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Time (re: Loose drummer)

Discussion in 'Drums' started by shaneperc, May 27, 2003.

  1. shaneperc

    shaneperc Member

    This thread (Loose drummer) brings up an interesting point. Everyone swears up and down that time is the most important performance element for a drummer to master (and it is!), but very few people, even music educators, have any idea how to deal with, teach, or fix the problem of bad time outside of sitting down with a metronome.
    Sometimes a metronome alone can help, but many times it doesn't fix the problem. I think that another important element of helping drummers to make their time better is to dance! (or at least do full-body movement in time) Almost all good timekeepers are also good dancers, not necessarily in a stylistic sense, but in that they can comfortably repeat a pattern of movement with their entire body for a long duration (which is, of course, what drumming is!). I've also noticed in interviews with more groove-oriented drummers that dancing or whole body movement comes up alot.
    I put dancing into my practice routine, and I'll tell you, it works wonders! What I do is find a track that I'm practicing, and if it's already recorded (with good time!) I'll just think of some movement pattern that involves all of my limbs for every part of the song. One pattern for the verse, chorus, bridge, etc. It doesn't matter how stupid it is because I do this in a locked room with the blinds down tight!! (For me, this is very important:) Then playback the recording and do your thing! I find that I'm much more authoritative with tempos when I include the dancing with the practice. I don't need to rely on the bass player quite so much (or at all).
    Anyways, dancing. That's my miracle cure. Anyone else have anything they like to do for improving their time?
  2. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Dance Dance Revolution is fun. Ever heard of it? =)
  3. shaneperc

    shaneperc Member

    No, but I'm sure it's groovy baby, yeah! :)
  4. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    It's hard to describe, but basically, it's an arcade machine with a large screen (heh, don't they all have that? :) ) in front of a dance mat with four arrows - forward, back, left and right. The arrows are actually pressure plates... the whole dance mat is maybe... 2-3 feet across, with the arrows off to each edge of the mat.

    Gameplay goes something like this: You put in the money, you pick a song (ranging from beginner to expert), and there are arrows which rise on the screen according to the music beats.

    There's a line of arrows along the top of the screen. Basically, as the arrows that rise move past this row, you have to hit (step on) the corresponding pressure plate. The more accurate the timing, the better the rating.

    Your final score is based on a few factors, including the ratio of good/average/bad hits, the longest running streak of perfect hits, etc.

    Interesting machine, and it has generated a lot of other similiar arcade machines, including a drums machine (which is actually a pretty good simulation of real drums, if you don't mind the synthetic feel), a Para-para dance machine (yuk), a couple of clones involving both hand sensors and pressure plates.

    And, of course, there's a really cheap-ass guitar machine. With a strat-shaped thing you hold, three (yes, count them, three) buttons on the neck, and a little trigger you flick at the "pickups". I'd actually try this if I wanted to look stupid. ;)
  5. shaneperc

    shaneperc Member

    Oh yeah! I think I've seen one of those on either a Gap or Levi's commercial. Looks like hours of fun for those who frequent mall arcades. :)
    Maybe SamAsh or Guitarcenter should sell those instead of metronomes... It might help. :)
  6. chrisperra

    chrisperra Active Member

    to me, learning how to count subdivisions out loud evenly is the first step.

    the fist thing you learn how to communicate with is your voice. if you can't do it with that, you don't know what's going on.

    it can even be the subdivision sounds without the counting. but you need to have a concept of time first.

    your voice will start the process, once you have that down, add the counting, then it's just a matter of lineing up the notes and rests with what you are counting.

    alot of timing errors are caused by not giving the right amount of space within the rests. by counting the subdivision of the type of notes and rests you are playing you have a reference point of how long to play or rest.

    a metronome for some doesn't do the job because it's just playing the quarter notes for the most part.

    the player has to come up with all the rest of the subdivisions within the quarter note on their own. this is where the trouble starts.

    especially with fills. drummers have a knack of loosing the time center or subdivisions while playing fills.

    chris perra
  7. shaneperc

    shaneperc Member

    That's another one! The first time I took singing rhythms (while playing) seriously was with the NewBreed book. You can definitely tell there's something at work when you sing the subdivisions out loud.
    Russ Miller is another big advocate of subdividing everything for the sake of time within the beat. The one time I saw his clinic, he spent alot of time talking about the phenomenon of drummers that could land on every beat, but nothing inside of the beat was in time.
  8. New Breed.
    I love Gary Chester.
    No, I hate Gary Chester.
    I am working through this book right now and I will say it is the best book I have ever encountered. Man, I hate it. No, I love it. Doc
  9. shaneperc

    shaneperc Member

    I love/hate that book, too. I think alot of people do. With that book, when things are going right, you feel like God's gift to drumming. When they're not, you feel like the most incompetent idiot that ever sat behind a kit!
  10. I could really see the improvement in my playing the other night when I did a show with CR Avery in Bellingham, WA. CR sings, plays harmonica, raps, beat-boxes, and plays the keyboard all at the same time, and likes to vear sharply from the setlist (and the standard arrangements of his songs, sometimes he stops in the middle). I only play with him once a year so I have to be on my toes! It loosened me up for my gig tommorrow night in Vancouver BC. IT is the first for my new band Honeywave, and we are playing at a great spot (the Railway Club).
    Gary Chester is a great teacher, he works you like a dog and I compared his to another book and he is much better. Doc
  11. shaneperc

    shaneperc Member

    Doc, are you saying that you've taken lessons from G. Chester himself? (That's kind of what it sounded like.) If so, I don't know how you could survive! Just from feeling how that book is put together, he must absolutely work his students to death!
  12. downflow

    downflow Guest

    Let me ask you guys this: Should a good drummer be able to play a whole song with every beat exactly on the metronome? If not, how many 120th frames would you say a good drummer would vary? I am trying to figure out if I am being too hard on my drummer!
  13. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    IMHO, the metronome isn't an absolute tool. The important thing is that if the drummer varies in speed, the variation should be as transparent as possible. The metronome is merely a tool to achieving this end.

    The ears make the final decision.
  14. chrisperra

    chrisperra Active Member

    it depends on the style of music and the type of recording. if you are doing dance music, or something that would be blended with sequences you would need to have impeccable timing to be able to blend things well.

    if it's a collective band thing, some leway can be given. what's important is that the band realizes when and how the timing fluxuates and matches the ebb and flow of the timing.

    if this is not taken into consideration, you will have lapses in the groove. sadly the drummer usually gets blamed.

    but i would bet that most other musicians that are not total studio pro's, were to play just to a click track and nothing else, would have trouble lineing perfectly up with the click as well.

    great session players don't necessarily need to be perfectly in time with a click. what they need to be is consistant so that the band playing with them knows where the pulse is.

    a kick that is ahead a bit and a snare that is behind a bit so that neither one really lines up with a click can be cool if the groove is "consistant" and the other musicians realize this and play along with it.

    and orchestra doesn't have a click at all....yet a great orchestra sounds like a tight unit. the conductor is the the fluxuating click. as long as everyone follows the conductor it's tight.

    same thing in a band.

    chris perra
  15. Shaneperc,
    No, I only wish I had taken lessions from Gary Chester. What I am saying is that his book runs you around hard. Doc
  16. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    I used to record me playing guitar parts to some of my favourite songs, just for comparison's sake (and using all the 1337 funky computar t00lz like spectrum analyzers and sonogram to diagnose the sound and effects).

    Imagine to my horror that when I soloed just the tracks I recorded, it was so laughably messy that I wince every time I think of it.

    I guess I learnt that sometimes you need to hear yourself play, WHILE you're NOT playing, to see where you actually stand.
  17. chrisperra

    chrisperra Active Member

    i like to think that the time that a musician grows the most, as a player and craft shaper is when they are recording.

    this is the only time we can hear how great, or how lame we are. being a musician is tough in the sense that our perspective of our ability and value is based largley upon others opinions.

    unfortunatley on a gig the comments are usually overwhemingly supportive. it's easy to think that you're great when all your friends think that too.

    on the other side of the coin, when recording, there is a whole band playing and everyone has to contribute to the whole pulse. if one person is out it screws up the whole.

    countless constant battles have raged over who's responsible for the lapses in groove.

    the great thing about recording is that you can hear what you actually did verses being in the moment and getting a response from someone else. i personally like being my own worse critic.

    chris perra
  18. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

    < Let me ask you guys this: Should a good drummer be able to play a whole song with every beat exactly on the metronome? If not, how many 120th frames would you say a good drummer would vary? I am trying to figure out if I am being too hard on my drummer! >

    My bands prior drummer was a metronome player - picture perfect - and boring - not that his perfection was boring (and i love John) but that his levels were boring. He would make a perfect studio musician - but was't quite right for the band live.

    I do not play Met perfect - don't want to - i need to find the groove and work within it - float with my bass player and sort of feel our way around each other. I never play any song exactly the same twice - although i will always be there for the breaks or accents that we develope in our arrangements - but i want the freedom to be able to feel the song the way it is at the moment - and sometimes when i finish recording a song that i thought maybe wasn't my best preformance - due to a slipped beat - when i listen back i find that i would like to learn from "that drummer".

    If your bass player and drummer click - and if the music feels right - screw the met.

  19. Mark McCabe

    Mark McCabe Member

    I would go with dancing. I did it, and it worked wonders for me. Buddy Rich was a tap dancer before he was a drummer.

    For me, I found that combining jazz and ballroom dancing was the best. It covers many different types of music and time signatures. For the most part, if there is a song, there is a dance that can be put to it. After all, music is about feeling.

    Anyway, that's all I've got for now.


  20. JeffWebb

    JeffWebb Guest

    ARRRGHHH! The old timing topic! It's a sore point because other musicians look at the drummer as the time keeper, that's it just the time keeper. Drummers, good drummers that is, should bring something to the music, a different voice or even a different rhythm that blends, compliments and counterpoints to the other lines. My background is in jazz and West African poly-rhythmic percussion. When I 'm playing with jazz musicians, sometimes the poly-rhythms creep in and the sax or piano player will give me a raised eyebrow, while the bass player is smiling and nodding and going right with it. Afterwards I might get a: "Interesting, I'm not sure I liked it yet, but interesting". This same thing can play havoc with a standard Rock track. I have to force myself to nail the downbeat or the other musicians get lost and accuse me of being sloppy. I'm easy to work with, I don't argue back I'll just nod and say "sorry, I was just trying something and I guess it didn't work for you." then I'll give them a flat dry downbeat and they'll love it.
    There are SO many different levels that percussion can work with the music, please guys, be patient with us drummers. We're not just keeping the beat, we're trying to make music too.


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