur to a non-musician audience.

GeeDeeEmm
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
"The reason I can't solo well is because when everybody stops....I have nothing left to play from." Yep got the same problem. Then too the need for me to play a solo is rare events anyway-thankfully. Saw the Gregg Allman band in Atlanta, GA New Years Eve-solid drummer but when it came to his solo he didn't really captivate the audience-and it was too long. Not criticizing the guy he was excellent and I almost believe he was asked not to follow too much the original Allman bro solo because a lot of the guitar solos were done by brass-although the guitarist was excellent. Don't mean to be critical but it wasn't a stellar performance-mainly because it dragged on with long time periods of no music at all.
 

Macarina

Silver Member
I learned a valuable lesson a few weeks ago.

A few weeks ago I tried playing a more simple solo. I took the normal groove pattern of the song I was playing and during the solo I kept playing that same groove. I accented the groove in different places. I added some different drums (toms) to the basic groove. I played very soft at one point then I got loud at one point. Basically I kept the solo simple but dynamic. My solo seemed stupidly simple to me.
You put down in words what I was thinking. That is awesome advice.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
So you've worked out of books that develop hand technique, but have you listened to master drummers playing solos and tried to transcribe them? Solos are something you have to work at, just like every other skill in playing an instrument.
I agree with this. What you may lack is vocabulary. Listen, listen, listen and listen some more. You'll discover the great soloists are thinking in terms of music - not drum stuff.

Running short of ideas means you're thinking in terms of drum stuff and not music. No one cares about this stuff once you play. Practicing that stuff is critical (to some level) for executing the music. But if you're thinking in terms of Stone/Wilcoxon/Chaffee, or hoping that will open all the possibilities for soloing, you've narrowed anything that's possible.

Once you turn things around and think in terms of melody - the perception of what's possible changes.

For kicks sit down and play Mary Had a Little Lamb on your toms. Do it with sticks. Put the sticks down and do it with mallets. Put the mallets down and do it with brushes. Then pick up one of each and start over. Each texture will inspire new ideas.

Then think of a favorite melody of your own and try to play it melodically on your set.

There's a whole world out there for you to explore.

Again you can practice all the Wilcoxon / Stone / Chaffee / Ramsay / John Riley, etc... material which all are valid and great for developing facilities. None of them will develop the music within you. They only help you to express it.
 

martinbr

Member
I agree with this. What you may lack is vocabulary. Listen, listen, listen and listen some more. You'll discover the great soloists are thinking in terms of music - not drum stuff.

Running short of ideas means you're thinking in terms of drum stuff and not music. No one cares about this stuff once you play. Practicing that stuff is critical (to some level) for executing the music. But if you're thinking in terms of Stone/Wilcoxon/Chaffee, or hoping that will open all the possibilities for soloing, you've narrowed anything that's possible.

Once you turn things around and think in terms of melody - the perception of what's possible changes.

For kicks sit down and play Mary Had a Little Lamb on your toms. Do it with sticks. Put the sticks down and do it with mallets. Put the mallets down and do it with brushes. Then pick up one of each and start over. Each texture will inspire new ideas.

Then think of a favorite melody of your own and try to play it melodically on your set.

There's a whole world out there for you to explore.

Again you can practice all the Wilcoxon / Stone / Chaffee / Ramsay / John Riley, etc... material which all are valid and great for developing facilities. None of them will develop the music within you. They only help you to express it.
This is part of my problem, forgetting about the melody and thinking in terms of drum licks in which is wrong. I know this. (Bad habit).

The other part is sometimes I feel that I can't physically execute what I am trying to convey over to the drum set. Especially playing jazz. A lot of this stuff is so subtle. I have to play in very small venues where dynamics is at a premium low.
martinbr
 
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drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Start with an ostinato with foot/feet. Simplest one would be 1/4 with the left foot hat. Just do that for 4bars. It creates space and get the crowd ready to listen. Add wich ever think you want but make sure you keep that ostinato at all times : that is your connective tissue like tommy igoe says.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
This is part of my problem, forgetting about the melody and thinking in terms of drum licks in which is wrong. I know this. (Bad habit).

The other part is sometimes I feel that I can't physically execute what I am trying to convey over to the drum set. Especially playing jazz. A lot of this stuff is so subtle. I have to play in very small venues where dynamics is at a premium low.
martinbr
Excellent - you've identified the issue, now begin to work on it.

"This is part of my problem, forgetting about the melody and thinking in terms of drum licks in which is wrong. I know this. (Bad habit). "

- This boils down to approach and musicianship. As the saying goes, do the same thing and get the same results.

"The other part is sometimes I feel that I can't physically execute what I am trying to convey over to the drum set. Especially playing jazz. A lot of this stuff is so subtle. I have to play in very small venues where dynamics is at a premium low."

- This correlates to touch and control (and not all technique). If you work practice quietly (and I mean quietly) you'll discover something within in your current approach of grip / stroke that will probably require changing to accommodate a lighter touch while being able to "rip" anything you so desire at a significantly reduced volume, while maintaining a lose feel and still be dynamic.

Just sit down and play and focus on playing quietly and musically.

Also important - instead of the books, for the moment, find some transcriptions to learn and try to emulate what the drummer played based on the original recording! Not just the notes, but draw the music out of the solo.

Then, turn on all the music you can humanly consume and you'll get an understanding how relational the jazz greats played in context of the music.

All of this will begin to enhance your existing musical vocabulary.

I'm in no way an authority on this... This is merely my opinion and suggestions. Someone else may off better value to the conversation than I.
 
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