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Less Is More
Posted On 03/17/2013 13:03:27 by Greeniedrums
WHY LESS IS MORE Welcome to my first blog, and thanks for taking the time to read it. I aim to get one up around every 2 weeks and will also add photos/videos/written diaries of random touring/studio antics (which will no doubt prove entertaining!) and new drum equipment I am using as things start to happen throughout the year. 2013 has been really productive so far, lot’s of big plans are in place with Little Comets, my own personal projects of teaching /workshops/clinics are busier than ever and I had an early start with session work in January after a call from Andy Taylor which resulted in 3 weeks of drum sessions at Sonic Vista Studios in Ibiza. These recording sessions turned out to be a major success and created more opportunities for me to work with other musical people and projects in and around Ibiza. It’s always a blast working with Andy, along with the unfathomable stories he tells, you learn a hell of a lot about playing, production, the industry and good food! To work with someone who has had an immense level of success not only from being in one of the biggest bands in the world with Duran Duran but also the insane production/song writing CV he has, and for him not have an ego and have a totally down to earth personality is refreshing and I feel very grateful. Which brings me onto my subject matter for this blog: Advice for new musicians and my students. Getting far as a musician, being chosen for “That gig” from the auditon and getting the respect of your peers isn’t always about technicality, or “I have done this”, or “I have played here with this person”, it’s sometimes more about your personality. As well as being a good person to get on with, personality and awareness in your playing is also vital to further a career in music. Seeing a lot of technically amazing musicians and bands recently..I mean SERIOUS players, and some at ridiculously young ages is mind blowing but there is a lack of “Less is more” in certain situations, were the drummer is just going mental and not listening to the song at all! “Less is more” is a vital part of any musicians job you have to learn. Take Little Comets for example, a very melodic rhythmic band..almost afrobeat, the flow of the lyrics is often percussive so when I am playing live or recording with them it can sometimes be tempting to add a big drum fill or go crazy on the cymbals instead of just sticking to the beat. I have learned that what makes there music sound really cool from a drumming perspective (behind everyone else’s great writing and musicianship) is laying back and concentrating on the beat, maybe the odd short counter rhythm to bounce between the guitar or vocals here and there, but just laying a straight groove is priceless and timeless. A good example of this is John “JR” Robinson, I have had lots of pleasure studying his drumming over the years. John “JR” Robinson is the most recorded drummer in history (click here for more info on that achievement), and some of the albums he recorded drums on are Michael Jacksons, ‘Off The Wall’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’. What makes songs like, ‘Billie Jean’ from the ‘Thriller’ album and ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ from the ‘Bad’ album have so much groove and feel??? Sticking.. To.. The.. Beat.. Hardly any drum fills, just groove on it and feel it..go ahead, listen to them. I always try to stress this point when teaching my students, “Play less”, “Take that out”, “Be aware of what else is going on in the song”. etc. For a lot of musicians, the most fun you can have playing an instrument is feeling it. So don’t overplay if the song does not need it, get into the hypnotic pocket and stay in it solidly, if you play simple but from your gut and really put that UMMPH! in your groove..you will make much more of a bold statement than the attitude of, “let’s see how many drums and cymbals I can hit in this section, that’l impress them!!!”. And by applying these with other rules in drumming, a unique musical personality will begin to develop, and if you are unique you will get work. That’s not to say there are times when you can be technical, take bands like Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Slipknot, Tool or Rush for example where the drum part (or any other instrument) is sometimes extremely technical and can have constant time changes..it works great..but that’s within the context of that style of music..and that style of music demands those kinds of parts. In layman’s terms..play for the song, not for yourself!! Hope you will be back for the next blog and keep visiting my website. www.greeniedrums.com Cheers! Greenie x

Tags: Drums Groove Little Comets Andy Taylor Sonic Vista Studios Greenie Dru


Viewing 1 - 4 out of 4 Comments

From: KenSanders
01/02/2014 12:20:31
I do a lot of recording, and first listening to the song....the lyrics....and the desired vibe is my way of approaching the question of "what to play" and when opportunities for certain embelishments exist.

Most of the time, drums overplaying is a sin and hurts the recording. Exceptions? Of course, just listen to Keith Moon and Neil Peart fill the spots on so many thier stylized recordings....but like I say, they are exceptions. And I have heard other instruments that were overplayed also....it doesn't have to be just a drum thing.

Less is often more but less can also be less. It just depends on the song. For example: Steve Gadd plays a solid groove and always chooses "just the right places" to insert a drum fill....a place where it enhances the song.

The goal is to come up with parts the really fit the song's message and feel. Some music doesn't need much. Look at a famous ballad like "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor.... it has very simple fills to build up the passages. Other music.....say Tower of Power .....has opportunities for a more complex groove, but it is not constant drum fills and cymbals crashes.

As you hear so often, play (or don't play) what the song needs to make it better. Sometimes a song does need some space to breath much more than a mind-bending drum fill.

From: KenSanders
10/05/2013 11:56:40
Good thoughts Greenie X.

One suggestion.....use paragraphs. It makes the blogs so much easier to read.

From: KenSanders
06/05/2013 00:02:24
A solid groove will trump an inappropriate flurry of hot licks any time.

From: KenSanders
03/17/2013 21:44:53
I really enjoyed reading your blog. My philosphy is to play "for the song" and if you inject fills and accents, then they should embelish the song.....and not detract from it.

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