Technique limits and the impact on style

Matched Gripper

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I see technique as musical vocabulary: the more words you know and the better you understand the structure of the language you're speaking, the more choices you have and thus the greater potential to make the most appropriate or interesting statements. That doesn't mean using the most complex or obscure words just for the sake of using them if they don't fit the situation or say exactly what you want to convey.

Music, like language, is communication. Gary Burton once said at one of his clinics that he practiced and developed his technique to make his hands "disappear" so the listener would hear his musical thoughts exactly as he intended them, not as an approximation that was limited by his ability to convey them.
I see technique and musical vocabulary as two different things. Technique enables vocabulary.
 

jansara

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The most effective players can employ a subtle and yet superb technique that is lost on many in what is often a relatively simple approach. For myself, that is the real wow factor.
 

Old Drummer

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I formed the opinion many moons ago that it's possible to be too good. Can you imagine Buddy playing in the Stones or the Beatles? When I try to imagine that, I conclude that he'd just be too slick. You could hear the technique but would lose the roughness.

As a non-slick drummer, I've formed the same opinion about guitarists. I've worked with some virtuosos, and they're good, but I confess to preferring the roughness I hear from those who are good but not great.

This is a paradox. Obviously, you want the best technique possible, because that gives you options. Less obvious is that you can sometimes fit in and sound better with weaker technique.
 

multijd

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I formed the opinion many moons ago that it's possible to be too good. Can you imagine Buddy playing in the Stones or the Beatles? When I try to imagine that, I conclude that he'd just be too slick. You could hear the technique but would lose the roughness.

As a non-slick drummer, I've formed the same opinion about guitarists. I've worked with some virtuosos, and they're good, but I confess to preferring the roughness I hear from those who are good but not great.

This is a paradox. Obviously, you want the best technique possible, because that gives you options. Less obvious is that you can sometimes fit in and sound better with weaker technique.
I feel like this totally misses the point. Like using a pneumatic nutrunner when you need a box wrench. Buddy would never have played with the Stones or the Beatles and vice a versa would Charlie or Ringo fit into a drum soloists big band like Buddy. People aren’t limited by their technique nor their lack of it if they are applying themselves to a complimentary musical style. A classical percussionist who specializes in accurate xylophone execution and exquisite tambourine playing is not going to play drums in a rock band using those techniques. We develop techniques to suit the music we play AND we play music that aligns with the way we want to use our technique. It is really that simple.
 

BennyK

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First the idea , afterwards the means to actualize it . Not every architect is a builder nor every composer a conductor . Technique may or may not inspire ideas .
 

LarryJ

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I see technique and musical vocabulary as two different things. Technique enables vocabulary.
Good point. What is 'technique'. Vocabulary? Or chops?

I play Latin music in jazz groups, both bebop and big band, reasonably successfully. But failed miserably when I joined a traditional Afro-Cuban band. Did I have the chops? Absolutely. Did I have the vocabulary? No. I have no doubt I could have learned it pretty quickly, just did not have the interest.

You can master the rudiments and play double bass 64ths at 160 bpm and not be able to play a single song. Or you can become a member of a successful band and know not a single rudiment and struggle to play 1/4 note kicks at 160 bpm.

I don't think 'technique' defines the genres we play. Rather, the genres we choose define the techniques we develop.
 

Matched Gripper

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Good point. What is 'technique'. Vocabulary? Or chops?

I play Latin music in jazz groups, both bebop and big band, reasonably successfully. But failed miserably when I joined a traditional Afro-Cuban band. Did I have the chops? Absolutely. Did I have the vocabulary? No. I have no doubt I could have learned it pretty quickly, just did not have the interest.

You can master the rudiments and play double bass 64ths at 160 bpm and not be able to play a single song. Or you can become a member of a successful band and know not a single rudiment and struggle to play 1/4 note kicks at 160 bpm.

I don't think 'technique' defines the genres we play. Rather, the genres we choose define the techniques we develop.
I don’t quite see it that way. In my view, technique enables the vocabulary options and tempos you are able to play. IMO, technique is the physical method you use to strike a drum with a stick or pedal. Gladstone, Moeller, open/closed, as well as your ability to play with dynamic and movement independence, etc., are all aspects of technique.
 

JDA

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Yet MG all the technique in the world can be limited by not knowing 'the style'...
'style' is a feel an event (an approach) you.... if you choose to can create
you have to shade move and adapt one's technique to the setting
technique is not hopefully a "fixed" entity
it has to be fluid and flexible to adapt to style(s)

you have to allow it to bend
or tighten up (or in extreme cases dissipate entirely..
depending
 
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MitchLyons

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I think style and individuality comes before technique in every aspect. One great example of a drummer who might not have the best technique on paper but has a very unique style is Mackie from the Cro-Mags. He's definitely one of the most recognizable and influential drummers in the hardcore community because of his style, whether or not his technique is ideal or not is subjective.

Mackie Drum Cam
 

RIDDIM

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I formed the opinion many moons ago that it's possible to be too good. Can you imagine Buddy playing in the Stones or the Beatles? When I try to imagine that, I conclude that he'd just be too slick. You could hear the technique but would lose the roughness.

As a non-slick drummer, I've formed the same opinion about guitarists. I've worked with some virtuosos, and they're good, but I confess to preferring the roughness I hear from those who are good but not great.

This is a paradox. Obviously, you want the best technique possible, because that gives you options. Less obvious is that you can sometimes fit in and sound better with weaker technique.

It's not a question of being too good - it's a question of giving the music what it needs, no more and no less.
 

JDA

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You can also inject your own style and not be a total slave
i allow you and everybody to

this 'give the music what it needs' sometimes sounds too conformist to me
that choice is an individual decision that can also, say to all, in a good way, who you are
don't be a slave I highly recommend against
unless you want/ like keeping your mouth shut and being somebody's always first call drummer.
I like a little more freedom than that
Drummers can begin/start their own Be a leader) bands too ya know.
we're not always in /only allowed/ a common subservient position
 
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RIDDIM

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Technique is a means to an end - that end is to enhance the music we make.

Most of us, in my view, probably have way more facility than the music we play, particularly if it's pop music, needs. Those of us who have kept our gigs understand the importance of using our skills to enhance the music, vs. using the music to proclaim our superior instrumental skills.

I'm all in favor of developing and maintaining the ability to control the instrument, but I have found it far easier to develop facility than to grasp certain musical concepts. I see one's style as what one hears in the music, and tries to manifest. Technical limitations can be an issue for a while, but with work, most of them can be overcome. What really matters is what we hear, and how fast we hear. Fast limbs and slow ears are not a great combination.

Work on your ideas and you'll find a way to get them out.
 

JDA

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if you can't express your own interpretations in a music then what are you then a drum machine ooh that doesn't interest me.
 

Seb77

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Technique vs feel...many internet forum threads have been written on topics such as this one.
If you have limited "chops", as in fast rolls etc., you can still be a great musician, but you can also have great "chops" and still have great feel. It's not an either/or (plain English for "false dichotomy").
 

hsosdrum

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It's not a question of being too good - it's a question of giving the music what it needs, no more and no less.
True, but if someone lacks the technique that's required to give the music what it needs, their (limited) technique is imposing a barrier on their ability to play that particular music. So their musical choices are being impacted by their lack of technique.

We all gravitate towards playing whatever music we can successfully execute within the limits of our own technique. The more limited our technique, the more limited are the choices of what music we will be able to play.
 

Old Drummer

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I feel like this totally misses the point. Like using a pneumatic nutrunner when you need a box wrench. Buddy would never have played with the Stones or the Beatles and vice a versa would Charlie or Ringo fit into a drum soloists big band like Buddy. People aren’t limited by their technique nor their lack of it if they are applying themselves to a complimentary musical style. A classical percussionist who specializes in accurate xylophone execution and exquisite tambourine playing is not going to play drums in a rock band using those techniques. We develop techniques to suit the music we play AND we play music that aligns with the way we want to use our technique. It is really that simple.
No, I didn't miss the point. We just disagree.
 

RIDDIM

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True, but if someone lacks the technique that's required to give the music what it needs, their (limited) technique is imposing a barrier on their ability to play that particular music. So their musical choices are being impacted by their lack of technique.

We all gravitate towards playing whatever music we can successfully execute within the limits of our own technique. The more limited our technique, the more limited are the choices of what music we will be able to play.
When I was much younger, that's how I saw it. As I got out and saw more and more great musicians, and as I saw who was getting what gigs locally, my thinking changed. It wasn't generally the most technically developed folks; it was those with the musicality and spark to bring the music to life. And often it was apparent that those folks hadn't spent much time with Stone, et al.

When I was younger I couldn't execute what I heard Billy, Tony and Lenny doing. I had a burning desire to do so and over time developed the facility to execute much of what I was hearing. That didn't give me the imagination to come up with those ideas, however. Imagination is where it all starts.
 

multijd

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Related from Chick Corea:


Here is Chick's Quote of the Week!
"Techniques of Music"

"A technique is a system of doing something
It involves the operation of two things
(1) The mind; or the ability to conceive
(2) The body and one's instrument


The ability to superimpose
One's own thought and conception
On and through the Body and Instrument
Is the Goal of Technique"
 
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