Playing as loud as possible? Yay or nay?

wolfblood

Junior Member
I play drums for the band of the church I go to. I guess you could say I'm mellow so whenever I play I try not to beat the living hell out the drums. Occasionally we have guests come in and play a small set sometimes. Well....this one time, a group of musicians had come to play for a little. They were all nice, decent people. Very well dressed too. So they started setting up and warmed up a little too (soundcheck, etc.) Then they started playing.... Keep in mind that they in no way were bad at all. Everything had sounded great....except for probably just one thing. The boy whom they had playing the drums was a magnificent drummer. Always on time, never skipping a beat. But the thing was that this kid was just going to town on the kit. It kind of seemed to me like he was doing every stroke as loud as he could. This kind of led to a few problems, because this kid was playing so loud everybody else had play louder and they had to try and play over him in a sense too, else you wouldn't able to hear the other instruments. And keep in mind that it was mainly slow, classic gospel that they were playing. Which just leads me to this, do any of you usually try and play as loud as possible and whats your opinion on playing loud too?
 
Dynamics are one of the most important disciplines in drumming, and also one of the most overlooked areas. Drums are a musical instrument after all, and if you don't treat it as one, it won't sound like one. So yea, a big NO to playing as loud as possible. Especially because drums are inherently a LOUD instrument to begin with.

Also, drums can only get so loud anyway, I've seen guys with pock-marks on their drum heads, and I just don't understand why someone would mash the crap out of their heads like that. It does nothing but take away from the sound of the drums, while putting the listeners in a bad mood.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
One should play as loud or as quiet as the gig/band/room requires.

Playing too loud for a church gig is wrong, period.

Now, if it's a hard rock/metal band and the guitarists has a marshal stack or whatever, and you're playing in big room, then it's often a job requirement to play as loud as possible.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I try to work on all dynamic levels.

That being said, about 90% of the time, I always try to play as softly as I can. Works wonders on technique, control and being relaxed. Sounds much more difficult than it is to do. One of my teachers used to always say to me "Out soft me".

My family can be watching TV in the room above my practice space (which is in the basement) and have no troubles while I practice hearing the TV. They tell me it doesn't even need to be turned up that much.

There's no soundproofing, etc... going on in my practice space either to block the sound.
 

radman

Senior Member
+1 to everything dmacc said.

Music without dynamics often becomes monotonous and, for me, lack expression, character, interest, etc. etc. If it is all too quiet, I wanna hear some intensity/angst. If it is all too loud, I wanna hear some peace. I do mean this for all that I regularly listen to - jazz, blues, rock, etc.

If a drummer is wailing the whole time, it sounds like he is playing at one dynamic ... no good.
If a drummer is causing others in the band to unnecessarily turn up ... shame.
If a drummer is too loud for the music genre or venue ... he may loose the gig.

Sounds like the kid certainly has some good things going for him, but he really needs to heed dmacc's advice re: practicing at all levels. This will provide versatility and more opportunities for him. This usually occurs to people as they "gain experience" .... (age) ...

YMMV,
radman
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I think it shows a lack of restraint and good judgement. I see a lot of guys who absolutely insist on rim-shotting every back beat as hard as they can, too, and it just seems like way over-doing it to me.

To each his own, though. If the top dynamic floor is the only floor you want to play on, have fun. I honestly feel that people listening and other musicians get tired of this stuff pretty quick, though. Believe it or not, the human ear and associated brain processing centers get "fatigued" and then it's just not fun to listen anymore. I've been to a few concerts that without ear protection, you would have ringing ears for several days afterwards... Not a fan of that "as loud as possible" mantra.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I SEE NOTHING WRONG PLAYING AS LOUD AS YOU CAN ALL THE TIME. IT'S PERFECTLY FINE. ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU KNOW I CAN HIT HARD. REALLY HARD. BECAUSE HITTING HARD IS THE ONLY THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DRUMMING.

:p

This guy will probably eventually turn out to be a great drummer since his time is good and never misses a beat. Once he learns that it's not very considerate to blast the dandruff off everyone hair lol. I'm sure if he realized that he would adopt a more considerate approach to his volume. He doesn't want to do bad on purpose, he obviously just isn't aware of how he is coming off yet. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt to prove it. A recorder would hopefully help him to hear how he is coming off.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Rarely will you be called upon to play as loudly as you're physically capable of playing. Far more often will you be called upon to play as softly as you're physically capably of doing.

I don't know, though, is that still true?
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Rarely will you be called upon to play as loudly as you're physically capable of playing. Far more often will you be called upon to play as softly as you're physically capably of doing.

I don't know, though, is that still true?
I've been in both situations but definitely veer towards the latter if I'm in doubt.
 

RockApe

Junior Member
Speaking as 50 year old who pretty much destroyed 50% of his hearing in his teens and 20s by playing as loud as possible in rock bands I would suggest that it is not only unnecessary but unhelpful. The art of drumming is measured by what you leave out rather than what you put in.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Rarely will you be called upon to play as loudly as you're physically capable of playing. Far more often will you be called upon to play as softly as you're physically capably of doing.

I don't know, though, is that still true?
Depends on the music.

I've seen plenty of interviews where when asked why they hired so-and-so for the drummer position, where the answer incorporated because "he hits really hard".

Hard rocking bands tend to live the attitude and vibe that comes from really hard hitters.

And I know some guys might play a 5a or 5b, but then get a gig playing really large venues, and end up going to a 2b style stick.
 
B

britchops

Guest
Some do it young, some do it later on, but every loud drummer will one day tone it down.
I think this quote puts it well. If you have any technique in your playing, e.g. Moeller then playing within your maximum stroke power will benefit you all the time. So I go for Nay on this one, except when you're young and you just want to let it all out on the Kit!!!!

TJ @ www.britchops.co.uk
 

groove1

Silver Member
Being able to play soft gets me gigs. I tell people that I can "come in under an acoustic guitar if need be"...it's true. Sometimes I have had to play as loud as I can on a certain tune to be heard, but that is rare....usually it's everything in between. A drummer should practice playing as soft as possible up to as loud as possible I think.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
One should play as loud or as quiet as the gig/band/room requires.

Playing too loud for a church gig is wrong, period.

Now, if it's a hard rock/metal band and the guitarists has a marshal stack or whatever, and you're playing in big room, then it's often a job requirement to play as loud as possible.
Depends on the music.

I've seen plenty of interviews where when asked why they hired so-and-so for the drummer position, where the answer incorporated because "he hits really hard".

Hard rocking bands tend to live the attitude and vibe that comes from really hard hitters.

And I know some guys might play a 5a or 5b, but then get a gig playing really large venues, and end up going to a 2b style stick.
Yes, yes and yes again.

Depends on the application.....always does.....always has......always will do.

Sometimes it's called for and in those times it's not bad form, nor is it bad technique, nor is it bad musicianship. It's simply a requirement of the music. Other times it's not required at all. It's just OTT. It's simple overplaying that crowds the other musicians and consequently stifles the music.

There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" approach to music. And that covers consistently tapping away quietly as much as it does consistently bashing the bejesus outta the kit. Knowing the difference is what being a bloody musician is all about.

Light and shade........that ain't just music. It's life!!
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I will follow up my original response to a real event that happened to me on a gig 2 weeks ago.

We were playing (jazz trio) in a dome space that was basically all concrete. It was for the after-hours event for the "wealthy" horse owners for a show that occurred earlier that day.

Had to play extremely soft throughout or get tossed out. The event coordinator complimented us on how well we kept volume down but still made a presence. People could carry on a conversation 10 feet in front of us while we played the whole time. The music didn't suffer as a result and I didn't have to consider it an all brush gig.

It was directly related to my years of practicing very softly. Do it long enough and it's no longer a big deal.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
This really depends on the genre of music. In jazz, there's a broad dynamic rane and "as loud as possible" is a rare guest.

But in other styles? Maybe not. Unfortunately, I don't think it's as simple as saying, "You shouldn't ever play as loud as possible." The reality is that many of the drummers who work the most hit the hell out of the drums.

When I studied with Jim Riley, he stressed the importance of this and pointed out that there really aren't any drummers in Nashville who aren't hitting really hard. Now, Jim can play anything, at any volume, and I think everyone should realize you need to be able to do that to be a complete, well-rounded musician. But it seems hitting really hard is a prerequisite to a good rock drummer's arsenal anymore, and "as loud as possible" is probably a tool you need in the toolkit.

I hate that approach, but still.
 

TColumbia37

Silver Member
It completely depends on the situation. If the music calls for it, be ready to do your best Travis Barker impersonation. At the same time, if it's more mellow, play to match it.

Theoretically, you'd think that you don't have to play hard when recording some heavy type stuff, and you can conserve energy that way. Wrong. Recording is where I see this most often. The drummer doesn't play as hard as the song called for, and while you can compress and level it all you want, it's still not going to sound right for a song that calls for hard hitting.

It's a little easier to level it out in mixing when somebody was hitting too hard for the music, given you don't have clipping, but you should always play what the song calls for.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Fact is "hitting hard" isn't some skill you need to attain for most people. You just wail on em. Now, on the flip, understanding dynamics and being able to play the same things at lower volumes does take some work. I'm not really understanding the "this guy hits harder than that guy" thing... After a point, you're just wasting energy and killing equipment.
 
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