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Showing posts from September, 2014

Out of the Safety Zone

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Drummers generally have it safe. We are usually stuck in the back, with a wall of instruments around us, like a barrier between us and the rest of the musicians and the audience. We are safe in our cocoons. We are also usually supporting the other musicians and the music, so what we play underpins things, rather than being the focus. In some ways it's easier to be in the back. You don't have to worry about leading, or being the center of things. If you play drum set, you also are able to sit back and just groove (which is still a lot of work, but not being the center of things).

In the groove, in the pocket. I have nothing against that. In fact, I'm always in awe of players who have a deep groove. But again, this is a supportive role. It's easy to find a groove and just sit there. A good groove can go on forever. Drums & percussion have a long history of supporting everything with a groove.

But what if you do something different and step out front, out of your safet…

Finding Your Own Sound With Any Instrument

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Syncronicity was at work this week. A week ago I was talking with fellow drummer, Ari Moosavi about drummers having their own sound. Ari is a great drummer with a distinctive sound. His cymbals are some old, cheap Japanese ones. The sound is very dry, very distinctive. The cool thing about them is that they don't sound like a million other drummer's cymbals. And Ari can make some beautiful music with them. So if anything, they are very Ari sounding.

I've had this discussion with various other drummers over the years, and recently again on Facebook. Sometimes it's come to the point of arguing about which is more important to getting a drummer's sound: the gear, or the drummer. My personal feeling is that, all things equal, 90% of your sound comes from you. It comes from how you hit/strike/touch the instruments. It comes from the amount of pressure/force you play with. It comes from where you strike things. And it even comes from the notes/rhythms you choose.

I learned…

Be the person you’d hire if it were your gig or session.

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Be the person you’d hire if it were your gig or session. That sounds simple, but it's not always that simple. The big assumption here is that you've got your act together and are professional in every sense. Now put yourself in the place of the bandleader. The usual things you would look for in hiring someone would be things like: they get to the gig on time, they can play well, they can play the music style/s called for, they are easy to work with, they don't have any drug or alcohol problems, and possibly that they can read music.  If it's an audition you are going to and there are songs to know, KNOW THEM! Don't just show up thinking you can fake your way through it. Auditions are tedious and draining. The last thing a band or band leader wants to put up with, is time wasters who really shouldn't be auditioning. Be courteous, be professional, and most importantly, be prepared.


From there, it's all about context. Put yourself in the position of the bandleade…