Friday, October 30, 2009

Chicago Drum Show

Just discovered The Chicago Drum Show is May 15-16, 2010. I'm so there!
On Thursday I completely reconfigued my cymbals to see how moving things around sounded. I added the 16" Zildijian Avedis crash that I borrowed from Pants and shifted the Colorsound to the primary crash position instead of my splash. I couldn't take it. Too loud for too long! It then occurred to me that I could use one of Pant's straight stands and add my splash back in to the mix. I haven't tried playing like this yet...but it gives the option of choosing either crash or splash depending on the song. I do still think that I'd like a medium sustain crash/splash, though.

I have to say, though, listenting to Survival, Evasion, and Escape this morning, the splash really doesn't sound too goofy...though given the totally goofy environemnt of that record, it probably isn't a good test. I'm thinking about recording some songs played both ways (once with splash and once with crash) and seeing how they sound played back. I think I may have a distorted "view" from the throne.

At the music store yesterday I found an interesting new option...13 inch Sabian AA EL Sabor Salsa Splash. It was thicker and larger than the average splash, with slightly turned up edges. Supposedly it is for latin/jazz...but I kind of liked it. Good price too.

Neil Peart

I started to talk about Rush a while back but put it on the back burner to simmer for a while. I've known for a while that, like Led Zepplin and The Who, that Rush was an influential band for drummers...but like those other two, it wasn't a band that I ever paid attention to. Yesterday I bought a Rush playalong book to get the education started.

Neil Peart is referred to in drumming circles as "The Professor." He is known for his technical proficiency and stamina as well as for the fact that he completely revamped his playing style in the mid-1990s. From Wiki, "Peart is often regarded as one of the finest practitioners of the in-concert drum solo. He is known for extensive, intricate drum solos containing odd time signatures,complex arrangements (sometimes total separation between upper and lower limb patterns: e.g. an ostinato dubbed "The Waltz"), and exotic percussion instruments."

I listened to the Rush playalong cd front to back and followed along with the music. I didn't even sit at the kit. I assumed it was all going to be stuff way beyond my skills, but that wasn't entirely true. Several of the songs were things I could probably pick up fairly easily with the exception of a few passages. Some were more complicated, of course. But I was able to follow along, which is set one. The more that I do that the more that I learn how figures that look a certain way sound...which makes it easier to sight read drum music. It also makes me more familiar with the common figures...which makes me more likely to start using them in my own parts. In addition, there are plenty of short passages in the Rush book that would make for great exercises...just 4 measures taken as an exercise type thing. His style on these tracks was simpler and more basic rock oriented than I'd expected.

Listening to the cd made me think about my brother Roger. I don't think about him much. He was a fan of Rush. He lived a mostly troubled life until he died a few years ago in his 40s. While I was listening to the cd I wondered why he liked the band. What grabbed him about them? Did he appreciate the musical prowess? Was it an escape? Did he just like the sound of it?

YYZ solo:


From his dvd Anatomy of a Drum Solo, about Tom Sawyer:


More from Anatomy of a Drum Solo, including his thoughts on solos:


From Buddy Rich Memorial Concert (a major influence on his style change):


This is pretty funny...I'm sure Neil Peart would agree with it too...

Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett

I went to see "This Is It" last night, the concert documentary of Michael Jackson's last days. I didn't go to see it because I'm a massive MJ fan. MJ was, however, a cultural touch point for me. I remember very vividly watching the world premiere of "Thriller" on MTV. It was a big deal at the time. He wasn't an artist that I bought albums for or would call myself a "fan" of...but he was an artist that had a big part in the back ground of my cultural and musical education and history.

Beyond that, I wanted to see the movie because I thought it would be cool to see what goes into the development of such a large scale concert tour. I saw a similar documentary of a Rolling Stones concert once and it was fascinating.

Film trailer:


There are two drummers in the show, a percussionist, and kit drummer, Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett. There is a bio of Moffett here.

I was very happy to see that the dummer (and the other musicians and dancers) were prominent parts of this movie...and of the planned tour. It is clear how important the live drum tracks were for this show (I guess I'd expected it all to be canned electronic drums, but it wasn't). You can see the drummer in most of the shots, and his beat is clearly one of the most important elements in the show, if not THE most important. This is, after all, dance music.

He played simple, but powerful, parts. It was very clean. And I was struck by the fact that no matter what was going on...he was there playing. I think he was the only musician on stage who never took a break.

Drum Channel video:


Here is his drum set up for the This Is It tour. The video focuses on the hardware because it was made by Gilbralter.


Here he is talking about his cymbal line:

Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett

Soultone Cymbals | MySpace Video


A couple of brief comments about the movie itself. The show was really going to be something. Whether you like MJ or his music or not...it was going to be a feast for the eyes and ears. I was left wishing I could have seen the final concert to see how all the video clips and costumes and effects interplayed. Some of those things that were worked on for months never actually got completed, which is a shame. My favorite parts of the movie were where the humanity shined through. As a musician with very little self-esteem, I'm always wondering if other people have doubts...make mistakes...have fears. There were a few times in the movie where MJ had clearly given a certain direction to the band...and then changed his mind without telling them. He never showed that this was his fault. I could imagine being in that band and thinking "dude, we did what you told us to do". This made me laugh and realize that everybody deals with bosses who can be self-absorbed and who can misplace their own mistakes on others. The other funny thing was that MJ didn't like the in-ear monitors they were using. In one scene he is obviously irritated by them and explains that he's having trouble using them because he never has before. Even the King of Pop doesn't use in-ear monitors...so obviously you don't have to do that kind of thing to be successful. How the man could hear to sing without them on stage is kind of amazing, though. As for him...yeah, he seemed in control and perfectly fit. He was dancing and singing and keeping up with kids half his age. Did he likely have an addiction to prescription drugs...yeah. But he was functioning in spite of it. This is not to say he didn't likely have a problem that needed tending to...just that he was still able to do his job in spite of it. I suspect a combined tolerance to drugs for his insomnia, his desire to get a quick fix for the insomnia (that led to more and more intense drugs all the way up to anesthesia), and a careless and incompetent physician combined to kill the man. It is a tragedy...but it is a tragedy that is played out every day in lots of lives. Was it more tragic what happened to him versus all the people who choose drugs/alcohol over living every day (not just the "addicts" but everyone who chooses escape over living)? It is all tragic. Drugs are dangerous. Power is dangerous. Both cloud your judgement and lead to faulty thinking. Combining them is super dangerous.

Playalong Books

While picking up a new felt for my cymbal yesterday I discovered that there actually are TWO series of playalong drum books...the Hal Leonard series AND the Alfred series. I actually have one Alfred book (Green Day) and just didn't realize, because the cover art and format are so similiar, that it was a different company. So yesterday I picked up Alfred's Rush book (more on Rush in a minute). Thankfully there aren't many Alfred books in the series(and I don't recognize many of the drummers)...or I'd go broke. I seem compelled to collect all these things.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Five Star Drum Shops

Speaking of travel, I've been meaning for the longest time to look into the Five Star Drum Shop network and to plot out which ones I could hit next spring on my planned road trip to SXSW.

It looks like those would be:

DRUM HEADQUARTERS
7241 Manchester Road
St. Louis MO 63143
314/644-0235
Jim Uding
www.drumheadquarters.com

MIDWEST PERCUSSION (memo to myself, this is in Chicago, so accessible pretty much any time)
19027 S. Jodi Road, Unit B
Mokena IL 60448
708/479-4300
John Litrenta
www.midwestpercussion.com

SKINS 'N' TINS DRUM SHOP
29 Main Street
Champaign IL 61820
217/352-3786
Liz and Terry Hawkins
www.skinsntins.com

EXPLORERS PERCUSSION
8050 Wornall Road
Kansas City MO 64114
816/361-1195
Wes Faulconer
www.explorersdrums.com

MEMPHIS DRUM SHOP
878 S. Cooper Street
Memphis TN 38104
901/276-2328
Jim Pettit
www.memphisdrumshop.com

RAY FRANSEN’S DRUM CENTER
3412 Williams Boulevard
Kenner LA 70065
504/466-8442
Ray Fransen
www.rayfransensdrumcenter.com

PERCUSSION CENTER
6990 Portwest Drive, Unit 100
Houston TX 77024
713/468-9100
Mike Henry and Donna Fisher
www.percussiononline.com

JEFF RYDER'S DRUM SHOP
Jeff Ryder
www.jeffryderdrumshop.com
3300 West Anderson Lane
Austin TX 78757
512/371-1550
9323 Perrin Beitel Road
San Antonio TX 78217
210/599-3143

WOW! That's a lot of music stores.

PASIC Plans

So I'm starting to think about my trip to PASIC, which is just two short weeks away. It is being held in Indianapolis, which may be the best possible location for me. It is within driving distance and it is a town that I know a bit and am comfortable in because I used to take business trips there about once a month for two years. I don't like travel that involves stress and confusion. Indy is easy for me so I ought to actually be able to enjoy myself.

Some make fun of Indiana, but Indy isn't a bad town. It is still trying to recover from the rust belt economic diaster of the last 30 years, but it is trying hard.

Being on a tight budget and pretty well in the know, I have chosen to stay at the hostel, which is only about 6 or 7 miles from the conference, which is being held, I'm happy to say, downtown. Today I spent some time planning the details of my bike route from the hostel to the conference. Mainly to save money on parking I'm planning to bike in to the conference each day unless the weather is crazy bad. To save money and, well, because I can. I've got my choice of a very nice bike path, The Monon, or pretty decent streets to travel in on.

I also just realized that Broadripple, the quirky/cool part of town (ala Willy Street in Madison), is only a few blocks north of the hostel and also on The Monon. Which means I'll have plenty to do in the evenings...restaurants, live music, street life, etc.

This may well prove to be the best trip I've taken in a long time. Like putting on a comfy old sweater.

I'm also pretty psyched about the swag potential. There's a HUGE list of exhibitors for the conference...and surely most of them will have a sticker or magnet or keychain or whatnot that they'd like me to haul home with me. Lots of useless shit with cool labels. Woo hoo. I better bring the large messenger bag.

Stick Grip

I've always gravitated towards balancing the stick between thumb and middle finger. EN has encouraged me to switch to my index finger. Dave Weckl says different.

If the middle finger worked for me (in terms of efficient bounce) I'd just disregard EN...but my bounce sucks.

Dave Weckl

My life as of late has mostly consisted of: time at work, playing drums, watching tv, and reading drum magazines. I try to squeeze in some time for my girlfriend too. Lame, maybe, but I've been feeling happier and more at peace over the last few weeks than I have in a very long time.

Over and over in the drum magazines I see the name Dave Weckl. Since I have no idea who this is...here we go (wiki).

"For more than 20 years, Dave Weckl has developed and maintained a reputation among fans, peers, and the international music community as one of the great living drummers." His main affiliations seem to be with Chick Corea's Elektric Band and with the Manhattan Jazz Quintet and with The Dave Weckl Band and his genre seems to be "jazz fusion." Which explains why I don't know the man.

Elektric Band


The Dave Weckl Band


Weckl on Moeller Technique

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chad Smith

In the long line of seminal bands (hmmm, that seems like a bad choice of words) that I never listened to is the Red Hot Chili Peppers of which the drummer has primarily been Chad Smith.

He's what you'd call a big name in the drum world. Drummerworld says "Chad pulls off effortlessly one of the most difficult challenges facing drummers, the ability to blend high powered rock with blistering funk grooves." I also read that he's been known to wear a shirt that says "I Am Not Will Ferrell."

I usually try to make a personal connection in these tiny bios...to connect myself. I think I just haven't listened to him enough to do that here though. It makes sense that I would use him as an influence, because I like punk and I like funk...and he kind of blends those genres. And they are a perfectly fine band...I just don't feel compelled to listen to them. Yet anyway.



The Nod

About a month ago I had irrational hopes of auditioning to be the new drummer for The Nod, local college rock band. I was over-reaching as per my usual. I got as far as being asked if I was available on a certain day to audition, and then, a few days later, they said they'd found someone. I saw them play maybe a week after that, and assumed I was watching the new drummer because I thought their old drummer had long hair. I was completely demoralized by how well the guy nailed the parts so soon after joining the band, including the poly-rhythmic thing in The States that had been giving me fits.

Later on I figured out that it wasn't the new drummer at all, but the old guy. And then I felt better about the world.

Here's photographic proof from that day from Facebook, confirming it was indeed their old drummer (they had him perched on a little platform in front of Memorial Library, possibly the coolest impromptu drum location evar):

Silly Love Songs

Okay...I officially love this guy.


When I first bought my drum kit I taught myself drums by playing along to two cds...the MPs first disk and Wingspan...so I have a soft spot for Wings.

Love is Alright Tonight

Did a little self-indulgent banging last night...ran through Rick Springfield's Greatest Hits. Thought that Working Class Bitch would be a great name for an all female RS tribute band.

Unbelievably, someone has recorded a drum video for this song. You truly can find anything on the internet.

The guy does a really nice job, and it is actually fun to watch, which is surprising for this genre of video. I love the cut away imagine during the tacit break.

Losing Shit

So I've gotten into the habit of dropping cymbal felts, sleeves, or nuts and losing them. I don't know how this happens. I concentrate very hard on not doing it and it happens anyway. The first time it happened was at a music store. Last night I did it at home. It's like once they hit the floor...they vaporize. Like socks in a dryer. It is baffling. I spent a good half hour last night crawling on the floor with a flashlight looking for a 2 inch diameter piece of black felt on a brown carpet. You would not think this would be that easy to lose.

I think it is time to buy a supply of replacements.

Lessons, Week 39

He wanted to go over the triplet exercises he gave me last week, but I told him I hadn't worked on them much because I took a step back and really focused on my high hat foot last week. Basically I've been playing 1, 2, 3, 4 on the bass and 2, 4 on the high hat all week...with various things over the top. Fast...slow. With metronome. It sounds really easy, but my left foot really is just lacking because I never use it. So that's what we did in the lesson.

All was going just fine until he introduced this variation:
2, 4 on high hat and +3, +1 on bass drum. This totally messed me up. I couldn't do it at lesson even though we worked on it for probably 20 minutes. When I got home I slowed it way down and did eventually get it, though I'm still pretty shakey.

Over the top he did single stroke eighth notes, triplets, and paradiddles. He told me to add double paradiddles eventually. He played all of these around the kit, sometimes switching drums in the middle of the figure.

I think these are all really useful exercises even though they are simple. I think they are the kind of thing that doesn't seem like it matters, but it is quietly, secretly completely changing the landscape.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In Search of the Perfect Cymbal

The search for the perfect cymbal continues. It isn't as pleasant as you might expect. Painful, really. As someone who doesn't like the sound of cymbals there's really nothing worse than having to listen to hundreds of cymbals and try to pick the one that I find least distasteful.

I did determine that the 16 inch Paiste 2000 blue color sound that RD sold me for $25 is actually a very high quality and well regarded cymbal. I don't know if he knew that or not. So that's a keeper.

I also noted that my high hats, which I've been abivalent about, are 14 inch Zildjian Scimitar. Wiki says these were a mid to upper level line of sheet bronze. I think 90% of why I don't always like them is that I usually play on fluffy carpet and it is impossible to get a good response from the hats. I should take better notice at gigs as to whether the hats are more to my liking. I borrowed some Avedis hats and they don't seem any better...so I think it has alot to do with my floor.

I'm pretty happy with my ride, which is a 402 Paiste Ride/Crash. I know that isn't a great model, but it is fine for me for now.

Which leads me back to the cymbal I am searching for...something with a longer sustain and slightly lower tone than my ZXT Titanium 10 inch flash splash (which I love, but am realizing just really isn't appropriate to use as my primary "crash" cymbal)...but not as low and long as the 16 inch colorsound (which I'm keeping as my secondary crash).

I haven't decided whether to go with a large splash...or a small crash. The contenders to date (in no particular order):

-Zildjian 12 inch A Custom REzo Splash
-Sabian 12 inch HHX Splash (unfinished bell)
-Sabian 12 inch AA Splash

The above three I've listened to in the store and liked...but that was when I was still worried about cost and had not yet extended my search to crashes.

Other new contenders:
-Sabian 14 or 15 inch HHX Studio Crash Cymbal (unfinished bell)
-Sabian 14 or 15 inch HH Series Thin Crash Cymbal (unfinished bell)
-Zildjian 14 or 15 inch K Custom Fast Crash Cymbal

There are whole lines of Sabian AAX, Zildjian K, Zildjian K Custom, Zildjian A, Zildjian A Custom that I could also look at...but so far nothing is jumping out at me. If I am at a store that has them, I'll compare there.

I've kind of abandoned looking at Paiste, Meinl, or any of the other brands. Many of them can be hard to find, and I want to try out the final candidate in person. And it just seems like most people play Zildjian. I don't know if that is because they are better or if it is because they have better marketing and distribution. I'd go with Zildjian, except I really seem to be leaning towards the sound of the Sabians. That argues for opening myself up to other brands too...but I just can't stand the sea of availability. I want to narrow the choices, not expand them.

I think that the next step is to take my existing cymbals to a music store and put them on a kit in the store and test out the candidate cymbals against the existing cymbals. This is a little bit of an awkward enterprise, but it is really the only way to know if what I'm getting fits in with the kit. I'm probably best off doing this at Woodwind Brasswind in South Bend, because they are the most hands off music store (to a fault) that I've ever been to. And they have a semi-private cymbal room with test kits. Doing the same thing in Guitar Center would be a nightmare.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tom Sawyer

Eventually I'll get to Neil Peart, but I don't want to give him short shrift. That said, last night I was reading an interview where he said "Tom Sawyer" was the most demanding Rush song he ever played. And that it is still hard for him to get it right.

I never listened to Rush. Roger liked them. But they weren't (aren't) on my radar.

Here's a guy covering Tom Sawyer (lots more here):

The original video of the band is here, but the embedding is disabled.

Tommy Lee

Speaking of hard rocking roll fills...

Tommy Lee of Motley Crue

Motley Crue is one in a long line of groups that I never paid any attention to whatsoever. We'll throw Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Motorhead, and Judas Priest in that pile too (Wikipedia throws Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple into that group too, though I always associated them with a different genre and era. And then there is Blue Oyster Cult). Perhaps Motley Crue is less heavy metal than they are hard rock. I sense they are more mainstream as well. "Glam metal"

Anyway...never listened to em. But Tommy Lee is a famous drummer.

First off is Smokin in the Boys Room, which I'm trying to learn the intro to currently. You can hear it pretty well here. The other videos seem like they are just jerking off to me. They seem a little bit like a joke. Someone somewhere takes this stuff seriously I'm sure (like Kiss).



Roll Fills

Took the bus to work this morning cause of the rain...which means I listend to the MP3 player.

I was thinking about roll fills and how when I play them they never sound like what I hear other people play. I know this is largely just about me practicing more...but I also feel like I'm missing something. Probably some focused study of songs that I like the rolls on would help. And maybe taking a look at the notation for those rolls.

This seems like one pleasant song to study, one that I largely already know how to play. I think the second guy is a little more accurate to the recording, but you can't see the rolls as well. The third one has a super annoying cymbal sound...the kind I hate. Maybe Ks aren't what I want after all (note that I checked out some other videos the third guy did and the cymbals sound a lot better, though he's using a mix of As and Ks there):




Of course, Green Day isn't the final word on roll fills. In fact, they aren't even the first word. Probably some hard rock or heavy metal out there would be better to get the full, around the kit, thunder roll concept. When you are playing 200 bpm (like GD) there's only so many notes that can be played. A slightly slower hard rock song would have a more complicated, richer roll fill.

I've picked up on some songs, from the Playalong books, that feature Bonham-esque triplet rolls and I've been working on those (We're Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister and Smokin in the Boys Room by Motley Crue). That's a piece of it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lessons, Week 38

Went over triplet shuffle. He gave me a really nice exercise sheet on it. We also discussed left foot technique and he showed me a rocking motion and a bouncing motion.

I also found a nice exercise sheet in Modern Drummer to help with independence.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Cymbal

I've been contemplating buying a new crash/splash cymbal for the last few months. I kind of hate the sound of cymbals because they give me a headache. So sometime shortly after joing SPB I switched out the crash cymbal that I would hit for regular crashes with a splash cymbal. At the time I was thinking it gave a more goofy, new-wave/punk sound...but it also had a quick decay, which I liked.

Lately, though, I've been thinking that the decay is actually TOO quick. Listening to other people play I realize that it probably isn't appropriate to use the splash as a crash all the time. I have a 10" splash, a 16" crash, and a second 16" crash that is crap (original to the kit) that I use (infrequently) for a garbage can/china type sound. So I thought maybe I'd get a 12" splash or a 14" crash to bridge the gap.

I'm cheap, so this greatly limited my scope of purchase...but even so...there are about a hundred or more choices in the 12" splash or 14" crash realm to choose from. And the only way to pick is to go to a music store, which may or may not have a very good selection, and hit various cymbals. It is weird and difficult. What I WANT to do is take a bunch of cymbals home and play them as part of my kit for a few weeks. That's how I'd be able to pick. Never mind that a new cymbal will sound different after it has been played for a while. I can't even worry about that. Ideally I'd rather buy used for both cost and sound reasons...but I'm discovering that it is pretty hard to find the exact cymbal you want in the used market.

So yesterday the sweetie let drop that she'd like to buy me a new cymbal for my birthday...and that I should get the one I "really want" not just get the cheap one.

This opens up the entire world of cymbals again (since I'd been narrowing my search to those under $100 before)...perhaps too much. To make matters worse, I was looking through drumming magazines last night to see what other people play...and Tre Cool plays 19" crashes! Holy shit! Am I shooting too small???

I think I gotta pull back and realize that I'm not Tre Cool and I'm not playing drums in a stadium. And I like what I like...which is quieter cymbals with a faster decay. Also, I'm never gonna play heavy metal...and I'm never going to want to play in a band that is so loud that I have to have the ability to play over them. In a gig situation my drums will be mic'ed (though they never mic the cymbals...) and in a practice situation it's better to be a little quieter so that everyone else doesn't feel the need to "turn up" to be able to play over the drums.

Probably I should listen to recordings of myself playing and critically listen to the cymbals and figure out what I need to balance the kit out...which may or may not be what I originally thought that I needed.

For the record, it looks like Zildjian K series or A series is pretty standard pro cymbals. I've been leaning towards Sabian. Taking the restriction off of the cost means I can probably step up from the B8s that I've been eyeing and move on to something like the AA or HH. I gotta go through my notes, but I think I was fond of the HHX with the unfinished bell, but I don't remember if that was based solely on sound or if it was a price consideration.

Much research to ensue.

Reaching Proficiency

I was thinking this morning how I don't really know how I gained the knoweledge that I use every day in my career. I have a related master's degree, but I didn't learn the stuff there. It feels like I just absorbed it by daily osmosis over the years. I wasn't trying very hard to learn these things. And somehow now I feel totally proficient. I'd say this process probably took about 15 years, though I wasn't trying AT ALL for the first 4 or so years and think I was proficient by the 8th year. Call the first 4 "pre-contemplation" and the last 7 "post proficiency". So it took me about 4 years of moderate effort via osmosis to become proficient.

With the drums I'm trying very hard to learn. Lately, besides time with the sweetie and time spent working for the man...all I do is think about or play drums. I scour the internet, I read books and magazines, I listen to recordings, I do exercises, and I play. I can see real progress...but often I feel overwhelmed...like I'm not progressing fast enough...or like there is far too much ahead of me to learn. Often I feel like I will never be proficient.

So this morning I was thinking about how my career proficiency kind of just "happened" without much trouble on my part...and how long that took.

I think I was in "precontemplation" with the drums from the time that I bought the kit until last winter. That's three years. I've been putting forth more than moderate effort for about the last 10 months. If things progress on drums the way they did in my career...I ought to be proficient in about another 3 years. Right now that feels like a long time from now...but it really isn't. It won't feel like long at all once it's passed.

I was reading through the entries in this blog last week during the transfer process and noticing already how much my thinking and my understanding has changed. It is fascinating. And last night, while reading Modern Drummer I was realizing that there is a whole language...a whole vocabulary...that I didn't know last year at this time that now feels like second nature.

The mind is a wonderful thing. Life is a trip.

The Nod on The Urban Theatre

Stumbled across The Nod on The Urban Theatre last night. Was hoping there was video online, but it looks like it isn't up yet (the show seemed to have originally aired Oct 15th). Frankly hard to tell because the search function at this site kind of sucks. I'm actually pretty surprised that the show doesn't seem to have its own website...but there you go.

Again, the value of actually watching a drummer is just huge. The show, of course, only caught fleeting glimpses of the drummer (because apparently showing the singer's head is more interesting than watching someone play an instrument), but there were some key things I saw that answered big questions I've had about some of the riffs. I really wish I could watch him play the whole set, but since he's leaving the band, I may never know what he did exactly on that EP.

Speaking of which, seeing the drummer on tv (Alex Murrell, their original drummer and the one featured on the EP) made me realize that he's probably who was playing at the Library Mall gig a few weeks ago (I thought it was their new drummer, but it seems now like it was the old drummer with shorter hair than I'd seen in photos). This makes me feel better about the world. I was having a really hard time seeing a guy play "The States" pretty much perfectly after having joined the band just a day or two beforehand. Made me feel like a loser since I'd been working on the song pretty hard for a few weeks and hadn't mastered it yet. Make no mistake, I'm sure whoever they've picked is light years ahead of my skills...but it is reassuring to know that they didn't chose to debut him so quickly. It is good to know that everyone needs practice and rehearsal.

LATER EDITION TO POST: Oh, and the funniest thing was that John Urban (a former DJ with plenty of exposure to different music and bands) said that The Nod had a really unique sound. Which cracked me up after Dane101 basically said they were a rip off of a bunch of other bands. Don't listen to your critics...and don't believe your own hype...good rules of thumb.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Playalong Windfall: Swingtown and We're Not Gonna Take It

Yesterday 5 of the 6 Hal Leonard drum play-along books that I ordered from Amazon arrived (Hendrix was shipped separate). I ordered 80s rock, modern rock, funk, Blink 182, Hendrix, and pop rock. I'm trying to remember why I didn't also get the hard rock book...maybe it was out of stock...or maybe I forgot. I already have the classic rock and the Green Day books. These things are awesome and I love them. For $12 ($10 from Amazon) you get a cd with two versions of each song (one without drums) that you can slow down all the way to 50% speed and you get really accurate drum notation for the entire tune. I am able to learn tunes by ear pretty well, but I really like being able to see the notation. If verifies for me what's going on and teaches me what new figures are. Learning by ear it is easy to miss things. These books certainly aren't the only way I intend to learn tunes, but they are a great tool in the tool box.

I took a look at pop rock and 80s rock last night...trying to pace myself. Another thing I like about these books is that they introduce me to iconic drum songs of different genres that I would never in a million years think to listen to or learn if they weren't in the book. So it brings lots of riffs to me that I might not otherwise expose myself to.

There was lots of fun to be had in the first two books, and the biggest thing was that I realized that I'm really getting much better at site reading drum notation. The highlight of the night was two things, though.

#1: Swingtown by Steve Miller Band (drummer Gary Mallaber)
This is a really cool drum part. It you aren't a drummer I think you don't notice the drum part on this song. I worked on it for a while last night. It is a nice exercise in bass drum independence. One of those things that's really hard to get at first, but once you get it...it seems easy.

Not a bad view of the drummer here:


And a decent job of someone covering it where you can really hear the drum part (in the comments they say that he's missing the second 16th note bass beat, but I feel like I'm hearing it...that is definitely part of what makes it hard though):


#2: The intro to We're Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister
This uses a Bonham-esque triplet and is a pretty cool trick. Again, something that would never occur to me to do if I hadn't of seen it in the book.

You have to sit through a minute of story line before the song starts in the video.

Super Long "Lesson to Date" Summary Post

So eventually this blog will settle into short, pathetically frequent posts that flow in some kind of logical order. For now I'm trying to migrate the posts from the last 10 months from a different blog to here so everything is together. I didn't take any time to map out this process, so it is a little haphazard.

I've been making notes to myself about my weekly drum lesson since the beginning. I have always hated and avoided music lessons. I had a couple of free lessons when I first bought my kit and took a few more later on, but for the most part I am self taught. The foundation of my playing came from a single afternoon spent at The Experience Music Project in Seattle in what must have been 2002. I learned the basic rock beat there at the Sound Lab and that was the end. As soon as I had a space that could accomodate it (which wouldn't be for 4 more years) I bought a drum kit and started playing.

But I digress. Last fall I had a life-changing shift in perspective which has lead to a great deal of changes. Some fast...some slower. But the central tenant was that I wanted to actually get good at one thing (rather than being half decent at everything I try). And that lead to drum lessons, which started in February and I've stuck with ever since with no intention of quitting. Below is a long ass post that consolidates my lesson notes to date. From now on I'll post single day posts.

LESSON NOTES
10/12/2009 Week 37 :
I've had a passing thought that I ought to start a new blog that is drum only and that is open to the public. I don't know if it is really worth it or not. But this venue is quickly turning into all drum all the time. I could even make the new one even more anonymous than this one...but it would allow me to interact with humanity again. Don't know. People like to flame out and I can't handle that...you know criticize your skills or tastes. It may not be worth it. Plus there's already a billion drum websites out there.
Anyway...
Monday EN took me through 3 or 4 groups in the funky vein with a focus on Medeski Martin and Wood. At some point in the lesson it became painfully clear that #1 I still suck at Bossa Nova and all things related and #2 that I have a real problem with off beat foot high hat. I'm sure it is with off beat anything, actually (except alternating right hand high hat on off beats, got that). So yesterday I sat down and tried to work the off beat thing against various other stuff. Sucks ass. Has to be done, though. Over the weekend I cracked the triplet versus eighth note thing...so I felt smart. Now I feel dumb again. The roller coaster.

10/5/2009 Week 36 :
Yesterday he showed me how to use a Drum Dial tuner (pretty cool) and we played two songs by The Who: Baba O'Riley and Won't Get Fooled Again.
So I'm slowly putting together the history of rock and roll drumming and learning who the major players were. Without even delving very deep you tend to hear four names:
Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones)
Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
Keith Moon (The Who)
Watts and Starr tend to be considered influential, but under rated, for their simple groove-based beats. Bonham gets props for doing more complicated things, innovative things, and generally playing really, really loud. Keith Moon is just considered a maniac. I knew that Moon was a maniac in life...blowing up things like toilets was a favorite past time. But I wasn't sure exactly what this meant in terms of drums. Yesterday I learned.

Essentially the man never stopped moving. If there was a breath of space, he filled it with a drum fill or cymbal crash.
I'm not a fan of cymbals...I just don't like the sound. Makes my head hurt. And I kind of suck at fills...and I think it is tacky to overuse them. So Keith Moon is not going to be a major influence for me. That said, the songs weren't as hard as I'd expected them to be. And a couple of really useful licks came out of the lesson from Won't Get Fooled Again (can't find tab online, but I have the sheet music in hard copy, which was nice to follow up with), as I WOULD like to expand my ability to play interesting and "full" sounding fills. So Moon is a useful study...if only in passing. And I can probably check off being in any band that is looking for a Moon clone. Not only could I not be that...I don't want to be.

Here's Baba O'Riley (note, tab is here):


and Won't Get Fooled Again:


9/28/2009 Week 35 :
A better version of Little Wing than I found yesterday:


I've seen this played about six different ways now, so probably okay for me to play it however the hell works for me. Haven't sat down to try yet. Had lesson last night, than spent all night learning the song structure for The Nod audition tunes (more complicated than your average rock tune).

Despite his promise, EN ditched on the last Led Zeppelin lesson and also on the promised Who lesson. Instead we played Stevie Ray Vaghn, which is again something deep into his comfort zone. I'm going to have to really fight him to present other styles than blues. I DID ask him about "Bonham triplets" which he had never heard of, but as soon as I explained he knew what I meant and could pull them off. I, however, still cannot. We also went back over ride cymbal doubles, which I really suck at and need to get better at. The X tune we are covering uses the hell out of them and I can't do them yet.

I haven't heard back from The Nod about audition details, but I'm doing my best to pick up the tunes. They are a real stretch for me...so we'll see if I can limp to the audition by next Wednesday...or maybe it won't even happen. Another frantic week learning tunes I'll never need to know again.

The classic rock band isn't troubling me too much. The more I think about it the more I think I'll be able to slide right in without a problem. It occurred to me this morning that neither of the other guys sing, so I probably should go ahead and learn the words to the three songs we're going to do on Sunday. That would probably blow them away if I could play and sing. It won't be tough with the Cheap Trick or the Georgia Sattelites...think I'll probably skip singing Hendrix, though, so I can focus on the drum part.

9/21/2009 Week 34 :
This was week two of Led Zeppelin. Not nearly as discouraging as week one. We played through a half dozen tunes including Kashmir, D'yer Mak'r, When the Levee Breaks (spent the most time on this one, getting the bass right), Over the Hills and Far Away, and another tune who's name I'm forgetting (I think it had an S in it). Maybe more. The fact that we did so many is an indication that they weren't coming as hard. Maybe because we weren't bothering with sheet music and I was just watching what he played and copying. Sometimes that can be easier. Sometimes not.

We're going to do one more week of Zep and then move on to The Who.

Later that night I was reading through my Green Day sheet music and realized that the beat for When I Come Around is Immigrant Song slightly slower. This reinforces that I just have trouble with that beat. And that this beat is everywhere. I'm still working on it. I'll get it down soon.

I finally realized what that lady meant by Bonham being a melodic drummer. Basically he plays the guitar rhythm alot...while most drummers play the bass rhythm. I get it now.

Coming out of this study of Bonham, I think the main thing is that he plays alot of bass pedal...which I actually like. Not everything he does is as hard as it seems at first, though. That he thought of it is impressive...but it can be copied with work. I think that a point will come in time when I won't be intimidated by the Craig's List ads that want a Bonham clone. It is doable. Ultimately I think I'm a more Bonham kind of drummer than Keith Moon type. We'll see after The Who study is done. What I know of Moon is that he likes to bang cymbals and that isn't me...and that he's basically a madman with whacked out technique. I think Bonham was more musical...more aware of subtlety. Moon was just playing to be loud. But we'll see.

9/14/2009 Week 33 :
Started the John Bonham portion of my drum lessons on Monday. I thought I had gotten Immigrant Song down this past weekend, but alas I'd forgotten one bass drum beat that totally threw me off in the lesson. Made me feel dumb. I know I'll get it with practice, but it still was demoralizing. We also went over a bit of The Ocean, one of the only songs in the book that isn't on the Mothership album I bought this weekend. Figures. So I bought the single online today. We discussed different strategies for getting better right foot control and increasing speed.

Woke up this morning with Immigrant Song beat stuck in my head. I guess that's what happens when you listen to something for 30 minutes straight the day before. Went to get gas in the car and there was some other song playing that had the exact same beat. It was truly weird.

9/7/2009 Week 32 : No lesson for labor day

8/31/2009 Week 31 : Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

8/24/2009 Week 30 :
I highjacked my lesson asking for a review of country. We played through half a dozen old tyme tunes...easy stuff. And reviewed the dreaded train shuffle...which I seem to have a mind block against. Makes me feel stupid.

(we were playing it minus the last accent)
I think my block is that the accent is with the right hand on 2 and 4...and I'm used to playing back beat with my left hand. And that the accent makes me want to play the bass drum. It's easy enough...but it's giving me fits. So I'll be playing it over and over until I get the call from Brown Derby or I give up on them calling me and move on to the next thing.

8/17/2009 Week 29 :
We were supposed to go over John Bonham...but instead he showed me the Tower of Power. This is all good and well, but I think it torqued me off a tiny bit. But I have to get over these things. I think he has a little crush on David Garibaldi, and I guess I can forgive that.

Here's Moby Dick anyway:


For the record, I have no interest in learning to play long-winded drum solos. Being the center of attention is the last thing in the world that I want.

8/10/2009 Week 28 :
Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

8/3/2009 Week 27 :
Lesson on Monday was more soul and funk...and I kind of got the feeling he was getting lazy (actually played a song we'd already done months ago, though I was much better at it now than then, which was nice). So I said "do you have a big picture in mind here or are you just playing it by ear?" He replied by giving me a two pager of jazz independence exercises. I told him straight up that I have no interest in actually PLAYING jazz, but that I DID want to be able to feel more comfortable with slightly odd-ball things. Not get totally shook by anything not of the four beat, quarter/eighth note variety. So we'll see if I can bring myself to practice the exercises. I periodically completely forget about my stick control book...then remember and hit it again hard for a few weeks...and forget about it again.

Lately been splitting time between Green Day (and working on speeding up and complicating the bass drum), learning funk tunes, and learning whatever the new SSW tune for the week is. My tenure with funk is probably over...the band I was planning to try out for flaked out on me. I've answered about six Craig's List ads in the last two weeks and none have panned out...not because of me, just because people flake out or over-promise or whatever. One last duo on the hook...and a new ad today...but I'm not confident any of it will work out. I really got lucky my first three times out with Craig's List...hooking up with a band for a while each time. Since then it has been pretty sparse.

In anticipation of hooking up with a new group (which hasn't happened) I borrowed Pant's drum kit so I could leave one permanently set up at my house and travel with the other. Now it's looking like they will BOTH be permanently set up at the house. I like her kit...a Sonor Force 2001 with a 20 inch bass drum, and 10, 12, 14 inch toms...but hate the cymbals. I think I'm just not a cymbal person. Makes my head hurt. The best I hope for from cymbals is a crisp attack and a quick decay. Make that sound end as quickly as possible. For now I'm pretty happy with the ones I have on my kit except the high hats. That color sound RD gave me is about as much crash as I can take.

Speaking of funk, the funky drummer needs a kidney.

7/27/2009 Week 26 :
Focused on funk. Temporary loss of mp3 player thwarted practicing audition tunes at lesson

7/20/2009 Week 25 :
Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

7/13/2009 Week 24 :
Did some exercises from the sticking book. Went over buzz roll and open/closed rolls. Played some tunes...don't know what genre you'd call it. Blues I guess. Revisted bossa nova, which I'm still having trouble with. He suggested I listen to The Girl from Ipanema...which is pretty fricking hilarious.

Last night spent practice just doing stickings. I really want to build some speed up. I feel like that's lagging in my development.

7/6/2009 Week 23 :
Tuned up my snare at drum lesson last night. It took 45 minutes. It sounds better now, though, and has better bounce-back. He tuned it higher than it was before, so I went around the entire kit and tuned everything a bit higher. I'm still not totally happy with the floor tom, but the rest sound pretty good. He seemed to think my el cheapo snare was perfectly servicable and sounded fine.

It does feel like a new kit. It really is true that a decent instrument makes it easier to play and makes you sound better. But I think the difference between a decent instrument and a great instrument probably doesn't make a huge difference in playing. Of course, I'll never know...cause I'm too cheap and careless to ever own a great instrument. I'd rather have something not so great...so that when I break it I won't feel bad.

6/29/2009 Week 22 :
Went over the high points of Bosso Nova and Samba, whilst revisiting Rumba. I don't care much about these forms...but know they are required knoweledge. Plus it will help with my bass drum independence.

Next week I'm gonna bring in my snare and get a proper drum tuning lesson...something I've never had before.

6/22/2009 Week 21 :
Did some more soul and he reviewed the blues so I can go to the blues jam tonight at The Bayou without fear of making an ass of myself.

Well...at least we tried to make that the case. I'll probably still make an ass of myself. Been to jam sessions and open mics before...but never on drums. It helps that my instructor is the host.

Next week looks like we'll attack latin rhythms...bosso nova and samba...after the blues rumba revealed I know nothing about latin music.

6/15/2009 Week 20 :
Picked up soul where we left off last week and one other thing I've already forgotten. Lesson was not ground shaking. Guess these things come in waves.

6/8/2009 Week 19 :
I neglected to post about last week's lesson (6/8) because of vacation. But more than ever it is important that I keep track...and keep on track...so here it goes.

It was what I would consider a really important lesson. He was planning to show me a soul beat (I think), but I stopped him and went over fills around the kit. I've really been struggling and he showed me some great exercises. We also worked on sticking with the double exercise he gave me a few weeks ago. Again, I stopped him and asked him to review some things about proper sticking...and I think it really helped.

I was lucky enough to finally catch the man in action at Marquette Waterfront Fest on Sunday, along with my boy Kn.

Lesson tonight! Not prepared after almost a week away from the kit! (Tried to make up for it with several hours of playing Fri-Sun). Was a time when I didn't go anywhere without my guitar. Sticks and a practice pad just aren't the same.

6/1/2009 Week 18 :
Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

5/25/2009 Week 17 :
No lesson for Memorial Day

5/18/2009 Week 16 :
Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

5/11/2009 Week 15 :
Went over sticking exercises, including triplets and sixteenth notes.

Did Johny Cash style drums...two different "train" beats.

Played another couple of songs that I've already forgotten.

I've been saving up some questions for him, but I've learned that most questions I can answer for myself if I think long and hard enough about it...so I'm kind of just letting him teach whatever he wants. When we hit a lull I'll have some things in my back pocket to whip out.

I'm noticing my consistency on rolls is not doing so well...so I think that I need to practice sticking more. And sticking rolls around the kit interspersed with regular beats, not just exercises on a practice pad.

Yesterday was weird because I did really well in the lesson...then went home and stunk up band practice something awful. Kind of weird. I think I'm tired from the last few weeks at work and of doing consulting gigs. I should probably rest (i.e. sleep and not over-extend myself socially/mentally/emotionally...practicing drums is okay/good) as much as possible this week before the show on Thursday.

A side note...I've been craving playing more music. I like the band and it is fun...but I'm starting to wish for a side project. Not necessarily a band that would play out...but something that would play on a semi-regular basis for fun. I'm realizing that Michael is leaving town soon...which reduces my ability to call someone on a moments notice to jam.

I'm also starting to think that I really ought to start running again. Not to lose weight, but because I think it is good for my mental health.

5/4/2009 Week 14 :

Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

4/27/2009 Week 13 :

A few days late.

We went over a bunch of songs I don't know by a bunch of people I don't know. I got him to clarify ghost notes a bit. He said my bass drum independence is getting better...but I haven't been working on it nearly enough.

I think I want to pick out some parts that are slightly more complex and troubling me and see if he can help me work through them. Maybe some GoGos stuff or something off the cd/sheet music set I bought. I should find something that I like and want to learn but that I couldn't figure out entirely on my own.

We're skipping next Monday cause he's at a blues fest.

I played through 3 cds of 70s music yesterday. Most pop-rock is just ridiculously easy. I don't know why everyone doesn't play drums. I'm at that place where it is starting to get boring and I need to advance to stay interested. It isn't a bad place to be, but it is a little frustrating...because it just gets harder from here.

4/20/2009 Week 12 :
Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

4/13/09, Week 11:
Went over funk beat (w/James Brown song and Nirvana) and drop sticking. Figured out that I've been using my middle finger as a vertex and probably ought to switch to my index finger. I still need to work on separating my right hand and right foot...and building speed with right foot. Thinking about reconfiguring my kit...yet again. Before my lesson I bought a wicked Dickies work shirt with a Zildjian patch for only 20 bucks. Went home and worked "Come Together" some more. I think I've got it. Three new tunes to work up this week for the band...and want to take a look at Baracuda, which is in this cool book I bought that has a cd and drum sheet music for 8 tunes.

4/6/09, Week 10:
Losing count of which lesson it is. Went over blues shuffle at three different speeds. Taught me "Come Together" by Beatles (in support of last week's lesson on triplets). Lesson flew by in no time.


3/30, Week 9:
Went over independence exercises and triplets. Showed me rock n roll and boogie woogie beats. Was about to show me "Come Together" by Beatles, but we ran out of time. I also wanted to get tips on the rolls into crash on "Borstal Breakout"...but the files wouldn't upload.

Still want to revisit that Green Day song...and maybe some Go Gos. But I'm letting him show me what he wants to show me.

3/23/2009, Week 8:
Monday was #7. It blew my mind. Like literally left me unable to function.
We did independence exercises for awhile. He introduced me to the reggae beat...both rock steady and drop beat. And then he played a couple of tunes for me to help me with developing more interesting parts.
He played a Dire Straights song that I've forgotten the name of and Green Day, When I Come Around. The Green Day song was amazing. I've never listened to the drum part critically before.
This video doesn't do it justice because you can't see or really hear the bass drum:


You can hear it a little better here...but the subtlety is honestly something that I would not have appreciated before learning to listen more critically to drum beats:


3/16/2009 Week 7:
Had a lesson but did not post to blog about it.

3/9/2009 Week 6: No lesson

3/2/2009 Week 5:
Worked on rudiments and sticking control exercises with some independence exercises thrown in for good measure. He recommended that I get Stick Control for the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone...which I ran right out and bought...and that I spend at least five minutes a day on the exercises...or more.

The cover of the book cracks me up. It reminds me of dozens of books of its type. I think the original copyright is like 1938. Quality needs no snappy redesign.

Next week we're taking off cause he's on vacation.

2/23/2009, Week 4:
We spent a fair amount of time deconstructing "Maniac"...arriving at the following conclusions
1) bass beat is, at a mimimum "1+...3+" but actually much more than that
2) the recording may have an inconsistent tempo
3) I ought to try a "double time" beat on the bridge tom part (both hands) leading with the left

We also played through the other two "new" covers...and I showed him what part I was thinking of for JG's original song.

We discussed what it means to be locked in with the bass player. Essentially he takes it to mean that your bass drum beat is following what the feel of what the bass player is doing.

We also talked alot about the importance of keeping a steady beat. He insisted, which I've always heard but don't quite believe, that the most important thing a drummer can do in a rock band is keep good time. The rest is all bonus. Unfortunately, since I'm someone who is struggling with the "bonus" stuff, it is hard for me to buy this...though I know it is true.

He played me a recording of a "punk" song he did back in 2003...but it sounded like rockabilly to me.

Reflections: I really got to improve my bass drum independence and stamina

2/16/09, Week 3:
Buzz Roll
Two Stroke Roll (discussed the benefits of using the two stroke roll over a single stroke roll). I need to basically learn the two stroke roll and practice it alot because I've never played it before.

Playing 16th note and triplet fills around the kit (both right and left hand lead)

Switching back and forth between the regular beat and the fills (both full measure and half measure fills). May want to skip last few high hat 16th notes in order to get to right hand lead at start of fill.

Try a wooden or plastic bass beater for a louder sound. Can also loosen head. May just be drum placement or my relationship to front of bass drum (maybe it is louder than I think). We talked about how playing with a mic'ed band just makes everyone play louder, which isn't better. He made fun of people with tube amps who say they have to play loud. He doesn't buy it. "Get a different amp if that's the case." I like this guy.

Still need to practice and get the more complicated bass beat on "fucked up and wasted"...also need to practice fills around the kit for "part time punks".

Next week bring in the 3 new songs Kv gave us.

We talked about the benefit of learning to play on different kit setups so that you can use other people's kits and not have to drag your equipment around so much...and I told him the story about me busting AdR's bass head at a gig. He replied with a story of a broken kick pedal. We concurred that duct tape is required supplies for a drummer playing gigs.

Like I said, I like this guy.

Later on I ran into someone I know at the Coop. I got a little bit of judgement from them for driving to Fitchburg for drum lessons. I'm so sick of other people's judgement of my actions it isn't even funny. In the words of Lil Wayne..."I got mine, they got theirs, and you got yours." In other words...worry about your own shit...and I'll worry about mine.

2/9/09, Week 2:
We played through the first three songs that my new band is doing and I had the parts mostly right except the kick drum on Fucked Up and Wasted...which I had just that afternoon realized was wrong.

To get that kick drum and keep independence from my quarter note high hat, he recommended that I focus on quarter note high hat/snare really hard...and then do all kinds of beats on the bass drum. Over and over and over. Keep your focus on the quarters.

He also taught me a coordination exercise where you alternate tapping your right and left foot to quarter notes...then add hands on your knees with alternating eighths. Then you take every third hand and hit your chest. It is hard. I don't get it yet. Eventually...you switch to every fifth hand...etc.

2/2/09, Week 1:
One of the hardest things about lessons is remembering everything you were told. Second hardest part is bringing yourself to practice between lessons so that any of it matters. I'm going to try to be better on both counts this time round. I'll try to post notes from each lesson.

Lesson #1:
single, double, triple paradiddles
paradiddles with bass drum on first beat of each paradiddle
paradiddles with bass drum and high hat
punk rock beats (memo to myself, need to build right foot endurance for sustained double beats)
stick exercises to loosen grip and improve control and "bouncing"...holding sticks regular way and "backwards"...work extra hard on left hand.
Next time: bring tunes for new band to deconstruct and work up. He also said he'd teach me some "body drumming" exercises to help with independence

General comments...I like him so far. He has a good balance between an understanding of fundamentals (which I was never taught and sorely need) and an appreciation for what it takes to actually play in a band. I think he'll help me with rudaments, which will build my overall control, independence, speed, and endurance...but it won't turn into a totally boring parade of exercises. I'm also glad to say that he isn't a show off...he didn't have to play a bunch of fancy riffs to show me how good he is.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fast Ride

(from 10/1/09)
I've been struggling with this technique. This guy doesn't do that great of a job, but there are some nice hand closeups.

Radar Love

(From 9/4/2009)

Barracuda

(from 8/20/2009)
This is harder than it looks (took a serious look at the drum notation and listened to the recording last night):





I love that these videos exist. Especially the foot one. What a great idea. I've watched alot of drum instructional videos and I've never seen feet done like this before...and why not I wonder? It's brilliant.

Also, the value of watching someone play is just enormous. I listened to the recordings and followed the sheet music last night, but being able to see what is happening on top of that is just so very helpful. Having all three is just great. Something about watching gives you a sense of the feel better than reading the music, and sometimes it is really hard to parse out the drum part from a recording.

I can probably get this eventually, but not as quickly as I'd hoped. It's a two weeker at least, maybe more (practicing every day). It certainly won't be ready by next Tuesday, especially since I'm away from the kit after tonight (and have band tonight). But then again, the odds that I'm actually going to have to play this song for anyone but myself seem pretty slim.

But six months from now when some shitty bowling alley band asks me to audition on this I will be ALL OVER IT!

The Ocean

(from 9/15/2009)
Here's a really nice explanation of The Ocean. Just top notch teaching.

Good Times, Bad Times

(from 9/16/2009)
This one isn't even on my list yet. Too much left foot. And crazy independence. Literally every limb is doing something weird and different from each other.

I remember learning to play fingerstyle guitar and to read music in two lines and thinking it was hard. Anyone who says drummers aren't musicians can go to hell. Try reading and playing four or more lines of music all at once.

Nicely done.

Sing, Sing, Sing

(from 9/28/2009)
Useful for learning one of the Nod tunes (Shoddy Heart), Gene Krupa plays "Sing, Sing, Sing":

Immigrant Song

(from 10/2/09)
I haven't been working on this song very steadily anymore because of audition and audition false alarm madness, but this is a really nice video that shows the foot stuff really well. He makes it look really easy...but I'm still struggling to play this riff consistently correctly, long enough, and fast enough:

The dude's cymbals are way too shiny though...and what, does he change the heads on his drums every day? (likely answer, he plays alot of different kits and keeps this one bright and shiny)

Surf

(from 10/7/09)
Surf from The GoGos with decent views of the drummer:





And some dude playing Wipeout decently:

Apparently it is the 2 beats on the snare in the main part of this song that makes it "a surf beat"...though the tom madness is what I've always associated with surf music...possibly based on this song alone

LaGrange

(from 10/5/09)
LaGrange appears to be another of those universal sign posts for drummers.

Classic. Joe Drums doing LaGrange. Beginning is a little rough, which makes me feel better:


I'll have to work out a non-double bass version.

And here is a tutorial on the starting fill and other tidbits (really nicely done, especially the second one below):




And more versions:

Lessons: Week 37

Monday EN took me through 3 or 4 groups in the funky vein with a focus on Medeski Martin and Wood. At some point in the lesson it became painfully clear that #1 I still suck at Bossa Nova and all things related and #2 that I have a real problem with off beat foot high hat. I'm sure it is with off beat anything, actually (except alternating right hand high hat on off beats, got that). So yesterday I sat down and tried to work the off beat thing against various other stuff. Sucks ass. Has to be done, though. Over the weekend I cracked the triplet versus eighth note thing...so I felt smart. Now I feel dumb again. The roller coaster.

Peter Criss

(from 10/6/2009)
I've never listened to Kiss in my life, despite the fact that I assume my teenaged brothers liked the band when I was little. I assume this because my mom ran a Kiss facepainting booth in 1978 at a Halloween carnival. My mom did cool stuff like that. She was good at being a mom to little kids. She struggles a bit with being a mom to adults.

Anyway, even though I never listened to Kiss, I liked Peter Criss. Why? Cause he was the kitty cat (did I mention I was a little kid?) This is also why I was a fan of the Miami Dolphins as a child. Cute mascot.

ANYWAY...

I saw that Kiss is playing Letterman this week (a very high profile week to be playing on the Letterman show) and figured I better pay Mr. Criss a visit as an adult. Worth noting that Criss is no longer the drummer for Kiss, so he won't be playing on Letterman.

Dude studied under Gene Krupa! Christ! And he was another singing, song-writing drummer. With drug problems.

Here he is playing piano and singing "Beth" (embedding disabled)

Here's a drum solo from 1976:


Singing and playing a cover 1979:


Another tune from 1979:


Singing and playing Hooligan from 1977:


Stay with me because...literally...this is my introduction to their music...today. So...okay...is it just me or were these guys not that hard of rock? I guess I always assumed they were hard ass pre-metal because of the makeup and Gene Simmons whole shtick. But this stuff is ridiculous. It's like 1950s rock and roll. I had no idea. They are like The Ramones meet Sha Na Na. They seem really silly. What the hell was up with the makeup?

Lars Ulrich

(10/13/2009)
This video today reminded me that I'm past due looking into Metallica (note, not their drummer here):


I was a heavy metal fan for about a year in high school...pretty lame heavy metal that consisted mostly of Tesla and Def Leppard...which came completely out of a concert I saw with a girl I liked...and a boy I came to like. Aside from that, I've steered clear of metal.

I have come to absorb through osmosis that one of the best of the genre, and one of the longest lived, is Metallica...who's drummer is Lars Ulrich.

What I've learned about metal drumming is that it is fast, loud, and complicated. And that much of it hinges on the use of a double bass drum pedal. None of this particularly interests me...yet anyway.

Here's Ulrich playing a solo.

Ginger Baker

(from 9/22/09)
I keep hearing about Ginger Baker and thinking "wow, a female drummer back in the early days?" No, I'm dumb.

Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker was the drummer in Cream.

"Baker's drumming attracted attention for its flamboyance, showmanship, and pioneering use of two bass drums instead of the conventional single bass kick drum. As a firmly established jazz drummer, he dislikes being referred to as a rock drummer. While at times performing in a similar way to Keith Moon from The Who, Baker also employs a more restrained style influenced by the British jazz groups he heard during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In his early days as a drummer he performed lengthy drum solos, the best known being the thirteen-minute drum solo "Toad" from Cream's double album Wheels of Fire. He is also noted for using a variety of other percussion instruments and for his application of African rhythms. He would often emphasize the "flam", a drum rudiment where both sticks would attack the drums at almost the same time to give a heavy thunderous sound."

Here he is talking about drum technique (love those black socks!):


And playing a drum solo in 1969:


And played White Room with Cream in 1968 (strangely, this video shows more of Baker than Clapton):