Solos: lots of notes to few notes?

markkarj

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I drifted years ago from the million hits per measure drum solos. Even done well they don’t seem musical to me. Give me Simon Philips or Steve Smith anytime. I really love their approach to building the intensity and incorporating a steady under groove.
That's a great point. I quite began to love Simon Philips' playing after hearing him with Toto. He can play a great deal, but it all seems to work well with the songs.

 

piccupstix

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All the respect in the world to Buddy. No one could drive a band like him and his fills and setups are remarkable. That's where I think he's untouchable. I could care less that he was kind of a jerk. If my name was on the marquee than I'd be a hard*ss too. But it's okay to not like his solos. Technique is untouchable and he hits a lot of things very fast, mostly the snare. But there are other things I like to hear in a solo. I don't hear any tie to the song, his solos are pretty much interchangeable, he doesn't follow song forms other than his early small group dates like with Monk and Parker, I don't hear any motifs in his solos, no call and response, no theme and variations, no quotes, no space, etc. I'm glad people love him and enjoy his music but it's completely personal preference and not a sign that someone is misguided or just missing something if they don't think he's the greatest or that their musical goal isn't to sound like him.
[At the risk of adding to what is turning into a Buddy thread] I agree, sure it's okay to not like his solos. Everybody does have their own personal sense of musical taste. As an example I'll point out your description of what you don't hear in Buddy's solos and what I do hear. I've heard tons of his solos - in person and recorded. I've heard everything you apparently haven't heard. Buddy could certainly veer off into chops-fest solos that are seemingly disjointed from the musical vehicle that accompanied them, even sometimes no accompaniment. I believe his TV appearances were very prone to that, you know, play a tune you might not even know too well and/or get everything out but the kitchen sink in a short amount of time. I suspect that might be where you heard most of his playing. That sort of stuff drove me nuts too. But what I've heard countless times are everything you pointed out you don't hear; motifs, following song forms, ties to songs, unique and one-off solos, musical call and response, incredible tom work, themes for darn sure, quotes and yes, space, etc. I also feel that Buddy kept maturing as his career progressed and he got more and more musical as a result.

One other factor that was mentioned earlier in this thread is the difference of styles of music that can inform the drum solo. I can appreciate the quieter "artistic" solos but I also love the well put together drum solo with fire that brings out the beast and takes you to another exciting level. Buddy's band, like other great bands, would be at a feverish pitch and the drum solo would start and you'd be SO caught up in it and ready to fly. It would work the opposite way too. He would start as a whisper and build from there - or just keep it low key, or any combination thereof. But it always made musical sense to me.

Anyway, that's me! :icon_smile:
 

RIDDIM

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Do you judge someone's story by how quickly, eloquently or loudly they speak, or by what they have to say and how logically they tell it?
 

RIDDIM

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It's funny, a couple of months ago I was listening to Buddy Rich solo's and then I put on a Bonham solo, and I was completely disappointed in Bonham's solo skills. I mean it wasn't even close to Buddy in speed, power and fluidness. Buddy just kept flowing and moving and pushing, his left hand fluttering like a hummingbirds wings, while Bonham heavy handedly plodded along. He had moments of brilliance, but just moments. No real flow.

I find to many solo's don't flow well. They take "artistic" breaks where they do some gimmicky thing that bores the listener pretty quickly. Those big band swing drummers didn't have that problem.
This is because many of us don't think like musicians when we solo. If and when we do, more folks can follow what we do, no one gets lost and more of us can enjoy the excursion.

Easy to say, sometimes harder to do. It can be deceptively easy to lose the form while trying to do something that hasn't been done before.
 

Sprice

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[At the risk of adding to what is turning into a Buddy thread] I agree, sure it's okay to not like his solos. Everybody does have their own personal sense of musical taste. As an example I'll point out your description of what you don't hear in Buddy's solos and what I do hear. I've heard tons of his solos - in person and recorded. I've heard everything you apparently haven't heard. Buddy could certainly veer off into chops-fest solos that are seemingly disjointed from the musical vehicle that accompanied them, even sometimes no accompaniment. I believe his TV appearances were very prone to that, you know, play a tune you might not even know too well and/or get everything out but the kitchen sink in a short amount of time. I suspect that might be where you heard most of his playing. That sort of stuff drove me nuts too. But what I've heard countless times are everything you pointed out you don't hear; motifs, following song forms, ties to songs, unique and one-off solos, musical call and response, incredible tom work, themes for darn sure, quotes and yes, space, etc. I also feel that Buddy kept maturing as his career progressed and he got more and more musical as a result.

One other factor that was mentioned earlier in this thread is the difference of styles of music that can inform the drum solo. I can appreciate the quieter "artistic" solos but I also love the well put together drum solo with fire that brings out the beast and takes you to another exciting level. Buddy's band, like other great bands, would be at a feverish pitch and the drum solo would start and you'd be SO caught up in it and ready to fly. It would work the opposite way too. He would start as a whisper and build from there - or just keep it low key, or any combination thereof. But it always made musical sense to me.

Anyway, that's me! :icon_smile:
This is a great response and makes a good case for Buddy's music. One of the biggest problems for Buddy's legacy is some his fans who turn a lot of people off so thanks for this.
 

itsjjp

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Imo, a good solo is one that fits the moment, the song, the room, is played well, engaging and enjoyable to listen to, and where you never feel like you're wondering when it will end. I've witnessed solos with lots of notes that did this, and I've witnessed solos with few notes that did this as well, and a variety in between. It's not about the quantity, it's about the entire experience.
 

Corbin L Douthitt

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Bozzio did music on drums. Joe Morello was a virtuoso- as was Gene krupa and Louis Bellson. They all played to the music. BR? All about BR.
 

JimmySticks

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Bozzio did music on drums. Joe Morello was a virtuoso- as was Gene krupa and Louis Bellson. They all played to the music. BR? All about BR.
And the problem with that is?

It's fine that so many good drummers play to the music, but don't we need larger-than-life characters every once in awhile? Can nobody stand out? Should we not have superstars that eclipse everyone else? They have them in every field of endeavor.

We still partly talk about Buddy because of his star status. Other drummers such as Bellson and Shaugnessy were close in skills, but we hardly talk about them nearly as much and maybe that's because "they played to the music".
 

michaelocalypse

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This reminds me of the Old El Paso commercial. Proque no los dos? Why don't we have both?
Play with dynamics. More importantly, play to the crowd.

Once again we're confronted with a false choice, more or fewer notes in a solo.
When confronted with A or B choices, I always seem to have several other answers in mind, and that assumes a choice has to be made at all.
 

Corbin L Douthitt

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And the problem with that is?

It's fine that so many good drummers play to the music, but don't we need larger-than-life characters every once in awhile? Can nobody stand out? Should we not have superstars that eclipse everyone else? They have them in every field of endeavor.

We still partly talk about Buddy because of his star status. Other drummers such as Bellson and Shaugnessy were close in skills, but we hardly talk about them nearly as much and maybe that's because "they played to the music".
Even BR admitted that GK made his career possible! GK was a superstar before Buddy. Different chops. Different skills. But when GK soloed, the people stayed on the dance floor. When BR soloed- dancing stopped and they just watched- couldn’t dance to it- hence my philosophy- play to the music, not your ego.
 

JimmySticks

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Even BR admitted that GK made his career possible! GK was a superstar before Buddy. Different chops. Different skills. But when GK soloed, the people stayed on the dance floor. When BR soloed- dancing stopped and they just watched- couldn’t dance to it- hence my philosophy- play to the music, not your ego.
You'll get no arguments from me about the importance and beautiful playing of Genes drumming and showmanship. And of course he made Buddy's career possible, along with almost every drummer that came afterwards.

That doesn't mean they all had to play like Gene. Buddy's "ego" pushed the boundaries of what was ever heard on drums before, just like Gene had done before him. And what's wrong with that?
 

5stroke

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I'm old school and like solos to be musical, and breathe

So, Joe Morello on Take Five


And Max Roach, The Drum Also Waltzes

Love to see the photos of the old time drummers using well-worn snare heads like the one on Max's Drums Unlimited album cover here. Ringo's another one whose snare batter had that really worn look. Somehow back then it wasn't considered necessary to change batter heads with each performance as many feel so obligated to do now...:icon_e_wink:
 

Old Drummer

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The custom seems to be that soloing is an opportunity for musicians (not only drummers) to pour it on and show off their chops. Audiences often applaud when soloists get fast and furious, even when unbeknownst to the audience the fast and furious playing is easy. I formed the opinion long ago that I don't care for this. It turns music into a sport, as in whoever runs the fastest or lifts the heaviest weights wins. But I don't think this is music.

Back when I was a kid playing in contests, I lost the biggest trophy (I got the second biggest trophy as runner up) to a drummer who midway through his solo shifted to halftime and played slowly. When he did that, my jaw dropped and I knew he had won. It was way cool.

You can achieve a similar jaw-dropping effect by lowering the dynamics and playing quietly. Hey, it's your solo and you don't have to play over other instruments. You can play quiet as a mouse and be heard fine.

Or, you can play less rather than more. I've been experimenting with actually reducing my playing during solos. You know, just leave out the snare and the bass drums for awhile or something like that. It's fun and can sound good.

A solo is an opportunity to show your creativity, and when soloing in a song, your creative interpretation of that song. Fast and furious is almost never a creative interpretation of a song. In fact, it's about the least creative solo you can play. Everybody does this and you're just copying them.

As always, there are no rules. But if you understand a solo as playing as fast and furious as possible, you are following a bad rule.
 

cribbon

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When Take Five was recorded the band was still new to odd times. Note how Gene Wright keeps the bass riff going through Morello's solo on TF, to help him know where he was.

I've always felt that Far More Drums, recorded a couple of years later, is a MUCH better solo, and shows much greatere facility in 5/4. At this point, Morello is as comfortable in 5 as in 3 or 4 or any other time signature. Lots of notes in this one, and lots of music as well.

+1
 

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How about a one note solo for 3 minutes. The drummer hits the snare drum one time and the sound goes into a flanged loop, reversing backward and forward for 2:59 seconds. Super bright strobe lights flash blinding the audience into a frenzy. Dry ice is pumped all over the drum set and finally as the snare sound loop is faded, the dry ice dissipates, the strobe slows to a stop and a spotlight shines to a balcony seat where the drummer is shown waving to the audience and eating a sandwich. As bad as this idea sounds... the audience would cheer maniacally. What a statement huh?
 

kdgrissom

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When Take Five was recorded the band was still new to odd times. Note how Gene Wright keeps the bass riff going through Morello's solo on TF, to help him know where he was.
I assume you refer to "him" as Joe Morello, not Gene. I honestly believe that Joe could solo in 5 (or 7,9,13) without any help. Gene Wright's bass riff might have been for the benefit of the uninitiated listeners to better follow what he was creating, or it might also have been done for the sake of the other instrumentalists counting down the choruses or the rhythmic cue until they joined back in.
 
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