Musical / technical approach


Silver Member
Hi guys,

I am currently playing with a classic guitar player who is mostly a multi-instrument player and composer (prog-latin-classic-odd time). He contacted me so I could add groove and texture to his compositions as he does not play drums but adds them in logic by other means and it sounds pretty square.

I am now filtering out stuff to keep a good backbeat without too much fills as to not over-drum the thing.

So for recording purposes should I go in with a really tight game plan, with each bar pre-arranged like a robot, or should I leave room for some improv and add to taste depending on the feel of the moment ?

I was watching VC on Stings' Seven days, and was wondering if you think everything was all planned-out before he sat behind the kit or if he or others leave room for spontaneity. Awesome drumming in any case.

I don't want to look unprepared and therefore unprofessional, that's why I'm asking.

Thank you !


"Uncle Larry"
JMO, and speaking for myself only, going in with an agenda was never a good approach for me. I do best when I go in with a blank mind and let the impressions of what I'm hearing mold the drum part. Like I trust that I will experience something from his playing, so I just try and feel what I would like to hear from the drums, based on what and how he plays.

If you know his music beforehand, then maybe you can come up with a part beforehand, without any pressure. But if you're not sure what he's going to play, me, I'd just go in like a blank slate and invent the part as I saw fit.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I would listen and play along with his style of music as much as I could before the session. But just as Larry said, follow your feelings when you get to the session. Besides, he wants some groove and texture and you said that what he has been adding sounds "square". It's hard to prepare or write out charts for groove.

I'm sure as you test out some patterns he will work with you saying things like, "yeah I like that" or "no try something different" etc.



Platinum Member
Probably even Vinnie woodshedded that Seven Days groove before the band cut tracks in the studio. There's a clinic where he describes hearing the demo and being told, by Sting, that the hi-hat/shaker part should resolve every two measures.

If the material is odd-time/prog/latin, and you're not playing odd-time/prog/latin music all the time, then yes, be very deliberate and planned out. The more familiar you are with the beats and fills you'll be playing, the more you can just focus on delivering a performance that just feels good, above all else. After you've established a certain comfort level with the material, then start improvising if you think there's room for improvement. With challenging material, go in having a very well-thought out Plan A. On the spot variations, i.e. Plan B, improv-territory, can happen much more easily if Plan A has been handled.


Silver Member
All very good advice.

Latin is ok for me, planning for prog is hard, and odd times I am covering by playing songs accordingly.

I need to leave room for the feel and improv, and i'll jam with him a good couple of times before recording and see what cuts it and what needs to be cut out.

I put the word out to find better musicians than me so I would evolve, and boy did I get my moneys worth ! A bit impressive at first but I'll try my best and I am working my arse off.

Thank you all.


Gold Member
I don't necessarily think that it is an either/or situation. Don't think about drum parts in terms of technical vs musical. Really all part should be musical and should complement the song itself. Make sure you are comfortable with odd time signatures, and try to listen to what others have played when playing similar styles.

Most importantly, just listen to the guitar player and find parts that complement what he's playing. Music should be conversational, you can refresh your knowledge of the subject, but there really isn't much you can do to prepare for a conversation.

I don't think there's ever a point where you'd want to play really technical but not musical...