Is the search for 'perfect' technique just as dangerous as the quest for speed?

Dave_Major

Silver Member
Hey, thought I'd post my first big question to spark a discussion.

This has been grating with me for a couple of days after reading and posting in this thread.http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=54612

Drumming has trends and to me it seems the current in thing is to search for perfect technique.

When Thomas Langs first dvd came out it seemed (to me) to spark a trend of polyrhythymic study. I know Thomas didn't invent the idea he just publicly and awesomely displayed it. So it became the in thing to study. But as with anything some people took it out of the realms of music and of into the distance.

I think the same thing is happening with hand techinque.

Jojo's Dvd is excellent and has saved my drumming career to be honest. It has also sparked the trend, i think, of people sitting at the practice pad learning the moeller and free stroke till the cows have stopped coming home because they want to you play a song and not on your pad.

Now i'm not dissing these techniques I think they are hugely helpful and any other technique for that matter but they are a means to an end. Jojo says it himself on the DVD (don't quote me on this) that the techniques are born out of neccessity to execute his ideas on the set.

To me the 2 techinques are natural by-products of playing the drums. I teach a 10 year old who does the free stroke effortlessly. And I havent taught him it it just happens.

Once something becomes more of a techincal exercise in how clever/clean/precise you or your hands are then the point (at least in my eyes) surely is lost. We are musicians and shouldn't we play music?

The original poster in the thread at the top said he sold his drums 5 years ago to get perfect technique and then when he is worthy he will get a set again.

The search for perfection is a rocky road full of dissapointment and self doubt.

So my original question.

Do you guys think that the search for technique is getting out of hand and the music is being lost?

Can't wait to hear your answers


Dave


*sorry for the long post. I guess this is more of a rant that anything else*
 

JPW

Silver Member
Once again I can make my favorite 'music = language' -analogy. =P Anyways, if music is a language then technique is the words and the small nyances in the use of those words. Only thing you need to do is define your audience since that will determine what kind of vocabulary you need. In spoken language there are the poets and there are the lingvists, we need them both to fully understand what this language thing is all about and how to apply it. But for most audiences we don't need to most fancy words and they even couldn't be understood by most so your message would be left misunderstood.

Then there's also the sports training analogy that if you want to seem relaxed and do everything without much effort you must do much much more difficult things than what you are actually doing while performing like the ankle weights while running etc.

But I dunno, it's also a mentality thing. I'm a perfectionist by nature, it has nothing to do with what I play. So it's just natural to me to deeply analyze my hand movements when practicing. I don't think of it as burden, I think it's fun. And if it's fun, why not do it if it also helps me in the process?

I also have this sort of philophy that I bottle up energy while I practice alone. I practice like a robot and some people think it's bad. But once I unleash the energy in the band rehearsals it propels me so far in to the other dimensions I don't even know where I am anymore. And if I let that energy come out during my daily practice it just doesn't happen the same way. It could be just me too...
 

ace76543

Senior Member
Perfect technique isn't a trend, it's a necessary tool if you want to be a good drummer. In fact, there's nothing trendy about it. Most drummers have bad technique. Asking if perfect technique is dangerous is like asking if drinking water daily could be dangerous
 

JPW

Silver Member
Perfect technique isn't a trend, it's a necessary tool if you want to be a good drummer. In fact, there's nothing trendy about it. Most drummers have bad technique. Asking if perfect technique is dangerous is like asking if drinking water daily could be dangerous
Too much water and too little salt and other electrolytes and you die. So your analogy actually supports not perfecting your technique =P
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
I think i should maybe clear up what I meant.

I am not in any way saying don't work on your technique and 'clean the engine' but my beef is with when this perfect clean stroke isn't used.

Sticking with the engine thing it would be like having a perfectly clean engine in your garage but no car...without it then its nice but not really much use.

Perfect technique isn't a trend, it's a necessary tool if you want to be a good drummer. In fact, there's nothing trendy about it. Most drummers have bad technique. Asking if perfect technique is dangerous is like asking if drinking water daily could be dangerous

I think that this isn't entirely true. There are loads of pro drummers who you could say have something wrong with their technique and could fix it. But technique is one part to drumming. What about groove, musicality, fills, balance, tempo, styles?

I always advocate proper technique to my students and make sure they have the correct grip, are relaxed, save enrgy by using naturalk motions etc. And I am working on my technique as well so I'm not saying don't work on it.


I think that some poeple get caught up in the search for technique and don't actually put it to good use.

That is what my original, slightly longwinded, first post was trying to elude to.

Cheers

Dave
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
if this is a trendy fad, then it's is a good one. you're right about a lot of people having bad technique. i did too until i started taking lessons. the jojo dvd helped me out as well.

but i don't actually know of anyone who is so caught up in the quest for improved technique that they forgot to play music. that kind of person is pretty rare, i would think.

what i do see is a lot of young kids caught up in the all consuming quest for double bass speed, to the point where they forget to play music. that is way more common.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
There are always going to be extreme cases of people who focus on things too much, and forget about the music, whether it's speed, technique, stick tricks, or even just the ages old problem of the "show off drummer" who is so focused on their own playing, they don't actually worry about making music with the band, and as such overplay and sound bad, even if what they play is actually pretty cool.

I honestly don't think there is a growing problem with people being over-focused on technique...in fact, I wish that was the case. Also, people need to realize that, just like there is no one right way to set up a drum kit, but there are ways that are wrong, there is no one right style of technique, but there are ones that are wrong. My basic grip in both matched and traditional have evolved from what is 100% "correct." But I know the correct technique, and have developed my own beyond it. It's important to know the rules, but also important to know that it's ok to break them, once you know them.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Music is what we should strive to make. If, to make that music, we need to be able to play faster, then we should work on speed. And, if we need to adopt a new technique to achieve that speed, then so be it. My opinion, based on years of teaching, is that any of the "advanced" techniques worth doing will develop naturally as the drummer's body needs to adapt.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I have had a few 10-12 year olds who naturally do the free stroke. It's great. or kids who will naturally use a Moeller stroke.

There is something lost but something gained in living everyday.As you refine your technique you can lose something. I have found that the strengthening of my left hand for example, has made it more difficult for me to execute a light mf when comping. Really doesn't matter in the Viking folk metal band I play with. But I have actually started using traditional grip when playing jazz to get that lighter touch back.

Music is always going to be lost when you get overly hung up on notes and the execution of notes. It's a give and take of what is needed for the task at hand. But we are developing a generation of drummers in all style of music who play with a very rugged sound, which I love. But it's going to be the drummers who comes along and plays with subtlety and nuance they people will notice.
 

JPW

Silver Member
Music is always going to be lost when you get overly hung up on notes and the execution of notes. It's a give and take of what is needed for the task at hand. But we are developing a generation of drummers in all style of music who play with a very rugged sound, which I love. But it's going to be the drummers who comes along and plays with subtlety and nuance they people will notice.
Yeah, we almost always improvise most of the stuff we play and I have noticed that I very rarely think of notes or technique while I play. Sometimes I amuse myself trying to figure out with notes what I'm actually playing. Quite often it's very hard and it isn't because I don't know how to write notes. For example if we have a normal suffle and triplet suffle and I play somewhere in between those two, how do you write that? =P (and that's only a really simple example)
 

Crazy+Hands

Senior Member
Delta proves a point....people think about technique too much i think. The proper techniques came about because they happen naturally with time and the right musical situation. There are no gimmicks or trends about them, just names that people put on them for marketing value and recognition. The thing is, most people aren't gifted enough to do them naturally and even more don't find the time to learn and master them...its all about the kind of music you want to play.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Technique for technique's sake is pointless. Moreover, we shouldn't be seduced by the thinking that only perfect technique can produce meaningful music. Vinnie Colauita - to use a high profile example - was playing positively jaw-dropping musical stuff even while his technique was causing him serious pain in his hands, back, etc. Steve Smith and Weckl were at the top of the game even before they decided to revamp their physical approach to the instrument. In short, musicality and technique are not synonymous.

For me, the role of technique was summed up beautifully by a friend of mine who said, "there shouldn't be any pain on the journey" - i.e. the distance from conception to execution. Here, "pain" was meant broadly as muscular tension and/or mental anxiety/doubt. The purpose of technique, as already stated in this thread, is to allow ideas to be executed more easily. I'd add that it is also to allow for the most beautiful sounds to be coaxed from the instrument. Sometimes, when thinking of technique, we think too much about what we're doing physically, and not enough about the sonic results.
 

Chazz

Senior Member
quote"The search for perfection is a rocky road full of dissapointment and self doubt.

So my original question.

Do you guys think that the search for technique is getting out of hand and the music is being lost?

Can't wait to hear your answers


Dave End Quote"

in my opinion - No, I don't think the search for technique is getting out of hand...
what you are seeing is a lot more 'Media tapes. DVD's, VHS, You tube videos...
go back a dozen or so years ago, & there were limited amount of Instructional Drum Videos made available..as compared to today's abundant Drum Video Library..
there are scores of drummers showing how to do the Moeller Technique on youtube,
as well as different finger technique's... This is all 'GOOD info for any Drummer'
there are tons of 'New or Novice' drummers who haven't seen some these instructional videos yet...Not everyone spends 20 years trying to find the Perfect Technique for all,
you develop & use what Works best for you! If want to share a new take on it make a video!


Best,
Chazz
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Technique for technique's sake is pointless. Moreover, we shouldn't be seduced by the thinking that only perfect technique can produce meaningful music. Vinnie Colauita - to use a high profile example - was playing positively jaw-dropping musical stuff even while his technique was causing him serious pain in his hands, back, etc. Steve Smith and Weckl were at the top of the game even before they decided to revamp their physical approach to the instrument. In short, musicality and technique are not synonymous.

For me, the role of technique was summed up beautifully by a friend of mine who said, "there shouldn't be any pain on the journey" - i.e. the distance from conception to execution. Here, "pain" was meant broadly as muscular tension and/or mental anxiety/doubt. The purpose of technique, as already stated in this thread, is to allow ideas to be executed more easily. I'd add that it is also to allow for the most beautiful sounds to be coaxed from the instrument. Sometimes, when thinking of technique, we think too much about what we're doing physically, and not enough about the sonic results.
I like this answer the best, I think I feel the same way. I ended up with chronic pain very suddenly, after my first year of playing. I've since adjusted my physical approach and completely reworked my hands. I play without pain and significant tension now. I've always been able to learn steadily and improve. At this point I don't see any major roadblocks to my goals and everything, including technique, is improving. I'm not going to obsess over it and spend several hours everyday just thinking about technique.

As with anything in life, you need balance. Selling your drums to focus strictly on technique, on a practice pad...seems drastic and unnecessary. Why would you cut the musical aspect out of your quest to master a musical instrument?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I had my family for Christmas dinner a few years ago and told my sister that I wanted everything to be perfect. Her response was that expecting perfection is to invite failure. Practice to do all you can to get better and set your goals high, but expecting perfection is indeed, in my opinion, setting yourself up for defeat.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
This is all 'GOOD info for any Drummer'
I don't entirely agree. The signal-noise ratio is high. There is a lot of poorly communicated or incomplete knowledge being passed around, and novice drummers don't have the tools to discern the good from the bad. Most importantly, the proliferation of videos, books, YouTube, etc. seems to have made many people discount the importance of living, breathing teachers and the power of mentoring relationships. Similarly, for many it seems to have completely replaced the quest to go out and see and hear live music: why go see a local pro play down at the pub when you can simply buy Thomas Lang's DVD and watch him play 15 pedals in 26/12 with his hands playing an ostinato in 15/8? That thing can be really, really seductive to new drummers because it is complex and flashy, but it really takes the focus off of learning the sorts of things that it takes to begin and hold down a career as a player.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
why go see a local pro play down at the pub when you can simply buy Thomas Lang's DVD and watch him play 15 pedals in 26/12
(That would be a problem considering that there's no such thing as a twelfth-note.)

I'm convinced that perfection is an illusion. I've never known anyone with perfect technique. There's always an edge that you get closer and closer to and how you handle that proximity to the edge is what makes you a good player. Some people put themselves so perilously close and handle it so well that they can well be considered great players, if that makes any sense at all.
 

Derek Roddy

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Perfect technique isn't a trend, it's a necessary tool if you want to be a good drummer. In fact, there's nothing trendy about it. Most drummers have bad technique. Asking if perfect technique is dangerous is like asking if drinking water daily could be dangerous
Tell that to Chick Webb. Haha.

Technique has nothing to do with the creation of music....as evident with your statement that.... "most drummers have bad technique".
I can think of loads of great drummers ( in great bands) with "bad technique".

D.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
(That would be a problem considering that there's no such thing as a twelfth-note.)
Thanks for the theory lesson, but there sure are 12th-notes. A twelfth-note is the same as an 8th-note triplet in 4/4 time. I.e. dividing a bar into 12 notes. In fact, you'll find Scottish Pipe Band drummers using "1/12 notes" and even "1/24 notes" as a description in some of their stuff. It's simply not common parlance. Though, I'd argue that it makes a lot more sense than an "8th note triplet" which is actually utter nonsense. Anyway, the fact that it's obscure and confusing is EXACTLY why I chose it. Even if it weren't true, it's merely there to make a point.
 

JPW

Silver Member
Thanks for the theory lesson, but there sure are 12th-notes. A twelfth-note is an 8th-note triplet in 4/4 time. I.e. dividing a bar into 12 notes. In fact, you'll find Scottish Pipe Band drummers using "1/12 notes" and even "1/24 notes" as a description in some of their stuff. It's simply not common parlance. The fact that it's obscure is EXACTLY why I chose it.
Though there aren't any 12th notes on Lang's DVD. At least not on the excercises which I find btw most usefull for anyone who does lots of improvisation. But I guess I should just let it go and be a flesh metronome like every one here tries to teach us to be...
 
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