What does it mean to have "Feel"

FEEL : It's one of those things thats difficult to define, but you know it when you hear,see and yes, feel it.

Gadd, Garibaldi, Blades, Purdie and many more!
 

jwildman

Senior Member
To jwildman, I'd love to check out your video, but where's the link?

And thank you, Toby! :)



You're right, I'm labeling feel as "subdivision awareness", and reserving other qualities such as playing in time, appropriate dynamics, and vocabulary for other discussions. Funny you mention Copeland, I think he has "wandering" subdivisions (there are other qualities in his drumming I really love). I also think it takes a well-developed "internal clock" to appreciate Steve Gadd's feel, especially within a plain piece of drumming (not a lot of notes), and this is why drummers of less experience aren't turned on.

Consider rap and electronic music. Even since Run DMC, samples and loops often "rub" each other: they don't line up and synchronize perfectly, and this creates interest and tension in the music.

And in be bop, it's customary - no, obligatory - that the drummer swing the 8ths, and the horns and other lead instruments play them straight or with a little bounce. Same general effect: it creates interest and tension in the music, and we hear "groove" and "momentum".

Around my area, there are lots of drummers who grew up playing in Baptist church worship bands, and they, for the most part, have the same feel: quantized. But I would never say they had bad feel, or no feel, just a feel that serves their music very, very well. Fortunately, it also serves pop and R n B!

So, a feel is an approach to the subdivisions in the music. You might be good at one feel, but if it isn't called for, you might be out of a gig!
Its right here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-36cRdxBO4k
 

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
Here's an exercise that you should be able to do that could help you with feel. Pick any song you like, play along with it, but JUST KEEP TIME. No fills allowed, no accent crashes, no ghost notes, nothing but THE BEAT. Stripped down, bare bones timekeeping. As little notes as humanly possible. Just keep the beat. It's harder than you think resisting those temptations to stray. Just keep straight non changing time. And try and keep it perfectly even. Make sure you pop that snare, play time like it's the most important thing on earth. Keep your volumes on each drum or cymbal consistant.

It's good to simplify. If you can't play something simple beautifully, you can't play anything harder beautifully either.

Make that time feel so good, the girls wanna F you.

I used to feel things too much. I had to learn to detach because I would get so "into it" that even though in my head I thought I was THE MAN, in reality I was majorly deluding myself. What I thought I sounded like was entirely different than what I actually sounded like. So after hearing those initial recordings of my playing (yikes, there's something majorly wrong with this recorder! That's not me!) I substituted honest listening in place of "getting into it". Best move I ever made.
For me, here you are just taking away ANY type of creativity, we are'nt metronomes..gotta have something in there no? agree?
Ya some situations require the ole 2 and 4, but why not jusy add texture with ghost notes and such, in a lot of musical situations it does'nt take away from the music, like this video..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On2p3PAazLs

do you think that is feel? He is playing a hell of a lot of ghost notes!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
For me, here you are just taking away ANY type of creativity, we are'nt metronomes..gotta have something in there no? agree?
Ya some situations require the ole 2 and 4, but why not jusy add texture with ghost notes and such, in a lot of musical situations it does'nt take away from the music, like this video..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On2p3PAazLs

do you think that is feel? He is playing a hell of a lot of ghost notes!
Bos, for context, have a listen the recordings Larry's posted on the site. He is a lively and dynamic blues drummer - a long way from just playing 2 and 4, and with more ghosts than a haunted house!

He's just talking about an exercise that helps create a solid foundation for creative drumming.

First, his recommended approach puts a focus on time and feel. Also, when you sit on an ostinato beat when playing along with songs you hear all these opportunities pass you by - usually at the end of 4-bar subdivisions. Once you train yourself to let those bread-and-butter variations go then you can more clearly see other opportunities to mix things up - in less typical spots that usually that relate to the melody.

That results in an approach that's more about serving the music IMO but horses for courses.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Watched your video, good stuff, and sweet kit!

So your first question -- "what is feel" -- has been discussed deeply. Whether you choose to define feel as "subdivision awareness" or not doesn't really matter, but I believe your drumming can benefit from some subdivision exercises, and recording yourself.

1. Try this exercise, only on snare drum, alternating RLRL, at 80 bpm: play two measures of 8th notes, then two measures of triplets, then two of 16ths, then two of triplet 16ths, then two of 32nd notes, then back to triplet 16ths, then 16ths, then triplets, then 8ths. Keep time with your bass drum or hi-hat foot, playing quarter notes.

2. Then try the same exercise, but only one measure per subdivision. Try it again at 70, 75, 85, 90, 95, and 100 bpm. Do these exercises every day for two weeks.

3. Work through this snare drum book, along to a metronome, the snare solos are actually pretty challenging near the end:

http://www.amazon.com/Snare-Drum-Method-Book-Elementary/dp/0825809398/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270538640&sr=8-1

4. Record yourself playing, for example, that tom groove from Would? along to a click, and throw in some fills. Don't record the song, or the click, just your drumming, and listen back carefully. You may not be crazy about what you hear, but that's okay, record again the next day.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I feel confident in suggesting that, if you don't already have one, the quarter note pulse is something you can incorporate that will take you one step closer to having good feel.
(Assuming 4/4 time of course)

What's the quarter note pulse?

It's where, no matter what you're playing, a fill, the beat, verse, chorus, bridge, lead, whatever, the quarter notes are accented a little louder than the non quarter notes.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Thanks for going to bat for me w/ Bosphorus Pol. (more ghosts than a haunted house...too funny...you really are a literary gem) Yea Bos, this was just an exercise I suggested to J to develop good feeling time, the basis for all good drumming. Think's it's easy playing "easy?" It takes a ton of disipline. If you can't play something "easy" beautifully, then you can't play anything harder beautifully either. I wasn't suggesting J play nothing but time for his other playing, just this one exercise.
For someone who is trying to cop a better feel, I'd be remiss in suggesting he start out with anything harder than the most basic of basics. Don't skip the basics, because guess what? After you take a trip around the drumming universe with all the complex possibilities...after a while, you see the true worth of basic skills, and realize that the better you can play simply (and make it feel oh sooo good...)...the more others will want to play with you. That's just a plain fact.
To JWildman...
Dude, I know you've heard more than a few people knock your playing, but really, you don't suck, far from it. You have the necessary skills to be awesome. You are just at a certain point in your development that most everyone has to pass through. Drumming (and life, really) is all about awareness. You are becoming aware that you need more feel. Good for you. You are doing the right things with the right attitude and I just wanted to give you some props. You're doing great.
Think about the QNP (quarter note pulse) and try and incorporate it into your playing.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
To JWildman...
Dude, I know you've heard more than a few people knock your playing, but really, you don't suck, far from it. You have the necessary skills to be awesome. You are just at a certain point in your development that most everyone has to pass through. Drumming (and life, really) is all about awareness. You are becoming aware that you need more feel. Good for you. You are doing the right things with the right attitude and I just wanted to give you some props. You're doing great.
Think about the QNP (quarter note pulse) and try and incorporate it into your playing.
+1, absolutely! I'd be thrilled to have you as a student! And you are certainly at a crossroads in your playing. You have shown courage and maturity beyond your years in asking for this kind of advice. Kudos!
 

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
Thanks for going to bat for me w/ Bosphorus Pol. (more ghosts than a haunted house...too funny...you really are a literary gem) Yea Bos, this was just an exercise I suggested to J to develop good feeling time, the basis for all good drumming. Think's it's easy playing "easy?" It takes a ton of disipline. If you can't play something "easy" beautifully, then you can't play anything harder beautifully either. I wasn't suggesting J play nothing but time for his other playing, just this one exercise.
For someone who is trying to cop a better feel, I'd be remiss in suggesting he start out with anything harder than the most basic of basics. Don't skip the basics, because guess what? After you take a trip around the drumming universe with all the complex possibilities...after a while, you see the true worth of basic skills, and realize that the better you can play simply (and make it feel oh sooo good...)...the more others will want to play with you. That's just a plain fact..
Ya, i agree with pretty much all of that, but I was just saying that you still have to be able to play ghost notes and such. I know that with the band I am in at the moment, playing ghost notes can become a hinderance! I suppose playing with them is my PRACTICE for a clean groove. But I know what you mean, I have in the past lost time because i WAS'NT playing ghost notes and such, this was generally on slow songs where there was a big gap between snare hits, I found that playing to like a 70bpm metronome really helped me with that!

But you can have great feel and somewhatoverplay, think so?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
But you can have great feel and somewhatoverplay, think so?
For sure. Keith Moon is a great example. The man definitely overplayed. (and we're all the richer for it) But he had his own vision and felt things in such a way that he has forged his own style.

Once you have good feel, (and adequate execution) almost anything you do will sound good.
 

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
For sure. Keith Moon is a great example. The man definitely overplayed. (and we're all the richer for it) But he had his own vision and felt things in such a way that he has forged his own style.

Once you have good feel, (and adequate execution) almost anything you do will sound good.
I should be posting up some feel groove kind of videos soon, I;'d love for you to have a look, seems as though you have a good handle on that stuff!

They may be up by the weekend,have to charge my camara I would love some constructive criticism! maybe everyone on this thread will be able to learn from my mistakes!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Post em Bos, I'd love to critique them, but be warned, I will definitely call them like I see them.
Don't get me wrong I don't want to hurt anybodys feelings on purpose, I just can't BS anybody when it comes to music. Ask KIS ha ha.
 

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
Post em Bos, I'd love to critique them, but be warned, I will definitely call them like I see them.
Don't get me wrong I don't want to hurt anybodys feelings on purpose, I just can't BS anybody when it comes to music. Ask KIS ha ha.
nothing wrong with that!
 

toddy

Platinum Member
if you 'overplay' it better be amazing/spot on, because otherwise it will sound like you are playing out of your comfort zone, and that will be like 'click the x'. i mean, overplayed is cool (i love crazy shit), but it has to be really tight to be good. then again depends what the track is really (if there is one..). no offence intended whatsoever!! (it's only my honest opinion).
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
It should be said there are a few drummers who learned to play "top down" rather than "bottom up" (putting aside double entendres - ahem). That is, instead of starting with the basics and building on them, they work on playing phrases they want to play.

Generally these players don't quite achieve the same crispness of time feel as the "building blocks" musicians but they can still become top notch drummers, e.g. Keith Moon, Chris Cutler.

The "building blocks" approach is not the only way, but I do think it's much more efficient in the long run, with the only danger being that there's a risk of losing your way and becoming mechanistic without the right guidance or persistence of artistic vision. With proper mentoring from a teacher who "really gets it", the "building from the bottom up" approach allows musicians to make rapid strides.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
It should be said there are a few drummers who learned to play "top down" rather than "bottom up" (putting aside double entendres - ahem). That is, instead of starting with the basics and building on them, they work on playing phrases they want to play.

Generally these players don't quite achieve the same crispness of time feel as the "building blocks" musicians but they can still become top notch drummers, e.g. Keith Moon, Chris Cutler.

The "building blocks" approach is not the only way, but I do think it's much more efficient in the long run, with the only danger being that there's a risk of losing your way and becoming mechanistic without the right guidance or persistence of artistic vision. With proper mentoring from a teacher who "really gets it", the "building from the bottom up" approach allows musicians to make rapid strides.

I have to agree with you here, G. That's the way I teach. :)

It's nice to challenge oneself; but in the end it's all about the boom and chuck.
 

K.Howden

Senior Member
Feel to me is the innate connection and understanding of the music you're playing to on an emotional level. All you have to do is be in touch with yourself and who you are emotionally and understand yourself emotionally to play with feel, as simple as that.

It's all about how music touches your soul and being able to express that.

Hope everyone's well,

Kev
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I have to agree with you here, G. That's the way I teach. :)

It's nice to challenge oneself; but in the end it's all about the boom and chuck.
That's what the students pay for - a logical, sequential, efficient approach that leaves the door open for later exploration. I can't imagine a competent teacher taking the top-down approach - that's generally reserved for self-taught crazies like me :)

Yep, the boom and chuck is what most people want from us - the box that we're destined to be crammed into, and from which only the strongest and luckiest escape.
 
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