Is it "simple" playing or "sober" playing? Hard or easy?

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I was reading a thread wich involved a comment about "simple" playing, which I always found somehow confusing as a term and perhaps misunderstood in the meaning of it all.

I don't think that "simple" playing actually exist, in terms of laying down a groove with the appropriate feel, taste, texture, emotions, and so on... I think it's actually quite hard to do, it might be "easier" in terms of a pattern, and "sober" in terms of not over playing within a song or musical project, but not "simple".

I don't want to start a debate about the eternal "less is more" or the "play for the song" approach, many threads already talk at lenght about this very topic. I just want to clarify the term "simple playing", like I explain above, I think it's a missuse term, "sober" or "easier" seem more appropriate terms to define this type of playing.

There's a million way to lay down a "simple" groove, using the very same pattern, there's nothing simple about it, it's all about making the song/project sound good, and that can be hard, at least it's the way I see it.

Thoughts?
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think that "simple" playing actually exist,
Ok, that's my username redundant then Henri ;) Keep it "sober" or "easier" doesn't have the same ring to it!

Joking aside, I'm with you there my bin bashing brother, or maybe it's only me that finds the slowest most naked beats the most difficult to pull off with conviction?
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
with young students we often learn something like Back In Black ...for example
....Ill plat guitar along with them and we record it so they can go home with a CD of their playing to show family and friends

I always explain to them......there is playing the notes ....then there is making the song groove

we record it with them playing the notes.....then a few weeks later we record it with them making the song groove (if they can get to that )

then we listen to them back to back

I have found the best way for a student to learn the difference between playing the notes....and playing the song ...is to hear themselves go through the process of learning how to do it

I guess my point is .......even the most basic of patterns is not about physically executing the notes......it's about making it sound and feel like music

...and that is not always as easy as most think

recording yourself is the only true way to understand how you ACTUALLY sound.......not how you THINK you sound

two different worlds
 

jodgey4

Silver Member
I do this at church for a number of reasons. First of all, the new huge dome is acoustically horrendous, and sound gets very muddy, so busy playing doesn't work. Second of all, it lets me enjoy the music more. Third, the congregation is lots of old rhythm-less people who don't care much for loud music. I'd say it's about the same difficulty as being complex because mistakes are much more obvious, but the expectation for new ideas is kind of lowered.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Simple to me implies space. Space requires an internal confidence, on the part of the player, to be able to leave some. Simple to me sounds better regarding drum parts, generally speaking. There's always the time when more is more and sometimes you really have to lead things and be in the fore. I'm talking about the other 95% of the time.
I'm a sucker for hearing players who are seasoned, who used to play a lot of notes, and still do when it calls for it, but basically have gotten that out of their system, kinda been there done that type thing, and are now distilling their notes, who play more spacious, but with more taste, and who are treating each note special, with heart and soul. I am disheartened when drummers fill spaces because technically, they can fit something in. Missing the big picture syndrome. There's a way to play simply that makes it sound great. It requires nuance and experience. I think a lot of guys play lots of notes because if there is a place where it would fit, why not? I can think of many reasons why not. You can play a simple beat, in a complex way, with dynamics, inner kit individual volume relation knowledge/control, barely audible ghosts, and much more, but most of all it has to have feel. A sense of just the right touch to put on a song is something that can be learned. I'm proof, I wasn't born with it.
A distilled drum part that feels right beats a more verbiose drum part that doesn't put feeling as Job 1 wins every time for me.

Quality over quantity basically.

As far as hard or easy, I'd say it's more of an experience thing. Gifted players excepted.
 

MaryO

Platinum Member
A distilled drum part that feels right beats a more verbiose drum part that doesn't put feeling as Job 1 wins every time for me.

Quality over quantity basically.

QUOTE]

I completely agree, Larry! There are days I can play a beat and I'm keeping perfect time, exectuting every stroke, etc but it just doesn't "feel" right. The next day I may go back and play again where everything is not so technically perfect but the groove is there and I just feel it in my bones. That's when I most enjoy playing and when I know why I chose to play this instrument.

Those times are harder to find though because I have to be able to just let go and let the music take me along for the ride. I tend to be a little of a control freak (what? you're not surprised???) and so I tend to over think and over analyze everything I do, even the "simple" stuff. That's the most difficult part for me, getting out of my head and into the feel. Of course, to be able to do that you have to put in the practice and install the muscle memory, and the work can be agonizing but it's worth it when you are confident enough to let it flow.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I was reading a thread wich involved a comment about "simple" playing, which I always found somehow confusing as a term and perhaps misunderstood in the meaning of it all.

I don't think that "simple" playing actually exist, in terms of laying down a groove with the appropriate feel, taste, texture, emotions, and so on... I think it's actually quite hard to do, it might be "easier" in terms of a pattern, and "sober" in terms of not over playing within a song or musical project, but not "simple".

I don't want to start a debate about the eternal "less is more" or the "play for the song" approach, many threads already talk at lenght about this very topic. I just want to clarify the term "simple playing", like I explain above, I think it's a missuse term, "sober" or "easier" seem more appropriate terms to define this type of playing.

There's a million way to lay down a "simple" groove, using the very same pattern, there's nothing simple about it, it's all about making the song/project sound good, and that can be hard, at least it's the way I see it.

Thoughts?
Perhaps the simplicity lies in how everyone is feeling the pulse. Music simply sounds better when everyone has the same pulse. I've noticed when members of the same band are feeling the pulse a little differently from one another, then the music sounds choppy, or taxed, which, even if it's simply three-chord rock n roll, it will sound a bit complicated because you're hearing all these other things going on because no one is locked together?
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Ok, that's my username redundant then Henri ;) Keep it "sober" or "easier" doesn't have the same ring to it!
Lol! ... but you didn't needed this thread to make your username redundant Andy :)

As for my username... true 'til the day I die :)

Joking aside, I'm with you there my bin bashing brother, or maybe it's only me that finds the slowest most naked beats the most difficult to pull off with conviction?
You're definitely not the only one, I'll jump on board too...


I guess my point is .......even the most basic of patterns is not about physically executing the notes......it's about making it sound and feel like music

...and that is not always as easy as most think

...two different worlds
You were inside my brain Anthony, exactly my point :)

You can play a simple beat, in a complex way, with dynamics, inner kit individual volume relation knowledge/control, barely audible ghosts, and much more, but most of all it has to have feel.
Absolutely Larry, but to play a simple beat like you've described, is not simple, is not easy and only come with years of experience, as you stated yourself "in a complex way", lol, there's nothing simple about playing some patterns a complex way :) And when you start adding "barely audible ghosts", you actually leaving the world of a "simple" groove and entering the subtle world of "sober" playing, a tiny difference it might be, but a huge difference in terms of playing, you switch from "easier" playing to "hard" playing, if you know what I mean, again, experience and years of practice is the key, maybe I'll get there someday.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What day is today? Oh, it's someday. Henri, you're there my nomadic brother. I find your playing to be very tasteful elegant, and classy. You are a seasoned player for sure.

Back to the thing about playing simple in a complex way, It's a more refined approach, which implies a lot of stage time to get that together.

There's good simple (Meg White) and great simple (Phil Rudd)

And bad simple sounds better than bad complex every day too.

Simple is not a descriptive enough word to describe what we are trying to describe.

I think the term refined comes closer to the mark than simple. Because it's anything but simple. Refined implies an overall knowledge of drumming.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Keep it Sober - I like it :)

... I always explain to them......there is playing the notes ....then there is making the song groove

... I guess my point is .......even the most basic of patterns is not about physically executing the notes......it's about making it sound and feel like music
Nice. Lovely way to look at it.


I think a lot of guys play lots of notes because if there is a place where it would fit, why not? I can think of many reasons why not.
Many reasons to do so too - it's fun, it physically feels good, it's good exercise and there's lots of people out there who like an acrobatics show more than anything.

Gospel drumming (and its spinoffs) is acrobatics. Modern pop is for the young. We're not the target audience.


Those times are harder to find though because I have to be able to just let go and let the music take me along for the ride. I tend to be a little of a control freak (what? you're not surprised???) and so I tend to over think and over analyze everything I do, even the "simple" stuff. That's the most difficult part for me, getting out of my head and into the feel.
Know the feeling, Mary. I'm a control freak too. For me, it's about staying in the moment without the "oversight voice" yammering away.


I've noticed when members of the same band are feeling the pulse a little differently from one another, then the music sounds choppy, or taxed, which, even if it's simply three-chord rock n roll, it will sound a bit complicated because you're hearing all these other things going on because no one is locked together?
Absolutely. Jack White consciously used this effect by having Meg on drums to achieve a full sound as a duo. All those waves bumping into each other, creating random harmonics. You start getting the illusion that there's a bass somewhere in there.

The interesting question is why do some sloppy bands sound great and others sounds horrible? The difference between good sloppy and bad sloppy - where it doesn't feel "sloppy" so much as casual.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
"Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."

-- Bruce Lee
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
That's great, thanks for that, Jeff-- sharing it on the blog. PM me a web address to link to in the 'hat tip', if you want...
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
There are days I can play a beat and I'm keeping perfect time, exectuting every stroke, etc but it just doesn't "feel" right. The next day I may go back and play again where everything is not so technically perfect but the groove is there and I just feel it in my bones. That's when I most enjoy playing.
It happen to me too Mary :)

... it will sound a bit complicated because you're hearing all these other things going on because no one is locked together?
That's a nice way to put it Bo, when a band is not locked together, I generally find it annoying and in need of a good workout in terms of timing, but I guess Grea's right, there's good and bad sloppiness.

What day is today? Oh, it's someday. Henri, you're there my nomadic brother. I find your playing to be very tasteful elegant, and classy. You are a seasoned player for sure.
Haha... nice one Larry, thanks for the props, praise always feel good, but I'm definitely not were I want to be yet :)

Back to the thing about playing simple in a complex way, It's a more refined approach, which implies a lot of stage time to get that together.
Oh, I see what you mean now by "complex way", thanks for the clarification, it does makes sense now.

I never play sober. It's that simple.

*hic*
Lol. :) ... simple indeed.

Oh that's just great :( Have you any idea how long it's taken me to build this anti reputation?
Keep it Sober - I like it :)
Aaawh c'mon Grea, I'm sure Andy like his beer during a gig :)

Andy, you can just add an x to your username... Keep it simplex :)

Many reasons to do so too - it's fun, it physically feels good, it's good exercise and there's lots of people out there who like an acrobatics show more than anything.
I agree about the fun and the feel good factors, but to play the most naked "simple" groove is hard for me, but I'm not into "acrobatics show" either, this is more like it, very simplex indeed :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgfiYz4jo8I
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I get exactly what you mean. I think...

We used to play a country song called "I'm a Little More Country Than That." Transcribed, it would be the simplest song ever. But it was not easy to make it sound just right. For lack of a better way to describe it, I had to "feel" the right lift into the hihat. Because I sure couldn't describe to you what technique I was using to make them feel different, but if you played metronomically perfect eighths, it just didn't make the dancers want to dance...
 
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