MEMORIZING DRUM PARTS

Zickos

Gold Member
When learning covers I usually do what I call "picket fence charts". One bar is one I, so it all gets pretty visual. I recently did Dirt Road Anthem by Jason Aldean and it would look like this, with comments after each section if any.

INTROIIII
CHO IIII IIII
RAP IIII IIII
CHO IIII IIII
RAP IIII II
CHO IIII IIII
SOLO IIII
CHO BD IIII IIII (BASS LAY OUT 1-4)
SOLO IIII

Interesting I must say.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Page 1 of a chart I've been writing for a tune that I'm set to record on Wednesday.
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drummer-russ

Gold Member
Rather than count the bars, I listen to the song form, specifically, the chord progression of the rhythm guitar or the keys. For instance in one song we do, I know that the guitar solo portion runs through the verse/chorus chord progression twice. At the end of the 2nd progression, if I detect that he's not ready to end his solo, (it's obvious) then I know he wants to go around one more time before going back into the last verse.

I would go bats counting stuff. The chord progression and/or the melody are the main signposts I use to know where I am in the song. I don't even have to think about it because it's being given to me, all I have to do is listen. Even if the singer messes up, since I know the melody, it doesn't throw me. If I got thrown by people who get lost in the form (my bass player does this quite often), I would not be a strong player. If my bass player gets lost, there is no altering the form for him. It's up to him to catch up to where we are. As it should be. My band is non forgiving like that. You can't cater to the weak link.

Relying on the chord progression frees me up from counting, and allows me to think musically, rather than mathematically. If the rhythm guitar messes up, (which just doesn't happen in my band) the progression is ingrained in my brain, and I am able to steer the band out of the gutter and back on the road, because I know where we are supposed to be in the chord progression. Thankfully, it's like a 6th sense that I don't even have to think about.

I guess once I chart it as I did above I then rely on recognizing the chord changes. I don't have to count twelve bars, I think the charting helps me to internalize it. Since I work in the training business I know I am a visual learner so the writing is more a part of the learning than counting is a part of the playing. It does also give me a quick reference to recall the song.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
Memorizing drum parts?

That's EZ...

shell, lugs, tension screws, drumhead, rims, pedals.....
 

Macarina

Silver Member
I already struggle with the fact that I cannot play them accurately but I can live with that if its 'almost there'. I like to think I play with feel and that I have a certain amount of musical ability but I still miss parts, a fill, use the hi-hats instead of the ride or worse... forget where I am and miss a whole song section! I know I have a crap short term memory but this is starting to drive me nuts. Why can't I get it perfect? Is this normal?

Some of these songs we have been playing since day one and I don't think I have played a song in the same way twice!

The worst thing is realizing I am doing something wrong and try to correct it midway which can throw me off and and occasionally the band. Should I just go with the flow I am already in???

Having said all this...the band often play a song through and say it sounded great but I am beating myself up over little screw ups! Am I being too over critical? Will the crowd even notice?

I want to get a first gig under my belt but at the same time I have got hang ups on my ability and the bands ability to a certain extent. Maybe we are not ready...maybe it's just me!

Set my mind at ease or hit me with some tips! :)

Been there, done that. I hear ya brother... and on occasion I still run into some of the things you talk about.

For me, I was constantly exploring different possibilities of the song structure. It usually was compromise of studio song difficulty divided by my abilities to get a reasonable facsimile on the difficult songs. It was a double edge sword. It was fun exploring, but that constantly led me down bunny trails.

For me I learned to eventually pick something that works for me and stick with it.

95% of the time I think a song is way harder/complex than it is. Simplify.

PS: Every once in awhile, a song we've been playing for a few weeks, some of the band mates suggest I play it like the recording. While the whole time I thought I was. Gahhh! They are typically right. It's just that I've got my muscle memory that way I've been playing for last month or two.
 

DrumDoug

Senior Member
Memorizing songs is probably my biggest weakness as a player. I've tried all kinds of ways to learn songs but nothing sticks. I know that making charts helps a lot of you but it actually makes it worse for me. I joined one band and had to learn all 45 of their songs in two weeks so i wrote out charts for everything. A year later I still didn't know any of the songs because i just relied on the charts. I only chart out songs now if I really don't have time to learn it. But even on songs that I have "learned", if I go two or three weeks without playing them, i forget how they start or stop. I know myself well enough to not even bother joining a band that does stuff like Rush or Tower of Power. I would never be able to remember the songs.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I can't imagine not being able to remember songs. That's the one thing that works the best with me is my musical memory. I'll go to get a glass of water and my wife asks me to bring the mustard, and I get the water and space the mustard. She just said it 15 seconds ago.

Yet I can remember the exact arrangement, down to the little nuances, on a song I haven't heard in 30 years. Total recall, zero effort.

If I'm learning a song and I write a chart, that's it, I don't need the chart anymore. Once I see the arrangement summarized with my eyes, (eg verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/ hook/solo/ bridge/verse/ ending)it's burned in my brain. Forever. Strange I remember music and hardly anything else.
 

Friedmett

Senior Member
I have been playing guitar for decades and drums for less but learning to memorise the parts is just a matter of knowing your mind a little bit. To get an idea of how it works.

Devided into 2 parts you have conscious and subconscious mind.

The conscious mind is open to every input from daily life and can reject or accept what one agrees with.

The subconscious mind is where your accepted ideas ends up as habits even the negative ones. It can not reject them.

So it is all a matter of being productive and learn the parts so they get accepted as habits and then you will recall them with not trouble.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Too many issues and circumstances to list here!

The OP obviously needs to learn to make charts, and the picket fence method is a great place to start. Later on, the OP can add more detail, such as rests and ensemble hits, a description of the different beats and sound sources (ride, hats, cowbell, etc.), and so on. But to make such charts, you need to develop your ear with respect to pitched instruments, not just drums. No matter how old you are, you can do it, but it can't be done just by listening or drumming along -- you're going to need at least some training on piano, bass, guitar, or orchestral instrument. It doesn't really matter what you learn on, so much as you relate your learning to identifying patterns and structures within songs. Learning to hear and play simple chord progressions and melodies is the key to understanding music enough to accurately write out a simple chart. Piano is usually the easiest to start with (simple melodies and chord changes can be played in a few short days).

While it's true that very simplistic music that you know well can be learned without being charted, or be charted without training, very rarely does a musician wish to play the same, simplistic music for the rest of their life. Charting a song doesn't just provide you a chart, it also forces you to critically examine how the song is organized, and to listen carefully for what instruments are playing and when. As you make a chart, you listen actively, rather than just "following" a tune as you play along.

You should also play along, of course. And you should sing along, too -- not just the vocal melodies, but drum beats and fills, guitar riffs, bass lines, horn arrangements, back up vocals, everything! And then, when you're a busy working pro and you get a call to sub in on a cover gig at the last minute, or to join a band on tour, but you only have a few days to prepare (or less!), you'll have the preparation methods necessary to play the gig well, with little to no rehearsal. Little to no rehearsal is how the professional music world works, most of the time.
 

Bonzo_CR

Silver Member
When learning covers I usually do what I call "picket fence charts". One bar is one I, so it all gets pretty visual. I recently did Dirt Road Anthem by Jason Aldean and it would look like this, with comments after each section if any.

INTROIIII
CHO IIII IIII
RAP IIII IIII
CHO IIII IIII
RAP IIII II
CHO IIII IIII
SOLO IIII
CHO BD IIII IIII (BASS LAY OUT 1-4)
SOLO IIII


That is a nice shorthand. I usually write '8b, 16b etc' for number of bars but I like your picket fence idea better!
 

moxman

Silver Member
yes.. get really good at listening to a tune and ;
- break it down into (usually) 8 bar sections (intro, verse chorus, bridge etc, end)
- write out fast charts (shorthand).. note key dynamic, cymbal crashes, groove type

practice with the chart and a recording and see how it meshes... then practice without the recording.. either with or without the chart.. then no chart.

it will then be locked into memory.

keep the tunes fresh in memory by listening while travelling by car/bus etc.

This works.. you don't need note by note transcriptions.. just quick charts - it forces you to listen and memorize it. I often learn 40-60 tunes at a time when I join a new band.. and usually have them all down within a few weeks.
 
I am having trouble when i go from practising a song by myself to live playing. When auditioning for a new band, i often learn the songs on my ipod and I literally learn them inside out and backwards but I still manage to lose myself when it comes to playing live. Its not nerves, i feel quite confident playing. I find I struggle especially at the beginning of a song (like how it starts) and in transitions (chorus to verse, verse to chorus etc). Do you guys have any good tips for putting songs to memory? i really want to nail the song on the first go.
When I stopped smoking crack, I could remember songs better.
 

SVBJECT

Well-known member
I struggle with this kind of thing too. I did a drumming/music degree and I even asked one of my lecturers and she didnt even seem to understand the question!

I write out the sheet music in really formulaic layout, 4 bars to a line, if theres a 1 bar fill, say, that throws the 4 bar vibe, itll get its own line (taking up 1/4 of the line) and then basically picture that and site read....I've got quite a visual memory, so maybe doesn't work for everyone!
One band i played with had I thought a brilliant practice technique. They had the set list and without stopping we played the whole set but just the introductions and the outro (we obviously agreed which bits we were going to do. I just clicked them in, we played the intro followed by the end bit and straight onto the next song. Really reinforces who has to start and gets the begining of each song in your head. And highlights any long pauses where the guitar player are twiddling with settings
This makes a lot of sense to me
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
They use to give us tapes of songs to learn for church. I don't know why we never played it like recording. It's been the same in bands too. I've gone to try out for a band-they send me a list of songs. I practice show up and they start a song I know-within a minute or two you realize your playing the recording but they aren't. This is often because different musicians want to express themselves in a song or sometimes they can't play the part as recording so they make up a part that they can that fits-I've done that too. It's frustrating when it's a great song and you "finally" can play it like recording but the bassist or guitar-somebody says they can't and eliminate the dang song. I use to drive and listen to songs-over and over again till my brain memorized it. We would have these big productions for orchestra and I'd memorize it backwards/forwards/sideways and for weeks the songs would resonate in my head. I can't do that now-hearing issues. More recently my memory has turned to mud and dysgraphia gone off scale ( Misspell common words, leave out words I think but don't write, can't remember stuff=it worries me TBH I'm hoping it' transient from stress and whatnot-my wife has similar memory stuff. I know stress can really impact memory-hey I remember that LOL). Just noted this is an old thread. Wonder what happened to BillyRay-I always enjoyed his videos.
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
If I learn a tune by ear I've got it down. If I make my own chart kinda retard style (not understood by readers) I'll have a hard time remembering the tune unless my chart is there. I've had to do this and if my chart is misplaced I'm $!@%!'d.
 
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