The Speed Obsession

aydee

Platinum Member
Greetings folks- after a million years! An oblique slantly rant/musing that crossed my mind and I thought I'd share

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What is it about our fascination with speed? About the degree of difficulty?

In music - in everything else? Usain Bolt. Mike Schumacher, Racehorses, Mike Mangini, Eddie Van Halen? Ringo's drum parts? Neil Peart's drum parts? Gavin Harrison's drum parts? Tight rope-walking across the Grand Canyon? A triple Axel on the ice skating ring?

We hold our breadth and see if human endeavour can be bettered? faster, higher, stronger? The Olympics? The world chess championships?

What about music? The music olympics? WFD aside, which is self-confessedly a fun sport for drummers, almost everyone feels that music cannot/should not be judged, and yet it we do it all the time. There is a part of us that is constantly doing that.

Specially drummers? maybe even guitar players? Not so many horn players or piano players. though...

Fastest, smartest, toughest? Can it also be sublimest? chopp-iest? groov-iest?

Why do we do this?


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8Mile

Platinum Member
I think with all art, it's difficult to separate our amazement at how difficult something is from our enjoyment and appreciation of it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's great to see you around Abe, it's been awhile.

I have no clue why everything has to be SO over the top anymore. It's really getting to a point of disgust with me. Good ob that piano players, horn players and others....don't have to deal with this. There's no pressure from anywhere, it seems anyway.

I just want to move far far away from that "dance monkey dance" mindset.

Music is being passed over in favor of ego and useless physical pursuits.
 

uniongoon

Gold Member
Drummers speed often gets to the point of redundancy. We all strive to get our chops a little faster, cleaner, smoother. But I notice when I listen back, a lot of the stuff I work on is to the point where most people cannot decipher whether it is a single followed by a triple between toms and kick. I sound faster when I listen back to myself, in my head while I am playing it does not seem that fast. But things become a flurry of notes that if I slow them down, it would make more sense to more people I guess is what I am trying to say.
I remember an experience I had many moons ago. While attending a Rick Gratton/Paul Delong clinic, Rick demonstrated his use of groups of 5,6 and 7 and so on. He played them first slow, then fast. His slow was quite fast, but when he demonstrated at top speed, nothing he played sounded any different than a blaze of single strokes. I know he was hearing the groupings in his head, but because of the speed, most I think was lost in translation.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I doubt there's one answer, Abe. Competition stems from animal impulses but it's partially existential, partially genetic, partially social. Striving is part of it - our natural growth and learning urges. Then there's the buzz. Also status (ie. better for passing on genes).

We do seem to like pushing to extremes. In the old days Dracula would give you chills by quietly pulling the victim behind something and the rest was up to your imagination. Now heads and blood are flying all over the place. Once Elvis was outrageous, now outrageousness is more usually measured by grinding with lady bits barely covered and some extreme fringe groups engage in self mutilation. Rock n roll :)

I could be wrong but my impression is that trumpeters get their status from high notes and pianist's seem more into the size of their repertoire (ahem) and command of syncopation and harmony.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Why do we do this?
.
There seems to be an ever increasing need for "knowing where you stand", & that comes from comparison. The need to measure yourself against a set of known markers, & I believe that has ballooned in the last 30 years or so because of our dramatically increased exposure to material from around the globe. Don't get me wrong, this huge mine of information is a good thing, but I'm not sure if we've all matured enough yet to place everything in context.

Every day, I feel myself slipping further down the ladder, but that's ok, because I'm now back standing on solid ground. It feels good :)
 
i think this pretty much goes for everything else in our society too. whenever you see or hear an advertisement for a product/service speed is almost always mentioned.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Virtuosity will pretty much always be effective at stirring emotions and imagination (unless it's entirely over people's heads). Speed is a obvious outlet to display virtuosity.

That said, unimaginative speed will have a very short lived thrill.

I'll take clever and imaginative playing always over speed every time, BUT, speed can bring a heck of a lot of excitement to the table within that context.
 

Croc

Senior Member
We had an interesting (to me at least!) discussion related to this topic at a music camp I attended last month. A small group of us, mostly older, campers were sitting and having a nice chat with Tony Levin. for my money the best bass player working today.

The topic was the 2012 summer tour several years ago where Crimson ProjeKct, a band consisting of Tony's group Stick Men and Adrian Belew's Power Trio combined playing a combination of each group's music and classic King Crimson music, opened for Dream Theatre. For me, and as it turned out most of the other guys in this discussion, the order was reversed and DT should have opened for the ProjeKct. There seemed to be more joy in the music making with Tony and his gang while DT was just a relentless stream of notes played with great precision and speed by the DT gang, but with little apparent emotion. Don't get me wrong, these are incredible musicians with frightening chops. Their music, for whatever reason, never really appealed to me at a gut level.

Tony has played with some of these guys in Liquid Tension Experiment and other splinter efforts and enjoyed himself on this tour so he has no axe to grind and respects their skills too. He looked at we old gray beards, smiled and said in essence "You guys are not their target audience. Most of their fans are in their 20s and come to the shows to hear them play like this. If they don't, the fans will leave disappointed".

So perhaps it is a competition-type thing and if I were a 20-something, maybe I'd be more enthralled.
 
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JimFiore

Silver Member
The preoccupation with speed is easy to understand:
1. People mistakenly equate speed with skill and,
2. Speed is easily measured and quantified.

The end result is that people think they can create a "pecking order" based on speed. It is much more difficult, if not impossible, to quantify whether or not a particular drum part moves an individual or provides a maximal contribution to the feel of a tune.

If I want a blazingly fast drum part with mechanical perfection, I'll program a drum machine. And I'm being literal when I say that. There are times when I might want to hear an impossible drum part. I'm thinking, for example, of some of the things Zappa did with the Synclavier. You could go beyond that into the realm of the unplayable.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
This is interesting................

Just yesterday I decided to try and be the best slow drummer I can be.
I want to sound great, but without fast fills.

Can anybody tell me who your favorite slow drummer is?
I'm looking for a great drummer to emulate. Someone who does not use speed when they play.

.
 

Croc

Senior Member
I think this is an excellent question.

Speed is not my strength so I am in the same position. Someone who either doesn't have speed or has it and doesn't feel the need to use it is Steve Jansen. He is in my drummer's hall of fame for his work on David Sylvian's "Gone to Earth" alone. What he does with groove and beat displacement in place of speed is, to me, just wonderful.
 

Winegums

Silver Member
There's a certain attraction I find with playing something so fast that it'll explode if a beat is missed. I guess there's an excitement to playing fast, it gets your heart beating and it's fun to push your limits (speed is only one facet). I don't think speed should ever trump accuracy or creativity on the kit but it's the only thing we can really measure on a drummers ability.
 

JosephDAqui

Silver Member
This thread was a real eye opener. Thanks to all who posted. I'll be looking at recording and playing live quite differently now.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

Wow, what great perspectives! got me thunkin some more - Let me throw a follow-up question based on some of the many responses here. Its a little wierd and hard to articulate, but stay with me-

If speed + a high degree of difficulty = virtuosity ( big assumption here, but nevertheless.. )


THEN

what % of all the great music thats has been played across all genres would you say relies on that attribute? Im talking classics, hits, top 40 ( any generation ),folk, rock, hip hop, world, EDM.. any or all of it?

( Remember its a skill attribute )


...
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
I think people appreciate speed and competition because it's a subconscious understanding of how vibrant our mitochondria can be.

Only as we get older do we realize the importance of doing, with what little we have.

/crazy opinion
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
...

Wow, what great perspectives! got me thunkin some more - Let me throw a follow-up question based on some of the many responses here. Its a little wierd and hard to articulate, but stay with me-

If speed + a high degree of difficulty = virtuosity ( big assumption here, but nevertheless.. )


THEN

what % of all the great music thats has been played across all genres would you say relies on that attribute? Im talking classics, hits, top 40 ( any generation ),folk, rock, hip hop, world, EDM.. any or all of it?

( Remember its a skill attribute )


...
Mainstream stuff, I'm shooting for minuscule.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
This is in really poor taste, guys. Speed is ruining people's lives all over the country. It's less of an obsession, and more of a physical addiction.
 

Zero Mercury Drummer

Senior Member
Drummers seem the most focused on speed than any other instrument. Maybe guitar players admire speed, but usually to a lesser degree.

You ever hear a singer get excited about how fast another singer is? Bassists? Not really.
The US is a speed-oriented society. We want everything fast, then faster.

Wasn't Buddy Rich's amazing speed around the kit one his main attractions? Was he the first to put such a focus on the physicality of the instrument?
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Evolution...We attend/aspire to the most likely to survive...and that is usually the one who is the 'most'.

...bleeds into other things that do not relate to survival...and that even might negatively impact survival.

Contrary to popular opinion, mankind has not evolved for accurate discrimination....but for reproductive dominance/basic survival.
 
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