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spacerx imgISSUE #02 \__\__\___THE____/__/__/ 02/05/1997
spacerx img_____________TEMPO DISPATCH ___________

spacerx img In This Issue . . .

spacerx img 1. Beauty Secrets of Simplistic Drumming.

spacerx img 2. Humor: (Sick Bass-Player joke).

spacerx img_____________FEATURE ARTICLE___________

Beginners take note! This lesson may help you launch your career as a pro drummer, sooner than you might imagine.

You are about to learn:

Advanced students may need to discover this too. As you absorb the message within this lesson, it may cause your phone to begin ringing!

All bands are looking for the drummer I'm about to describe. There are hundreds of bands looking for that drummer, right this minute.

Believe it! It's true!

The point I'm about to make here is simple and easy to absorb. At the same time, it can be an extremely difficult point to accept, for many. Success may only be a matter of becoming aware of I'm about to explain.

We do NOT have to be a World-class monster drummer to successfully hold down the best, top-paying gigs. Sometimes the bands will opt for the less-experienced drummer, as opposed to the great and flashy drummer who constantly OVER-PLAYS.

Most bands are seeking a solid drummer who knows and understands how to be a team player. To win approval of that sort isn't about playing flashy solos and it isn't about using fancy techniques to constantly 'wow' the audience.

Essentially, the phone rings and the jobs materialize when a band needs a drummer who has been tamed well enough to be happy as a back-up member-of-the-TEAM. Most bands will be seeking a specific drummer who can do exactly that.

This is especially good news for the beginner who is desiring to get into the business of playing for money. It means that if; the drummer (to be hired) can hold a good solid beat; then LISTEN to the established arrangements of the songs and play them accordingly; that drummer will usually end-up with the gig.

Maybe this lesson should be entitled: "Discovering When NOT to Play"!

Bands will often tend to hire the less experienced drummer over the arrogant show-off drummer, because they really only want a team-player who will compliment the band and fit-in, without changing every arrangement of every song.

Experienced bands have all been through it many times before. They want to hire the drummer who will quickly and easily do things THEIR established way, with minimum fuss. This usually means that the simple and settled, but solid drummer will most often get the gig.

Success often requires at least some simplicity. Some of the better drummers often have a problem playing simple. I've too have been fired (more than once) for over-playing. In fact, I think it took nearly 20-years for me to accept this 'little known message' I'm divulging in this lesson.

The first 20-years of my drumming career were somewhat leaner than they should have been. Once I made the discovery you are about to make here, my phone began ringing off the hook and nearly all bands wanted me as their drummer. It's a very simple lesson that I was much too slow to learn, (the hard way). I realize now that many (excellent) drummers often battle with this same demon longer than necessary, before accepting it.

It isn't about being the best drummer on the planet; it's about being the best drummer for the job.

We all struggle constantly to learn new techniques and build our chops; then we discover that (many times) no one wants to watch us completely dominate a band. Boohoo! It can be a hard fact of life to discover.

It's probably wise for every drummer to be aware of the etiquette that goes along with playing well with others . . . on-stage. This lesson may save you some grief later-on as you digest the extremely important point that is being made here.

Nearly all drummers are unanimous on this issue! We love songs that cook. We all hate dull, boring music that lacks rhythmic excitement. Yet, some songs just do not require our best and wildest techniques. If we try to add our best ideas when playing those (dead) songs, we may get the fish-eye from all the other players onstage and even the listeners in the audience. In other words, there are times when we need to just . . . 'back off and cool it'.

If we are jamming alone at home with the stereo, it is easy to simply ignore the draggy stuff and play only the fun music. At home; we will often look for ways to pep-up the boring music with creative, fun and rhythmically exciting techniques. We can do that safely at home; but often onstage it may cause us trouble or even get us labeled as a 'green' (inexperienced) player.

Unfortunately, we are usually offered no choice in the matter on most professional gigs. If the band decides to do a rhythmically dead and boring tune, we simply must endure! The boring songs usually end up by far, the toughest for us to play.

Boring songs are a part of the job, so we need to learn to play them well. Ideally we should strive to play every song the best it can be played! There are many secrets to simplicity but the most important is tempo! Most of the time, the band will want us to sit there doing little to nothing but keep time, very softly. If that is a job requirement and if we want or need to keep the job; it means we have little choice in the matter.

Don't worry! Many secret solutions abound . . .

TEMPO is everything! Foremost and always! If the other musicians can hear and feel the tempo we are laying down . . . everything will sound good and they will love their drummer. But we drummers must always execute 'near perfect' tempo, no matter how simple, dead or slow the song or rhythm may be! If we rush or drag (speed up or slow down) . . . the effect will be felt throughout the entire band. We become tantamount to a "Dirty ol' egg sucking dog". Oooooh that is a bad place to be! But; there are tricks we can use that will save the day, most of the time.

The problems arise when we are unsure of the tempo. This tends to happen most frequently on the very, very slow and simple songs. As we drummers pull-back and play softer, using less energy . . . the other musicians may lose the 'feel' of the rhythm . . . starting a chain reaction that sends us tumbling, flat on our face. Ouch! It hurts every time! We get the blame almost every time another band-member destroys the tempo. After all; in most minds . . . perfect tempo is the drummer's domain. It is our job to hold it steady.

The solution(s) to this dilemma comes back to several factors:

CONFIDENCE: We drummers must confidently maintain 'near perfect' tempo at all costs. But, it is common for any open-minded drummer to be over-influenced by other players onstage. In other words . . . if the bass player or piano player inaccurately tugs on the tempo . . . and we follow . . . we usually shoulder the blame if we follow them, when they are wrong.

It seems unjust that the offending member rarely gets blamed! It is our fault if we follow them into the pit of doom! We must have the confidence to hold the tempo steady and it is important to know instinctively, when the others are wrong! This is the thing that drives all drummers crazy . . . and trust me . . . most professional drummers have dealt with this more than they would care to admit. It goes with the job!

spacerx img THE SOLUTION

A tool is needed here that will always keep us in line with 'near perfect' tempo even when those around us are falling apart. I am not referring to a metronome or click track. I hate those things because they do not allow music to breathe. Tempos may sometimes fluctuate intentionally. Metronomes and click-tracks are much too rigid and much too unforgiving. A BETTER SOLUTION now exists . . .

I am talking about a device that functions like the speedometer on an automobile. In other words, I'm referring to a device that SENSES the tempo (as a song begins), then it provides a digital LED (read-out) that reports our tempo in Beats Per Minute (BPM's) through-out, as we play each and every song. These devices are fairly new to the drumming community, but they can be a godsend when tempo-wars break-out onstage, as they almost invariably will in every band.

These devices are on the market under many names. They range in price from $29 to $200 dollars. As a drummer who has survived many tempo-wars I will stand-tall and offer only praise for such devices. Every working drummer should have one.

Such a device does two things for us; they tell us when we are wrong and they help us know when the tempo offender is someone other than us. The digital read-out doesn't lie. We learn to zero-in on the specific (target) tempos and confidently hold near-perfect tempo through-out each and every song. But; if a song does breathe a little (change tempo slightly), we can breathe with it.

These devices may be difficult to find. Very few music stores carry them, though I do not know the reason why. Do a web search for names like "Groove Guide" or "Backbeater". Or simply do a web search for the following phrase, "Speedometer for Drummers". Numerous brand-names will/should pop-up within the search results.

If you are encountering tempo disputes with your band, I recommend that you should consider getting one of those devices. It may save your gig as it helps you win deeper friendships with every member of the band.

More bands break-up and more drummers are fired over tempo-disputes, than any other reason. A tempo speedometer (for the drummer) is the number-one solution and it will eventually eliminate almost all disputes concerning tempo.

Why? Because it stops the arguments completely.

Yet, there are numerous other ways we can maintain our reputation as a steady, solid drummer.

This is largely 'acquired' wisdom. It grows with experience. We drummers must know instinctively, 'When NOT to play'. It's that simple!

There will be many places in the music where little or no drums are required. This happens more frequently in hymns, country ballads and pop-music styles. Sometimes it takes real guts to stop playing and lay-out completely.

As we do this, (at just the right moments in the music) something cool will happen! New (low end) dynamics will be added to the overall sound of the entire group or band. It can become a major plus for the drummer, especially. We discover that we can often control the dynamics of the entire band from our position behind the drums. When we STOP playing entirely, the bottom (of the music) drops out. (It can be very dramatic or dynamic to do that in a song.) Then, as we resume playing . . . the entire band and the song takes on additional life.

As we drop-out of the music, we often discover that we're missed, but MORE appreciated at the same time. Our contribution to the overall sound then becomes even more obvious as we re-enter the music with thunderous rhythmic confidence.

Try this with your own band (or as you jam with recordings at home)! If it is done correctly on-stage, you may begin to get the respect you deserve. Try doing this at every APPROPRIATE opportunity. Learn to listen for those opportunities and play or stop playing, accordingly. I think you will notice a few more appreciative nods coming from the other band members.

If you notice that the band tends to fall completely apart when you drop completely out, try keeping a very soft backbeat with just the hi-hat . . . only a very soft 'chick' sound on the backbeats and that is all. Play just enough to help the group stay together, but not enough to be heard by the audience. Then, when you come back in . . . do it with gusto! This sort of DYNAMIC FINESSE tends to make a very important point . . .

That point is this: Sometimes the worst tempo problems may occur when we AREN'T playing at all! The other players will then be forced to concentrate on maintaining their own 'near perfect' tempo. It is good for the group as a whole and it makes our job much easier as it gains us new respect!

So, don't be afraid to look for appropriate situations to drop completely out of the music, (if the song calls for it). Learn to initiate and enforce a full spectrum of dynamics (very soft to thunderous) with nearly all songs. The other players will most likely follow and appreciate you for it, even though they'll usually think it was their own idea. (Oh well!)

When tempo problems do occur, the odds are very much in your favor that you are possibly being TOO HARD ON YOURSELF! You may sometimes be automatically taking the blame for the inadequacies of the other band members. This is a fairly common occurrence with competent drummers. We automatically tend to shoulder the blame when the other band-members get out of time! If we have failed to hold them in-time, we may often consider it (at least in part) as our own failure.

But; to do so may be self defeating! I recommend against it! Make each player responsible for playing in-time! This is the best we can do as drummers. The rest is up to them! If they insist on playing out of time, simply pull back and allow them to fall on their face (alone) a time or two. Before long they will get the message and (hopefully) become a little more tempo conscious.

More assurance! Total and complete memorization of the Basic Dance Beats will also help add solidarity to your playing. Feel the beat flow! If you are playing 16th 4/4 . . . be sure that all 16 hi-hat (secondary pulse) notes are 'felt' in every bar. Never 15 or 17 . . . Always 16! You will grow to feel these counts (subconsciously) with more experience and enough (repetitious) memorizing effort.

This is a great confidence builder! Play each of the basic dance beats from memory right this minute! DO NOT LOOK AT THE WRITTEN NOTATION! Play them from memory. If you can't play the following beats from memory, then return to the Basic Dance Beat lesson(s) at the website and practice each beat until you have total, absolute and completely consistent, recall. Be able to repeat each basic beat pattern indefinitely at max tempos. Your future success as a drummer may depend largely on your ability to maintain each of the basic beat patterns consistently.

  1. 16th 'Rock' 4/4
  2. 6/8, 12/8 Blues, (Also called triplet 2/4 & triplet 4/4).
  3. 8th 'Rock' 4/4.
  4. Shuffle/Swing.
  5. Quarter-note (or, 4th-note) 4/4. Sometimes called Cut-Time 2/4 . . . it depends on how the thing is written.
  6. Waltz:
    1. 16th Waltz
    2. Triplet 3/4 'Blues' Waltz (sometimes written-as and called 9/8).
    3. 8th Waltz.
    4. Shuffle/Swing Waltz.
    5. Quarter-note (4th-note) 3/4 'Waltz'.

If you are having trouble with any of those dancebeats then visit or re-visit the following lessons:



As a final thought towards playing simplistic music styles. Listen and imitate those who do it best. I am referring to the great session drummers right there on your own recordings. Listen closely to the tricks and techniques they are using on the simple songs. As you acquire and adapt those licks, the boring songs will take on a whole new feeling. They will become fun to play!

spacerx img__________THOUGHTS & GRINS__________


A scientific expedition disembarks from its plane at the final outpost of civilization in the deepest Amazon rain forest. They immediately notice the ceaseless thrumming of native drums. As they venture further into the bush, the drums never stop, day or night, for weeks. The lead scientist asks one of the natives about this, and the native's only reply is "Drums good. Drums never stop. Very BAD if drums stop."

The drumming continues, night and day, until one night, six weeks into the trip, when the jungle is suddenly silent.

Immediately the natives run screaming from their huts, covering their ears. The scientists grab one boy and demand "What is it? The drums have stopped!"

The terror-stricken youth replies "Yes! Drums stop! VERY BAD!"

The scientists ask "Why? Why? What will happen?"

Wild-eyed, the boy responds,

" . . . BASS SOLO!!!" -

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