Waffling around the kit

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Is it just me, or are there other drummers who are just blown away - not in awe - by the amount of drum soloists who make no sense at all on the kit?

I fully acknowledge that normally, a drum solo or official demonstration is a display of skill - but why no rhythm? In essence, a percussion instrument is supposed to measure time. You can improvise and elaborate within that sphere, but it should all tie seemlessly together, surely? I can excuse a few pieces for 'setting a mood' but proper moody pieces are few and far between.

It may be blasphemous to say this, but Max Roach - an undoubtedly great drummer when playing with a band - is one of the worst culprits for meandering around the kit with no real sense of direction. I don't see any real difference between that, and Shakespeare just listing all the big words he invented, regardless if they form a sentence or not.

Of course, in amongst these displays are genuine skills and flickers of greatness do shine through, but they always leave me more than disappointed, and sometimes a bit frustrated that they didn't continue their paradiddle groove, instead ruining it with a random bombardment of triplets just for the sake of triplets.

I can normally understand matters of taste, such as the difference between a reggae fan and a fan of heavy metal - but I just can't make sense of these particular drum solos who I should imagine even the most technical, purist drummers would cringe at.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHSBNv-IFrA&feature=related
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
There is such a thing as an open drum solo. Every Max solo that I transcribed he has soloed over the form of a tune. Even The Drum Also Waltzes is over a 3/4 ostinato. You asked "but why no rhythm?" Well there is rhythm in that solo/ Listen to it again - the bass drum is on beat one and the hi-hat is on three.

I can see your point with other drum solos though. Sometimes open solos can go on a little long. But using Max Roach as an example of a rhythmless solo does not prove your point.

Jeff
 
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mrchattr

Gold Member
I'm not going to deny that there are some soloists who do random waffling. However, I think a lot of what is happening in solos by guys like Max Roach is simply beyond what you currently understand about drumming. I say that not as an insult, but you yourself said in another thread that you don't have a great grasp on jazz drumming. Well, most jazz solos are structured to fit the song in some way. Also, a lot of us like to play with the tempo or time signature in a solo. Just because there isn't a discernable 4/4 rhythm, for instance, doesn't mean that there is no rhythm in a particular solo. One of my favorite things to do when soloing is start in 4/4, then morph that into 6/8, then either go back to 4/4 or stay in 6/8 but in double time, then back to normal time, then go through a quick few bars each of 7/8, 6/8, 5/8, then back into 4/4. What is in fact a very intricate (albeit improvised) musical piece can just sound random to a lot of people.
 
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Random Name 123

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You may be right (MrChattr) in that I don't understand jazz drumming (more into funk/blues drumming wise), and Jeff is probably right about the beat behind it all... But It's still just senseless to me, and as an aspiring drummer I'm obviously more clued up than your average joe about rhythms. If I can't dance to it, then he can't - although of course, jazz is more of a specialist genre.

You must have to be really into the technical side of things if you want to listen to all that, from the revelation that there was actually a rhythm behind Roach's solo (bad example from me? Should've chose another), although I can at least see a 'tastes' argument now.

But there are drummers who seem to provide a demonstration with absolutely no rhythm behind it. Even so, in the Roach video, although there may be a pulse, what he does in between is still just noise - not all of it, but some, and that's enough to mess up the groove for me.

I don't mind polyrhythms or odd time signatures, as long as they fit. I suppose, ultimately, my idea of good drumming will involve various intricacies in between a discernible groove that anyone can feel.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Actually, Max Roach is one of the easier jazz drummers to "get". He's very melodic and into developing themes he creates. It's very intellectual stuff he plays...some might say a little TOO thought out.

I know what you mean about waffling around the kit. It's the drum version of wanking on a guitar. "Sure, you know all of your scales, and can play several successions of notes from them at random, but are you putting any thought into what you're playing? Nope. You're a Wanker!"

It can take some people years of wanking to finally discover their voice and realize what they want to say with the drum kit. Even when they find that level of musicianship and communication for themselves, there will always be those who don't get it, and classify what they're doing as senseless waffling...
 

Garvin

Pioneer Member
Yeah, I think listening to open solos with an ear for melodic playing is the key. Understanding that drummers can approach the kit as an instrument rather than just a glorified metronome is a huge part of understanding feel whether its swing, or funk or a blues shuffle or whatever. The pulse is important to understand. If you think of phrasing or playing drum fills and solos as just something that punctuates the one, or whatever, then you will be stuck with a very limited vocabulary for playing music in general.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
he is crazy! he has talent, in a weird sort of way, but the stuff he does is just insane!

i know what you mean about wandering, aimless solos though. i can take a certain amount of that if the drummer knows what they're doing, but not much. i like it sometimes if a solo starts out with some wandering, but then settles into more of a groove oriented thing.
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
One of the best soloists that I admire is Joe Morello, check out his stuff. He's very melodic and his solos make sense, and it's not just showing off fast rudiments (sorry Buddy but u know I love ya!)
 

donv

Silver Member
he is crazy! he has talent, in a weird sort of way, but the stuff he does is just insane!

i know what you mean about wandering, aimless solos though. i can take a certain amount of that if the drummer knows what they're doing, but not much. i like it sometimes if a solo starts out with some wandering, but then settles into more of a groove oriented thing.
I read in one of the magazines someone was talking about all the drummers they had played with, and they said this about Bennik. They were playing somewhere in Europe, and Bennik got up and started playing on the fence behind the stage. He started walking along the fence and into the woods where he was playing on the trees. Everyone stopped playing because they lost with what he was doing. After a couple of minutes of playing by himself out in the woods, he yelled out to everyone, "OK, I'm done." The guy is different.
 

jjmason777

Senior Member
For me, Bennik is part amusing, part madman, part genius although not fully realized. It seems as though he's just bored with convention, and there is definitely something funny going on in that pipe.
 

Late Bloomer

Senior Member
I reckon the toms in the first video almost qualify for the tom angles thread. I can't see how he can be getting optimum efficiency from the stick/head angle.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

Is it just me, or are there other drummers who are just blown away - not in awe - by the amount of drum soloists who make no sense at all on the kit?
Some soloists indeed do meander, but some of them narrate beautiful stories and paint great pictures

I fully acknowledge that normally, a drum solo or official demonstration is a display of skill - but why no rhythm?
Normally? In which set of rules does it say that drums are only rhythm and not tones and voices and textures or simply music?

In essence, a percussion instrument is supposed to measure time.
In a way, yes, but in absolute terms, no. Listen to Glen Kotche.

You can improvise and elaborate within that sphere, but it should all tie seemlessly together, surely?
Yes, it all should come together at some point in the listener's head or heart.

I can excuse a few pieces for 'setting a mood' but proper moody pieces are few and far between.
You are almost wanting to say what a drum solo should be!

I could in the same breath say that all songs should have some noodling on the piano in the beginning and then should be verse, verse, chorus , verse, chorus, chorus. Anything outside of that isnt a song. Even birds and whales sing songs.

It may be blasphemous to say this, but Max Roach - an undoubtedly great drummer when playing with a band - is one of the worst culprits for meandering around the kit with no real sense of direction. I don't see any real difference between that, and Shakespeare just listing all the big words he invented, regardless if they form a sentence or not.
Two of the biggest hustlers in the literary and music world that fooled millions of fans into believing their genius!!!???

Unlikely. What's more likely is that you possibly dont get it. Yet. or just plain dont like it. Period. Nothing wrong with either..

Of course, in amongst these displays are genuine skills and flickers of greatness do shine through, but they always leave me more than disappointed, and sometimes a bit frustrated that they didn't continue their paradiddle groove, instead ruining it with a random bombardment of triplets just for the sake of triplets.
I get what you are saying that grooves are beautiful soundwaves most often emanating from the drums and you want to hear more of that. Great! My wife likes tuna tartar. I cant stand it.. but I'll go sushi every now and then..

I can normally understand matters of taste, such as the difference between a reggae fan and a fan of heavy metal - but I just can't make sense of these particular drum solos who I should imagine even the most technical, purist drummers would cringe at.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are listeners who cant bear listening to even 2 bars of the technical perfection of Thomas Lang and there are listeners who will pay good money to hear Jim Black scratch around on his hardware & empty his stick bag on his his floor tom.

Phillip Glass- are you reading this?

.....
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I'm with WAY. What gets me is when drum solos sound like a lot of clatter. So often the skill levels are great but too often it sounds ugly and pointless to me.

If it's part of an abstract or experimental group then it makes sense. But it makes little sense to me if in a jazz or rock gig the drummer goes into a big polyrhythmic rave simply because he can. I understand the wish to build tension by not explicitly stating beat one for a while, But when a solo goes off the air for too long then it's hard to keep up with the musical statement being made ...

... or should I say, when a percussive musical statement is especially obscure - using as a reference point the assumption that most observers possess rather more prosaic musical acuity than the artist concerned - then it is unlikely that optimal communication can be achieved.

Just because I can write like an egghead doesn't mean I should ...
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
another thing about max roach and culture in general is that when he was creating those solos that was in a time when a lot of artists were searching for absolute freedom of expression and were trying to break rules wherever they found them. at the risk of getting too high minded, i'm thinking that max roach might have been trying to break some rules with his solos and come up with something original. today all we hear is rambling, but in the day that might have been considered very original and forward thinking.
 
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