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Feel- working with drummers

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by nypiano, Feb 24, 2003.

  1. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    Ok fellas new thread
    Do any of you adjust your walking feel to the drummer or do you make the drummer come to you? Have any of you had the experience of not hooking up with a drummer and then finding out later he was superior to others after you worked with him for a while. Have any drummers made you rethink what you thought you knew about walking?
  2. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    Rather than make this a discussion w/ you and me(I can do that by phone ya hedgehog..)
    I'll let a few others post -if they care to
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Agreed on this last part, and you phrased it very well: "Otherwise I get a sore neck from trying to drag him to where I am." This is never any fun. I find that I play very differently based on who I'm playing with. With some drummers, I go to them if they're very set in their ways or not very flexible with what they can hear on any given feel. Some drummers lean on me, which makes me dig in and dictate. But the best situations are those in which everybody is trying to find the space in the music that their part fits into at any given moment.

    When possible, I like to approach bass playing with an arranger/orchestrator's ear: Where is the space in the music in this moment? Who's holding the time down? Who's out on a limb? If there's space, should it be left alone, partially filled, or filled - and if either of the latter, by whom?

    The original group I play in has two drummers at the moment because our original drummer kept taking off to do other projects. So now, without saying who is who, we are left with the following possibilities (speaking generally, of course):

    1) One of the guys has rock solid time, a great ear for timbre and minute tonal detail. He seems to see his role as being the foundation of the groove, and where the music/arrangement permits, he has ample technique/chops to step into the forefront when called upon. Otherwise, he's all about trying to go with and support what the soloust/melody is doing.

    2) The other guy has not as much technique under his belt, not so much attention to precise detail, and a much looser time feel. He has lots of great creative ideas, and feels free to interject them into the music as the mood strikes him, sometimes drastically changing the feel/mood of the arrangement. Sometimes this is done to brilliant effect (affect?), sometimes it's a cluster****. Most of the time it's in between.

    With drummer #1, I can be more free and more fluid, I can play more space, and can play against the time where I feel that is called for...and I can do this because I know he'll be staying home and I'll always know where to find him if things get squirrely. With #2, I have to be the one who stays home to keep things together, so I play in a much more restricted way. Sometimes the stuff he does takes the group to a whole new level and i go along for the ride. Other times I want to kick his @$$ for making me stay home and watch the kids while he's out painting the town red. Which is better? Who's to say? Both are good, and a drummer who can go both places is even better. I know some complain about his style at times, but on the occasions where I've been lucky enough to play with Steve Davis, he's had the perfect amount of give to go with his take, and I've had a great time.

    Wow, I better shut up now and give somebody else a chance to respond. Pretty good topic for a piano player, Jon....:)
  4. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I'm lucky to play a lot with fine, musical drummers. When I'm less lucky and the drummer lags, I might have to do things that emphasizing 2 & 4. Things like big, loud rim-shot slaps on 2 and/or 4. Playing four-time by playing two notes twice, CC Bb Bb | AA Ab Ab | GG FF | E D C F# works both with drummers who lag and those who rush. (But sometimes I'll play double-twos, without so much heavy-handed emphasis, with a drummer whose time is just fine, where that's the musical thing of the moment.)

    Interpersonally. I pissed a guy off royally several years ago. He was kind enough to give me another chance later, and we have a great hookup now.

    But your question implies one of my favorite topics: Be cool with everybody, because people can improve. The guy who sucks today could be tomorrow's ace.

    When the hook-up is bad I rethink whether I know anything about anything ;>

    Most of my adjusting to drummers goes in Latin beats, not walking. With some guys, I watch like a hawk, and I play on the tom-hits. With others, the link is stronger if I play off the tom-hits. With other guys, it's some of each.
  5. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    I still get a kick outa telling that story about you: "yeah, I had to lay out for a chorus til I could hear [ a certain drummer]'s rhythmic composition, ....

    hedgemony-- I honestly don't remember this story..
    This is either a case of your vivid imagination or my complete lack of memory for what I say..

    But you definitely got a thing about this hookup. There's guys I'm happy to play with that you say "well you guys aren't really hooking up". So why don't you talk a little bit about what your hearing (or not hearing) from outside this relationship (bass & drums).

    Well my hearing IS outside of this relationship--I'm your objectivity and you and everyone else is mine... ha ha ha.

    Jokes aside--I'm just going by my perception of the downbeat of the bassist matching the drums ride cymbal. I hear it like when two instruments are perfectly tuned up-pitch wise. If they are not hooked up rhythmically, I hear it as a beating between the instruments. Like the piano tuner being fine tuned to pitch-you listen very carefully--then on the next go round--more carefully still.

    The other aspect is tempo (although some may argue it's the same issue). Two guys can mutually rush--together--it can feel ok-if it's uniform. You only start to notice if you increase by about 10 beats on the metronome. Sometimes I don't want to be a drag and bust that groove or I'm too upset about playing lousy and stop paying attention.. For me the best feeling is that the beat feels lively and that you have room to work with the beat w/o rushing.

    "Playing four-time by playing two notes twice, CC Bb Bb | AA Ab Ab | GG FF | E D C F# works ..."
    I've have heard bassists do this--unfortunately it seems to emphasize the time going to hell that much more... When someone can't hear the change in the time there's isn't too much you can do except find a cattle prod
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ... a silk pocket, hand-made by Elvin Jones. Getting to play with him must have been quite the thing.

    Two of my three musical projects have no drummer. That's one way of dealing with the whole thang...
  7. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Probably I'm too stubborn. For example, I will never agree with nypiano re scalar approach to harmony.
    But with drummers who wander, I just dig in harder, playing more simply so I can put all my energy in the time. If the whole thing looks like it's going to blow apart and the drummer just can't feel the right time, I'll go with him and let the leader worry about fixing it. Generally, the other players know who's done what.
    Gee, I guess this sounds like I'm never wrong. Well, somebody has to be right...
  8. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    Well being practical has it's merits..
    could you be more specific about what you -never-could agree with re: scalar. I'd be curious.

    ed--yes, personality can be helpful but ultimately how "nice" someone is musically is really the issue.
    Music is a very peculiar temple-you find some things out about people as you peel the onion, musically.

    Certain personal/social values- like making a good impression or getting along etc as Ed describes.. may not have a place in music-because music is about telling the truth- not always kind. It does have a place if you are compatible musically, otherwise no. All that matters is that a group of guys are really focused and artistic at the same time and -have done their homework on the music they are playing.
  9. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    I can definitely relate. Three years ago when I was just starting to get an idea of what I wanted to do on bass, I got thrust into a house band with guys who were all much better than me. I had been playing with a drummer who had great time, but was very rudimentary; i.e. he force-fed you the time. The drummer in the house band was a lot more free and left it up to me to take charge of the time, which I didn't really get how to do. For the first 3 weeks, it was like swimming upstream, and I'm sure he wanted to shoot me everytime I turned the beat around. Then I started really listening, and doing some homework listening to his influences (Bill Stewart, Tony Williams, etc), and things started to click.

    That gig lasted 6 months, and I've never felt that much connectedness to a drummer, or for that matter, any musician, before or since. Like having musical esp. After that, we might only play together once or twic a year, but it was always like we played every night.

    Unfotunately, the S.O.B. left and moved to NYC this fall. If you NY cats get a chance to play with Justin Walke, I would be interested to know what you think.

  10. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    If I respect the musican but they have a very specific language, I don't get aggravated if they are hearing a particular musician’s approach in the rhythm section. Especially if I dug the record they are using as a reference point. I only get aggravated at myself for not having investigated the sound and being able to provide it. For example if they want that McCoy sound and I give it to them in spades and they are happy with it, I’m happy. Even more so if I managed to put my own particular stamp on it. This may not be the best artistic situation for you if it continues, but at least you had the ability to give them exactly what they were looking for.

    Ofcourse the most enjoyable situation is where you don’t have to think about any of this. But think of it this way. If the other person speaks less of my language than their own and I speak more of theirs then I go with them because the end result—the communication is in both our interests. The other way is just aggravating to us both. And this maybe just a step in the process. That person may eventually learn your language more—but they have to learn it on their terms.

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