Playing softly; taught by a MASTER

mikyok

Platinum Member
Funny you mention this, I've just got home from a gig with a noise limiter and the frequency that triggered it was my snare.

Spent all gig glued to a noise meter but pulled it off.

I had a great teacher that taught me how to play softly with dynamics, takes years of practice to be able to do though.
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
Something we should all work at even if we have no particular need to play quietly. Seems to me this would really benefit your dynamics. I find the lower dynamics more of a challenge to get right than accents.
 
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newoldie

Silver Member
Funny, I also watched this video yesterday and it applied to a gig this afternoon where being uber-quiet was required. Piccolo snare muffled w/a microfiber cloth, LV Zildjians, Pearl Compact Traveler bass drum, sticks were rods turned on wooden side for the most part to give a less-attack sound.
I utilized Rick's suggestions on the relaxed-bounce stroke stick technique-- which worked quite well as a finishing touch along with the micro-kit's intense muffling.

Rick has so many videos for free on YT, I can search them for advice relevant to several of the groups I'm playing in. Great guy, incredible teacher, fun to watch, always something to learn from. I bought his drumset book last year and it remains almost a daily practice guide.
TGI Rick!!
 

JimmyM

Silver Member
I sometimes do old time NO jazz gigs on upright with a trumpeter, banjoist/guitarist, and drummer, and this drummer excels at playing whisper quiet, even with little or no muffling. I asked him how he does it, and he said, "Use 7a's and practice hitting as quietly as humanly possible."
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
That is my TV watching exercise. I don't rip out blazing paradiddle inversions or whatever. I just drop the stick from as low as I possibly can and still get a clean single hit over and over. It's totally helpful, I don't really care what stick I use anymore for volume, I pick them for the sound. Remo practice pad has a rim, so I practice that too- what is the softest clear rimshot possible? Let's find out
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
To me that's not that soft. A lot of the time that's sort of a normal mezzo forte. Playing really softly (like a quarter of that volume) with that much fluff in your grip-- that was my basic technique for a long time, and it fell apart when I had to play really quiet. I needed to switch to a more controlled grip.

The trick is to play softly without losing the energy. I play low but solid, with high velocity strokes. To me you play legato when you want a legato sound, not just to play quieter.
 

JimmyM

Silver Member
To me that's not that soft. A lot of the time that's sort of a normal mezzo forte. Playing really softly (like a quarter of that volume) with that much fluff in your grip-- that was my basic technique for a long time, and it fell apart when I had to play really quiet. I needed to switch to a more controlled grip.

The trick is to play softly without losing the energy. I play low but solid, with high velocity strokes. To me you play legato when you want a legato sound, not just to play quieter.
Could you please expound on the high velocity a little, Todd? Seems a little incongruous with playing quietly in my mind. Do you substitute stick speed for height? Because I've done gigs where playing as loud as Mr. Dior in that clip could get us fired.
 

drumdevil9

Platinum Member
I've never had a need to play much softer than he's playing. Maybe sometimes and yes there would be more controlled lower strokes. But if a player that naturally plays hard/loud needed to tone it down this would at least get him part of the way there if not super softly. Maybe the video addresses people who would never watch it. :unsure:
 

Otto

Platinum Member
When I attacked this aspect of my playing last(early 2000's) I found it far easier to quiet my hands(playing with fingers - thanks to Dave Weckl's great instructional materials...something I had never been exposed to in the 30 odd years previous!) than my feet.

I ended up de-tuning my bass drum to 'as loose as reasonable' and found it drove me to roll the finish of my bass work off my toes...led to greater control as well!

When I brought the tension back on my bass drum batter head I found the sensation was far more one of rolling the stroke off my foot as opposed to a push or bounce.

I also found that a gentle beater bury finish(like a voiced note but much softer - like throwing the beater a bit off center then catching it and allowing the beater to quickly settle onto the head) helped control the more obvious cross activation of my bass drum from other voices on my set.

As I allowed myself to go back to greater dynamic variance I found i had more levels of comfort in picking out the current dynamic range I wanted to use.

Hope that helps someone!
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
Could you please expound on the high velocity a little, Todd? Seems a little incongruous with playing quietly in my mind. Do you substitute stick speed for height? Because I've done gigs where playing as loud as Mr. Dior in that clip could get us fired.

I just move the sticks fast, even when I'm playing softly. I don't try to play lighter or with slower motions just because I'm playing low. You don't have a lot of space to do a legato motion when you're playing 1-4" off the drum or cymbal. Thinking about a fast motion gets you away from thinking about hitting, which I don't think is helpful for technique or sound. A lot of my technique is about being direct, closing up some of the physical fluff people add between the impulse to play something, and actually playing it.
 

JimmyM

Silver Member
I just move the sticks fast, even when I'm playing softly. I don't try to play lighter or with slower motions just because I'm playing low. You don't have a lot of space to do a legato motion when you're playing 1-4" off the drum or cymbal. Thinking about a fast motion gets you away from thinking about hitting, which I don't think is helpful for technique or sound. A lot of my technique is about being direct, closing up some of the physical fluff people add between the impulse to play something, and actually playing it.
OK, I believe I get what you're saying. Not necessarily subbing out busyness for lack of volume, and keeping movements crisp and closer to the drums, right? Thx for the explanation!

I've never had a need to play much softer than he's playing. Maybe sometimes and yes there would be more controlled lower strokes. But if a player that naturally plays hard/loud needed to tone it down this would at least get him part of the way there if not super softly. Maybe the video addresses people who would never watch it. :unsure:
I've not been the drummer, but I do play occasional gigs with a drummer who has to play that quietly and quieter. He can darn sure do it, too.
 
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