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Playing with a band you never worked with before

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I heard a guy play with a band on a jam session and stayed glued to my seat when he played as if he were from a different planet; not seeming to care what anyone else in the band had to say musically. I found it extremely interesting to listen to someone who clearly knew the song being played but did not care to play and contribute to the musical process. My thoughts were related to the amount of energy it must have taken this guy to stay focused upon a goal that only he could achieve since he was ALONE...................What other essential elements do you guys think would need to be incorporated in order to make a competitive situation a musical one for all? What the drummer have to do to turn it around to the positive? And, if he doesn't do it, is there anything to gain from this?


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I think the one element needed is maturity . When we were all coming up and learning our instrument, it's natural to have a competitive approach to things : you want to be better than the next guy, especially if you're auditioning for a gig. But there comes a time when you learn ( or at least I hope you learn ) that it's far more important to play what the music or the situation calls for, rather than ignoring everyone else and playing like you're from another planet as the guy in the situation you described did ? I'm curious Boomer - did that other guy know you were there ? Because it's possible he might have been playing like that to try and impress you, though he clearly didn't .

I'm assuming the guy who was overplaying was not the drummer so you asked what could the drummer have done to make the situation more positive. The only thing he could have done was to try and take the focus away from that individual. He could have played softer and softer bringing the whole piece down until everyone was listening , or the only one still playing was that guy. OR he could have kept changing tempos until someone else stepped forward along with him to take the focus away .

the one thing to gain from this is to learn to not bring selfish people into a jam.

Peace, TED

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I see this ALL the time, Billy. I know players right here on
the local scene that for whatever reason feel the need to
play is if they have something to prove about their own
ability to such a degree that it's not about making the music
work but rather using the music to showcase their own
personal technical abilities, which in the end only translate to
a lack thereof as far as I can tell.

I don't get it because these are folks that have been around
a really long time and I would think knows better. But they
simply don't care. I was once listening to this one band do
a James Brown tune and the way the drummer was playing
you'd swear that it had morphed into a Brown/Corea piece.
This guy was all over the place.

I couldn't help but laugh. I can't put my finger on that kind
of approach this is or where such concepts come from. It's
amazing what some players hear.... Or don't.

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There are key words that come to mind:
Selfishness: As in thinking about being #1 and only and to hell with music.
Ineptness: lacking in imagination beyond consideration of "self' in the musical pecking order of the production.
Insecure and needing to prove who is the "Alpha male" on the band stand even if it's not true. I know a guy back in the 1970's who crashed a jazz festival performance by walking on to the band stand and performing with a band despite not being invited. because he was known to be a high degree black belt in martial arts no one touched him and let him finish, so the story goes. I guess you could say that "Desperation" is also a very key word that describes acts of this nature as well.
"Lack of respect for colleagues and for self". But, tis one is the heavy for me.........................because it seeks to block the love that must make up all that creating the music is about at the time that people come together to introduce themselves to each other through the musical platform that they are in the midst of creating. Now, how can one enjoy individual gain as opposed to being part of a group creative process?

Ted: He didn't know that I was there.............................

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A friend once said something that I use all the time. "You can tell a master drummer by the way they play accompaniment."

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It's a strange sight to see... A Drummer up there playing every lick he knows, trying just to ''fit'' them in there.. Not respecting the music being played. It's selfish.. And I think Billy used the right word..'Desperation''.

I see a lot of younger players doing this and I think that in todays society of reality shows -and people that have no talent become 'stars' ..whatever that is these days..who knows. There's a definite change in the standard of talent as far as the mainstream goes and unfortunately thats what kids have to emulate. I've said it a million times- I feel sorry for kids today. Not all of them, but there's a definite disillusion at work. There's a feeling of having to overdo everything and it is pitiful.. You don't need to shock...just be good at what you do.

The gig that I have now did a national audition to find the players for the show, and I recently had a chance to see some of the video footage of other drummers that auditioned. We all had the same songs to learn and play.

One of the songs was ''Hot for Teacher'' by Van Halen. I couldn't believe how many guys were stepping all over the breaks trying to fit in these licks that they thought would get them the gig- Throwing they're sticks up in the air and all that type of stuff. It was actually hilarious..I was laughing out loud.

When I went in to audition, I just played the song like it was on the record. Of course i played the shit out of it, but I didn't add anything that wasn't there. There hired me on the spot.

It seems to me that kids today are blinded by 'sensationalism' and the attention span nowadays is like 1/20th of a second. Can't just play a groove and set up dynamics and tasteful fills that are musical, cause that might mean keeping a groove for more than 4 seconds haha!

I know a bunch of guitar players with this affliction as well.....Desperation..

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It's not all about just the drummer... For instance there is a a bass player
I work with on occasion who has a really nice feel and a basic understanding
of the tunes. The problem is he's a very 'notey' player... Just too much.

I found myself on more than several occasions switching beat patterns
and not really knowing what to play because he was so busy, I couldn't
find a gelling or locking point so the song would simply groove. Also, he
likes doing runs every 4 measures... Talk about nerve racking.... I'm like,
dude can you just be still for a minute??!! drunken

I actually think that his situation is more a concept issue and not so much
a selfish one... He once said to me: "I'm just trying to make it funky."

I asked him: "Who told you that fills every 4 measures and filling up all the
spaces with notes is a required standard for funk?"


I hear you and agree... But on the other hand I can understand to a degree
with these youngsters. I had much of that when I was young. Operative word
being 'YOUNG".... My hopes are that these youngsters will come to a place
where they learn better. It's these old geezers still playing like that is where I
have the problem.

And as far as these youngsters go, many of these clinics (speaking of drums again)
that are conducted by these veteran players aren't helping. They're bombarding
these kids with all the "slick rick" chops and playing musically and in context is really
put on the back burner. The clinician talks a good talk about the subject, but once the
talking stops and the music minus 1 is turned on from the laptop, it's a whole different
story... Thus, much of this we are speaking about is perpetuated by our heros and those
we learn from.... Not always, but in many, many cases I find this to be the norm.

Last edited by D. Slam on Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:26 pm; edited 2 times in total

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I hear you Don, though I've noticed some variation on bass can add alot of interest to the music. But there is balance! I go to a funk jam on thursday nights. There's a nice level of cooperation that exists there. Although i gotta say sometimes the groove aspect can become boring because the drummers often really don't know anything else to draw from other than hip hop. It seems to work for them and keeps people dancing but it gets like disco. I like to hear these young cats ideas about music come through and i can catch their weak points as well. It's a lack of experience that makes their fills weak! 9 out of 10 times their fills come up short and hurt the groove! There is a discipline to hold back from playing without fills. Or just keep the tempo straight at least guys! I listen to certain music and realize there are so little in the way of fills and it makes the music groove hard. It's not easy for me to hold back. It's the best thing i can do to get out of my mindset sometimes just to play long stretches never adding a fill.
I like to sit in and add my own flavor to a few tunes. I often drop into Brazilian and New Orleansy snare drum stuff that they seem to dig which their agenda doesn't seem to include at this point. It's a blast.
The other night I heard some young guys at a jazz jam and i could not believe how tasteful and amazing they were, these college kids are just getting so good, The drummer was sooo tasty. fast and clean but always quiet with brushes mostly for that venue. The way they enhanced the tunes out of the book was astonishing. I felt proud of them. So for as many goofballs out there, there are serious musicians too.

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Although i gotta say sometimes the groove aspect can become boring because the drummers often really don't know anything else to draw from other than hip hop. It seems to work for them and keeps people dancing but it gets like disco.

These kids only have the now, Kenny. We have the then and now to draw from.

We were there during the transition from rock n roll to r&b and then the birth of funk.
Their idea of funk IS hip hop not realizing that it's only one form of it, so they apply it
to everything within the genre.... Time for a little root study, go back and do the research.

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I've just returned from a short trip to Russia where my band played a gig with one of the major rock figures on Russian scene - Alexey Romanov from VOSKRESENIE band. Of course, it's very natural that you would like to leave a good impression on the artist who you consider a legend :-) Obviously, you cannot achieve that by overplaying ! I think that the key to success is to be a part of the band rather than a solo artist and to respect the music that you play.

Last edited by Igor on Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:44 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Great topic. I'm totally guilty of this problem at times, but I don't believe it's out of desperation, lack of maturity, ego, not caring, selfishness . . .

It's more about what Billy said: "ineptness"

And what Don said: not being able to hear the essence of the rhythm and compose the right thing to play

That's the whole challenge and beauty of drumming: composition. Some genres I really seem to get and others I'm just not practiced at and fail miserably. Even if I can dance and sing to it, doesn't mean I can drum to it. So, it's our responsibility to shore up the weaknesses. Of course, you also need the physical component (chops and stamina), but that's secondary to composition. I'd take a great composer at the kit any day over someone with chops.

So, have patience with the people who come off like fools, because they may really be trying . . . or they may just be fools lol.

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i used to do the same thing; crash a jam and overplay. because i had no other outlets. And what i played was probably cool but I had very little sense of dynamics i.e. playing softly or a sense of what accompaniment was. i just didn't know any better. i thought it was my job to blow the roof off the place and everybody out of the water. had i just quieted it down i may have gotten away with it.
If someone starts showboating or just being too loud, I just get real quiet, almost non existent. Then they stick out like a sore thumb and might listen. It has to be learned because usually the first inclination is to be brash and make a big disturbance. better to leave room to build it up. Or as one African teacher would say, take your time.
I had a trumpeter try out with my brazilian/funk group the other night. he had a solo in an arranged tune and closed his eyes and just kept blowing not knowing there was a change coming up. i had to stop him and tell him first lesson; keep your eyes open there are changes coming up you aren't even aware of yet. The key is to build it to a high level then bust into the next section at thr right moment and that keeps it exciting. At the same session i had to tell our sax player to play more and not be to bashful either! I think the key is balance and appropriateness.

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Oooohh-Even Carmine is guilty...Note 1:43 on this vid...Tryin to fit in this fill.. I love Carmine though..Legend in the Rock World..
I stumbled onto this vid, and after seeing that, it made me think of this thead.


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Maturity, yes. Consideration
and willingness to communicate.

Young players do it the most but
many egocentric players do it, too.
It's as you say.

For myself, I can't be a part of
something, alone. This is what
we're talking about: here. It is
sad to witness.

I have seen it and the players were
great players, too.

Life creeps into our performance.
Sometimes, we're angry and selfish
and care only about ourselves and
when it happens, I see only shame
but life is life. It's everywhere.

Now, if I am in this situation: I
would play as quietly as it takes for
me to make contact with one of the
other players rhythmically and then,
if not: a melodic instrument.



To the father of us, all - Billy Cobham!
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