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Thread: Less is more?

  1. #1

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    Hi,

    Saw a group play recently, and I'm a bit bothered by what I heard on drums, and I was hoping maybe you more experienced types could help. so the show was rock, funk blues, 1/3 originals, 2/3 covers, some great musicians, and everything played fine but...

    The drummer did quite basic stuff. The beats were always fine and appropriate, but it was all rather simplistic. I've been playing for 3 years, I'd say I'd be able to manage all of that in the next 18 months (I need to be a little bit faster, mostly about improving keeping time, not a question of coordination however). This drummer apparently has been playing for more than 2 decades. MY guitarist, who played a bit of drums, said he thought the guy had been playing 5-6 years.

    Anyway, my real issue is that there was no spice, nothing sexy. No ghost notes, no cool fills, I don't think the guy touched the toms at all on 1/3 of the songs, and didn't do much with them when he did.

    Yes, it's true I sometimes do a bit too much (that's more true of practice than live however). It's also true that some of the types of music played typically have very simple drums. What perhaps surprised me the most was that there wasn't any change from covers to originals, the same basic stuff.

    So should I take this as a lesson in doing less is more or as a lesson that you got to be continually out improving the sound?
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  2. #2

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    I hear what you're saying, but unless I knew more about the music that was being played, it's hard to critique the drummer's playing. I will say that some drummers are more about the groove, with limited but tasteful fills. Other drummers like amazing fills. In the end, if the band likes the way the drummer plays, it's all good. Keep in mind that Keith Moon wouldn't have been the right drummer for every band.
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  3. #3

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    if they were ACDC covers then he was probably spot on lol
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  4. #4

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    Maybe the drummer did not want to make mistakes at a live show so did not try fancy fills.

  5. #5

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    There is no right answer. If he was keeping steady time and everything fit, then he was a good drummer...whether he has been playing 2 years or 2 decades. He was playing with his own style, as he saw fit. I think what you really noticed was that YOU have your OWN style and taste as well....and it was different than his. You noticed places that you felt needed "more", or "spiced up", and that's exactly what will make you different from the next guy. Soooo.....I say, be comfortable with your own style and "play what ya feel"!

    It's also possible that he was laying back on purpose, for any number of reasons. He may not have felt 100% or maybe they were having issues within the band. Maybe his monitor wasn't working, maybe one of the guitar players was struggling, etc.. There are some gigs when everything just falls in place and I feel comfortable to get aggressive. Other times, something or someone is "off" and I stick to a minimalist style. And sometimes I just plain suck no matter what I try.....so I just concentrate on keeping basic time. My personal view is this; if I play too much or too little, the drums will stick out in the music and bring attention to myself over the others. If I blend in with the others and the music, and no one notices the drums out of place, then I'm right on target.
    Last edited by N2Bluz; 09-14-2014 at 07:53 PM.
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    There is no right answer. If he was keeping steady time and everything fit, then he was a good drummer...whether he has been playing 2 years or 2 decades. He was playing with his own style, as he saw fit. I think what you really noticed was that YOU have your OWN style and taste as well....and it was different than his. You noticed places that you felt needed "more", or "spiced up", and that's exactly what will make you different from the next guy. Soooo.....I say, be comfortable with your own style and "play what ya feel"!

    It's also possible that he was laying back on purpose, for any number of reasons. He may not have felt 100% or maybe they were having issues within the band. Maybe his monitor wasn't working, maybe one of the guitar players was struggling, etc.. There are some gigs when everything just falls in place and I feel comfortable to get aggressive. Other times, something or someone is "off" and I stick to a minimalist style. And sometimes I just plain suck no matter what I try.....so I just concentrate on keeping basic time. My personal view is this; if I play too much or too little, the drums will stick out in the music and bring attention to myself over the others. If I blend in with the others and the music, and no one notices the drums out of place, then I'm right on target.
    Well put Brian. If the band is playing out, I usually like to see the drummer joining in. But sometimes the other players play so much that there has to be a foundation. If everyone is playing out at the same time, it doesn't usually groove as hard.

    As PB said, it really depends on the music. My mantra is "play for the song" but it's still subjective. It's hard to say whether or not that drummer wasn't playing more on purpose or because he didn't have the chops. Do you have a recording you could post? That would be revealing.
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  7. #7

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    I know where you're coming from, but over the years I learned that what gets you work with cover bands is this: "Timing, timing, and more timing. Then anything else on top is icing on the cake." Although, like what others have said, it all depends on context. But one of your prime jobs (prime, but not just the only one) is to provide the foundation.

    I think it was once I started playing hand percussion years ago, plus tuned percussion (vibes and marimba) and keyboards (the more melodic stuff) that I realised that drummer who can keep time well, on top of having bits of flash, is more of an asset than a show pony who can't give me a good feeling groove. I do this with my students....we'll have a bout of time in lessons where I'll get on the keyboards and give them a bass line, sometimes with melody up on top, seeing how well they can keep time, do a fill and not lose it on me.
    Last edited by Drumbledore; 09-14-2014 at 09:23 PM.
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  8. #8

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    Maybe he was new to the band. Or he was directed by the band to just play the basics and not to overstep. Or that's how the band likes it. Safe and simple. Without hearing the band it's hard to state an opinion.
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  9. #9

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    When I hear songs on the radio, I'm always amazed at the vast number of them (classic rock especially) that have a minimal amount of fills and a straight, simple, driving beat. Think of the contrast in style between AC/DC and Rush...yet they are both perfection in the way the drums are structured as an integral part of their signature sound.
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  10. #10

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    Interesting points, no dude is not new to the band and they've been playing together for a few years. The guitarist is really good, the bassist is actually a very good guitarist who plays bass for them, so the talent level in the rest of the band is there.

    I get what you're saying with timing on covers, especially with these guys cause they play the covers 99% the same as the original (which for me, a jazz lover, is kinda strange but that's another topic).

    I think for me the two most important things about playing music is to make it your own and have fun. But as people have written, every drummer has their own path...
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  11. #11

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    It's hard to make simple sound bad, but it's easy to make busy sound good. When in doubt, leave it out! Don't overcomplicate your drum parts, just make sure you can nail the basic beat(think of your audience). Fills, solos, ghost notes, that's all stuff you should use in small amounts to spice up the main vital rhythm. It's not really needed, can help or hurt depending on how you use them. Prime concern should be mastery of main beat.
    Last edited by Russ; 09-15-2014 at 03:42 AM.
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  12. #12

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    I think this video shows "less is more" it's all about the songwriting

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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgziegler View Post
    Hi,
    Do should I take this as a lesson in doing less is more or as a lesson that you got to be continually out improving the sound?
    Well, less isn't more. That's why it's called less.
    And yes, you should always try to improve yourself. (For everything in life.)
    If you thought it was boring, it was boring. Don't play like that guy, if you can help it. (If you're still learning a group's songs, or having a really off day, those are good exceptions.) If a group doesn't want you to play with more fills, find a new group. (Unless they're paying you A LOT. Then be boring and find some exciting people to play with on the side.) Play how you want to play.

  14. #14

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  15. #15

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    play how you want to play, i'm not a busy player but i do enough for the song, i don't like seeing guys over playing that makes it all about the drummer then, unless your not in a band then it doesn't matter.

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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by slinky View Post
    I think this video shows "less is more" it's all about the songwriting

    What I love about AC/DC is that Angus is so small he makes the body of an SG look huge.

  17. #17

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    I play in a Classic rock band and sometimes I feel like I don't play enough fills or very complex ones when I do play them. But then I listen to the original recording of the songs we cover and I find that there really aren't many fills in them. Since I like to stay true to the original for the most part, I think my time is better spent refining my technique and making sure my timing is accurate.


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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Russ View Post
    It's hard to make simple sound bad, but it's easy to make busy sound good. When in doubt, leave it out! Don't overcomplicate your drum parts, just make sure you can nail the basic beat(think of your audience). Fills, solos, ghost notes, that's all stuff you should use in small amounts to spice up the main vital rhythm. It's not really needed, can help or hurt depending on how you use them. Prime concern should be mastery of main beat.
    Could not agree more. My personal approach is to keep it simple, with just enough flavor to keep it interesting. However, like Russ said, if I'm ever in doubt or don't have the confidence, I just play it right down the middle. This approach has served me well in multiple situations and works for the genre that I play most.

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  19. #19

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    Some interesting points here, I would say some comments almost make it seem like we're metronomes not musicians (well im not at a level to call myself a musician, but im sure most/all of you guys are).

    I think my real point is this, shouldn't we be expressing ourselves? Like with any instrument, it has to fit the music, but that's true for everyone playing...
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  20. #20

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    By all means, express yourself on drums. That's what music is all about. Drums are no different than guitar in that respect. I think your question is, "How much is too much?". And...that is entirely subjective to your own individual taste, your band mates, the song, etc.. What I view as "busy" drumming would probably be viewed as basic and simple by someone who has a ton of chops and knows how to implement them tastefully. That's where the musicianship comes in. All that said, steady timing and smooth flow is still #1 priority.
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  21. #21

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    Case in point:

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  22. #22

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    Drummers need to become a lot less drum-centric. A good song is a good song no matter what the drummer is doing. There is a whole lot more to a song than drums.

    all the best...

  23. #23

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    Excellent example. I love his style...and the comment about being the Jimmy Hendrix of drums is spot on. I've noticed before how well his style paired up with Jimmy's guitar style. Almost like a collective consciousness.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by kay-gee View Post
    Drummers need to become a lot less drum-centric. A good song is a good song no matter what the drummer is doing. There is a whole lot more to a song than drums.

    all the best...
    This.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    I think your question is, "How much is too much?". .
    Actually quite the opposite, "How little is too little?"

    Another example, my guitarist wants to cover rock and roll by lep zep. Now I can handle the basics of that no problem, but some of the nice details in that song that Bohnam does are just a bit too much of a stretch for me.

    So I can 'play' it in the sense that I can make and keep the beat, but it won't sound as good. Will most people notice? Probably not, will Lep Zep fans? Maybe yes, definitely yes if they also know/play drums.

    So maybe the real question is "Are we here just to keep the beat?"
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