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Does a drummer tell you how to play?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Youngspanion, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Have you ever been told by a drummer to play busier?

    I was in a blues jam last week and the the drummer told me three things. He said to use a slide more, play busier and that my timing was off as I started to "get into it."..

    I only felt that the last thing was of use to me. How do you guys feel when a drummer tell you what to do?
  2. Portphilia


    Jun 8, 2012
    It depends. One of the drummers I play with is a producer, and has years of experience on me (which shows in his playing). In that case I usually pay attention to what he tells me, and it usually is good advice. Another drummer that I play with is more around my age and hasn't been playing that long, nor does he know much about instruments besides his own, but I'm usually the one giving him advice. :p
  3. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    At times. If the drummer is going to bring the tempo up he might let me know or lay it down. We do work out parts and accents together but no drummer has outright told me how to play. If they did we would not be playing again.
  4. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Same way they feel when i tell them simplify your part, your too busy, or they have crappy time, like poop, unless , they are correct.
  5. Someone should be able to accept and even encourage constructive criticism. It an make you a better player. Others may be able to see things that you're just not aware of. Drummer or not.

    Of course there are people who criticize and have no clue what they are talking about, so you have to be able to discriminate between the knowledgeable and the clueless.

    Regardless you shouldn't take offense a someone's suggestions.

    Just because you're not aware of a deficiency in your playing doesn't mean others can't hear it.
  6. I allways try to work with the drummer and listen to what he has to say. When advise is offered, I give it concideration and if the advise is good, follow it.
  7. So what did you do - start slapping/popping 32nd notes and ask the drummer if that is busy and fast enough? :D

  8. theretheyare


    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification
    IMO, depends on the circumstances:
    If the drummer just gives some friendly advice or shares some insights in an open conversation which you are free to take up upon or not - then why not. It could be helpful.
    If the drummer is the one paying you, then he does have a right to tell you how to play.
    If a co-musician happens to have certain ideas or prejudices about what "the" bass is supposed to be doing, and then starts to "instruct" you, this can maybe mean that maybe your playing is not up to par, but it can also mean that he just wants you to adapt to his limitations. In that case you have every right to tell him to stop right there, as you don't tell him how to play his instrument either.
  9. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Our drummer occasionally asks me to play 'something' in a particular section of a song but leaves it up to me as to what to add to the section to enhance it.

    I sometimes ask him to put a volume knob on his drums. And I give him the "slow down" signal
    quite a lot.
  10. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    I think it would depend on the competency and attitude of the drummer. If the drummer were an excellent musician and had a pro attitude, I'd not have any problem with either suggestions or criticism.

    Our drummer is an excellent drummer and musician (he plays piano, guitar in another band, and slap bass better than I do). He has his master's in music, teaches music, theory, composition, etc., and when he suggests that I play something differently, or that I'm not playing something right, I take note and don't mind it at all.

    Just recently he told me that I was overplaying something and I've made the change to back off on some riffing, etc. He was right and the song sounds better. :)
  11. GrandLowBass


    Oct 26, 2012
    Yes. Play in time with the groove, forget the rest. Use more slides? Nah. Do what you want.
  12. Yes. Our current drummer has made suggestions on how I should alter my playing for certain songs. I don't mind, he's a well experienced pro and in every case he has been right, mostly. Plus he approaches it well and makes sure I know it's a "suggestion". Typically I'm not getting asked to play more, but to play less. For some of the songs we do I upgraded the bass lines to be busier and more complex so I would enjoy them more and I thought they sounded better, and in some cases plunking roots and fifths are what was called for.

    When I played what the drummer suggested (which, comically, usually comes in him saying 'Play boom, boom, boom-boom-boom') the band agreed that his suggestions were better than what I had constructed.

    Of course, I have to listen to our drummer. 'Cause it's my dear old dad............:D
  13. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    The drums pretty much dictate what I play at all times........

    I am very open to criticism and actually appreciate it. If the drummer, or the sound man for that matter wants me to play with a pick, or play 1/4's rather than 1/8's, that's fine by me. If the guitar player says come down hard on this sweet ass harmony and let it ring, oh yeah!
  14. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I follow the drums but I would be wary of a drummer that says you need to play more... that means he is probably one of those drummers that think fills go every 4 bars at a minimum.
  15. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    If your timing is off playing busier lines might not help. As you mentioned, that part was useful information. Sliding, when overused, can be a real distraction to me. That part wasn't very useful...

    My drummer and I work out parts based primarily on rhythm, and interplay, and we try to be as tight as possible. Busier (meaning more notes) isn't necessary when the rhythm section is playing together. Quite the opposite is true many times as I find myself playing whole notes a lot too. It all depends on the genre you're playing too (we are hard rock originals).

    Practice with a metronome or beat track and build up your confidence when you 'get into it.'
  16. tmntfan


    Oct 6, 2011
    Edmonton canada
    "Use more slides": blues is kinda about useing the "blue notes" (the b3 and the #4) so i can see how he is telling you to play bluesier by hitting more of those notes.

    "Play Busier": along the same lines as using slides. if it is more of a funky blues he might mean play more sixteeth notes, maby you where just playing roots and fifths and he wanted a walking bass line, or even a classic 1 3 5 6 b7 6 5 3. if it was a slow 12/8 it could mean build into what is going on melodicly or play more tension to the next chord.

    I know its everybodies job to play in time but as a bass player others depend on you to have good time, just gotta watch it.

    It sounds like he knows how his version of the blues is suppose to sound. hope this helps you read between the lines of ehat he said a little bit.
  17. creis2


    Nov 11, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    Saying "play busier" is bad advice. If the person has any music experience, there are more specific terms to explain a desired sound.

    Start playing like this and tell him he needs to play busier.

    IMO super busy playing sounds like junk. If someone wanted me to play busier than I felt comfortable, i'd tell them to find a new bassist. There's a point where is sounds like crap.

    If you're happy with the desired sound coming out of your amp, say no.
  18. Depends on the relationship. I have tons of respect for a good drummer, because I've played with enough bad ones. My current drummer and I are brothers from different mothers and can be open about feedback. But we're locked in pretty tight and dig the way we groove.

    On the other hand, if you're sitting in at a blues jam with a drummer you've never played with before and his advice is so... granular, I'm thinking maybe he needs to dial it down a bit, in the accepting, convivial spirit of the occasion. Timing is objective, but the other 2 are just his opinion, man.

    I'm not for a moment saying his ideas weren't good or that you can't learn from them, but it seems out of place at a jam.
  19. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    It might be more appropriate to ask how my drummer feels after I tell him what I think about him telling me what/how to play. ;)
  20. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    The other day at practice we were working on this one section of a song that has a keyboard solo.
    Our drummer suggest I do a slide down into this low B that I play. I wasnt feeling it at all. That is, until I realized he was hinting at these few passing notes before the slide that he wanted me to play. I gave it a try, and that I liked.
    It may help that our drummer was previously, possibly still is, a bass player.

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