Playing as if you are listening?

Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
oh gawd...if we are talking about looks then I lose automatically...no amount of practicing or repping or great equipment could change that!!!
Oh, I'm with you on that! :LOL:

There's a reason I have equipment semi-blocking me on stage. As long as I serve the songs right, the audience will just have to learn to love me...;)🔥
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
...to a certain degree. I just can not subscribe to this train of thought as an "all the time" mantra....cause what if the music calls for busy drumming to drive it? What if the drum beat IS the melody...the hook...

I think that everything has to happen in even doses for there to be true effect...we sometimes need to be "ignored", and we sometimes have to be "up front"

again, for me, balance is the ultimate right answer. honestly, a whole 2 hour show of the "ghost drummer" is pretty boring...just like a 2 hour drum clinic is pretty boring
Busy drumming definitely suits some pieces. For me, it's not about the intricacy of one's drumming but whether one's judgement benefits the greater ensemble. Drum parts are no better than the songs they serve. Overplaying in one context might represent underplaying in another. Regardless, I think a good drummer does exactly what a song demands -- nothing less and nothing more.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Busy drumming definitely suits some pieces. For me, it's not about the intricacy of one's drumming but whether one's judgement benefits the greater ensemble. Drum parts are no better than the songs they serve. Overplaying in one context might represent underplaying in another. Regardless, I think a good drummer does exactly what a song demands -- nothing less and nothing more.

true...and again, balance, and sensitivity to the greater song is what creates brilliance and "legendary" in my book...
 

Square

Well-known member
As a long time guitarist, I have recorded myself on many occasions. Press stop and think yeah that will work. Press play and think what the hell was that? Then again I have gone back to recordings made years ago and thought three things; One, I don't remember recording/playing this. Two, How the hell did I play that? And three, Damn that was pretty good.

I think time offers a perspective that provides clarity and honesty. It is often said that we are our own worst critic. That is a good thing, but we have to recognize that the emotional investment (which fades with time) can color our perception.

All that said, I have recorded my drumming and by any measure, I have miles to go before I sleep...
 
I believe that the more experience you have practicing, playing with other musicians and listening to yourself back, the closer your perception will get to reality. Listening back to your own playing can be painful and I still struggle with it to this day, as do pretty much all drummers - even the very best. It's like muscle burn of the brain, you have to push through the burn in order to improve. If you keep persisting, you will get to the point where what you think you sound like and what you actually sound like will be very close. I think Gavin Harrison makes a great analogy here with his "CPU theory", definitely worth a watch.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
honestly, the worst videos of my self I ever had to watch were in conducting class in college...awkward

we would also watch everyones - and analyze them - in class...just brutal
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
Watching Gavin I need to go over it a couple of times. He very relaxing yet interesting. I can't comment on it particularly YET. He reminded me of a more upbeat Paul Mcartney.
 

doggyd69b

Well-known member
I wonder if any drummer feels they've reached their pinnacle or is it always the constant struggle and persistence to maintain some level of competency and then more work to improve. I've worked on all sorts of stuff and make great strides then move on to something else but then can finally come back to that you thought had made such progress and find you've turned into a steaming pile :poop: . You want to play strong clean open single, double and triple stroke rolls you have to work on them all the time.
In the very beginning of my drumming I used to want to reach a certain level but then I just let that go and it was a lot easier to play without the pressure of trying to attain anything. My skills developed a lot faster when I was relaxed than when I was actively trying to achieve a certain technique or what one of the drummers I listen to did. Listening to recordings from back then, they are not terribly bad, if anything, very simplistic but with good time keeping so that helps them. I compare that to present time. I am not the best drummer out there but I am not bad. ( And I don't care to be the best either). To me is not a show of who can play the most complex polyrhythm or the fastest double bass or drum roll. To me it is about how can I make the song better? How can I make the band sound tighter? (without over playing).
 

s1212z

Well-known member
Sometimes filling the space is what is call for, but more a matter of when (not what)

I think I was alot more reserved in the formative years with very minimal fills, mainly I didn't have the technique I want at that point yet but also was overly influenced on groove drummers and just laying pocket. I would actually hear from bandmates to encourage me to stretch out a bit more, they wanted that energy. So I don't reserve that just sitting back like a drum machine is always the winning musical formula but rather being attentive to what the music needs.

There is a magic to 1st takes sometimes where the groove locks well and the freshness is exciting to both performer and listener but the performer is also disciplined to what is necessary....at the same time taking chances of spontaneity (the audience heres this too) that gives an air of innocence of something that could never be preconceived. These are always my favorite performances, it is something that can never get replicated.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
Drive the band, don't let them drive you.
Nail two and four baby. With precision
That's really about it.
You now sound like a professional.
 
I remember Steve Gadd once saying he tries to think of things that DONT bring attention to the drums. That was profound to me.
Yes. This method has helped my time a lot. In Effortless Mastery, he says(paraphrasing): when you play, imagine you’re just listening to a record of the performance.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Yes. This method has helped my time a lot. In Effortless Mastery, he says(paraphrasing): when you play, imagine you’re just listening to a record of the performance.

I have always done this...when I was younger, it was probably used more for "dreaming" and hero worship, but as I got more involved in music, it became more of an analyzation tool for sure
 

doggyd69b

Well-known member
I listened to some recording I did in the 90's... The drumming was simplistic but damn fast, I struggle to play it that fast and that clean today.
I think of what parts I could improve with my current skills... I come up with a very similar version of what I played originally, and sometimes I don't change anything
Sometimes filling the space is what is call for, but more a matter of when (not what)

I think I was alot more reserved in the formative years with very minimal fills, mainly I didn't have the technique I want at that point yet but also was overly influenced on groove drummers and just laying pocket. I would actually hear from bandmates to encourage me to stretch out a bit more, they wanted that energy. So I don't reserve that just sitting back like a drum machine is always the winning musical formula but rather being attentive to what the music needs.

There is a magic to 1st takes sometimes where the groove locks well and the freshness is exciting to both performer and listener but the performer is also disciplined to what is necessary....at the same time taking chances of spontaneity (the audience heres this too) that gives an air of innocence of something that could never be preconceived. These are always my favorite performances, it is something that can never get replicated.
I don't advocate to be a metronome whore and make it sound like a robot is playing.. I think the beat should be kept to the best of your ability, but your accents or your rolls should be dynamic and purposeful so as to not be taking away from the rest of the performance but the opposite, they should add that little bit of spice without being overbearing. A little bit louder than the rest of the playing but not too loud where you drown things. Those that focus solely on staying in the pocket tend to forget accents and changes at times. You can be in the pocket and not be robotic, just don't be like the "This drummer is at the wrong gig" guy (look it up in YouTube).
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
One of the worst moments of my drumming life was when the best local band in the area were not actually auditioning but seeking a drummer. Loooooong story short I end up jamming with Freight..the most kick azz band. During the jam which lasted for hours I kept thinking I was the coolest thing these people have ever heard. It was being recorded and during a break Rusty played some of it back. I could have cried..literally. That was NOT me!. Thinking your Mr. Bad azz and realizing quite the opposite is horrifically humbling.

Listen to it again when you've forgotten what you were trying to play, and what you thought you sounded like in the moment. It's probably fine. Every time I do that it sounds fine. If you didn't sound fine, those guys wouldn't have played with you for hours and hours.

I remember Dave Weckl mentioning that he tries putting himself as if he's out front listening to shape his drumming as the two are different. Has ANYONE tried doing this?..has it changed your direction?.

Maybe Weckl is at a place with his playing (and his mind) where he can do that-- actually overthink his playing and not have it make him suck. Most of the time that makes people suck. I think it's a mistake to be criticizing your playing while you're doing it.
 

pocket player

Junior Member
We are our own worst critic when it comes to listening to our own playing . I have found as I have matured that I realize the power of simplicity and how it can really make music groove . I play less fills , and those are less bombastic or chopfests too . Trying to imagine yourself in the audience is a great idea . The most interesting thing for me is that as I simplified my playing and become more selective on the amount of fills and concentrated on time and dynamics , that I get more calls to play with

We are our own worst critic when it comes to listening to our own playing . I have found as I have matured that I realize the power of simplicity and how it can really make music groove . I play less fills , and those are less bombastic or chopfests too . Trying to imagine yourself in the audience is a great idea . The most interesting thing for me is that as I simplified my playing and become more selective on the amount of fills and concentrated on time and dynamics , that I get more calls to play with people .
Great info rick ,you just cleared up a lot of things i have been questioning in my head ,about my playing. THANKS
 

pocket player

Junior Member
One of the worst moments of my drumming life was when the best local band in the area were not actually auditioning but seeking a drummer. Loooooong story short I end up jamming with Freight..the most kick azz band. During the jam which lasted for hours I kept thinking I was the coolest thing these people have ever heard. It was being recorded and during a break Rusty played some of it back. I could have cried..literally. That was NOT me!. Thinking your Mr. Bad azz and realizing quite the opposite is horrifically humbling. I remember Dave Weckl mentioning that he tries putting himself as if he's out front listening to shape his drumming as the two are different. Has ANYONE tried doing this?..has it changed your direction?.
One of the worst moments of my drumming life was when the best local band in the area were not actually auditioning but seeking a drummer. Loooooong story short I end up jamming with Freight..the most kick azz band. During the jam which lasted for hours I kept thinking I was the coolest thing these people have ever heard. It was being recorded and during a break Rusty played some of it back. I could have cried..literally. That was NOT me!. Thinking your Mr. Bad azz and realizing quite the opposite is horrifically humbling. I remember Dave Weckl mentioning that he tries putting himself as if he's out front listening to shape his drumming as the two are different. Has ANYONE tried doing this?..has it changed your direction?.
GREAT INSIGHTFUL POST BOZ, thanks
 

pocket player

Junior Member
One of the most fatal errors drummers can make is attempting to stand out from music rather than blend in with it. Very few bands are in search of a player who riddles every song with clinic-worthy chops. Displaying an acumen for timing and dynamics is certainly the best way to impress other musicians and please audiences. I've always believed that good drummers remain mostly unnoticed. Being ignored is a strong indicator that we're doing our jobs.
Good Stuff CM
 

pocket player

Junior Member
I just read a story the great violinist Arnold Steinhardt wrote about finally listening to a recorded performance that had haunted him for decades and finding it wasn't nearly as bad as he'd thought--that it was actually quite good.

Which is to say that in my experience, you're right, sometimes we hear how we're actually playing and it sounds miles away from how we'd thought we sounded...but then sometimes we're also our own worst critics. And it can be hard figuring out which is which.
RIGHT ON
 

pocket player

Junior Member
I feel you. I recently recorded myself playing and while mixing it, I thought it sounded awesome! I was proud and very pleased with the finished product. A few days later a watched it again and I was like :sick:

Major de-motivator.

I noticed that I was a little behind the beat, everything I was playing seemed extraordinarily elementary, boring, and repetitive, I could see/feel my [indecisive and haphazard] thought process going into and coming out of fills, I don't want to touch the drums now. I am not worthy 🥲
Naaa, your only human ,rock on
 

pocket player

Junior Member
I'm getting better but in my youth I tried to be Ian Paice on EVERYTHING. He was detrimental to me at one point yet my biggest inspiration. I to had to simplify to the point where I was thinking this! isn't Ian!. I almost had to be deprogrammed!
I have found in our older years we have gained drumming wisdom and musicality , thank god we are healthy enough to still be playing to find out these treasures. This is a great OP
 
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