The Speed Obsession

JimFiore

Silver 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.
Let's not oversimplify evolutionary theory. This is an unguided process without an end goal in mind. What works for one may not work for another. True, in some species a "win" is obtained by being bigger, faster, stronger but for another it might be success through cooperation (inter-species or intra-species).

Evolution is not a toughest guy/last man standing competition. It's about being optimally adapted to your environment. That can mean a lot of different things.

Finally, one could easily argue that, for humans, "accurate discrimination" aids in basic survival which leads to "reproductive dominance" (unless by "dominance" you're referring to power/strength but in that case it's only proper to point out that humans are not particularly sexually dimorphic so it's less important to begin with).
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
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.
True. I was way into speed in my mid/late teens. Gradually the intensity and speed that gave me rush started sounding like a boring racket and by my 40s simply feels like an assault. There was a time when playing ballads felt like a duty, now it's a pleasure.

Jim made a good point about quantifying for the sake of competition. We do this all the time - focusing on the measurable and either ignoring or taking for granted non-measurable things.

When I did courses in analysis at some stage the statisticians' saying, "what gets measured, gets done" would be trotted out. Management wouldn't agree to spend money on projects unless they had evidence of its potential.

In the practice room it's mentally easier and more obvious to measure your increase your BPMs than to improve your microtiming and feel within a groove.
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
There's a lot going on with your rant/question. First, should we de-evolve? So we're getting faster and stronger and constantly pushing our human limitations. Trying to be anything less seems anti-intuitive. For thousands of years we've been getting taller, should we actively stop trying to be taller? Our subconscious drive to survive, succeed, overcome and ultimately, have sex, is driving us to try and be the best and out do the competition. As far as speed in drumming, I feel a lot (i mean a lot) of young drummers hide their inconsistency with it. Consistency is what let's us play things that make sense to non musicians. It's part of that thing we refer to as "feel" and "groove" and I think is akin to symmetry in nature. Either you have it, or you don't. A kid who practices down the hall from me is a real speed freak (and quite goo too), but during a BS session in my practice space, I started talking tempo,feel and my philosophy regarding these. I asked him to play the intro to Hard to Handle and smoke literally poured out of his ears. He could play the beat, but not cleanly for any prolonged period. It was frustrating the he'll out him and he eventually would start hammering out blast beats (which he is great at, and I am not). I guess my point is that sometimes drums are like a blinking contest, the fastest guy doesn't always win, but it is still a contest.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
In the practice room it's mentally easier and more obvious to measure your increase your BPMs than to improve your microtiming and feel within a groove.
So true... for years the speed factor was an important (if not crucial) part of my drumming practice, as well as very slow playing, but over the years I finally realised my limits in terms of speed and accepted that I'll never be that fast drummer, in later years the main focus is on microtiming, feel and groove, speed is not important anymore, but accuracy, control, precision and consistency are the targets I'm shooting for these days.


PS: Abe, the speed + complexity = virtuosity, this theory has always been a widely discussed topic, and generally ends up with big names in jazz, fusion, prog rock, classical and the likes... not your average rock or pop bands, which in terms of percentage would a minority in the global music industry...

I mean how often do you hear this kind of virtuosity on piano, bass and drums... check out this trio and tell me what you think :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR8HinFaQhk
 

tracer

Senior Member
Speed has always been the "gold standard" of drumming. Although I am 62, I still produce testosterone (believe it or not) and blazing chops still raise my blood pressure.
Chris Coleman, Dennis Chambers, Paco Sery, Virgil Donati are all mesmerizing to watch.
That said, I wish I had spent my youth mastering independence.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I think it is a degree of difficulty thing. People are impressed by what they can not do themselves. Whether it's jumping between buildings like the Parkour folks or doing some blazing fast run on an instrument (Paganini, Reinhardt, Tatum anybody?).

While faster may not be better, it is definitely initially impressive. Especially to the less sophisticated who have no idea how much skill it takes to play an expressive phrase. And the speed hits them at an easier to access level. They may not know why they were emotionally moved by a well played song, but the can definitely recognize upper percentile fast twitch muscles at work.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
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.
I saw that tour.

I had a bit of an opposite experience. It seemed to me like the Crimson Project was a relentless stream of dissonant notes played by 6 guys who had no interest in listening to each other, or any interest in that there was an audience in front of them. It was like watch 6 soloists all playing separately, just on the same stage. I got the impression none of them rehearsed whatever it was they were trying to do.

And then of course, Dream Theater came out and played a relentless stream of notes played with great precision and speed. Which may or may not have been any better, but they at least coordinated their efforts.
 

eddypierce

Senior Member

aydee

Platinum Member
PS: Abe, the speed + complexity = virtuosity, this theory has always been a widely discussed topic, and generally ends up with big names in jazz, fusion, prog rock, classical and the likes... not your average rock or pop bands, which in terms of percentage would a minority in the global music industry...

I mean how often do you hear this kind of virtuosity on piano, bass and drums... check out this trio and tell me what you think :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR8HinFaQhk
Allo, Henri! I've heard this band. And yes, they are in a word, mind-blowing! Hiromi is a monster, but thats my point. One would describe Hiromi or players like Chick Corea, Oscar Peterson, or even Jon Lord etc as a great keyboard players, not neccasarilly as the fastest or the most techincally amazing players. Their Wow -Factor is not so heavily reliant on speed & technicality.

How about EDM or the DJs? Pulling in some of the biggest audiences. Look ma, no hands. Just manipulating technology.


...
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
DED, I know what you mean about the Projeckts, and I say that as an old Crimmo tragic. They came to Sydney not so long ago but I checked out a live vid by the same lineup. I don't enjoy relentless volume and density so I passed.

You'd be right that they would have been improvising - all KC and related outfits have always been outstanding jammers, capable of tight sounding performances night after night while flying by the seats of their pants like a jazz band. On a good night KC could conjure up mini masterpieces.

That's another less obvious skill - improv - to go along with time and groove, compositional skills, limb independence, tone, tuning, taste, dynamics, sensitivity, creativity, as well as personal qualities that can help others play at their best. Speed is just one tool in the kit bag but has gained special regard for the reasons given below.

Al Jackson is a good "slow drummer" example by Eddie. Simon Kirke was/is a strong, tasteful and rock solid slow drummer along with the famous names that come up when naive listeners criticise simple players. Bear in mind, some slow drummers have the headroom to play fast but prefer laying back. I've not heard the great Jim Keltner shred but his authority on the kit suggests he could bring the house down if he wanted.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Can anybody tell me who your favorite slow drummer is?


.
You're my favorite slow drummer Jim.

:p

Sorry, but I couldn't resist. You really shouldn't set yourself up like that.

I've got a few:

Mick Fleetwood
Nigel Olsen
Nick Mason
Travis Barker

Just seeing if you're paying attention.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
You're my favorite slow drummer Jim. :p
Sorry, but I couldn't resist. You really shouldn't set yourself up like that.
I've got a few:
Mick Fleetwood, Nigel Olsen, Nick Mason, Travis Barker
Just seeing if you're paying attention.
Ha ! Good one Larry !

Yes, your list of drummers was what I was looking for. Drummers who do tasteful fills and solos without using lots of speed.

Thx..........

.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
None of the good players that I know are "obsessed" with speed.

They are obsessed with sounding great.

This is not a real issue, there is not a significant percentage of experienced drummers that are obsessed with speed. Most drummers I know don't even practice enough to qualify as obsessed.

If anything, most guys see how hard it is to get blazing chops and proclaim that they are "groove guys".

Look at the responses on this thread. Most of them are not from speed obsessed guys.

(I just had to be contrary, I know I'm a pain in the ass)
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

One of my favourite 'NON-spectacular-sub-divisions-comin-out the-wazoo-hair tossing-eat BPMs-for-breakfast-lord-of-the-rims kinda drummers'.. is Jim too.

Jim Keltner.

One of the working-est drummers ever. Like Purdie and Gadd, everyone wanted him on their album.

I say this because somebody asked, not because I'm passing judgement.

I guess what Im getting at is because drums are physical, are there a different set of rules that we, the practitioners apply to it in relation to other arts?

btw, How fast can you paint? Can you improve your brush technique ( on canvas, not drumset ) Is your vocab and grammar good enough for you to write a book?

PS- Jeff, I understand where you and other good players come from. Im talking a general mindset that permeates..

...
 
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8Mile

Platinum Member
I don't think the preoccupation with instrumental acrobatics is limited to drummers. Singers may not be judged on how fast they sing, but people do notice things like the high notes or the range of octaves. I remember being in school in the 70s and 80s and hearing arguments about guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes and Yngvie Malmsteen and speed was always in the discussion.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Here's a jaw dropping performance on acoustic guitar without a whole lot of shredding - sheer musical mastery and imagination https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY7GnAq6Znw

Another example, which I've posted here before but is so good it's worth re-posting. Steve Gadd killing it with James Taylor - the climax for the crowd cheering with passion, dynamics, timing and syncopation - thousands of people in a hall, and probably nearly all of their spines were tingling :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BYb3u0aZVY
 

JimFiore

Silver Member
...First, should we de-evolve?.... For thousands of years we've been getting taller, should we actively stop trying to be taller? Our subconscious drive to survive, succeed, overcome and ultimately, have sex, is driving us to try and be the best and out do the competition....
Maybe I'm picking nits here but we're getting taller largely due to better nutrition, not some evolutionary advantage to being tall.

Also, getting to have children is not necessarily about "out doing the competition" in terms of speed and/or power. Certainly not for modern humans. If that was the case, I'd venture that most of us would not have any kids!
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Let's not oversimplify evolutionary theory. This is an unguided process without an end goal in mind. What works for one may not work for another. True, in some species a "win" is obtained by being bigger, faster, stronger but for another it might be success through cooperation (inter-species or intra-species).

Evolution is not a toughest guy/last man standing competition. It's about being optimally adapted to your environment. That can mean a lot of different things.

Finally, one could easily argue that, for humans, "accurate discrimination" aids in basic survival which leads to "reproductive dominance" (unless by "dominance" you're referring to power/strength but in that case it's only proper to point out that humans are not particularly sexually dimorphic so it's less important to begin with).
On the question of why we do what we do?..evolution.

On accuracy of discrimination?....no...we have evolved for speed and approximation...as it serves survival/reproduction....hence our vision is not a 1 for 1 tool...it is an extrapolation of stimuli...same things cross over to our valuative behavior...take as much as possible...as we have not had to evolve past scarcity of resource due to overpopulation/restricting our own population growth in a low danger way(war originates to do this but we are now too efficient with it).

great convo!...love the analysis...
 

Reggae_Mangle

Silver Member
Are you obsessed about groove? Are you obsessed about power? Are you obsessed about control? Are up obsessed with dynamics?

Pick a card. any card.
 
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