Push vs. Pull?

Neilage

Junior Member
I've read several interviews with pro drummers who refer to their "push/pull" technique, often when discussing their opinions on using a click track.

I'm not quite sure what they are referring to with "push/pull" technique. Does "push/pull" refer to playing in front of or behind the click beat?

Drum teachers, what say you?
 

Iristone

Well-known member
I think that, in term of tempo, "push" is slightly early and "pull" is slightly late. I heard that Moonie often pushed a bit for a build-up, whereas Bonzo pulled slightly for the heavy groove. I used to hit the snare awfully late when I first had my acoustic kit, which sounded far too bad to be a musical "pull"... 😂
 

Neilage

Junior Member
I think that, in term of tempo, "push" is slightly early and "pull" is slightly late. I heard that Moonie often pushed a bit for a build-up, whereas Bonzo pulled slightly for the heavy groove. I used to hit the snare awfully late when I first had my acoustic kit, which sounded far too bad to be a musical "pull"... 😂
Would anyone cite some examples of pushing (before a beat) and pulling (after a beat) in popular songs?

I am very familiar with Bonham and Moon's entire catalog but I can't think of any examples of either.
 

Iristone

Well-known member
Would anyone cite some examples of pushing (before a beat) and pulling (after a beat) in popular songs?

I am very familiar with Bonham and Moon's entire catalog but I can't think of any examples of either.
Actually, I'm not having any particular song in my mind either. I just heard someone else's analysis and thought it made sense!
Now that I think of it, I think Mooon's triplets (the slow ones, not the super fast 6-note rolls) on Amazing Journey and Who Are You actually sounded a little pulled to me. The super fast break in the middle of Dreaming From The Waist sounded a bit pushed, but it could be that it was so fast I can't count the beats or something. ;)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Would anyone cite some examples of pushing (before a beat) and pulling (after a beat) in popular songs?

I am very familiar with Bonham and Moon's entire catalog but I can't think of any examples of either.
You won't find a good answer here, because it's difficult to prove. For example, if a drummer plays a beat, but the bassist plays behind the drums (pulling), then it would sound like the drummer is pushing, right? If the opposite is happening, you could say that the drummer is pulling. So, it's a relative thing, and it depends as much on the other musicians as it does on the drummer. If the drummer pushes the beat slightly, but the bass player is used to playing ahead of the drummer, then an acceleration is likely to occur (and a deceleration is likely, if both musicians are in the habit of pulling).

In amateur/hobbyist playing situations, when one musician pushes or pulls, it's by a considerable amount, and the rest of the band will often speed up or slow down to accommodate the player. So, in order to have some kind of a push or pull within a band, everyone has to have very good control of their time.

And, finally, if there's a click track involved, musicians will play in front or behind the metronome as desired. As a drummer, this is an excellent, pro-level skill to develop.

Here's a very good video demonstrating how playing ahead/behind/on-center works in real life. Note that it all sounds good, but which one sounds most appropriate to you is a matter of personal taste, and can change depending on the group, the song, or even the moment.

 

Al Strange

Well-known member
I’ve never heard push/pull (a hand technique) commonly applied to tempo (see @MrInsanePolack post above); you’re usually behind the beat (Bonham), on the beat, or ahead of the beat (Copeland)? Still, the guys above have articulated it nicely in the context of tempo... (y) :)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I’ve never heard push/pull (a hand technique) commonly applied to tempo (see @MrInsanePolack post above); you’re usually behind the beat (Bonham), on the beat, or ahead of the beat (Copeland)? Still, the guys above have articulated it nicely in the context of tempo... (y) :)
Push/pull usually does refer to hand technique, but only among drummers. To many non-drummer musicians, "pushing" and "pulling" can easily mean playing ahead, or behind, the beat.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
Push/pull usually does refer to hand technique, but only among drummers. To many non-drummer musicians, "pushing" and "pulling" can easily mean playing ahead, or behind, the beat.
Pushing the tempo I’ve heard other musicians say, but never pulling...just my experience...not knocking it. (y) :)
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Push/pull usually does refer to hand technique, but only among drummers. To many non-drummer musicians, "pushing" and "pulling" can easily mean playing ahead, or behind, the beat.
When he said technique in the OP, playing ahead of or after the beat never even occured to me.

I never really understood this idea. I get the concept of it, but in the song the beat is where it is. How can it be ahead of or behind itself?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
When he said technique in the OP, playing ahead of or after the beat never even occured to me.

I never really understood this idea. I get the concept of it, but in the song the beat is where it is. How can it be ahead of or behind itself?
Think of it as cars on a road. Each car is traveling at the same speed, but some cars are ahead, some are behind, and some are somewhere in between.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
for me, the immediate example of pulling, or lagging the beat to create groove, is Chad Smith in the song Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic

and the example of pushing, or rushing to create excitement or forward energy is Strike Anywhere's "Sunset On 32nd Street"...

Stewart Copland also sometimes is on the front, or pushing the beat in many songs....that is one I never thought of
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
This better captures the intent of my OP.
It takes a certain level of skill to even perceive the small amounts of pushing and pulling that we’re discussing here. It’s very subtle. Can you hear the differences in the video I posted?

A drummer can only play behind or ahead of something else, such as the bass player, or the click track, or everyone else in the band. It’s relational.

Listen to any Sinatra song. The horns are constantly behind the beat. Most everything else is out in front, except for blue eyes himself.
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
Can't a drummer, having multiple voices, push or pull a beat alone? I think many do. The most common one is tempo=R and K, pulling back with L.
I've been trying to work up a nice flammed backbeat. It's getting closer.
 
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