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Is Jazz drumming snobby?

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Squirrel Man

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How can a drum style be snobby? It’s just a vocabulary and knowing how a tune works.

Jazz drummers are typically more studied because the vocabulary is so large it requires a lot of learning and time and technique.

Each drummer has their own personality but most drummers I know are quite humble. Take Dan Weiss and Ari Hoenig who are insanely amazing but are definitely not snobby. At all.

This is all pertaining to real jazz drummers. Not instagram personalities/brands that have never been on a jazz record.
You're over thinking it.

Even the skinny little sticks jazz drummers use are snobby.
 

Tornado

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I think there's a certain confidence that comes along with having put in the time to master something that takes years of deep study and practice. Anyone you've heard of in jazz has put their time in, for sure. That's not arrogance or snobbery though. By the time Buddy was criticizing country and rock, jazz had long been an art form with an equivalence to classical music, with respect to the musicality and skill required to do it well. Buddy wasn't so much hating on country and rock as much as he was disappointed that the general public had abandoned this beautiful, uniquely American art form for simpler music.
 

DrumPhil

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The role of the drummer in creative music is supportive and foundational, so the serious practitioners are going to have supportive personalities -- meaning that they are less likely to be snobby. We're the opposite of frontline trumpeters and guitarists! ;)

Moving beyond drummers, there is a long history of music critics and others attacking non-traditional jazz artists for not being "legit" musicians following accepted norms. The natural response is to become defensive and create a subculture that excludes those who don't appreciate it. This subculture might be stronger among the listeners than the musicians themselves. The nature of jazz music is to absorb a wide range of musical vocabulary and apply it in new and creative ways. Musicians work against their own interests if they limit their musical circles by arbitrary criteria. So the musicians are usually very open and not snobby. The snobs tend to be listeners who put this highly creative music on a pedestal and don't give credit to other musical styles. Also, as @WesChilton said above, some snobs are insecure about their own validity, so they put others down. That includes some music critics who historically disrespected jazz because they didn't understand it.
 

Jhouse86

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I've always looked at it as kind of "prestigious" for lack of a better word. Mostly because jazz drumming has been a hurdle for me for a lifetime. Most drumming is fairly easy, or at least the idea or concept is easily understood, even if playing it isn't. Jazz drumming is like trying to learn a new language. I don't know enough "jazzers" to know if their snobby. After practicing jazz for a few years(not consistent) my playing in general has advanced. I'm not sure if that's a sort of magic that jazz has, or if actually practicing with intent has more to do with it.
 

nmosko

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Not if you love doing it! Thinking someone is snobby when they are playing what they love is a very snobby thing to do.
 

Flamateur Hour

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Brevity has never even slightly been my strong suit so wall of text incoming (I feel passionately about this):

To me, jazz and the community that goes along with it is a tradition of nerds, outcasts, and a bunch of weirdos on a quest to belong and mutually marvel at our shared obsession with whatever instrument we chose. I love how badass jazz can be at times (cue Miles Davis staring holes into the crowd while he performs with the great quintet) but at the end of the day we’re a bunch of dorks making beep boop diddly doop noises with each other and expressing ourselves via play and so people that ascend the absolute ocean that is jazz musicianship and act like they’re sketching with Da Vinci’s hands because they can do the beep boop diddly doops faster and more controlled than their community has always felt comedic to me, like some Douglass Adams scene or something.

This perspective is largely painted by what I love about playing music, which is the verb play. I always think back to the playground. Some kids can build rad sandcastles, some can pretend to be a horsey really well, some can throw and catch objects, and some can create cool immersive scenes and stories with some narration that helps the little buddies feel more immersed in what they’re doing. It’s all play and it’s all just self expression, connection, and communication.

I think we lose that sometimes because, in order to survive, many of us have to also pursue it (and music in general) as a skilled trade, and thus a hierarchy is born and things get weird. That to me is where you get some dude being a spatula with his arms crossed at the back of the room judging somebody because his bass drum feathering is perceptible (yes that is a projection because I’m bad at feathering). Those that can hang and those who can’t. I’m one of those folks who isn’t really good at much else in life other than music (I’m not a dedicated jazz player though), and if I need to pay the bills with gigging, I want a couple of skilled tradespeople along with me onstage, so I definitely see the sources of hero worship and pedestal-ing in myself at times. But as I get older, I’ve actually started frequenting more open jams and hosting some improv stuff with people of all skill levels because I’ve actually found that I enjoy playing with people who’s relationship with music is that of play and not of profession, and sometimes the skilled technicians in my sphere are completely out of touch with the fundamental verb in the phrase “play music”.

At its best (imo) jazz is the local community gathered in dance halls of 1940’s New York stomping way to a pulsating swing band. It’s Elvin Jones soaked in sweat, steam rolling off the top of his head as he’s completely lost in the moment, oblivious to the crowd. It’s a 17 year old kid’s eyes lighting up as he finally begins to feel improvisation as a means of expressing his emotions, or as a mentally stimulating act of pattern recognition as they realize how their creation fits into the bigger picture. I think we lose sight of that from time to time.
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gwbasley

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I think there's a certain confidence that comes along with having put in the time to master something that takes years of deep study and practice. Anyone you've heard of in jazz has put their time in, for sure. That's not arrogance or snobbery though. By the time Buddy was criticizing country and rock, jazz had long been an art form with an equivalence to classical music, with respect to the musicality and skill required to do it well. Buddy wasn't so much hating on country and rock as much as he was disappointed that the general public had abandoned this beautiful, uniquely American art form for simpler music.
Well put. Buddy just reflected an opinion held by most of the guys who came up through the Big Bands. Mitch Miller was the head of Columbia in the 50's and absolutely despised pop music, including Be Bop Jazz. I think that a lot of the snobbishness may have come from the newspaper reviewers, (Nat Hentoff comes to mind), who wrote from an elitist point of view so the public picked up on that perspective.
 

Steech

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Yes this is a retort to the other thread but serious question. Snobby? Condescending, upper class?

Did Buddy look down on country and rock music because he thought he was better than it?

Is country and rock the lower class genre in the music industry?
Yes yes yes and yes.


And no.
 

Steech

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When I go down to the river in my pickup truck with my daisy duke shirts wearing GF and a cooler of beer we never listen to jazz while guzzling bud lite
That’s all I know …
You have daisy duke um SHIRTs??
 

DrummerJustLikeDad

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Are jazz (players) snobby?

I think it's more likely that any problem of alienation (if there is any) is in the outsiders' perception, not in the insiders' presentation.

Speaking generically on any discipline, it might feel daunting from the outside a circle of knowledge if you don't "get" what's understood on the inside, to feel alienated and locked out, instead of simply choosing to pursue understanding it yourself.

But in all innocence, those players who have put in the work and education are simply operating by the knowledge they've attained, going about their enjoyment of a well-earned competency. The only shame is on anyone who might resent such 'experts' and feel judged by them for it, instead of releasing them to enjoy the fruits of their work, and then pursuing his own interests, free from worrying what others might think of him.
 

BennyK

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Jazzers have more in common with parade drummers than other styles . Especially Scottish . Pride in their hands , sure . Not much else to be snobbish about .
 
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Houndog

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I think the more educated musically a person is the less likely they are snobby
and actually more open and accepting of all forms of music.

I find the fans of the more basic music to be snobby towards other forms of music they simply don’t like .
 

mtarrani

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Yes this is a retort to the other thread but serious question. Snobby? Condescending, upper class?

Did Buddy look down on country and rock music because he thought he was better than it?

Is country and rock the lower class genre in the music industry?
I hate to say it, but, yes, it can be snobby. Not necessarily in most cases, but there are always a few who look down on "lesser" drumming. I can play jazz reasonably well, but would be blown out of the water by metal drummers. I've had to play polkas and immediately gained respect for drummers who specialize (or perform it) often. And I am in awe of your average high school marching band drummers.
 

BennyK

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The improvisational aspects of jazz performance can be found in other styles as well . For every truly innovative visionary ther'll be a hundred who copy and superimpose by rote . Get pretty good at it too until the next ' big thing ' comes along .

Jazz has its own structural tradition rhythmically , harmonically and melodically and yes, it can be complex and difficult to master convincingly . Those who have done so deserve the recognition that comes with such commitment and effort but unfortunately don't always get it .

An expert fly fisherman catches the same trout somebody with a bobber and worms does . No big deal they can still be friends and have a shared experience ,maybe learn something from each other too. Fishing with hand grenades , now that's a whole different conversation .
 
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