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Thread: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

  1. #1

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    Default 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    Hey DC,

    I jam weekly with some buddies and tend to play a lot of songs (read: every song) that I don't actually know the drum part to. I just sort of play what ever feels\sounds right to me and that's been working okay. I'm curious, when playing a song you don't know, what criteria do you use for deciding what to play on your hats? Do you follow the rhythm of the rhythm guitar (what I often do), or the bass, or something else? No one's complaining, but I'd like to know if there's a better way to make up a backbeat on the fly.

    For the sake of this argument, most of the music is classic rock like Judas Priest or AC\DC.

    Thanks for your forthcoming input!
    Gretsch Catalina Ash - Liquid Black - Hats: 14" Sabian SR2
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  2. #2

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    Default Re: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    just a thought

    you might want to listen to the songs at least a few times because allot of the time the drums have a unique fill or change up which is vital to the song dynamics ...especially the classic pub rock anthems

    and there's nothing wrong with changing up the songs ....they don't have to be the same as the original

  3. #3

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    Default Re: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    David,

    I agree with itchie, it helps to listen to the song first to make sure if there is anything that is considered "vital" to the song, it needs to be done correctly. Imagine if the band were to play "we will rock you" by queen and you just played a back beat? Man you'd look like a tool!

    HOWEVER, If you haven't had a chance to hear it yet, or you don't remember or what have you, this is what I do. I typically start with 8ths (or 8th note triplets if a 6/8 feel) on the hat to get a feel for the song and move on from there. I base my movement on what the lead voice is going. This is typically the singer, but sometimes, it is the lead guitar, or keyboard, or even horns/sax if you have those.

    Remember that you are playing time and need to assist the band with subdividing the tempo. If the lead voice is playing (or singing) a lot of syncopated 16th note rhythms, I would switch to 16ths on the hi hat to assist them with their timing. If it is more of a ballad with flowing notes, I would probably move to my ride with quarter notes. If it is "intense", open up the hat and get loud. My goal for all of this is to keep a steady tempo and pay attention to what is going on with the melody.

    The only other thing to think about here is what your bass is doing. I would follow the same logic as before but this time, listen to the bass player. If they are playing highly syncopated, so should your foot. If they are keeping it simple, so should you.

    Hope this helps,

    Tan

  4. #4

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    Default Re: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    To me it is just different speeds.
    Keep on drumming and have fun doing it.

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  5. #5

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    Default Re: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    I would love to listen to the songs first, but the jams are very informal. There are a couple of songs we'll do every time, but the rest is just whatever one of the guitarists starts playing.

    I always concern my self with the time first, and we are playing for fun so I'm not worried about doing an exact cover of the original. I guess I'm just asking how you go about faking it. The more approaches I can use, the better, I think.
    Gretsch Catalina Ash - Liquid Black - Hats: 14" Sabian SR2
    You don't have to be very good. Just relax, have fun, and keep the beat.
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  6. #6

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    Default Re: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    I would say if you're interested in expanding the whole jam experience, I would casually ask the lead if he has any input? I mean, if he says 'No you're doing great' then I would think you are doing it right and once comfortable with the songs add your own flourish to it.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveplaysyamaha View Post
    i would say if you're interested in expanding the whole jam experience, i would casually ask the lead if he has any input? I mean, if he says 'no you're doing great' then i would think you are doing it right and once comfortable with the songs add your own flourish to it.
    +1
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveplaysyamaha View Post
    I would say if you're interested in expanding the whole jam experience, I would casually ask the lead if he has any input? I mean, if he says 'No you're doing great' then I would think you are doing it right and once comfortable with the songs add your own flourish to it.
    Fair enough, like I say, no one has anything negative to say. Everyone's quite happy. I was just wondering if I could glean some new ways of approaching it.
    Gretsch Catalina Ash - Liquid Black - Hats: 14" Sabian SR2
    You don't have to be very good. Just relax, have fun, and keep the beat.
    If you sucked, they wouldn't keep inviting you back to play.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    I mix it up alot. If the song starts out with 16th notes, I'll use that tempo for the hats and when a guitar or keyboard goes into a solo, I'll use 8th notes on the ride to "open" up the dynamics and to not lock in the soloist to the 16th note feel. I notice when I do this, it allows the soloist to really expand the feel of the solo and not be locked down to my beat but rather play around the feel of my ride.

  10. #10

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    Hey David, this is what I do. I reckon I'm really gifted because I can just play off the cuff (airdrumming in all the right places ya'll) to a song I've just heard for the first time. I'm not saying this to blow my own trumpet. En contraire, mon ami. Just listen to the song, right through. Then imagine you are sitting in front of the prettiest, sturdiest (haul out the awesome adjectives for this one, seriously it's just gone past 08h00am) kit and play as if you have played it for years (20-odd always sounds impressive doesn't it).
    It seriously works for me but I've only been playing for about two years. Hehe but this doesn't count in the airdrumming since I was 15

    If you need any help with drumming pleeeez come to me (ignore the other guys hahaha, just kidding!). It would only be an honour to help out a fellow drummer.
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  11. #11

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    Default Re: 16ths vs 8ths vs Quarters: When to play

    I usually find that i can cuff most songs in a jamming session just as you described by just sussing out the speed (I follow what the rythm guitar is doing and adjust as necessary then make up the fills as I go (ended up with a 16 beat disco version of Hey Joe once!!) The only way to learn a song properly is to listen to it a few times (I start and stop on my ipod to learn each fill or groove change) but as Itchie says; it doesnt have to sound the same as the original; most people wouldnt even notice. if you are jamming and no one is complaining then you are onto a winner!
    If you are going through hell...keep going!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by late8 View Post
    I mix it up alot. If the song starts out with 16th notes, I'll use that tempo for the hats and when a guitar or keyboard goes into a solo, I'll use 8th notes on the ride to "open" up the dynamics and to not lock in the soloist to the 16th note feel. I notice when I do this, it allows the soloist to really expand the feel of the solo and not be locked down to my beat but rather play around the feel of my ride.
    This is a great point. It drives me crazy when someone is locked on 16ths and someone else on a 1/8th triplet feel. It is like rhythmic dissonance.

    Tan

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by late8 View Post
    I mix it up alot. If the song starts out with 16th notes, I'll use that tempo for the hats and when a guitar or keyboard goes into a solo, I'll use 8th notes on the ride to "open" up the dynamics and to not lock in the soloist to the 16th note feel. I notice when I do this, it allows the soloist to really expand the feel of the solo and not be locked down to my beat but rather play around the feel of my ride.
    Quote Originally Posted by SnareTan View Post
    This is a great point. It drives me crazy when someone is locked on 16ths and someone else on a 1/8th triplet feel. It is like rhythmic dissonance.

    Tan
    Cool, I've been doing this instinctively because it sounds right. In my head I felt like I was cheating, like I only switched because I had picked the "wrong feel" in the first place.
    Gretsch Catalina Ash - Liquid Black - Hats: 14" Sabian SR2
    You don't have to be very good. Just relax, have fun, and keep the beat.
    If you sucked, they wouldn't keep inviting you back to play.

  14. #14

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    I think that listening to the original recordings is a key component to knowing what to to play and I think that it's often overlooked. I'm not saying we should try to cover parts stroke for stroke, but sometimes knowing when or how to set up a transition, or to change up a part is crucial to the success of getting it to sound right. Then again, there is always something to be said for originality and doing your own thing.

    But getting back to the original question, I think that a basic rule seems to apply when it comes to playing drums regarding rhythm - in general 8th notes seem to be the default for a lot of music from multiple genres, but with that in mind, always look for the right feel. Sometimes it's quarter notes, sometimes it's 16ths, and sometimes it's syncopated quarters on the off-beat. A TON of disco was recorded with the basic 4 on the floor bass drum, basic 2/4 back beats, but with hats being played on the '&' of the beat.

    Of course this doesn't even begin to cover swing grooves and shuffles.

  15. #15

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    I like to hear songs over enough to where I can get the tempo down.

    As for playing songs exactly, I don't think its as critical as getting the correct tempo. I was taught that the drummer was master time keeper. You have to work with others, but in the end you dictate the tempo. I like to change up fills and accents just for fun. But it has to fit and it just come natural for me. I still make mistakes but your only human.

    I witnessed something interesting. I've been learning Joe Washes song "Turn to Stone". I decided to check out YouTube videos of live performances of the band and found that I don't think he played the drum part of the song the same way everytime.

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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by trickg View Post
    I think that listening to the original recordings is a key component to knowing what to to play and I think that it's often overlooked. I'm not saying we should try to cover parts stroke for stroke, but sometimes knowing when or how to set up a transition, or to change up a part is crucial to the success of getting it to sound right. Then again, there is always something to be said for originality and doing your own thing.

    But getting back to the original question, I think that a basic rule seems to apply when it comes to playing drums regarding rhythm - in general 8th notes seem to be the default for a lot of music from multiple genres, but with that in mind, always look for the right feel. Sometimes it's quarter notes, sometimes it's 16ths, and sometimes it's syncopated quarters on the off-beat. A TON of disco was recorded with the basic 4 on the floor bass drum, basic 2/4 back beats, but with hats being played on the '&' of the beat.

    Of course this doesn't even begin to cover swing grooves and shuffles.
    There are some pretty valid points in that discussion mate! Yeah, I always map out the transitions in my mind's eye, provided that I have had the chance to play the song on previous occasions or at least gone over them in my own personal practice. Once you've heard and can map out a number of tunes, and know how, for instance, a twelve bar blues goes, and you can hear how sections like that start and finish, then you can sort of jump in with both feet, so to speak. However, it can be a very different ballgame if it is say Latin where you do need to know clavés, or certain progressive, jazz and even ethnic styles where you might need to know not only the form of a particular piece, but say a familiarity with the meter or meters that you're dealing with, or any other rhythmic concept that gives you a framework to work within. You could be lucky(?!) where the band plays polyrhythmically....that will certainly make you a better player by concentrating on your own individual parts. Or another thing, especially when it comes to shuffles, some Latin and ethnic grooves and so on, is the correct feel, nevermind the correct pattern. A jazz swing pattern might not swing so well if it's dead-centred like a rock groove, it might need a little push forward. Or that reggae one drop ain't working because you're not lazing it enough. So the more all-around knowledge you have, (not necessarily trying to be a master of everything, but have as many basic concepts under your belt as you can handle) the easier it is to sit in on jamming and/or fill-in situations.
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveplaysyamaha View Post
    I would say if you're interested in expanding the whole jam experience, I would casually ask the lead if he has any input? I mean, if he says 'No you're doing great' then I would think you are doing it right and once comfortable with the songs add your own flourish to it.
    Yeah, Man...if you guys are just jamming, then improvisation is the way to go. Let your creative side take over and play the music. Later on, if you guys do decide to write your own tunes, these exercises will prove helpful. In addition to developing your creativity, it will also help develop your own style.

    Btw, I also start by matching my hats with the guitar and my kick with the bass. Then, you go from there and develop a nice clean groove. Things don't always have to end up with a 2 and 4 feel. Check this guy out...

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ7vyFnLvjw"]YouTube - Steve Vai "Now We Run"[/ame]

    Now, this guy didn't start by thinking, "hmmm...this section sounds a little like AC/DC, so I think I will play like Phil Rudd". Or, this sounds a little like Zepelin, so I will play it like Bonham". No sir, this guy wrote his drum arrangement based on the music...and his own style.

    Rock on !
    Last edited by nio; 04-26-2011 at 09:37 PM.

  18. #18

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    I think that my drumming, and deciding what to play and when, is highly influenced by 30 years on my primary instrument - trumpet. I tend to think in terms of what the band needs in terms of rhythm, transitions, intensity and dynamics. I've gigged enough that I've had the good fortune to have played with some really fine drummers. (And on the flip side, some not so fine drummers as well.) Most of the time when it comes to my own efforts I use the motto, "when in doubt, go simple." Basically, if vacillating between two different ideas where one is more complicated or complex than the other, I tend to opt for the simple concept. Bringing that back to the original idea in this thread, I think that's why I opt for 8th notes on the hats or ride so much - it's just the simple thing to do and it allows me to focus on what's really important - keeping the time and staying in the pocket.

    I'll still use quarters or 16ths if I think they are warranted, but most of the time plain old 8ths is what I go for.

  19. #19

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    Thanks for all of the input so far, it makes me feel as though I'm on the right track.
    Gretsch Catalina Ash - Liquid Black - Hats: 14" Sabian SR2
    You don't have to be very good. Just relax, have fun, and keep the beat.
    If you sucked, they wouldn't keep inviting you back to play.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidH View Post
    I would love to listen to the songs first, but the jams are very informal. There are a couple of songs we'll do every time, but the rest is just whatever one of the guitarists starts playing.

    ask for a cd with the songs or list of the songs and do your own search ...

    the last cover band i was in we had a pc in the room and just youtubed the songs there and then on the spot

    very effective for not only the original songs but live versions

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