Drumming Fundamentals

multijd

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I'm astounded that in 18 replies no one has typed the word "Rhythm".... not once.

Music at it's most basic is comprised of three things... Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. And in any given ensemble, the drummer is literally the point man when it comes to essential element.... rhythm.

So what do we do besides hit wooden tubs.... We Are Masters of Rhythm. We are the one the other musicians turn to for the last word in "where's the rhythm?", "what's the rhythm?", "how is the rhythm supposed to feel?"

Every instrument utilizes all three elements, of course.

But at their core - violinists, singers, wind players are all about melody

Pianists, guitarists - harmony

But drummers, it is all about rhythm.

Being Masters of Rhythm.
Maybe you have to read inside the replies. Because drummers need to be masters of Rhythm, Harmony and Melody.
 

dcrigger

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Maybe you have to read inside the replies. Because drummers need to be masters of Rhythm, Harmony and Melody.
No... not really. And that speaking as someone that writes, arranges and has done orchestrations, produced records, etc.... though have done none of those things at the level at which I play drums. Yes for sure - having skills in those areas has, I believe, served me well as drummer... made me a better. more well rounded musician... thus a better drummer.

But being a master of them? OMG for heaven's sake no. And is there - was there - a need for me to be a master of them to be a good drummer? Absolutely not. Awareness... familiarity... sure. But mastery? No, I don't agree.

Not that I feel any great claim to having mastered rhythm.... just making the point to the degree that is the root core of our instrument... compared to other instruments. The needed blend of skills needed to expertly play each instrument are simply different.

I mean, I've been blessed to play with some true masters of melody... singers. flautists, violinists - folks with abilities to shape a line, with simply off the chart intonation skills, abilities to nuance a phrase with pitch and timbre and rhythm in order to create just the right effect.... to move the listener.... just so.

And the harmonic masters - the pianists that can transform any song into any genre, feel or mood, immediately on request. The jazz arrangers capable of remaking the simplistic pop song into the sophisticated journey of harmonic exploration imaginable. The orchestrators that know when adding a second flute part to a part of an orchestral piece will be totally the right or wrong thing to do - knowing exactly what that effect will be before putting pencil to paper - and the other few million combinations of instruments - what they will sound like - what effect they will have.

These are the masters of melody and harmony....

And in my experience, most often when they consider the drummer they hire or work with, they look at those drummers as the masters of what they are not.... rhythm.
 

JDA

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yeah right left
tell ya what I know guitar players Sax players keyboard players that Got Rhythm to teach me.
It's all I can do to Keep a Lid on it.

So if it's anything the drummer Guards the rhythm He doesn't Own it

You think Max Roach was dictating or owning the Rhythm Charlie Parker or Dizzy were playing? Hell no He was keeping a lid on it Guarding it and freaking Hanging on

Guarding it like a Hawk

(no pun)
So yes we have to absorb shape and contain the Rhythm going on all around us
But we don't own it or dictate it.
We lid it. We package it. We package what's going on around us.
 
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dcrigger

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Is there a specific point buried in that 55 minute interview that you think that you feel is pertinent to the questions at hand? Because I love Antonio, but can't spend an hour unearthing the meaning of your reply.

Unless you're illustrating what is possible for a drummer to be. Which is fine. Like Antonio, I can name many other drummers that are great composers... are great piano players... are great singers... all sorts of things beyond being drummers.

But is the subject at hand really about what's possible as much as what's essential? "...what is the most important things to know for someone starting drums or someone that wants to know what is involved in drumming?"

Is it important to be a composer, in order to be a drummer? Is it necessary?

Beyond dabbling, I see no evidence that Steve Gadd, Mitch Mitchell, Hal Blaine, Steve Smith, JR Robertson, Ndugu found it so. And yet there are many drummers that have done significant composing - but again, is that skill essential to their drumming.

And I focus on composing - because how else does a drummer express their mastery of melody and harmony - not in the normal course of drumming. Melody and Harmony effect our drumming - they are to be considered while drumming - but expressed... not really. Not in any way past the most rudimentary ways - in the context of melodic and harmonic expression as a whole.

So just to clarify myself - I place no limits on how broad a drummers musical abilities can be. But that doesn't mean there aren't core abilities that are completely essentials to drumming.... and it was trying define those that my response to the original question was aimed at.

In other words, focusing on what a drummer must be, not what he/she can be.
 
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RogersLudwig

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hand-to-hand and four limb independence, the two fundamentals of drumming imho, are not all that easy to master. And we don't hit wooden tubs. We hit skins stretched across wooden tubs and they better be tensioned just right!
 

multijd

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Is there a specific point buried in that 55 minute interview that you think that you feel is pertinent to the questions at hand? Because I love Antonio, but can't spend an hour unearthing the meaning of your reply.

Unless you're illustrating what is possible for a drummer to be. Which is fine. Like Antonio, I can name many other drummers that are great composers... are great piano players... are great singers... all sorts of things beyond being drummers.

But is the subject at hand really about what's possible as much as what's essential? "...what is the most important things to know for someone starting drums or someone that wants to know what is involved in drumming?"

Is it important to be a composer, in order to be a drummer? Is it necessary?

Beyond dabbling, I see no evidence that Steve Gadd, Mitch Mitchell, Hal Blaine, Steve Smith, JR Robertson, Ndugu found it so. And yet there are many drummers that have done significant composing - but again, is that skill essential to their drumming.

And I focus on composing - because how else does a drummer express their mastery of melody and harmony - not in the normal course of drumming. Melody and Harmony effect our drumming - they are to be considered while drumming - but expressed... not really. Not in any way past the most rudimentary ways - in the context of melodic and harmonic expression as a whole.

So just to clarify myself - I place no limits on how broad a drummers musical abilities can be. But that doesn't mean there aren't core abilities that are completely essentials to drumming.... and it was trying define those that my response to the original question was aimed at.

In other words, focusing on what a drummer must be, not what he/she can be.
Im sorry you dont have time to watch the video. Antonio says some very enlightening things about his development. He is a wonderful example of the kind of skills that all musicians need in this century. But drummers have been mastering all aspects of music for quite a long time. That doesn't mean you cant grab a pair of sticks and wack away! But any college music course has the drummers and all other instrumentalists learn all aspects of music. Honestly i dont see the point in defending an approach to education that is incomplete.
 

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My cousin’s husband plays in the city orchestra and teaches percussions at university.

At concerts, we can see him running around playing drums, marimba, glock, etc.

I think I might be competent enough to play his drum parts as I concentrated all my efforts into this one single instrument whereas he took the time to master every orchestral percussive instruments.

But in the end, he is a much better drummer than I’ll ever be since he is a great musician above everything else, and his comprehension of timing, rythm, melody and hand technique put him in a class of his own.

In my mind, musicianship is key.
 

BennyK

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It depends on why I was attracted to playing the drums in the first place and what I may or may not have compromised along the way .
 
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dcrigger

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Im sorry you dont have time to watch the video. Antonio says some very enlightening things about his development. He is a wonderful example of the kind of skills that all musicians need in this century. But drummers have been mastering all aspects of music for quite a long time. That doesn't mean you cant grab a pair of sticks and wack away! But any college music course has the drummers and all other instrumentalists learn all aspects of music. Honestly i dont see the point in defending an approach to education that is incomplete.
I'm not disagreeing except to the degree that you seem to make no distinction between "mastering all aspects of music" and "learn all aspects of music".

But putting that aside - you make very good points as to the need for drummers to be well rounded complete musician (which I don't disagree with at all) - but in the spirit of the original questions - what is your take on... "what sets drummers apart from other musicians?" "What skills, insights, abilities are more definitive of drummers than say, flute players, piano players, bass players?" Or do you not believe there are any differences. Or shouldn't be any differences. I'm not being argumentative here - but am honestly curious.
 

creinhard

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what is the most important things to know for someone starting drums or someone that wants to know what is involved in drumming?
I think it depends on what the person's goal is ... if they want to play snare drum in a marching band, the rudiments and timing and rhythm would be high on the To-Do list, along with developing the ability to listen and play along with others.

If they want to play drum set in a band with other musicians, Limb Independence and timing and rhythm would be important, along with developing the ability to listen and play along with others. In this case, if that person has only a limited amount of practice-time, my opinion is they wouldn't need rudiments as much as limb independence .... a few well-played simple drum-set beats could get you up and running in a beginner band (without needing to get into the rudiments).

If they just want to "explore" or "bash away" on their own in the basement, they can buy a cheap drum set, and learn and make it up as they go!

Chris
 

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The other day a non drummer friend asked me how much is there to drumming other than just hitting wooden tubs.
A dumb questions doesn't deserve a serious answer. I would have told your friend: "That's all there is to it, just hitting wooden tubs. It's like playing trumpet (blowing into a brass tube) or piano (banging on some keys)."
 

Elvis

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The other day a non drummer friend asked me how much is there to drumming other than just hitting wooden tubs. I knew this was a pretty dumb question because there is alot to it but it got me thinking, what is the most important things to know for someone starting drums or someone that wants to know what is involved in drumming?
I would say, on top of anything else, a good appreciation for music.
 

dale w miller

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The problem is many people including musicians cannot tell the difference between good and bad even if the comparison is heard one after the other.
 


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