Getting busy in the slop...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jswigal, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. jswigal


    Mar 20, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    Last night, while auditioning some less-than-stellar drummers and a not-so-good guitarist for a new project (we are still searching), I came to learn something about myself. The sloppier and less-musical the song is, the more I over-play. We were doing pop, and a couple basic top-40 rock tunes, and I, as I do, had them down beat for beat, note for note, but when the kick drum started deviating, and the timing started fluctuating behind the wall of guitar-noise, I found myself playing like a rank-amateur again (only with more...flair?). I've noticed this previously with 'busy' drummers, and I understand that, but it was a bit of a revelation that the slop brings out 'too many notes syndrome.' It's almost like a subconscious reaction to frustration...or something like that...

    This phenomenon is not to be confused with 'this section of jamming is amazing and I'm playing conversationally with other great musicians.' I believe the tasty extra notes are justified in those (unfortunately rare) situations.

    This feels like a good litmus test: If I'm smiling while playing root notes on the down-beat, I know the drummer is doing their job well...

    So, do you find yourself overplaying in sloppy situations? Do you have some other way of coping with unfortunate 'drummers?' Or do you just play it 'correctly' regardless of what's going on behind that kit?
  3. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Personally, I won't play with bad drummers. Life is too short to go on stage with someone who is not great. And by great, I mean solid as an acceptable floor.

    But if I did, I would absolutely play it correctly.If the drummer is that bad to where you don't know what is going on, you will need to have a serious discussion and also consider taking your skills elsewhere if no one else in the band wants to make a change.
  4. When I’ve played with sloppy players in the past I’ll start to feel like it’s my job to carry the song. Even appropriate fills will seem more busy but I won’t back off because a lot of times that becomes more of the backbone and everyone will lose their spot if at least one part isn’t played right.
    I typically don’t mind a busier drummer though, as long as they can keep time and support the song. I don’t mind backing off some when that’s going on.
    As far as overplaying, I’ll “overplay” just a few very short times throughout a gig. I look at it this way...i want to have fun a couple times a night. If there’s a bass player there they will probably appreciate something a little out of the box here and there and the audience won’t notice for the most part. If I overplayed all night then that basically turns into 3.5 hours of soloing, I can’t watch someone solo for 3.5 minutes much less 3.5 hours because it just becomes boring and overwhelming to listen to. Peoples attention spans are quite short for the most part and I am no exception.
    jswigal likes this.
  5. jswigal


    Mar 20, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    Yeah, I won't be hiring any of the people we auditioned. There are some situations though ('hired gun' gigs for example), where one is stuck playing with sub-par drummers. Sometimes it can be a bit of a conundrum. For example: If you are playing a country gig and the tune calls for a standard 1-5 pattern in quarter notes, but the drummer decides that they want to drop the kick on the downbeat every second measure, or even the third beat of the measure, and use a funky eight-note pattern that doesn't fit at all. This happened to me fairly recently, and while it can be a fun challenge to adapt a bass line to different syncopated patterns, it also just makes the song as a whole sound 'off.' (When this happened, I actually had to ask the drummer to play on every downbeat...they partially fixed it, but in what universe would an old-school country drummer not play on the downbeat?)

    I guess I'm just more curious as to how others cope with such situations...sort of a study born out of curiosity.

    And, at some point, does not the stubborn "I'm playing it right, even if they're not" approach end up being detrimental to the song more so than following the whims of the drummer?
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    coming from more of a jazz background: it's my 'duty' to help the ensemble go forward = whatever it takes...

    i've probably overplayed out of frustration. i've probably underplayed out of frustration. TBH: i don't like "playing out of frustration."
    Tony In Philly and jswigal like this.
  7. Yeah...I really do.

    Of course, it's possible that it's my over-playing making it sloppy lol

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