Technique vs. groove.

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I think it was Stewart Copeland, but there’s this great quote where he explains the difference between the orchestral guys and kit drummers as they read every note, and we juts play. He was writing one of his film scores I think and noticed taht even if the part was to play the triangle on the 1 of every bar the guy would read every note from the sheet music and always know “okay I’m in bar 56 and 1’— instead of just playing it.
There are orchestral pieces that are over an hour long, with literally, ONE NOTE for the percussionist. You have to count measures of rest for maybe an hour, play your note, then wait til the piece is over and go home. I’m not sure what’s worse, having to play continuously for almost 2 hours like violins do, or having to count thousands of measures of rest and play just a few notes. LOL

So to relate that to your comment, that’s why orchestral players know EXACTLY where they are in the music. Because some pieces are repetitive enough that you may never be able to get your place back in the music if you lose count. Unless you’ve got the whole piece memorized.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I think it was Stewart Copeland, but there’s this great quote where he explains the difference between the orchestral guys and kit drummers as they read every note, and we juts play. He was writing one of his film scores I think and noticed taht even if the part was to play the triangle on the 1 of every bar the guy would read every note from the sheet music and always know “okay I’m in bar 56 and 1’— instead of just playing it.
One thing, among a great many, I've always loved about Copeland's work with The Police is that he never played pieces the same way twice in a live setting. Spontaneity dominated his game plan. His judgement was always musical and germane, but he favored spirt over replication. He was always fun to hear and watch.
 

Griffin

Active member
There are orchestral pieces that are over an hour long, with literally, ONE NOTE for the percussionist. You have to count measures of rest for maybe an hour, play your note, then wait til the piece is over and go home. I’m not sure what’s worse, having to play continuously for almost 2 hours like violins do, or having to count thousands of measures of rest and play just a few notes. LOL

So to relate that to your comment, that’s why orchestral players know EXACTLY where they are in the music. Because some pieces are repetitive enough that you may never be able to get your place back in the music if you lose count. Unless you’ve got the whole piece memorized.
Oh for sure. Copeland’s point wasn’t to put down orchestral players. His point was it’s a fundamentally different thing.
 

Griffin

Active member
One thing, among a great many, I've always loved about Copeland's work with The Police is that he never played pieces the same way twice in a live setting. Spontaneity dominated his game plan. His judgement was always musical and germane, but he favored spirt over replication. He was always fun to hear and watch.
Yeah, he also does a great bit on people trying to learn his parts. He finds the idea funny because he doesn’t even know his parts. The ‘correct” version is just whichever take made it to the record.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Yeah, he also does a great bit on people trying to learn his parts. He finds the idea funny because he doesn’t even know his parts. The ‘correct” version is just whichever take made it to the record.
That gets right down to the heart of the reason why attempting to play something precisely the way another drummer does is often pure folly. In many cases, the other drummer has no definite way of playing the piece himself.
 

jimb

Member
I think it was Stewart Copeland, but there’s this great quote where he explains the difference between the orchestral guys and kit drummers as they read every note, and we juts play. He was writing one of his film scores I think and noticed taht even if the part was to play the triangle on the 1 of every bar the guy would read every note from the sheet music and always know “okay I’m in bar 56 and 1’— instead of just playing it.
And that's why we are still playing Mozart and the like exactly as those composers wanted it played. Trouble with not reading is that over time the original piece will change.,,.,not always for the better.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
And that's why we are still playing Mozart and the like exactly as those composers wanted it played. Trouble with not reading is that over time the original piece will change.,,.,not always for the better.
Fair point, though I would counter that a symphonic arrangement differs dramatically in execution from a rock trio. I think we can use Copeland's recorded parts as a guide and retain the integrity of the songs without photocopying his every fill. Again, he doesn't even copy his own recorded parts live.
 

Griffin

Active member
Fair point, though I would counter that a symphonic arrangement differs dramatically in execution from a rock trio. I think we can use Copeland's recorded parts as a guide and retain the integrity of the songs without photocopying his every fill. Again, he doesn't even copy his own recorded parts live.
The only time I’m really inclined to photocopy a fill is when the fill itself is either integral to the groove (and I guess not really a fill then e.g the Ticket to Ride groove) or just a super famous part of the song (like In the Air Tonight). But I completely agree orchestral music and rock/pop are two totally different forms— which by the way was Copeland’s point. He was fascinated and impressed by the guys who played his film scores and recognised that they had 2 completely different skill sets.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
And that's why we are still playing Mozart and the like exactly as those composers wanted it played. Trouble with not reading is that over time the original piece will change.,,.,not always for the better.
A lot of concertos were not really meant to be played note-for-note. The orchestral accompaniment probably was, more or less, but nearly every composer in the 18th and 19th centuries who played their own concertos improvised a lot of the music, especially the cadenzas (unaccompanied solo parts). Beethoven was famous/infamous for this. So classical music had a lot of improvisation back in the day. We just don’t do that now, except some solo piano performers. Improvising doesn’t work as well when you are playing with 85+ other players.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
^^^ Yep. You can blame Wagner and the "Cult of the Composer" that ushered in our modern interpretation of playing literally everything exactly as the 'master' intended. For most of classical history, at least until the latter parts of the 19th century, this was not the case.
 

jimb

Member
Copeland put it brilliantly re one of their singles, cant remember which one but the cover bands go nuts over this particular fill apparently. Says that he played the fill differently on every take and the one we all love and fawn over was the worse of the lot, he cant even remember it and probably doesn't even play it now ....ha ha.. crazy.
 

Griffin

Active member
Copeland put it brilliantly re one of their singles, cant remember which one but the cover bands go nuts over this particular fill apparently. Says that he played the fill differently on every take and the one we all love and fawn over was the worse of the lot, he cant even remember it and probably doesn't even play it now ....ha ha.. crazy.
That’s the interview I was referring to! I love how simply he shreds the idea of the recording being the ‘definitive’ way to play a song.
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
That's the way it's always been-- since I dropped out to play in '89 I've watched a succession of die-offs, when people realize they don't want to do it any more. Like at age 25, 27, 30, 33, 40... people who make it to 40 without quitting usually have figured out how to survive.
‘94 graduate and I totally agree. I’m not sure if it’s much other than really loving performing & playing, the willingness to make sacrifices, and persistence.
 
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Seafroggys

Silver Member
Copeland put it brilliantly re one of their singles, cant remember which one but the cover bands go nuts over this particular fill apparently. Says that he played the fill differently on every take and the one we all love and fawn over was the worse of the lot, he cant even remember it and probably doesn't even play it now ....ha ha.. crazy.
Yeah, up until the 80s, most rock bands were improvisers. Drummers, guitarists, etc. They never playing songs the same way twice.

I've been transcribing some Deep Purple drum parts, and even though there is a basic groove that Ian Paice follows, literally every measure has subtle differences. Extra bass drum notes, missing bass drum notes, a grace note here, a drag here. It is different every single measure. And you listen to it live, same thing. He never follows anything note for note. Yeah, he has a basic feel that he sticks too, but nothing, either groove or fill, is the same. Guitar solos were always different.

Its because they were all blues/jazz guys when they were learning, or got lessons from blues/jazz guys.

I'm a lot younger than this crowd (Deep Purple, for example, both broke up AND reformed before I was born) but this is how I've always approached music. But I've joined bands recently where the guy who 'writes' the songs comments how I don't follow the snare/bass pattern exactly and keeps it consistent for literally every measure. I'm like...dude, I am playing the feel and the groove of the song, does it really matter I play the exact same bass drum notes every time?

But to most modern musicians, the answer is actually "Yes." This paradigm shit started in the 80s, where most every rock song, down to the guitar solos and drum parts, started being "composed" note for note ahead of time, very rarely shifting from the original recording. And so people learning music in the 90's and 00's (my generation) considered this to be the norm. And It's always bothered me, but I've never been able to articulate why until recently.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
LOL, this thread sure brings back the memories. 10-15 years ago, DW Forums had wild arguments under threads with this exact title. I guess the more things change the more they remain the same. ;)
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Yeah, up until the 80s, most rock bands were improvisers. Drummers, guitarists, etc. They never playing songs the same way twice.

I've been transcribing some Deep Purple drum parts, and even though there is a basic groove that Ian Paice follows, literally every measure has subtle differences. Extra bass drum notes, missing bass drum notes, a grace note here, a drag here. It is different every single measure. And you listen to it live, same thing. He never follows anything note for note. Yeah, he has a basic feel that he sticks too, but nothing, either groove or fill, is the same. Guitar solos were always different.

Its because they were all blues/jazz guys when they were learning, or got lessons from blues/jazz guys.

I'm a lot younger than this crowd (Deep Purple, for example, both broke up AND reformed before I was born) but this is how I've always approached music. But I've joined bands recently where the guy who 'writes' the songs comments how I don't follow the snare/bass pattern exactly and keeps it consistent for literally every measure. I'm like...dude, I am playing the feel and the groove of the song, does it really matter I play the exact same bass drum notes every time?

But to most modern musicians, the answer is actually "Yes." This paradigm shit started in the 80s, where most every rock song, down to the guitar solos and drum parts, started being "composed" note for note ahead of time, very rarely shifting from the original recording. And so people learning music in the 90's and 00's (my generation) considered this to be the norm. And It's always bothered me, but I've never been able to articulate why until recently.
These are points I've been emphasizing for some time now, but those who are manacled to missions of note-for-note reproduction refuse to concede that the drummers whose parts they're attempting to emulate don't even maintain fidelity to their own parts in many cases. Also, let's not forget that all transcriptions are nothing more than interpretations, which explains why so much variance can be found in the world of sheet music. The gist is that music, driven by blood and sinew, inevitably assumes the personas of the musicians performing it. No two renditions will ever be identical, nor should we strive for them to be. I'll defend that premise for the rest of my days as a drummer, regardless of the "authorities," whatever relevance that terms carries, who seek to dismantle it.
 

J-W

Well-known member
These are points I've been emphasizing for some time now, but those who are manacled to missions of note-for-note reproduction refuse to concede that the drummers whose parts they're attempting to emulate don't even maintain fidelity to their own parts in many cases.
This is true. I've read countless interviews with drummers about how after touring, they wish they could go back and re-record the album since they've altered/improved the drum parts over the months of playing them.

The thing is, who is better than who is totally irrelevant. The only thing that counts is, does this individual create a living for him/herself as a musician.
Interesting. So, no matter how well one plays, it doesn't qualify as being good if they don't make a living at it?? So, does the amount of living determine just how good they are as well?
 
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