Sacrificing sound

Chunky

Silver Member
Is it really such a bad thing to sacrifice sound for showmanship?

I've always been dead against it, if showmanship detracts from the sound in any way I just won't do it.
However, I've seen lots of good and not-so-good drummers sacrifice sound and tightness for a bit showmanship here and there and it sets the crowd on fire!
Nobody seems to care or even notice the slightly more sloppy playing (sometimes terrible playing).
This is the kind of thing that would give me nightmares but, maybe I've been too strict and boring all these years?

What do you guys think?
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
If you're playing live, your job is to provide entertainment.

I guess in some gigs, that means being a drummer first and a showman second. In other gigs, being a showman trumps.

Whenever I've seen new drummers post here, looking for advice on a virgin gig, the overwhelming advice is: Have fun...your bandmates and the audience will pick up on your fun and end up having a good time.

Having a good time beats beating good time!
 

JohnnySomersett

Senior Member
Totally depends on the music I think. I tend to throw myself right into gigs, often at the expense of accuracy. I had a gig just this Thursday night of which I can remember at least one major error per song... but, no-one noticed except me and I managed to do my usual 'animal on the drums' thing which is part of our stage prescence. I dont do any stick-tricks type showy stuff, just some cross hand stuff and big arm movements, rising from the seat with big hits and stuff. Usual crap.

Shame the place was like a sauna once full though, with that amount of energy I could taste my own sweat half a song in and felt close to passing out a few times towards the end!

If I was playing tech-metal I might be inclined to sit down and play solid, but we're a sloppy noise band!
 

Reggae_Mangle

Silver Member
If you do sacrifice musicianship for showmanship, expect all the musicians in the crowd to tell all their friends, "Dude, the drummer sucked, he messed up the kick while attempting the inverted paradiddle in the 13th minute of the song" :D

- Reggae Mangle
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
What matters is the standard you set for yourself. If you want to be a good drummer, then pleasing an audience while sucking as a musician = failure. Since it is possible to be a great drummer and be visually exciting, or to be a great drummer and be visually boring, then the only reason for a trade off is if you decide you don't want to be a good drummer any more.

But I've learned things watching those other players. Mainly:

1) There's a lot of freedom in not caring if you suck.
2) Some of the things they play may not be as wrong as they seem, and are legitimately musically effective in that setting. Playing great and playing correct are not always the same thing.
And 3) Yep, stick twirling is still just like any other kind of twirling: fruity, whorish, sideshow crap. :-D
 

Chunky

Silver Member
What matters is the standard you set for yourself. If you want to be a good drummer, then pleasing an audience while sucking as a musician = failure. Since it is possible to be a great drummer and be visually exciting, or to be a great drummer and be visually boring, then the only reason for a trade off is if you decide you don't want to be a good drummer any more.

But I've learned things watching those other players. Mainly:

1) There's a lot of freedom in not caring if you suck.
2) Some of the things they play may not be as wrong as they seem, and are legitimately musically effective in that setting. Playing great and playing correct are not always the same thing.
And 3) Yep, stick twirling is still just like any other kind of twirling: fruity, whorish, sideshow crap. :-D
ou're definitely right about the freedom of not caring. I had that once upon a time and my showmanship came naturally then. Now I'm so obsessed about everything being perfect I look a little boring.
And you're right about not being a wrong as they seem. 'mistakes usually bug the drummer more than anyone else and most of the time they are not mistakes as such.

However, not everyone is a natural showman so, it doesn't matter if you ARE a good drummer or want to be a good drummer, you may never be able to oull of showmanship or do so without losing a big part of your playing ability.

I never really dedicate practise time to showmanship or tricks so, that's probably why I suck at it. I just think I have more important things to learn with my time.

I don't think stick twirling is as bad as you say however. I don't twirl sticks either, neer was good at it but, people like Virgil Donati and John Blackwell make it look really cool and effortless without being forced.
That's the kind of stuff that makes me wish I practised it.

It's interesting hearing peoples thoughts, everyone has such a different view on it.
I'll probably always hover around Music first but, I could benefit by being a bit more open minded I think.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
people like Virgil Donati and John Blackwell make it look really cool and effortless without being forced.
That's the kind of stuff that makes me wish I practised it.
The twirl John Blackwell does is really easy, I do it quite often without really thinking about it because it's easy and I can't really do any harder ones...
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
I think people take the whole thing WAY too seriously. Music is about connection, not about how accurately you place your notes.

If it feels good, if it feels right, then do it. If YOU enjoy it, that's fine. Obviously, note placement can be a big help in establishing that connection, but it is only one tool in many in creating that connection.

Showmanship can help that, and other things that may be showy, that aren't showmanship per se, can also help this. But there is a major backlash against simple things such as allowing your body to move freely while playing. "A good musician shouw be able to let the music speak for itself" One of the upshots of this is that the music ironically suffers. Check out this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjNi1dkvTcw

You would NEVER see American, European or Asian classical players dancing in their seats like that, specifically because the movement distracts from the music. But the movement aids the music by both helping the musician play and helps to bring the audience in to the show. Such a young band, and such amazingly good music.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I've always liked it when the drummer does more than just play the drums. Not a fan of over exaggerated stick tricks, but I always thought it was cool when the drummer pointed with the sticks while playing. To me that meant he was interacting with the crowd. Expressionless drummers who just sit there and play just don't seem like they are having a good time. And it doesn't have to be anything over the top, some jazz drummers look like they are painting a picture and lost in thought and the music. Metal drummers that headbang are more entertaining to me than those that don't. Groove oriented (hip-hop, funk, you get the idea) that exaggerate their movements and look like they are dancing are great.

I don't think this has to be at the expense of sound either. If you are truely into your playing and it comes naturally, the entertainment part of it should too. Just my two cents.
 

Chunky

Silver Member
The twirl John Blackwell does is really easy, I do it quite often without really thinking about it because it's easy and I can't really do any harder ones...
I think he does a few different spins. He does an uppercut one like Virgil which I can't for the life of me figure out how you can do this without dropping your stick, getting decent volume out of it and getting the stick back into playing position. But these guys do it so fast!

I know one stick twirl thing where the stick spins around all of my fingers, down then backup but it has a momentum to it so it goes real fast. I can't do this while playing at all though. I wouldn't darethrow my sticks either! lol.
Well I wouldn't even spin the so...

I definitely like watching the groovy hip-hop kinda guys who 'dance' while they play. Makes you feel the beat more. A bit like how music video makes the song sound better.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
ou're definitely right about the freedom of not caring. I had that once upon a time and my showmanship came naturally then. Now I'm so obsessed about everything being perfect I look a little boring.
And you're right about not being a wrong as they seem. 'mistakes usually bug the drummer more than anyone else and most of the time they are not mistakes as such.
That's the trick-- playing with the edge of someone who doesn't care, but still ending up being good anyway. Re: wrongness, I'm probably thinking more along the lines of taste things rather than outright errors. Like it would be hard to find any kind of text book justification for a lot of Keith Moon's playing, but what he plays is still right, for the energy it brings the music.

I never really dedicate practise time to showmanship or tricks so, that's probably why I suck at it. I just think I have more important things to learn with my time.

I don't think stick twirling is as bad as you say however. I don't twirl sticks either, neer was good at it but, people like Virgil Donati and John Blackwell make it look really cool and effortless without being forced.
It's not a big deal to me, I just like to work in the word "whorish" whenever I get half an excuse to...
 

Chunky

Silver Member
That's the trick-- playing with the edge of someone who doesn't care, but still ending up being good anyway. Re: wrongness, I'm probably thinking more along the lines of taste things rather than outright errors. Like it would be hard to find any kind of text book justification for a lot of Keith Moon's playing, but what he plays is still right, for the energy it brings the music.



It's not a big deal to me, I just like to work in the word "whorish" whenever I get half an excuse to...
Hahaha I know what you mean. Actually as much as I admire certain drummers for doing those things, other drummers can do them and I'll think 'what a ****'

Without any reason really for thinking that way. Why is it some people can get away with it and others can't?
It's a bit like cheeky humour I suppose. I always come across as a killer if I try that...
 

davelan

Member
The things I've learned from watching 'amateur' bands - which have subsequently informed my approach to playing live - are that, regardess of what you're playing:

a) you shouldn't look bored (this is supposed to be a fun, entertaining experience, right?);
b) you shouldn't appear nervous (an audience will pick up on this and it will have a negative impact on their enjoyment), and:
c) you shouldn't play safe (a shrugged-off mistake trumps an uninspiringly safe pair of hands any day).

Should you sacrifice the overall sound for an ill-prepared bit of attention seeking? No, but you should develop the confidence to take a calculated risk or two in pursuit of putting on a better performance (which, in any case, is about so much more than a slavishly accurate rendition). As I say, mistakes are easily overcome with nothing more than a smile and a shrug (and people will pick up on this and share in the self-deprecating humour of your defeat). If you overreach yourself and pull it off, great (and your subsequent performance will, in all probability, improve as a result); if you fail, you can always move on, and as long as you don't let it get to you you'll be fine.

Getting up to play in front of a crowd takes balls, and that's a well-deserved slap on the back to start with...

+ + + + +

As an addendum, I'm sitting in with a covers band for a private party next month and there's no way I'm going to play the low-level, standard fare they're offering without using it as a platform to try and raise the overall game.
 
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