Why Is It?

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
Without an audio reference, this might as well be hieroglyphics:
it's just how I learn, I'm sure others can look at this and hear it exactly as it should be played.
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I have played jazz since high school, some of it fairly complicated. Didn’t ever really nail down the reading part (really regret not putting more effort into that part of it), but it did seem to ‘click’ in my mind. So, while the graphic shown isn’t totally hieroglyphs, I’d have trouble (unable) to play this without hearing it first. Maybe too much time has passed since I read music regularly…use it or lose it.

Chicago Transit Authority was a very early influence to me when I was first getting serious about playing, some really awesome fusion.

 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Maybe improvisation is the short answer?

This is the first thing that comes to my mind as well.

Jazz, not necessarily unlike other genres, provides plenty of challenges to the drummer that are objectively more complex than those associated with the first rock beats and rock songs we all learn. Advanced coordination and syncopation, more expressive dynamics, more abstract ways to play time. A drummer (or any musician) may also perhaps feel more vulnerable and exposed during their first instrumental gig if they are accustomed to playing behind vocally driven music where the singer and lyrics are in the spotlight. And whether or not there is jazz snobbery there is certainly a built up perception amongst many drummers that snobbery exists, as others have mentioned. You could say snobbery exists in all walks of life. From opinions ranging from 'what the best flavor of ice cream is,' to 'what the meaning of life is,' there are people who will try to critique everything about another person's ideas and executions. Again these challenges exist in other genres and specializations and could make for an intimidating first gig in several types of musical situations.

But the improvisational aspect of jazz, at least to me, seems like it may be the most unique element of jazz when compared to other genres. No matter how many or few times a group might rehearse before their jazz gig, if they play songs exactly as they have done before then they're doing something wrong. There is less of a reliance on routine and more of a demand on doing something new. Improvisation requires that a drummer is in the present moment listening to the edge of every note played, and that they are prepared to spontaneously create something new that will help perpetuate the infusion of even more new ideas from the other players.

I always go back to thinking about the analogies between improvisational music and spoken conversation, the differences between having a pretty good idea of exactly what you are going to be talking about vs. feeling prepared for a conversation where anything might come up. I can make small talk even on the days where my mental energy and creativity is the lowest, but I have to be more on my game if I'm going to be a critical part of holding up a 3 hour conversation. It's less of an issue these days, but my social anxiety stemmed mainly from feeling unprepared for free flowing conversations in groups of more than 2-3 people. I dreaded those parties, those gatherings, even the breaks during gigs where I had to get off the stage and interact with others using my words instead of my drums.

Just my 2 cents
 

Neal Pert

Well-known member
BTW, I want to challenge the idea of easy vs. hard here. Anyone who's really played, say, "You Don't Know How it Feels" or "Billie Jean" knows that actually executing those songs with a great band and being super-consistent about everything can be very difficult. It only sounds easy. But, like, I've never heard a good Tom Petty cover band and I've never heard a bar band nail a Petty song because it's harder than it looks. It requires great concentration, clarity of thought, and at times machine-like consistency while retaining a very human feeling groove.

It's certainly true that you need more refined technique to play jazz well, but there are skills required to play backbeat music at an extremely high level and some of those aren't as highly prized in a jazz context. So, I guess what I'm saying is that jazz is hard but in a different way. A person who's a decent rock drummer who sits in on a real jazz gig is going to sound terrible. Similarly, a jazz drummer who hasn't studied back beat music is going to sound amateurish in a rock band. There are some painful examples of both of these types of hubris in recordings by famous drummers who thought they knew more than they did.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Similarly, a jazz drummer who hasn't studied backbeat music is going to sound amateurish in a rock band.
I've witnessed this phenomenon more than once. A common presumption is that non-jazz drummers can't handle jazz, while jazz drummers can play other styles with the greatest of facility. That's pure nonsense. I've seen jazz drummers sit in with rock/pop/country bands and produce feeble, indecisive, almost spineless backbeats. Some have a tendency to "jazz" everything up, and it just doesn't work. I'm not categorizing all jazz drummers as backbeat impaired. (That would be false.) But I've seen enough of them botch backbeats to know that jazz players aren't necessarily the mountains of musicality that some portray them to be.

Addendum: I've also seen backbeat specialists fall short in jazz settings, so this sort of thing goes both ways.
 
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SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
This is the first thing that comes to my mind as well.

Jazz, not necessarily unlike other genres, provides plenty of challenges to the drummer that are objectively more complex than those associated with the first rock beats and rock songs we all learn. Advanced coordination and syncopation, more expressive dynamics, more abstract ways to play time. A drummer (or any musician) may also perhaps feel more vulnerable and exposed during their first instrumental gig if they are accustomed to playing behind vocally driven music where the singer and lyrics are in the spotlight. And whether or not there is jazz snobbery there is certainly a built up perception amongst many drummers that snobbery exists, as others have mentioned. You could say snobbery exists in all walks of life. From opinions ranging from 'what the best flavor of ice cream is,' to 'what the meaning of life is,' there are people who will try to critique everything about another person's ideas and executions. Again these challenges exist in other genres and specializations and could make for an intimidating first gig in several types of musical situations.

But the improvisational aspect of jazz, at least to me, seems like it may be the most unique element of jazz when compared to other genres. No matter how many or few times a group might rehearse before their jazz gig, if they play songs exactly as they have done before then they're doing something wrong. There is less of a reliance on routine and more of a demand on doing something new. Improvisation requires that a drummer is in the present moment listening to the edge of every note played, and that they are prepared to spontaneously create something new that will help perpetuate the infusion of even more new ideas from the other players.

I always go back to thinking about the analogies between improvisational music and spoken conversation, the differences between having a pretty good idea of exactly what you are going to be talking about vs. feeling prepared for a conversation where anything might come up. I can make small talk even on the days where my mental energy and creativity is the lowest, but I have to be more on my game if I'm going to be a critical part of holding up a 3 hour conversation. It's less of an issue these days, but my social anxiety stemmed mainly from feeling unprepared for free flowing conversations in groups of more than 2-3 people. I dreaded those parties, those gatherings, even the breaks during gigs where I had to get off the stage and interact with others using my words instead of my drums.

Just my 2 cents
That’s more like 5 cents but who’s counting? 🤣
 
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MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
"Billie Jean"
Totally. Sure its 4/4 with some hat barks and nothing more, but it's super rigid. That's a "sit up straight, shoulders back" kinda song. No sloppiness there anywhere. Purposely placing each note perfectly can be a mountainous task.
 

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
EDIT: This one is harder than it sounds if you play 8th notes on the hats, simply from a stamina standpoint lol

and for all of you younger brothers and sisters, Tom Petty is referring to this classic Del Shannon tune in the song

 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
I have played jazz since high school, some of it fairly complicated. Didn’t ever really nail down the reading part (really regret not putting more effort into that part of it), but it did seem to ‘click’ in my mind. So, while the graphic shown isn’t totally hieroglyphs, I’d have trouble (unable) to play this without hearing it first. Maybe too much time has passed since I read music regularly…use it or lose it.
That wasn't a drum chart though, it's some rudimental snare drum stuff from Wilcoxon. The attachments are what jazz charts typically look like-- a road map, a lot of time, some stops, a few figures.
 

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SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
That wasn't a drum chart though, it's some rudimental snare drum stuff from Wilcoxon. The attachments are what jazz charts typically look like-- a road map, a lot of time, some stops, a few figures.
Yes, I understand thanks.
 
Without an audio reference, this might as well be hieroglyphics:
it's just how I learn, I'm sure others can look at this and hear it exactly as it should be played.
View attachment 107796
You only need a few things here - hope this helps to decipher the book. It's a good book, no matter which style you mainly play!
what is the time signature (3/4 in the first line, 4/4 in all other lines)
which note values occur (quarters and 8th notes)
which rest values (quarter and half - only at the end and in the feet)

As 8th notes are the smallest value, it's enough to count 1+2+3+ in the first line and 1+2+3+4+ in the others.
The small notes are drags - either played as a low double on an off-beat (two 16th notes) or as two grace notes that you place by feel/sound.

You can listen to the first line here (it's notated as 16ths and 8ths, drags as 32nds): https://vicfirth.zildjian.com/education/36-drag-paradiddle-1.html
The variations are the same sticking but played in 4/4, so they go across the bar line. Also the accents are different.
 

someguy01

Well-known member
You only need a few things here - hope this helps to decipher the book. It's a good book, no matter which style you mainly play!
what is the time signature (3/4 in the first line, 4/4 in all other lines)
which note values occur (quarters and 8th notes)
which rest values (quarter and half - only at the end and in the feet)

As 8th notes are the smallest value, it's enough to count 1+2+3+ in the first line and 1+2+3+4+ in the others.
The small notes are drags - either played as a low double on an off-beat (two 16th notes) or as two grace notes that you place by feel/sound.

You can listen to the first line here (it's notated as 16ths and 8ths, drags as 32nds): https://vicfirth.zildjian.com/education/36-drag-paradiddle-1.html
The variations are the same sticking but played in 4/4, so they go across the bar line. Also the accents are different.
That's the thing for me: I know exactly what all the notation is and what it means, but without an auditory reference it means nothing. I learn by ear and by feel even though I can read music.
Yes, I'm a weirdo.
 

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
That's the thing for me: I know exactly what all the notation is and what it means, but without an auditory reference it means nothing. I learn by ear and by feel even though I can read music.
Yes, I'm a weirdo.
This is me too pretty much. So I am also weird 🙃
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I learn by ear. Yes, I'm a weirdo.
Not at all, fellas. I know quite a few musicians who favor their ears over their eyes. I'm one of them. I can read music just fine, but I'm far more auditory than visual. That's not a bad trait in the least. Music is to be heard, not seen. Its primary appeal is to the ears. The ability to decipher drum charts can be very useful, but I wouldn't trade my ear for the best sight-reading skills on the planet.
This is me too pretty much. So I am also weird 🙃
 
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Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Not at all, fellas. I know quite a few musicians who favor their ears over their eyes. I'm one of them. I can read music just fine, but I'm far more auditory than visual. That's not a bad trait in the least. Music is to be heard, not seen. It's primary appeal is to the ears. The ability to decipher drum charts can be very useful, but I wouldn't trade my ear for the best sight-reading skills on the planet.

I used to be that way, but in the past 20 years, I have become adept at doing both..it is weird how it changes...in high school, I ONLY learned by ear. I did not know how to read beyond simple quarter note patterns; taught my self to read in my late teens when I wanted to try out for drum corps - because they would throw 15 pages of music at you and say "memorize this by tonight"

college is where it really started to make sense because I was doing so much playing
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
Speaking as someone who spent the last 4 years dedicated to learning jazz, at one point I realized that it’s more like learning a language than learning songs or even an instrument. If you don’t know the language well enough you will, at best, speak with an accent. Non jazz listeners might not hear it but those who speak the language will know.

I’ll probably always speak jazz with a rock accent. Depending on what level of player I’m playing with, they will probably hear it. I do find that a little intimidating, even if they are kind and accepting. Maybe I have too much pride.
 
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