Friday, February 26, 2010

Great Dane, 2/25/10

Opened for The Drain. Show started a little after 10pm. We played in basement. Despite exhaustion (from lack of sleep, not from playing...playing didn't feel very strenuous), stayed around to hear Drain's full set and really, really liked them. They are more poppy/new wave/punk than I realized. And not too loud (which is normally the case I gather).

I had drank night before and wasn't in the mood to I didn't at all even though beer was free. Didn't get good sleep night beforehand. Ate a good dinner around 5pm. Tried to nap and failed. Had a little bit of a headache and upset stomach upon arrival, but Pepto and Advil cured it. There was a rumor that they were to feed us free too...but no one else seemed interested so I let it go. I would have liked a fish taco or fries, though. I drank two iced teas before the set and half a glass of water during. Dosed up on Rescue Relief right before set started. Took a hit of Singer's Saving Grace in middle of set. I was yelling lyrics a bit cause couldn't hear my vocals well, which made throat feel worse than normal. I wore jeans, Keen's, and a t-shirt. It was warm, but I only sweated a bit.

Summing up renumeration...the show was free to public, but I guess we're getting paid (beyond beer/food). Don't know how much yet. There was a third band upstairs that night too.

Used The Drain's PA, which had a vocal monitor for drummer...except the actual drum vocals couldn't be turned up into the monitor without feeding back. So I could hear everyone else's vocals, but not mine. Which was a little weird. I could hear them in the house (far away) but not well. Especially weird during harmonizing, cause I could hear them but not me. But I managed. Feedback situation went over the top when JG did his feedback during Boscobel Breakout. The vocal monitor went nuts. Piercing noise in my head. Actually had reflexive moment of dropping everything and covering my ears...then though "oh shit, I stopped playing" and I recovered.

That said, the sound was actually pretty good. Not too loud in the house and well balanced. I could hear everything well except my vocals and the bass drum, which was a 24 inch drum and unmic'ed.

I used The Drain's kit with my own snare, snare stand, and throne. I'm beginning to think that, though it requires bringing stuff, that this is the safest way to go short of bringing my own whole kit. He had a Gretsch I said with a 24 inch bass and pretty big toms. The setup was ok. He had crappy ZHT cymbals that didn't sound very good. Washy and too loud for my taste. I like a quick decay. And the ride sounded the same as the crashes to me. His high hat was a little low, but I left it like that, which only tripped me up a couple of times, like when I was cross sticking. I didn't like the bass pedal. Might be worth bringing my own pedal too. It was okay, but the response was different from what I'm used to, which was disconcerting. It seemed like it had a half second delay. Since I couldn't hear the bass drum well it was hard to tell if this was really happening, or just my perception. His toms were on a pretty severe angle (mounted on big bass drum, so they had to be), but it wasn't a problem. I remember hitting my first round the kit fill mid-set and thinking "that went ok." His crashes were set on each side...but it wasn't a problem. Ride was a little further right than I like, but I made it work ok.

Rough setup...not sure on sizes other than bass.

All that said, I played pretty well. Rolls and fills were decent. Bass was pretty good given the limitations of the pedal and not being able to hear. Coordination and consistency were ok. tempos were kind of all over the place. Not sure if this was my fault or someone else's. Started Fucked Up and Wasted too fast and tried to slow it down mid-song, but never quite got confortable. Suspect Device was a little fast too...but that could have been RS's fault since he starts the song. The Way I Love You went better than it has for some time. I think RS purposely started it a little slower to prevent disaster.

There was some cases of realizing that I was missing a component I needed...had to make choices/corrections on the fly...but these went pretty well for most part.

We haven't played some of these songs much lately, which made me forget how they go a bit. This particularly for Fable.

Our next show isn't until April 24th, which is a nice break after three months of show's every two weeks. A slate of new songs will be worked up starting next week. Couple that I'm to sing. Hate that, but gotta spread the vocal strain around. Was thinking last night that, even though I still make mistakes, the current set is pretty well learned...nearly played out. Almost too easy. I can play it without thinking at all. Usually thinking about it too much is when I mess up. It's a good place to be...but right on the edge of boredom/lameness.

Update: We brought down $25 a person for the show...which I think came straight from Great Dane.

Set list:

12. New Rose

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Anger Rising, Jerry Cantrell
(no embedding allowed)

Here's a cover:

Hate and War, The Clash

Nice view of the drummer:

Another version:

Drummers As Musicians

I've started this column at Dane101 where I interview drummers. This morning I thought of a new question to ask future victims:

There’s an old joke along the lines of, “your average rock band has four people in it: three musicians and a drummer.” There’s also the theme in the movie Spinal Tap that drummers are disposable and easily replaced. How do you think non-drummers view the role of the drummer in bands? Do you think others consider drummers to be musicians? Are drummers considered important? Are they considered disposable/replaceable? What do you think about all of that?

I don't know that the question is phrased very eloquently, but it gets the point across. Are drummers musicians? Are drummers artists? Are they unique?

The answer, of course (I think anyway), is a variation on "it depends." And as far as I'm concerned, the same is true of anyone who plays any instrument. But I think drummers get a bad wrap more often than other kinds of instrumentalists/singers.

To the uninitiated eye, playing drums is about hitting things and being loud. And maybe also about being fast in some cases. None of these things sound like art or even music on their face.

In the drum magazines there's alot of talk about "playing musically." This is kind of a nebulous concept to grasp. What does it really mean? The best I can grasp it, it means playing in context with what is going on in the song. That means listening to the other players and making your part compliment, not detract from, their parts. And keeping to contribute to something overall that is pleasing. Does that make it art? Who the hell knows? Not everyone thinks the same thing is whether it is art might depend on who you ask. But if pressed, even if you don't "like" something, you probably are able to concede that it might be pleasing to someone else. Conversely, if something is displeasing to most people, that's probably pretty easy to identify too. Lines blur sometimes...death metal...or maybe rap...comes to mind. You've got to have a mindset to accept some things as art if they really conflict with your own sensibilities.

This all gets back to my reoccurring do you know what's good? And the do I know when I'M good...and not just kidding myself...or being overly self-critical.

But that's a larger I'm thinking more specifically...if we all agree that the music is good...does it matter who the drummer is? Could you replace the drummer with a machine? Could any drummer of the same level of playing ability replace another? Is drumming art or science? Expression or pure physical/mental skill? Magic or muscle memory?

I don't know that I know the answer.

I think it is easy to say that SOME drummers are not musicians. They aren't really paying attention to what's going on around them. They aren't contributing to something that is pleasing. Even if they aren't technically hitting "wrong" notes. These are "guys" (ok, people, but it seems more likely to be sue me) who play too loud or try to get in too many licks. Or maybe the opposite...maybe they are boring...leave too much open space. I think it's harder to identify the latter of these. Sometimes leaving space is good...and sometimes it's boring and not musical. That's a tougher call to make.

And maybe...being able to make that call...that's what turns a drummer into a musician. Knowing when the time is right to shine and when the time is right to lay back. That's music. That's art.

And there's stuff like nuance too. Phrasing. Accents. Balance. Consistency. That all contributes to it being art.

So what about me? I'm young in my learning. I don't yet have all the skills that I need to make it art. I'm still putting the motions into muscle memory. It isn't unconscious for me yet. I'm thinking alot and working hard. But...I would like there to be a point in time that I get to where I'm not thinking so hard...and I'm adding phrasing and accents. Things are balanced and consistent. And I can listen more to what's going on around me and react accordingly.

I think I'm on my way. I'm just not a master yet. But I do listen to the other musicians as much as I can. I don't try to show off...partly because I don't have the physical skills to show off...but even when I've developed more so that I COULD show off if I wanted to...I don't think that's in my nature. I don't like to draw attention to myself. I want to prove myself...but I don't want to draw attention to myself. I'll always be more about groove than flash.

Not that my personality automatically translates into being more of an artist than a show off is. But I do think it means that I'm not as likely to get distracted away from the art.

And that said, I don't think that I'm a particularly creative person...not particularly artistic. I'll be happy to get things technically correct and to not overplay it. There are surely people out there who have that creative tilt though.

So, in conclusion...drummers CAN be artists...but not all are. But that's the case with all people who play music. There are less artists than there are people who play music. I guess, as long as you're having fun, I don't know that it matters, though.

Theory: Some Charts

Some cheat sheets(Click to make images bigger).

Major Chords:

Minor Chords:

Circle of 5ths and Chart of Keys:

Theory: Chords of the Major/Minor Scales

Major Chord Progressions
If we take the major scale: C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

And we build a triad off of each note of the scale using only notes found within the scale, we get this:

I C-E-G (1-3-5 Cmaj)
ii D-F-A (1-b3-5 Dmin)
iii E-G-B (1-b3-5 Emin)
IV F-A-C (1-3-5 Fmaj)
V G-B-D (1-3-5 Gmaj)
vi A-C-E (1-b3-5 Amin)
vii B-D-F (1-b3-b5 Bdim)
VIII C-E-G (1-3-5 Cmaj)

The major scale follows this whole-step/half-step pattern:
w - w - h - w - w - w - h

The chord scale follows the same pattern:
I ii iii IV V vi vii VIII
w w h w w w h

Now, all you have to do is remember which type of chord each number represents.

I ii iii IV V vi vii VIII
w w h w w w h
maj min min maj maj min dim maj

Minor chord progressions
Minor chord progressions are charted out much like major progressions, but the order of major and minor chords change.

i ii0 III iv v VI VII i
w h w w h w w

Types of chords
Minor chord: 1, 3b, 5 notes in the scale.

Major 7 chord: 1, 3, 5, 7 notes in the scale.

Minor 7 chord: 1, 3b, 5, 7b notes in the scale.

Dominant 7 chord: 1, 3, 5, 7b notes in the scale.

Diminished chord: 1, 3b, 5b, 6 notes in the scale.

Augmented chord: 1, 3, 5# notes in the scale.

6 th chord: 1, 3, 5, 6 notes in the scale.

Suspended chord: 1, 4, 5 notes in the scale.

Golden Progression
FYI, a very common chord progression is I-IV-V-I

Theory: Major and Minor Scales

Found a page with a nice concise bit on major and minor scales.

And I quote:

Major Scale in Every Key
C = C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C
D = D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D
E = E - F# - G# - A - B - C# - D# - E
F = F - G - A - Bb - C - D - E - F
G = G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G
A = A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A
B = B - C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A# - B
C# = C# - D# - E# (=F) - F# - G# - A# - B# (=C) - C#
Db = Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - C - Db
Eb = Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C - D -Eb
F# = F# - G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E# (=F) - F#
Gb = Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb (=B) - Db - Eb - F - Gb
Ab = Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - G - Ab
Bb = Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G - A - Bb

To simplify, you can memorize this formula to form a major scale = whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - whole step - half step or w - w - h - w - w - w - h.

Natural Minor Scale
When you play all the notes in a minor key signature, you are playing the minor scale. To guide you, here are the minor scales in every key:
C = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C
D = D - E - F - G - A - Bb - C - D
E = E - F# - G - A - B - C - D - E
F = F - G - Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F
G = G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G
A = A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A
B = B - C# - D - E - F# - G - A - B
C# = C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A - B - C#
Eb = Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb - Db - Eb
F# = F# - G# - A - B - C# - D - E - F#
G# = G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E - F# - G#
Bb = Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb

To simplify, you can memorize this formula to form a minor scale = whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step or w - h - w - w - h - w - w.

Harmonic Minor Scale
To play a harmonic minor scale, you simply raise the seventh note of the scale by a half-step as you go up and down the scale. For example:
Natural C Minor Scale = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C
Harmonic C Minor Scale = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - B - C

Melodic Minor Scale
When you raise the sixth and seventh notes of a scale by a half step as you go up the scale and then return to the natural minor as you go down the scale. For example:
Melodic C Minor Scale = C - D - Eb - F - G - A - B - C (as you go up the scale)
Natural C Minor Scale = C - Bb - Ab - G - F - Eb - D - C (as you go down the scale)

Bass Line Class: Week 3

I was a little out of it, but I believe this was the dreaded "theory-heavy" class that seemed inevidable in this kind of course. He discussed major scales and their relative minors. Where the whole and half steps fall. Natural, harmonic, and melodic (odd birds indeed) scales. The chords that fit within a major scale. He showed each chord in the scale and how it had a major or minor third in which position. He talked about 7th chords and diminished chords and what those are about. Notation explained all the way along. The circle of fifths (he transcribed the chart he handed out from treble to bass clef). We worked a bit on the Curtis Mayfield tune again (Move On Up), though I can't say that I felt satisfied that he actually TAUGHT us the part. He seems to move to quickly through that's hard to see what his fingering is and he just blasts through it without explaining much. He explained 12 bar blues (and mentioned 24 and 32 bar blues). Then we listened to 2 or 3 blues songs and he showed some variations on the basic 12 bar blues.

This is the kind of fundamental session on theory that is required, I know. Honestly, he went through it pretty quickly and painlessly. Like I said, I was out of it and not really paying attention. It's a hard thing to conentrate on, especially when you've heard it all before. I suspect, for the true novice, it would have all gone by too fast and have been jibberish. For the experienced player, it would have dragged and been boring. I'm kind of in the middle.

I have the language already. I have heard all of these things before. Been exposed to them. But I don't quite have them MASTERED. Don't quite have them MEMORIZED. I couldn't tell you what the chords in a major scale are if asked right now...or where the whole and half steps are. I could probably work it out given more time than it ought to take to work such things out. I know that, at some point, once you've got these things down, they probably become second nature and you don't think about them very concretely anymore. They inform your playing and your writing, but it's just like the unspoken rules of the game. Subconscious.

I'm not there. I'm not sure the best way to GET there. I think it just they the way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice. You just do this stuff so much, so many times, that it becomes second nature. And I know there's no way to short cut experience. You just have to work through it...put in the time.

But I still can't help but feel that there is a way to excellerate the process. Perhaps with concentrated study and memorization. Even of simple things. Like where the whole and half steps fall in a major and minor scale...and what chords are in those scales. I have these things written out and refer to them when needed...but much work would it be to just commit them to memory. Like learning a foreign language. Long before you can speak it fluently, which to some extent comes only through the practice of using the language...long before that memorize vocabulary words. I can do that. It just takes setting aside the time and doing it.

And truly, all I have is time. I fill it pretty good these days in the after hours, which leads to things like being horrified to discover that I haven't "practiced" the drums in days. Played, yes. Practiced, no. But I've got LOTS of down time during the work day. I could be memorizing in those hours.

So that's what I ought to do. And see where it takes me next.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Recording Class: Week 2

It's hard to distill the teachings in these classes. There's lots of folk wisdom getting thrown around.

From a technical aspect, we went over the board. Basically, he's got 32 mics coming into a board. He's also got a 24 track "tape"...which really goes to a digitil recorder now. The mics come into the board, go out and get compressed, then go on to recording...and back to board. He got an electrical engineer in the class to explain the difference in balanced and unbalanced cables...essentially a balanced cable has 3 wires...positive, negative, and ground. And the positive and negative cancel each other, which reduces noise and lets the pure signal come through. This is what XLR mic cables are. An instrument cable is usually unbalanced...which means potentially higher noise to signal ratio. Also talked about high and low impedance cables. Essentially same thing. High impedance cable has more noise. For a short distance, this doesn't really matter, though. He also briefly explaned compression. Essentially, humans can hear like 150 dB range...but machines can only record like 85-90 dB range. So compression squashes the real sound into a range the machine can handle.

He also went off on some stories about the days of musicians unions...and the pros (they'd sue for you) and cons (they took dues plus 20% when you played outside your home district...and mismanaged the money).

He brought up an 8 channel (5 mic...3 of the mics were doubled mono to stereo) recording of an acoustic guitar signal and we discussed some aspects of that. He spent a little time explaining to a guy why you might put 8 mics on a drum kit.

There was some discussion about how basically all the massaging you do during recording/mixing is to correct mistakes. A person who plays well, and balanced, basically doesn't need all this.

I asked him how you train your ear to know "bad" from "good". I don't know if he totally got the question. But basic answer was...lots of experience. If you listen to enough people hear the same mistakes over and over again. Everyone at a certain level makes the same mistakes. Then...people who are the next level...they all make the same, different, mistakes.

A side story as part of his response to my question...he talked about mistakes of wrong notes and mistakes of intent. The first being something that sounds bad to everybody...the second something that sounds bad only to you. In the second MEANT to play it one way...but then you got in the trance of the music and something else came out. He said that these aren't really mistakes...they should be counted as blessings and left be. He talked about how...when you really know an instrument or a part or a get into a trance and you aren't really thinking about how to do it anymore. In fact, if you DO think about it too much, you mess up. I totally get this. And him bringing it up made me feel like...maybe I'm not such a lost cause after all. Maybe I really AM a musician and not just a lame poser. I find that trance sometimes. I have it in me. I've often thought that the only moments that I am totally present are when I am in this trance. There's no past. There's no future. There is only right now. And then right now is gone and there's a new right now. It is the only real, true peace I ever feel. It is magic.

So there's hope for me...but I still gotta say that I don't really know the difference between "good" music and "bad" least not in fine definitions. Broadly...if something sucks I know it sucks...and if something is great I know it's great...but in the middle where it could be either...I can't tell. When people write reviews, I rarely get the fine points. Kind of like tuning...I have trouble when things get close telling what's off and what's not and in what direction.

Of course it is mostly opinion...but there's science there and intuition too that are lost on me. I think his answer got at the basic point's just about listening ALOT...which I certainly don't do. I really wonder how common it is that people have this sense of what is good and what is mediocre...and how often people are full of shit when they act like they know.

I understood about 3/4 of the technical electronic stuff...the rest went past me. I've always had a mind block for electronics. Just ask Kestrel. Poor bastard was my lab partner for a semester in Vibes and Waves.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


For the record, I've nearly memorized all of the bass parts for the Pixies ablums Surfer Rosa, Come On Pilgrim, and Wave of Mutilation (greatest hits)...and most of the Kim Deal vocal parts too. There's only a couple of songs I haven't mastered yet...Alex Eiffel, Alison, Debaser...but the rest are pretty much in hand. Hoping that some day I'll be able to play them with other people.

Lessons, Week 56

We went over the same exercises from last week...minus the solo. Supposed to work on this over the next week. Listened to some Philly Joe Jones (fast) and some slower swing/jazz. Jam session next Sunday that I'll try to make.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bass Line Class: Week 1 & 2

Might as well track this stuff here too.

Week one we listened to LA County by Lyle Lovett and Pump It Up by Elvis Costello. We did some work in B Major.Discusses "two beat" and "walk ups". He gave us a link to Pump It Up.

Week two we reviewed LA County and Pump It Up and also listened to Alison by Elvis Costello and Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield. We did some work in C and D Major. Discussed the "golden chord progression"...common progressions in western music. The end of Alison has this.

His approach is a little haphazard, but not bad. Seems like he uses a song to illustrate a concept...then expands on that concept...using it to show us various kinds of notation and theory. I wish he'd prompt us to respond more often, rather than just giving us the answers. I also would like more handouts. It's hard to make notations and play at the same time. Someone else in the class also asked for him to give us written music of the things we are playing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Burning All the Candles on All the Ends

I'm kind of doing too much over the next 9 weeks. Besides rehearsing the two current bands and taking drum lessons, I'm also taking a bass class and a class on recording. And I'm driving to Texas.

It is good for me to be busy. I get weird when I'm not. But I may have over-extended for the next two months.

Last night was the first recording class. It is taught in the "home" studio of a fellow in Cottage Grove. The studio is in his home...but it isn't a HOME studio. It is a full on professional studio. Last night he gave us 2.5 hours of gems (supposed to only be a two hour class). Amongst them that once a drummer is able to play to a click track, they don't need one anymore...confidence is believing your own bullshit...that lots of bands break up after their first recording because you learn things about the other people that you didn't want to know....and that the good bands are often just a hair trigger away from breaking up at all times because there is passion brewing that can blow up at any moment. I also learned several dozen things about recording and recording equipment even within the fairly informal first session.

It felt like sitting at the foot of Buddha or Yoda...or something like that. He was humble, though, and often said things like "nothing is ever wrong...just out of context." I liked him. But I found the experience mentally and emotionally exhausting. It is a long period of time to absorb information.

Interviewing Other Drummers

I've started what I hope to be a monthly column at dane101 where I interview local drummers. It's been hard to get people to respond in a timely manner, but this week I've had two people finally come through.

The first interview wasn't anything all that interesting. The second one kind of blew me away, though. I really felt validated. Here was a drummer who I really respect an admire who has many of the same sentiments and feelings about things that I do.

It just confirms for me that people are people. We all struggle. We all have goals.

I'm not crazy.

Lessons, Week 55

I had him help me figure out the solo on Porcupine Tree's The Blind House. Then he had me play through a new solo piece and an exercise sheet. The lesson went by super fast.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Harmony Bar, 2/14/2010

Show on Sunday was kind of weird. 6:30pm (really closer to 7pm) on a Sunday evening. A benefit for an elementary school (Lowellpalooza). At the Harmony Bar.

We headlined after The Tony CastaƱeda Latin Jazz Sextet and the Yid Vicious Power Quartet.

Set up was chaotic. The show was running behind and I didn't have a chance to load all of my stuff in ahead of time because of space issues. Basically I had exactly enough time to set everything up and no time at all to check anything. There was no sound check. The sound guy kept turning off my vocal mic so that it wasn't on when I needed to sing. I noticed after the show that half of my hardware wasn't even properly tightened. I'm lucky things didn't fall (crash did fall during We Are the Ones, but unrelated to set up time crunch). The sweetie was at the show and helped me with set up, which was a life saver.

Despite the rush things felt good heading into the set. Strong and steady and able to play fast. Somewhere about 3/4 through I got a little sloppy and dropped a few beats, but nothing too noticeable. My bass foot and ride cymbal were spot on. I stumbled with timing on the very end of "Sun" (which bummed me out because we nearly nailed the whole tune after very little practice) and on "The Way I Love You" (I can never decide if I want to play all the high hat 8th notes on that or not...depends on speed...screws me up...I should just settle...or practice). JG rushed the entry after the guitar solo on "Michael Jackson". The very end of "Suspect Device" was slightly hairy too. We ran over time and had to cut the last few songs.

It was about a thousand degrees on stage and I was sweating up a storm. I had half a walnut burger about an hour before the show and one Spotted Cow pint of beer. I drank one pint of water through the show. I also ate something an hour or so before we even arrived. My stomach was feeling weird and I had a headache. We had walked a bit that morning, but not through snow. I did stand around for about two hours right before playing, but that didn't seem to hurt my feet. There were kids running around everywhere and a low level vocal noise that was unnerving.

We played the show for free, but got free drinks.

I had a good time playing, but it was a little bit of a nerve wracking situation. I was pretty much exhausted afterwards, prehaps more than ever before. The next day I felt like I'd been hit with a shovel.

RS had a good turnout of friends. Dr. K from Pants del Fwego happened to be there by accident and caught most of our set for the first time. The Nugget came by for the end of the set too. And The Moth was there.

Set list (as played, we were calling lots of audibles):
2. HELICOPTER (switched with Teenaged Kicks)
6. TEENAGE KICKS (switched with Helicopter)
15. WARSAW (switched with Suspect Device and then cut for time)
16. FABLE (switched with Starman and then cut for time)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Break My Body

I spent a fair amount of time last night avoiding practicing the drums by working out the timing of Break My Body on the bass. RS had mentioned that there were some tricky time signature things in the first few Pixies songs they were learning...and I guess I had glossed over them. But yes, Break My Body is a little tricky until you get it worked out.

(click image to make larger)
My conclusion, assuming I've got it right, is that the song is mostly in 4/4 with some regular measures of 2/4 thrown in. There's also a couple of spots where it goes into 5/4. I can see where this would be confusing on the drum throne, though it is pretty easy to work out on the bass.

It made me realize that, when I'm playing bass I don't think about counting beats the way I do on drums. I just play along with what sounds right...or I count notes instead of beats (i.e, instead of counting "1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +" for the first few measures of Break My Body I count "1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4". I'm counting the notes and not the beats.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lessons, Week 54

I don't know if Monday's lesson was lame...or really advanced. Either way it felt like a waste.

Basically we listened to songs by jazz bass player Mingus, Philly Joe Jones, and Herbie Hancock and we talked about structures in jazz music. Most of it didn't make sense to me. Nor did it interest me. Made the mistake of mentioning the bass part writing class I'm taking. Not sure why that led to jazz.

I hate jazz.

I get that it's part of a complete drum education, but I feel like I'm lacking in SO MANY areas...why throw jazz in there too? I just wanna play decent rock drums man. I'm not complicated.

I'm hoping it is just a passing thing. If it sticks around too long I'll have to say "dude...I hate jazz."

All that said...I would have said the same thing about odd time signatures...and now someone in the new band is proposing we play a song that's in 5/4 with a 4/4 passage. So things become applicable eventually I suppose. Maybe I just don't know what's good for me. That's why I pay someone to tell me.

But I can only be force-fed vegetables for so long before I stop coming to I'll be keeping an eye on it. He's usually pretty good about keeping things mixed up in a good I doubt it will be a problem.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rock Band

I played the video game Rock Band for the first time last night. I've picked it up on demos in stores before, but last night was the first time I sat in someone's living room and played the game. I find the guitar controllers difficult to use, but my strategy of learning to use them by playing the bass parts on "easy" seemed to be going okay. When I've tried the drums in stores in the past it has been a disaster. Last night though, it went smooth as pie. It was nearly like playing regularly drums...though the bass drum is a little odd/irregular. Also, it is like sight reading a part that could throw any odd thing at you at any time. Sight reading is hard enough...this was worse. Still it was a good time. And I sweated. It requires a lot of concentration. The drums are definitely (besides the vocals) the closest to a real instrument. The guitar/bass stuff is like something entirely different from the real thing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lessons, Week 53

I nearly forgot to blog this week's lesson.

I brought in my new copy of Turn It Up Lay It Down Playing the Odds and we went through it.

I also talked to him about how to keep from rushing on the new grunge tunes I'm working on. He suggested clicking my teeth to eighth notes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kim Thompson and Nikki Glaspie

I hate when people make a big deal out of me being female and being a drummer. First off, it is awkward, because I don't consider myself female per se. And I don't like people drawing to my attention that most of the rest of the world DOES consider me female. Second off...what the hell? A drummer is a drummer.

That said, it is true that there are fewer female drummers than male drummers. And that I am intrigued when I meet or see a female drummer. So I'm a hypocrite.

Last night on the Grammys I noticed Beonce had a female drummer. This blog backs that up, though the post is old.

It likely was Kim Thompson or Nikki Glaspie (Nikki G).

That blog I referenced also lists the following female kit players:
Sheila E, Hilary Jones, Gina Schock, Susie Ibarra, Cora Coleman, Cindy Blackman, Terri Lyne Carrington, Debra Dobkin, Kate Schellenbach, Samantha Maloney, Meg White, Georgia Hubley, Vera Figueiredo, Torrance Castellano, and more.

He also says "One hopes the day will come when gender is no longer even considered, that we are all just musicians—until then though, lend an ear to what these women are doing on the skins, because they're here now and they're tearing the roof off of the sucker!"

Amen bro.


I'm becoming more and more aware with the tunes this new group I'm in is playing how difficult it is to play consistently when you are playing slowly. I've always heard it was harder to play slowly than fast...but thought it was bunk. That's because I couldn't play fast but I could play how could fast be easier?

Now I'm 1 year down the track of playing punk rock at 120-190 bpm all the time...after a year of playing new wavey still north of 100. So I sit down to play Pearl Jam at 73 bpm and I suddenly feel retarded. Like the spaces between notes are HUGE and that I can't keep them consistently the same size in time. It's not so much that I want to fill the space with notes (and make it more busy)'s just that my body won't wait long enough. I stumble in the space.

And that's a sure sign that this is just what I need to be trying out right now.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't terrible. It is hardly noticeable. Maybe only noticeable to me. But it's there. The inconsistent space. I finally understand what I've been reading all this time.

I read an article in Drum! magazine last night where they interviewed a bunch of really fast metal players. It was fascinating because the whole thing, instead about being about playing fast as you'd think, was about how hard it is to play slowly. That if you mess up at 200 bpm it is hard to notice...but if you mess up at 60 bpm it is really obvious. And that so many "kids these days" just want to learn speed, so that's all they work on. And then they never get the fundamentals down and they never learn control.