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Playing with 2 drummers at the same time

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Catanova, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Catanova


    Apr 7, 2011
    Golden CO
    I have been blessed with the opportunity to play with 2 drummers simutaneously :hyper:. Tonight was our first rehearsal for an upcoming CD release show for one of these bands. We are actually 2 separate bands but we all play together in different configurations. We play blues, funk, rock and fusion covers/originals in both bands. Both drummers have wicked chops and communicate how they intend to combine/arrange percussion prior to the each tune. I had some real wakeup calls tonight, as I occasionally fell into some nice syncopation which drove into the "wrongish" part of the beat.

    Between songs both drummers discussed how they could keep the Kicks syncronized properly while emulating different artists simultaneously during the same song. I will never forget this experience, wedged in the middle between both drum sets, as I played with the drum accents and solo elements happening on both sides of me :D

    My questions are: How do I take advantage of this situation to become a better bass player? Would you suggest playing very busy, or very root? I tried both tonight and its hard to tell what served each song the best with all this percussion...
  2. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    The only thing I can think of to tell you is that it can open your mind to players and approaches you might not have come to on your own.

    Listen to Phil Lesh play with The Dead. They always had 2 drummers(Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman) and he has one approach.

    Listen to Berry Oakley, Lamar Williams, Allen Woody, and Oteil Burbridge with The Allman Brothers Band. Now on top of having 2 drummers they also have a percussionist and they all have different approaches).

    Listen to John Wetton on Larks Tongues in Aspic era King Crimson (Playing with Bill Bruford, and Jamie Muir). Yet another approach.

    Speaking of King Crimson listen to Trey Gunn (on Stick) and Tony Levin (Electric, Electric Upright, and Stick) on the Thrak album with Pat Masteletto, and Bill Bruford drumming.

    Sometimes you need to lay back, sometimes you need to play more busy, sometimes you need to split the difference.

    I think what I would do for each song (or sections of songs) is to figure out which drummer is playing "Lead" and which one is playing "Support" then lock in with the "Support" drummer. This is what will get you in the least trouble. Or listen to the 2 drummers as if they were one and find something that fits with both of them together.

    The closest I've come to this situation is playing with a kit drummer and a percussionist (i.e. congas or djembe). The best way I found in that situation is lock in with the drummer for the main groove then bounce off the percussionist for the fills.

    I hope you can glean something off that.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J
  3. ++ on King Crimson and Grateful Dead, a lot to learn there from both bands experimenting with double drumming. KJ Sawka does live drumming with electronic drum loops and triggers, I think of this as the future of double drumming if you count the electronic drum programming as a virtual drummer. That's what King Crimson evolved into with Pat Mastelloto doing percussion/loops/drums all in unison. Polyrhythms are key, check out Mick Karn.
  4. joe vegas

    joe vegas Supporting Member

    nice track!

    i do it live as much as possible- it's a fantastic sound, with truck-like groove, booty-boogling syncopation and mind-expanding sonic conversations.
    keep playing how you're playing, while gradually learning to respond to ideas from each drummer. it will expand you rhythmic awareness nobly and will show you new grooves to build on.
  5. Catanova


    Apr 7, 2011
    Golden CO
    Thanks for all of your advice!

    I really dig all the bands / bassists you guys have mentioned, especially Tony Levin, Berry Oakley and Allen Woody. I have to admit I have little playable musical knowledge of the Greatful Dead.

    After reading your comments, it hit me that that the technical proficiency of all these bassists is very strong REGARDLESS of their percussion arrangement. And they are able to pull off fluid tight melodies on top of their root lines.

    So chalk it up to my insecurity playing within this new arrangement. I feel that my playing will evolve better with this situation by sticking closer to the root, and then seeing where the opportunties to accent along with either drums would serve the song.

    Seems Obvious now...
  6. MatthewC


    Nov 4, 2012
    The thing you may not be aware of is that double drumming started a lot earlier than the 70's jam bands....

    To my knowledge Phil Spector started the whole thing in the very early 60's. Be My Baby, Da Doo Run Run, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, all of these records had two drummers. For that matter, they also had two bass players (Phil liked to use an upright and an electric). But to the point, go and listen to these tracks and hear how it's done: Tony Levin style, mega technique are not at all required to be copacetic to a double drum arrangement.

    But, as a rule of thumb, always go simple. Especially in a situation where you have two drummers, keep it simple. Let them do the syncopation and just accent here and there. Feel it.
  7. Except from 1971 - 1974 when Mickey Hart left the band for while. But even then I think his approach was the same. Very melodic, dancing around the root.