Improving or Overplaying?

jskdrums

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I've often found myself at an impasse...that being improving as a drummer & how to appropriately apply those improvements... I know this comes down to taste, but so much of what i come across as learning drum skills has zero to do with real world drumming skills..at least if you want to actually gig & make money. In short how do you improve as a musician without turning into an overplayer?
 

Mongrel

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Know when to hold 'em...
Know when to fold 'em...
Know when to walk away...
Know when to run...

Seriously.

Context?
Originals?
Versions?
Covers?

What are you trying to accomplish in a given contex will, should, can, or could, determine your response.

Personally I try and work up at least three variations of a given piece, four, if you include private practice times.

There is the minimalist version-just hitting the meter\tempo\feel\breaks. The groove version-puttng more "soul" into it while saying clean and laid back. The busy version-not necessarily over the top, but stretching my legs a little. And lastly, the private and purposeful "overplaying" while I am searching for ideas and throwing everything I can at a tune to see what sticks.

Then I take all of that, run it through the "what does the song need in THIS context" filter and THAT is what goes down on tape or live.

Also-I find it very inspirational to listen to multiple covers or versions of a cover tune to see what direction different artists will take it.

Lastly-ALL of this needs an element of "fun" and enjoyment or it just becomes a chore.
 

Drm1979

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Know when to hold 'em...
Know when to fold 'em...
Know when to walk away...
Know when to run...

Seriously.

Context?
Originals?
Versions?
Covers?

What are you trying to accomplish in a given contex will, should, can, or could, determine your response.

Personally I try and work up at least three variations of a given piece, four, if you include private practice times.

There is the minimalist version-just hitting the meter\tempo\feel\breaks. The groove version-puttng more "soul" into it while saying clean and laid back. The busy version-not necessarily over the top, but stretching my legs a little. And lastly, the private and purposeful "overplaying" while I am searching for ideas and throwing everything I can at a tune to see what sticks.

Then I take all of that, run it through the "what does the song need in THIS context" filter and THAT is what goes down on tape or live.

Also-I find it very inspirational to listen to multiple covers or versions of a cover tune to see what direction different artists will take it.

Lastly-ALL of this needs an element of "fun" and enjoyment or it just becomes a chore.
This is a wonderful response to this question. I really couldn't have said it better myself.
 

dale w miller

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Personally, I practice what is in my head. Unless you’re taking the default of playing the simplest beat, which some songwriters are looking for and some are not, there’s no need to practice for practice sake unless you are simply looking to make what’s in your head sound better.

The only thing I do practice wise any more is improvise on the kit to see whatI come up and beat on a practice pad while watching television to keep my hands in shape.

I agree with MustangMike here. You don't lift 200 pounds at the gym because you lift that much all day at home. You do it so lifting 50 pounds is effortless.

Also to find a mate.
I find a lot of people who can lift 200 pounds have to let you know they can.
 

RIDDIM

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I've often found myself at an impasse...that being improving as a drummer & how to appropriately apply those improvements... I know this comes down to taste, but so much of what i come across as learning drum skills has zero to do with real world drumming skills..at least if you want to actually gig & make money. In short how do you improve as a musician without turning into an overplayer?
- Commit to being a great musician. Learn more about the music as a whole - everyone's parts, why they play them and how you can best help the music come alive. Then you'll know what to play, and the best fit may not be what's on the record (unless you're in a verbatim cover band). Being a great drummer is fine - nothing wrong with that - but in the end it's about playing the music great. Sometimes, especially in pop music, that doesn't require much from us. Give the music what it needs, no more and no less. Do the work necessary to help you do that.

- Understand that just because you have 500 spices in the rack doesn't mean you need put them in every dish. It's about the right spice in the right dish in the right amount. And sometimes you really, really, need that little bit of fish sauce.

- Always be ready - or he/she who is will get the call. Understand that what you do today may not be what you're asked to do next week or 10 years from now. So add to your your skill sets, always.
 

jansara

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Some of the very best players I've seen are masters of sound, feel and inner-kit dynamics. Very often it's not what you play, it's what you leave out.

Sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself.
~Miles
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I played a gig a few months ago with a 10x14 bass, a snare mounted on top, a set of HH's and a 19" flat ride as my sole cymbal. I played 90% of the songs in our typical setlist, and pulled it off just fine. I was able to just play by feel & impulse and literally could not "overplay".......it was quite a change for the better.....

I have a gig this Sat. at a museum - same group - I am tempted to do the same thing. Plus, it's a simple set up and 1 load in and out!
 

Ickybaby

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Overplaying is in the ears of the beholder. There may be some wide spread ideas about what is musical vs not, what sounds better, what is more "tasteful"....but at the end of the day, it's art. It's what you want it to be. All depends on who is in charge and whether or not anyone likes it to determine good or bad.....and even then.....

Did Neil Peart overplay in Rush? Could he play in an RnB group? Did Phil Rudd underplay in AC/DC? Would John Fogerty put up with Purdie's busy shuffling left hand? Was Mo Tucker "perfect" for the Velvet Underground or merely available and good enough? How about Ringo? How about Charlie?
 

backtodrum

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What I have found over the years is to record my performances. There is no denying that when you think you nailed a performance and it all felt so good, and then listen to it back on a recording and find that your fills that you thought were killer sounded busy and out of place. I've heard drummers that had chops for days sound like crap with a band. As a result I have really contentiously simplified what I play. I play for the music, not for "hey look what I can do", that's just my two cents. I've managed to stay real busy as a drummer in my neck of the woods as a result of that attitude as well. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should, applies aptly to drumming or being a musician in general!
 

dale w miller

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- Always be ready - or he/she who is will get the call. Understand that what you do today may not be what you're asked to do next week or 10 years from now. So add to your your skill sets, always.
100% agree. I know firsthand I blew a great gig because I didn’t hear from them and I thought it was a dead end. I stopped listening & working on their material and I simply wasn’t prepared when they wanted to get together.
 

Trilock_Gurtu

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Assuming you want to play songs, play in a band, play live, record songs...regular drumming type stuff, then I find most drummers practice in the wrong direction. They tend to practice all the rudiments, brush up on their Samba, develop speed, etc. I don't consider this "wrong", but odd, considering whats involved with the type of drumming I described above.

Again, assuming you want to preform like mentioned above, I think the following should be practiced, and perfected (as much as possible):

- Playing well with a metronome/click. This includes the abilities to play "on time" with one, drag with it, push with it, while all sounding natural.

- Playing well without metronome/click. I find ones natural time keeping abilities greatly improve with click practice.

- Playing with dynamics. Mastering of this is paramount, all the greats have/had this skill; Porcaro, Vinnie, etc. A great exercise is playing each section of a song at a different dynamics level, switch then around. Then advance by playing each limb at a different dynamic level, example; HH - loud, snare - soft, and BD - medium. Switch around into all sorts of combos, until fluid and comfortable. This type of thing is common in rudiment practice, but I find its much more practical to do it in a full kit context (since that where you'll end up, anyways).

- Playing even. This is studio stuff. Those that have done lots of sessions will get this - play very note dead on. Become consistent as possible.

- Play fills only where they should be, only the right duration, and that fit the song.

- Practice playing no fills in the song, get your 'Every breath you take', on. 'One Headlight'? No cymbal hits?

- Take pieces of your kit away. I gigged with a touring band for over a year, only using a kick, snare, hi hat, one crash/ride cymbal, and a floor tom. My playing improved greatly during that time. 95% of drummers have too much stuff. Learn to do more, with less.

- Practice different 'feels'. Hows your shuffles? Pick one version, play it for 15 minutes straight - no fills. Then practice with appropriate fills.

- Record yourself. Listen/watch back. Play for drummers you respect, get constructive feedback.

- Sit in on open jams. Go apply that 15 minute shuffle in a real world context...how was it?

- Practice producing more sounds, from your drums. How many sounds can you get out of your floor tom? snare? etc.

- Practice different genres. Make a playlist; go from reggae tune, to a classic rock one, to big band, to hip hop, etc. Focus on playing each style authentically. No stopping - back to back. Play styles you're uncomfortable with. You don't have to become an expert in each genre, but make your goal to be at least convincing.

On and on it goes, I think you get the idea. Practice real world requirements of a musical drummer. Can you play a musical song, from beginning to end, applying everything mentioned above, perfectly? The most important thing that drummers need to practice, and generally don't - discipline in what they play.

I do BJJ. I remember reading a great interview with the amazing Marcelo Garcia, he was asked - "How do you get into shape, and get better at BJJ?". He said - "By doing BJJ".

It ain't rocket science. Master the basics.
 
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dcrigger

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I've often found myself at an impasse...that being improving as a drummer & how to appropriately apply those improvements... I know this comes down to taste, but so much of what i come across as learning drum skills has zero to do with real world drumming skills..at least if you want to actually gig & make money. In short how do you improve as a musician without turning into an overplayer?
Not to be too zen (or a smart ass) - it is as improve as a musician and don't be an overplayed.

As much folks want to believe otherwise - you use your chops, your chops don't use you.

IMO the need for headroom can't be overstated. A player with limitless facility can choose to play as simply as desired. The player with less facility can probably play equally as simply - but can they do it with as much control. Do they have enough headroom to play simply, while using 95% of their consciousness to really listen, to really feel how to place each simple note... just right.

IMO no player ever hurt their playing by increasing their raw facility... their chops. Because if they haven't learned how to apply those chops, it's not like they are going to sound very good without them. Because the will still be making bad choices - either from ignorance or from trying to shoehorn their limited vocabulary into every musical context.
 

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