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Communicating with a drummer and better understanding of rhythm.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by JayBoog, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. JayBoog


    Jan 19, 2012

    I'm part of a band and we're currently writing songs. I would like to have better communication with the drummer. I have a feeling that a better understanding of rhythm would help me with this, but I think I should be able to research this myself. However if you have a good place to start or any advice it would be appreciated.

    I don't really know how to ask this, but what I think I'd like to do is understand what drummers do a bit better. Say if I had an idea and they came up with a beat for it, instead of me saying something like ''That's really cool. Could you play that faster, but, like, slower?'' I'd have some idea what to say. Also is there set drumbeats and stuff that things are based on?

    I hope this make sense.

  2. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    If you can talk the beat out you have in mind, that would be more helpful. The whole "faster but slower" doesn't make any sense. That's like someone who is not a bassist asking you, the bassist, to play more funky, but less funky.
  3. DaDrew2112


    Apr 7, 2011
    learn to play drums
  4. Get familiar with the name of every drum, and learn to count out rhythms in whole notes, halves, quarters, eights, sixteenths, triplets, and subdivisions of the above.

    Want faster but slower? "Hey, lay off the snare and bass but switch from eights to sixteenths on the hi hat"

    "Keep a standard beat, but every other measure, do a roll on the bass drums" (I played in a heavy rock band)

    "Start a 4/4 rock beat and start on the 1 by opening the hi hat, and hit the crash every other 1. During the chorus, switch from the hat and double time on the ride"

    Also, learn things drummers speak in: flam on the bass drum for a fat sound, snare roll, bass roll, crashing versus riding a cymbal, the three hi hat sounds, etc.
  5. pmchenry


    May 6, 2012
    SE PA
    The suggestions of expanding your musical vocabulary are probably the best you can get. But until you get there...

    Seriously I just make human beatbox noises to describe the beat I'm looking for. Or I'll say things like "maybe less cymbals, so we can go for a more martial sound?"

    But really the most helpful thing for me has been "yeah that's sweet, but instead of boop-shhh-boop-shhh what if we do boop-boop-shhh-shhh". It sound ridiculous I'm sure, and my drummer probably feels like he's speaking sign language with a chimpanzee sometimes, but it works for us.
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Learn to count beats and their subdivisions. Know what whole notes, half notes, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, etc. are. Know what a shuffle beat is. Finally, know what a flam is and tell him to use lots of them.
  7. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    He's the drummer, let him play the drums. If he cannot get a new one.

    Telling people what to play is going to get old very quickly and you will probably end up as a solo act.
  8. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012

    Learn to do rhythm as well as a percussionist. know where the 1 is for every measure in every time signature, including counting during rests and watching syncopation like a hawk.

    Flams are cool, but they work best in moderation IMO. Like ghost notes... on bass and drums! :D

    Get into the habit of consistency, I've had to develop exercises to transfer between 1/8ths and 1/8th note triplets at higher bpm's (and very low ones too).

    Click track anyone???? :hyper:

    If you can play drums, or have a drum machine you can come up with groove suggestions. Don't be a backseat arranger for the drummer, you'll cramp his/her style. Come up with some main drum parts for the stuff you write... I'm not sure I could write for another person beyond giving feedback on what they come up with like: "leave the double pedal out of the verse, it sounds crowded", etc, etc.
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    No. Flams dominate. I want a flam on 2 and 4 of every measure in every song.

    Kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, kick, flam, etc., etc.
  10. crusie


    Oct 19, 2009
    Djursland, Denmark
    telling a drummer what to play really isn't that productive. asking for more expression is another way.

    also you could learn to beatbox too - or hit stuff out on a table if that's your thing. I don't expect my drummer on my bass going "naa I want you to play like this" and then do a half-a$sed atempt. but if he could mouth out the bassline - that would help me tremendously in understanding what he means.
    that's how we work. if I want something special for the drums I beat-box it - and if I want something special for the guitar I sing it - they do the same for my bass playing.

    heres an idea for pen tapping:
  11. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    You can also suggest other songs as models for what a musician should aim for. Oftentimes for studio work a chart will supply a note at the top left something like: Similar to "Guitars and Cadillacs" to give everyone -- especially the drummer -- a sense of what the song should feel like.

    Basically, it's communication via example.
  12. pmchenry


    May 6, 2012
    SE PA
    Is that the beat to The Imperial March??? (Darth Vader's theme)
  13. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    The best way to communicate with the drummer is hitting him over the head. That gets there attention. Some can learn simple tasks using the reward system. If they do what you want give them a beer
  14. kb9wyz


    Sep 8, 2008
    True. There is a fine line between collaboration and tyranny. I have played with drummers who react very well to statements like, "Hey. Could you try a snare fill going into the bridge?" But the moment you leave out words like "could you" or "would you mind trying" you might come across as a jerk. Of course, if every time you ask nicely to try something different they say, "No," then you might want to get a new drummer.:meh:
  15. JayBoog


    Jan 19, 2012
    Thank for all the help. All this stuff really helped a lot.

    Also I feel that I should mention that I don't intend to control every single beat the drummer plays. Generally they ask for feedback on the stuff they've come up with, and they also ask advice if they're stuck when coming up with something. I find these things pretty hard to do because it's like we're speaking different languages.
  16. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    That's how I play bass, with lots of the bass-equivalent of flams.
  17. TOG

    TOG Banned

    Jul 4, 2012
    Use the carrot-and-stick approach. Try to entice him with the carrot and when that doesn't work you hit 'em with the stick...

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