Jazz in the Time of Covid and Beyond

Find something that you suck at (we all know our weak points), and practise it, loads. You'll never get another opportunity like this to play consistently without the pressure of performance or even band rehearsals.
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
I think you understood that that my point was that you don't have to learn that crazy Stick Control application. I mean that's all good, but my point is to put even a technical exercise into a musical context. Always play off of something.

As far as remembering melodies, it just takes a lot practice, Sing, a lot. Sing out loud, in your head. Just do it everyday! I sing along with Sintra, Miles Davis , John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, to name a few. When I started in college back in the 80's I had HORRIBLE ears and sense of pitch. I only had played drums up until then. After a butt load of theory, ear training, sight singing, piano, and mallets and it slowly got together. Now I sing on gigs, and people compliment me more on my voice than they ever did on my instrument. But being able to sing everything that I play has made me a much better drummer. Steve Houghton had " Can't sing it, can't play it" painted on his wall!

Check out Steve Gadd demonstrating brushes while humming "My Romance" and "Bye Bye Black Bird" I think the great drummers are always playing off of something like a melody in there mind (audiation) or humming or kind of grunting.

I did understand. I just tend to nerd out on that kind of stuff.

It’s good to hear that it takes a lot of practice to hear the melody because it doesn’t come natural to me, but I regongise the need. I experience this when trying to trade or solo. I have enough chops to play what I want to but I can’t hear what I would want to play in that moment. My mind goes blank.
 

Paul Blood

Junior Member
Mr. Farkle, I've been guilty too over obsessing over esoteric exercises too, we're both drum nerds! We are on an internet drum forum after all ....

I would just like to encourage you to make it a habit of always playing off of something in your mind. The melody, a bassline, a clave or vamp.... Just try to sing it out loud at first. Just like your drum teacher made you count out loud when you were a kid. I see singing and playing a continuation of counting. It establishes where you are at in the form and will give you a strong frame work from which you can improvise.

You saw the video of Steve Gadd playing brushes on a box? He sounds so musical and grooves because he is playing off of something - in this case the melody which you can hear him hum. Your mind won't go "blank" as you say if you're playing off of something.

Here's Elvin Jones demonstrating how to go about creating a drum solo. What is he playing off of? Yes, the melody.

 
I would just like to encourage you to make it a habit of always playing off of something in your mind. The melody, a bassline, a clave or vamp.... Just try to sing it out loud at first. Just like your drum teacher made you count out loud when you were a kid. I see singing and playing a continuation of counting. It establishes where you are at in the form and will give you a strong frame work from which you can improvise.
+1 for esoteric exercises and thinking

I cannot emphasize enough to "always play off of something." I cannot imagine improvising or just grooving on drums without at least a simple melody or vamp like Paul mentioned, even if it's just the basic and identical 'boom clack, boom boom clack' sound of the simple rock beats while you're playing them. You can mimic an exact sound in your head or you can play off of it (syncopate, react to it, etc) and let it inspire your drumming. Try to sing/scat the sax solo that you wish you were hearing somebody else play. Any rhythmic cadence should do the trick too, but consider that playing even the most basic beats on a drum set do produce melodies themselves.

I don't always necessarily audibly sing along if I'm playing solo. Sometimes it's more of a guttural thing. Sometimes it's purely mental construct of some vamp. Sometimes it is simply a metronomic quarter note pulse that you've ingrained in your head to provide a context to play along with. But it is always something.
 
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