The bashing impulse

drumhammerer

Silver Member
I think Bonham started the bashing fascination. He was literally the loudest, hardest hitting drummer at that time, and influenced a lot of drummers in the process. It really depends on the size of venue, and genre you're playing, though. The bigger the venue, the less it matters if you're too loud, since the sound levels are adjusted more with the p.a. than the band itself.

I find it easier to play quieter if all I'm playing is a gig that requires that. However, a couple times I've had a blues/country gig one night, and a metal gig the next night, and vice versa. Very tough in that situation. One does seem to help the other in certain areas though, interestingly.

The easiest way to play quieter? Just use rods or brushes. Instant lower volume, and you can keep the same feel, relatively. Playing with dynamics is cool, though. When you do it, it really adds a lot of feel and intensity to a song, rather than just one volume level. Practicing with a metronome will help you get a more even feel with different volume levels.
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
I used to hit pretty hard when I started playing in a 70s/80s rock band. Then when I started playing at church, I had to almost relearn how to play, since at times you are playing almost as an accompanist and loudness can detract from the music and congregation.

There are some similarities, but I have to change up how I play between church and my blues rock band. Which teaches you to focus on playing correctly for the song and the mood, and not just bash away on the skins.

I think of Lars Ulrich, who seems (with both body and face) to be in the ultimate fighter ring, or Bruce Lee in a martial arts battle at all times, as he bashes every piece of his equipment with every stroke. That may work in the heavy metal genre, but surely not for my applications.

I prefer to have reserve in the tank, so that when I need to step on the pedal, I can really make the volumn count.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I see and hear a lot of bashing going on in my travels. Many young and inexperienced drummers believe it's the only way it should be done especially when their idols are doing it. Thus it's done that way until they are introduced to other genres of music and educated in dynamics. There are a few ways to limit the velocity of the hit and still maintain the excitement of the music.

Dennis
 

haredrums

Silver Member
I was reading Andrew's interesting and relevant blog this morning - he was talking about dynamic transitions. One passage grabbed my attention (my emphasis):

As a drummer, your job is to set the dynamic range of the music. If you play loud, everyone else kind of has to. With that in mind, if you can exercise the restraint necessary to hold back the bashing impulse, you will find that when you do finally release that impulse, the effect will be dramatically heightened.

People love bashing drums. Thinking about it always makes me laugh - innate human goofiness. Or maybe innate modern (or post rock) human goofiness?

It's interesting to watch those old clips where the drummers almost never got to forte and comparing with so many clips of today where the drummers rarely go below fff.

When novices get on the drums, most times they try to ape the big stadium drummers, just slamming away. That's how you drum, isn't it? It feels natural ... lift your arm and drop it ... WHAM! ... hey, that's cool! ... and so on. I suspect some people have never seen a refined drummer.

What do you think happened? Did rock simply spin the music world into another orbit? Is it just a response to a world increasingly full of noisy machines - that we feel we have to shout? How much of the bashing impulse is pent up violence?

Personally, I played rock for a long time and, years after starting with a laid back band, every time I play there is still a bit of a struggle to keep it down. Undoing decades of "training" ain't easy.
Hey Pollyanna,

Thanks for starting this conversation, it is interesting to hear so many different perspectives on this issue. It seems like people are almost playing a different instrument based on the musical setting they are playing in!

That being said, I think that regardless of genre, the important thing is to have a range of dynamics. Obviously not every song has to go up and down the full range of dynamics in order to connect with an audience. But without any dynamic contrast, to my ears quiet songs get dull and loud songs get obnoxious.

This also doesn't mean that everyone has to learn to play quietly per se, just that you have to be able to come down relative to your loudest playing. If you only have one dynamic spot that you can play at comfortably, be it soft or loud, the music WILL suffer.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I love the kind of texture that comes from subtle touch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngxaUjIYX1Y
This is a superb approach for a "soft" feel and texture in a song, it's not a question of dynamics alone per say, it's a whole concept, to be able to seat at the instrument and provide that kind of mood takes a hell lot more than just playing louder or softer throughout a song, Tony's groove, while not being played loud, is a very "spirited" performance, the intensity is all there, that drum part really lift and highlight all the important places within the song, for me that's were the challenge remains to be achieved. :)

The easiest way to play quieter? Just use rods or brushes. Instant lower volume, and you can keep the same feel, relatively.
I agree, the volume will go down, however, rods and brushes are very different than sticks, there's no or very little rebound in them, so to play a song with the same "feel" as you'll do with drumsticks is another challenge altogether, sure they're suited to certain musical approach, but they can't provide the type of performance like the song Pollyanna has given us for exemple, you can play that song with rods or brushes, but the end result will feel completely different, so yes, the easiest way to play quieter, but to provide the drumsticks feel with an appropriate pattern for a piece of music at these "lower and softer" mood remains of my biggest assignement within my drumming :)

That being said, I think that regardless of genre, the important thing is to have a range of dynamics. Obviously not every song has to go up and down the full range of dynamics in order to connect with an audience. But without any dynamic contrast, to my ears quiet songs get dull and loud songs get obnoxious.
Of course Andrew, dynamics are the spices wich makes a song alive, it gives tension and release to the music, add flavour, originality and temperament, without it, it's rather dull and lifeless, but as you can guess looking at my repies in this post, it takes more than dynamics (ie: playing softer and/or louder) to bring texture, mood and volume in a piece of music. :)

While rock music need a powerful groove with a strong backbeat, there's a lot of pro-rock drummers out there that are able to get the best of both worlds, they're loud alright, but with all the dynamics required to put some welcome texture and feel in their playing (Ian Paice came to my mind). Also not every type of rock music need some dynamics within the music, loud and in your face is indeed the right way to go about it, and that is not an easy approach either :)
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
The hitting hard thing is unique among drummers it seems.

Ever hear a guitar player say, man I played that note so hard!
Or an organist...Man I really pound those keys!
Or a sax player....I blow really hard!
Or a violinist, man I press that bow so hard on those strings...

Doesn't that sound re-diculous?

What about the context? I hope you aren't thinking about hitting hard in the beginning of a sensitive passage! Of course you wouldn't do that, right?

Drumming is like communicating. Are you gonna shout everything you say? I'll never understand why people think they are so badass when they say that they hit hard. Big deal, you can hit a drum hard. So what lol?
No, but I have seen many guitar and bass players continually adjust the volume on the guitar or amp as the sound or night goes along. They don't want anyone competing with them for center stage.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The hitting hard thing is unique among drummers it seems.

Ever hear a guitar player say, man I played that note so hard!
Or an organist...Man I really pound those keys!
No, but I have heard them all turn their volume knob to "11."

Every hear of an acoustic drums set player drummer turning their volume knob up? Of course not, that would be re-diculous!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Interesting to see all these angles. But isn't there something intrinsic as well?

Have a look at the guy at the start of this clip. Traditional African drumming and he reminds me of a bit of Gene Krupa (no doubt a connection laboured by conservatives in their opera glasses tut tutting about Gene and his like at the time:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpKiPB7PpGw

It looks to me like natural youthful male exuberance.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Interesting to see all these angles. But isn't there something intrinsic as well?
Absolutely.

I remember reading an interview with Neil Peart many years ago. This was back when people wondered if drum machines would completely replace real drummers some day. Neil was asked if he thought drummers would naturally transition from playing drums to programming drum machines over time. His response was that what attracts drummers to the instrument in the first place was the physicality of it, and that programming a machine appeals to a completely different impulse.

That's pretty much how I see it. We like to hit things and sometimes we want to hit them hard. Making the physical movement of striking a drum and having a pleasing sound come out of it is an intrinsic part of what makes me happy playing the drums, and I don't think I'm alone.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
That's pretty much how I see it. We like to hit things and sometimes we want to hit them hard. Making the physical movement of striking a drum and having a pleasing sound come out of it is an intrinsic part of what makes me happy playing the drums, and I don't think I'm alone.
You're certainely not alone Larry, I agree and relate totally to your comment. :)
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Yes, the physical act of drumming. It just feels good to groove. It seems to me that an arm swing is natural in drumming and gentler wrist and finger strokes are learned, just as brutal Moellers are.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The other aspect is, sometimes, it's a job requirement.

Some artists/bands, want someone who hits ridiculously hard. The energy/vibe of pounding is what they are looking for.

There are stories of well guys, and some people I know, who upon getting a certain gig (or to get the gig) went up to bigger stick and hitting way harder than they had on prior gigs. I've seen interviews from name artists, and why they hired so-and-so and "they hit so hard" is one of the "good" aspects that led to choosing the drummer that got it.
 

Chunky

Silver Member
It always makes me laufh when I hear people refer to loud or metal drumming as 'bashing' as if it's less skilled than playing normal to quiet. It anything it's harder.
Rattle through my rudiments and grooves down to really low levels but it's not quite as easy to blast rudiments at full belt and that's what does hold alot of metal parts back.
I constantly complain that my bands volume resteicts what I can play but, the drums just don't sound good at normal level. The timbre is all wrong and this isn't just because the music is loud and aggressive but because modern production.
Drums are compressed to the hilt on these records if they are not triggered and that sound is full of attack, it got a slap to it that simpley tip-tapping away just won't do.

You have to live with the pros and cons of the style of music you play because no good music has it all. I get as much tasty licks in that I can but at the end of the day it has to sound like brutal metal assault.
Sure I can play other styles and I do so at the relevant volume. When I'm playing metal for a few hours then burst into a latin groove I have to remind myself to play quietly, it sounds awful loud, it's about hearing the voice of my snare, not the attack.

I'll never understand the snobbery towards metal when tech/prog/djent metal and new breed reverse engineered drummers are probably the ones pushng our art forward the most these days.

You have to play for your situation. Ever heard a steictly metal only drummer try and blag jazz? It's awful.
Likewise have you heard some of the fusion guys attempt double pedal? Yeah technically they are doing it but, it sounds like a bag of flumps it's embarrassing!
Even Thomas Lang who I love sound awful doing double pedal, especially double strokes, it's very nearly a completely unusable technique as I've NEVER heard anyone sound good using it.
We coule ask 'why can't you play fast AND loud where's the fff rudiments? why can't you hit the bass drum properly?
and that would be just as justified as saying metal lacks dynamics.

No-one is a worse player because of it, you're just playing the way that style needs to be played.
 
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