March to the beat of your own drummer?

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Many times, I won't even refer to the original song because I've heard it so many times on the radio. We'll just add a song and I know the stops and breaks. I know how long each verse and chorus is, and how many times they're played with whatever thrown in between. We don't play Wooden Ships like the original, so really, listening to the original won't help the drummer much. I just do my own thing.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
There's very few songs I play exactly like the record. I play what I think is going on. Sometimes I play stuff that I think should be there, but it's not on the original. Because I can. For instance many people like our take on "Wagon Wheel" much better than Darius Rucker's version, which I think is too fast and misses the authentic country feel. I hear that a lot.

Good musicians can make you think that what you're hearing sounds like the original, or at least just as good as the original, when it's technically not. We do Billy Joel's "My Life". Which has some unusual piano chords that kind of define the song. Well we don't have a piano, so he plays those exact chords on guitar and it works. We have to make do as a 3 piece, it's unavoidable.

I'll play parts that I could swear are on the record but they're not. I'll hear the original after a long time and go hmmm. Where did we get that part? "Born on the Bayou is like that. It just morphed on it's own. I have to work with what is actually going on, which may or may not be accurate to the original...That's why I don't mind playing covers because copying a part note for note...not my cup of tea. It's unnatural to avoid my own instincts, admittedly, even though I am completely influenced by the original drum part. How could you not be. Imprinting is powerful stuff.

Basically I play the song like I would if I was on the original recording.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
If I don't know a song very well, I'll play what I think the part is or should be, usually based on its era. That is, I have an arsenal of '60s, classic rock, etc fills and beats that are appropriate for most occasions.

However if I know the song - and I know a LOT of songs - I play it like the hit recording, unless the band does a deliberately different version. And then I do my best to make it sound as if it was intended that way in the first place.

Bermuda
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I play it like the hit recording, unless the band does a deliberately different version.
And then I do my best to make it sound as if it was intended that way in the first place.
Bermuda
Dear Bermuda:
Based on the entertainer you play drums for, most of the time, you should not be allowed to comment on this thread.... LOL

.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Dear Bermuda:
Based on the entertainer you play drums for, most of the time, you should not be allowed to comment on this thread.... LOL

.
LOL!

However, I totally agree that it usually should depend on what everyone else is doing. If the band is doing its own take on a song, by all means I think you should do what suits the song in that new style.

But when the drummer is the only one making up new parts I read that as being too lazy to learn the song.

I think drums get a little leeway on playing things note for note but I also think too many times some drummers abuse that by either dumbing down a busy part or filling up an open one and calling it "creativity."
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Dear Bermuda:
Based on the entertainer you play drums for, most of the time, you should not be allowed to comment on this thread.... LOL

.
I meant that's how I handle all of the bands (that do covers) that I've played with for the last 40 years (and I'm currently in at least 4 working bands when not on the road.) The Al gig is far more extreme than what I can possibly bring to my local gigs.

Bermuda
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I meant that's how I handle all of the bands (that do covers) that I've played with for the last 40 years (and I'm currently in at least 4 working bands when not on the road.) The Al gig is far more extreme than what I can possibly bring to my local gigs.

Bermuda
Right on. I was just having some fun based on the "extreme" part of your career......

.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
In my Classic Rock band I listen to the original (or best known) version of a song and do my best to emulate everything on it. I'm nowhere near good enough to do this, but by aiming for the very best copy of a drum part that I can, enough of it makes its way into my performance to "pass for" the original part. It's like that saying, if you aim for the stars and don't hit them you'll hit the moon instead. There are parts in some songs that are not negotiable. FYI, we don't play Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin, but if we did then the drum solo at the end would have to be in there. If it wasn't then we wouldn't do it.

In my Glam Rock band my approach is different. There are a lot of shuffles and floor Tom work in some of these songs and as my band is taking the music from the period and rocking it up, these don't quite "work" in the context of the band so I come up with alternatives. To take my last point from the previous paragraph, the snare and bass shuffle from Ballroom Blitz is present at the beginning of the song and the breaks within the song, however I use snare and hi hat between these points and don't re introduce the shuffle the way it was done in the original. Partly because it fits our band, mostly it's because I'm not fit to carry Mick Tuckers stick bag :) We also totally alter a lot of songs with stabs, stops and key changes but that's more to do with our bands identity, if we were more "serious" and doing the tribute or corporate circuits then we'd be as authentic to the originals as we could. Of course now with YouTube we can also see that even the band's themselves often played live versions radically different to their recorded versions.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Every original version has a feel, a pulse and a flavor, and I have to get that or I dont think the song sounds right. I dont even try to follow exactly what the original drummer is doing, but the finished article has to sound and feel right.

If we are doing the song in another style then its pretty much fair game, but again the drumming has to either create the new feel or blend with the style the band are going for.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
In my Classic Rock band I listen to the original (or best known) version of a song and do my best to emulate everything on it. I'm nowhere near good enough to do this, but by aiming for the very best copy of a drum part that I can, enough of it makes its way into my performance to "pass for" the original part. It's like that saying, if you aim for the stars and don't hit them you'll hit the moon instead. There are parts in some songs that are not negotiable. FYI, we don't play Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin, but if we did then the drum solo at the end would have to be in there. If it wasn't then we wouldn't do it.

In my Glam Rock band my approach is different. There are a lot of shuffles and floor Tom work in some of these songs and as my band is taking the music from the period and rocking it up, these don't quite "work" in the context of the band so I come up with alternatives. To take my last point from the previous paragraph, the snare and bass shuffle from Ballroom Blitz is present at the beginning of the song and the breaks within the song, however I use snare and hi hat between these points and don't re introduce the shuffle the way it was done in the original. Partly because it fits our band, mostly it's because I'm not fit to carry Mick Tuckers stick bag :) We also totally alter a lot of songs with stabs, stops and key changes but that's more to do with our bands identity, if we were more "serious" and doing the tribute or corporate circuits then we'd be as authentic to the originals as we could. Of course now with YouTube we can also see that even the band's themselves often played live versions radically different to their recorded versions.
We play rock and Roll and I play as much of the drum part as possible. But I cannot get those hertas at the end to sound good and at the right speed, so I play the beginning of the ending and then deviate to something I can play.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
It really depends on the gig, the audience, the band, the song...so much about what you're trying to get out of it. Sometimes there's nothing more effective than a note-for-note nailing of a song; sometimes you can flip out an audience with a completely original interpretation of a classic. Go with what works for that particular performance.

My approach is basically this: if you're aping the original exactly, make it SOUND like it's your own. If you're doing a completely different reading, make it SOUND like it's the original.

It's a pretty arcane notion, but I think it can be boiled down to just playing with the right attitude (whatever attitude that is).
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
It's a pretty arcane notion, but I think it can be boiled down to just playing with the right attitude (whatever attitude that is).
There's a lot to that, too. The way our drums sound and the way we play them adds another dimension to the parts, even if played note-for-note like the original. So while I try to play songs as close as possible to the original version - the parts that make a song worth playing in the first place - , the way I smack my snare, hit the hats, and tune the drums, makes it my own (somewhat.)

Bermuda
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
My last band played old numbers, often tunes that people have heard too much in their original form, so we'd deliberately give the cover a twist. Sometimes it felt almost like working on original tunes, which was fun.
 

Superman

Gold Member
I think some songs absolutely need to be played like the record or they wouldn't sound right; Everlong by the Foo Fighters comes to mind. Most others have generic beats and fills that can be played in a variety of ways without the song suffering. If a song doesn't have a signature beat or fill then I usually just play it how I see fit. I would say the exception is if you happen to play in a tribute band, then it should be played note for note.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
In my Classic Rock band I listen to the original (or best known) version of a song and do my best to emulate everything on it. I'm nowhere near good enough to do this, but by aiming for the very best copy of a drum part that I can, enough of it makes its way into my performance to "pass for" the original part. It's like that saying, if you aim for the stars and don't hit them you'll hit the moon instead. There are parts in some songs that are not negotiable. FYI, we don't play Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin, but if we did then the drum solo at the end would have to be in there. If it wasn't then we wouldn't do it.
This pretty much sums it up for me. I'm not good enough to get all the parts exactly they way they were recorded originally, and I'm not certain that it matters in a local bar band, so long as the basic feel for the song is the same.

As Woolwich says, tho, there are some parts that simply have to be there. I love his example about Zep's "Rock And Roll", because I won't have us play it until I can play the intro and the ending close enough. Songs like "Born To Be Wild" and "All Right Now" have very, very signature fills in them that I feel simply have to be there. "In The Air Tonight" has one, as well. When I hear other bands play them, and the drummer doesn't at least try to do those specific fills, I'm disappointed. The whole song doesn't have to be accurate to the recording, but those signature fills should be in there in some fashion similar to the original.

Beyond that, make the song sound right for the band you're playing in.
 
Top