Playing More Musically

?uesto

Silver Member
What can you all suggest for playing more musically. I guess this means, how can I approach playing songs live and in the studio, with or without preparation, better?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Whoo, let's see, off the top of my head:

- Play less. Forget about being amazing.
- Use your ears.
- Know the tune.
- Understand the musical effect of the things you play, or don't play.
- Track the dynamics of the piece. Don't just slam it at the same volume all the way through a section. If you listen closely to older pop tunes- like from the 60's and 70's- the dynamics often change from measure to measure, following the vocal part.
- Use the negative space: play with the melody, or play the breaks in the melody.
- Know what playing musically sounds like. Listen to a lot of Jim Keltner, Billy Higgins, Ringo Starr, Peter Erskine, Ben Riley- whoever fits your idea of a consummate "musical" drummer.

This should really be a blog post... let me see what I can do about that...
 

chaymus

Senior Member
On the fly I try to make my fills a response to the lead. I'm terrible at it, but the call & answer is an idea I go for.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The only true way to play more musically, is to feel the music more musically. Anything else falls short.

The thread title could read, "How Do You Deepen Your Musical Feel?"

Wanting to deepen your musical feel is a great start. In fact the more you want it, the more you deserve it.

This might sound spacy but I believe there is a universal well of rhythms, that is beyond your ego. It has to be tapped into. It is there though. To be worthy you have to let go of everything and surrender your ego, surrender to the vibe. If you can actually do this, and do it with genuineness, the music will flow through you. That is the "zone" that everyone is chasing. It does require being able to play what you feel without too many physical restrictions, so that is why you work on technique. Technique's reason for existing is so that you can instantly play what you are feeling (not thinking!). Refining your feel is the same as refining your playing when you reach a certain level of facility around the kit.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Whoo, let's see, off the top of my head:

- Play less. Forget about being amazing.
- Use your ears.
- Know the tune.
- Understand the musical effect of the things you play, or don't play.
- Track the dynamics of the piece. Don't just slam it at the same volume all the way through a section. If you listen closely to older pop tunes- like from the 60's and 70's- the dynamics often change from measure to measure, following the vocal part.
- Use the negative space: play with the melody, or play the breaks in the melody.
- Know what playing musically sounds like. Listen to a lot of Jim Keltner, Billy Higgins, Ringo Starr, Peter Erskine, Ben Riley- whoever fits your idea of a consummate "musical" drummer.
+1 on everything!

My apporoach to most playing is "WWRD"






(What Would Ringo Do)


Bermuda
 

Messerschmitt

Senior Member
Not sure if i`m getting this right... What do you guys understand with playing musically?
I understand it as playing something that fits the track and is usually in harmony with what the other instruments are doing. The best example i could give is the Italian drummer Andrea Vadrucci (Vadrum).
That guy is "my reference point" when talking about musical drumming, althrough i think the term "melodic drumming" would fit better. It is also my goal as a drummer. Here`s a little video if you haven`t seen this guy yet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWki-Jac8H0

If this is the case, then you should start taking everything waaaay slow. Try and see what the other instruments are playing and try to play with them, play something that goes together. You must get the feel of the track and think it in a musical way.
This is not that easy for me to explain, so i hope you guys get it.

If i`m talking about a complete different thing, then you can just ignore my post.
 

rock fan

Junior Member
ye what todd bishop said thats cool also u listened to Liberty Devitto (old billy joel drummer) .Hes got the same philosophy play to the needs of the song
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Without contradicting the good comments so far ... one thing the players in my band (me included) do wrong at times is not retaining an awareness of what the song is about.

For instance, the way we play The Thrill Is Gone ... we sound like we're getting pretty thrilled by the end of the song. It's incongruous and mechanistic, reducing the song to something more abstract than meaningful and moody.

Or the times the keys player starts Walk On By too fast ... the song isn't called Jog On By or Jauntily Stroll On By FFS!

An analogy: the best speeches are from the heart and, while it's great if there's added flair, it's not so great when there's so much flair that it dilutes the message. We get bored by politicians because it's all cleverness and cunning. I don't want to be the musical equivalent of that ... I don't want to be heroic or even admirable ... I just want music I play and hear to be beautiful or inspiring or interesting or fun.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I think a good question to ask is "What would the composer have written for me to play?" Listen hard to the music and observe the structure, and play the song.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Thanks you guys- Bermuda, here's a quote from Andy Newmark I think you might appreciate- he's talking about sitting in the studio watching Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon record with John Lennon:

"They're able to play that real simple stuff with a conviction that makes it work. If you don't see the beauty in playing simple and get off on it, then when you do it, it won't come off like the person who loves to do it. When Russ Kunkel, Gordon or Keltner would just play those real simple beats, they got off on it. They liked that; they were into it, so it gave the notes validity.

[...] I couldn't have played the part they played with the conviction they played it with. I was still playing too busy. I thought, "I wouldn't have the nerve to just lay back for three-and-a-half minutes, like what I've just seen." I knew there would have been eight places in the record where I would have been playing a fill, or been too busy. I knew I didn't somehow have the maturity or the instincts to do what I was seeing being done in front of me. It was like regrooming my mind from what most drummers grow up learning- chops and technique. "
 

iontheable

Senior Member
The New Breed by Gary Chester is really helping me attack my playing more musically.

Learning to sing all the voices on my kit as I play them..hell, only a few weeks into the book and I am already creating a better atmosphere to accompany a played melody.
 

Busy b

Member
Good points everyone!

-Transcribing your favorite grooves or solos is a good thing to do. Try to develop some ideas from your favorite drummers/musicians. But if you start sounding too much like your idols, you should move on and find something different. This sort of thing takes a lot of time.

-Learn to play another instrument. I think this very important....

-Write some of your own tunes.

-Be open minded when it comes to listening to music. Don't limit yourself to one genre.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
-Learn to play another instrument. I think this very important....
Yes! Finally! Learn electric guitar, more specifically. It has the shortest learning curve, it's relatively inexpensive to buy into, and you can practice quietly almost anywhere, anytime. Learn a few songs, and play them with a drummer. You will most certainly realize what is important, and what isn't! The most musical drumming, to me, occurs when the drummer is cognizant of when the other instruments are NOT playing, and plays within those moments. A great example is the first 4 bars of "Son Of a Preacher Man". That guitar riff is perfectly highlighted, because the bass drums are stepping around it in a very cooperative way. That drummer isn't just listening, he's accompanying. You might not ever think to play that way, if you weren't educated on another instrument. That kind of knowledge makes you invest -- emotionally, artistically -- in others' performances, not just your own.

It's interesting that you mention playing songs without preparation. In these cases, you just do the best you can with what you have. We've spoken about this before, but I'll say it again: it helps tremendously to learn to make charts quickly, so you can think more about "grooving" and less about "how long is the second verse", for example. The only other things that will save you are a bandleader that gives great cues, and knowledge of that particular style of music. If you know where the song is going, then you can devote more energy to how you get there!

Metronome experience and self-evaluation are critical. It's very difficult to stay with a click and make a groove feel good at the same time, but playing good time, with appropriate feel, is one of the most musical things you can do as a drummer.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
+1 on everything!

My apporoach to most playing is "WWRD"






(What Would Ringo Do)


Bermuda
I do something like that depending on the genre I'm playing. Doing the Ratpack thing recently I would often ask myself, "What would Irv Cottler do here?" The answer is usually just slam backbeats to keep those horns in line.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Yeah, that one. Should've been more clear, sorry!
That's the version we base our cover on. Were you referring to the cool little fill he does at the end of the 4th bar or just the general relationship between drums & guitar?

TBH I never thought of the drum track as special, just appropriate and played with nice feel. You're obviously seeing something there that I'm not.
 
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