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Read Exclusive Interviews written for Drumhead, Modern Drummer and Off Beat: Troy Luccketta – Steve Goold – Daniel Glass – Garrett Goodwin – Steve Smith – Dan Needham – Kelly Keagy – Scott Pellegrom – Brandon Scott – Mike “Woody” Emerson – Ben Barter – Rich Redmond – Sean Fuller – Jason Hartless – Robert Sweet – Keio Stroud – Tommy Taylor – Frankie Banali – Bobby Z – Danny Seraphine – Dino Sex– David Abbruzzese – Marisa Testa – David Thibodeau – Robert Perkins – Sarra Cardile (Next up: TBD)
I just locked up an exclusive interview with punk legend Bill Stevenson.
The 1980’s were an amazing time for pop music. Some of the most memorable bands came out of that era and some of the best drumming did too. It was a time when drummers were first incorporating electronics with their acoustic drums and experimenting with what was possible. Many of the technologies that are used today came out of the 80’s. I have Serious FM and my favorite channel is 80’s on 8. It’s like taking a trip back in time. The music is still great and I even love getting behind the kit and playing along on my iPhone to my favorite 80’s classics.
My Top 10 best pop drumming performances on 80’s hits (in no order):
- Missing Persons “Do You Hear Me”
- Simple Minds “Don’t You Forget About Me”
- The Outfield “Your Love”
- INXS “What You Need”
- Level 42 “Something About You”
- Michael Jackson “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”
- Madonna “Material Girl”
- Prince “Purple Rain”
- Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
- Mister Mister “Kyrie”
(Honorable mentions: Duran Duran, Midnight Oil, DEVO and Depeche Mode)
I would like to welcome those of you that found my blog following my second appearance on Around the Kit. It is always a thrill to appear on what I consider to be THE best drum talk show on the Internet. To share billing with Aaron Kennedy and Kenny Aronoff this time around was extraordinary and I thank Joe Gansas for inviting me. While you are here you will find Off Beat to feature a variety of content from exclusive interviews, to gear reviews, to music theory and historical studies. Over the last few years Off Beat has become one of the most popular drum blogs on the Internet thanks to visitors like you. I invite you to stick around, pull up a drum stool and browse. I highly recommend our exclusive interviews (linked above) that are the most popular feature on the site. There are more to come. Enjoy!
Like me, I’m sure that you are still reeling from the tragedy that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in which 11 innocent people were gunned down by an anti-Semite mass murderer. Being born and raised in Pittsburgh, this tragedy hit close to home. “Shocking” is not strong enough of a word to describe the emotions that were felt across the country. These devastating events seem to be far too frequent. Off Beat is not a political blog. I will keep it that way but I pray that something can be done to help prevent more shootings from happening in the future. I have no idea what that is. That said, I can post about what I know. The Jewish faith has a long history of music and drumming. A couple years ago I posted a piece about the Israelites drums in the Bible and cited where they appeared.
18th-century painting, “The Song of Miriam,” by Paulo Malteis, Italy.
Celebration after crossing the Red Sea from Egypt
Today’s post looks at mentions of drums in the Bible. I’m very comfortable sharing my faith here as a practicing Presbyterian and as a drummer, I am very interested in the use of drums for celebration and worship. Drums (or tambourines) are mentioned throughout the Old Testament. According to the website PsalmDrummers: percussion instruments such as the tambourine, timbrel or tabret are mentioned. These words are translated from the Hebrew word ‘Toph’. Tambourines and timbrels are mentioned on many occasions throughout the Old Testament and, other than cymbals, seem to be the only percussion instruments referred to. The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments’, says that “tambourine” in Scripture comes from the Hebrew word “Tof” or “Toph” (Hebrew; pl.tuppin), the other English translations being “timbrel” or occasionally “tabret”. It says that these are indeed frame drums and adds that, because frame drums were commonly used in the surrounding areas it is likely the ancient Israelites used them as well. Here are references of the instrument in scripture:
“Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister took a tambourine (drum) in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.” Exodus 15:20
“After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines (drums), flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying.” 1 Samuel 10:5,6
“When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines (drums) and lutes.” 1 Samuel 18:6
“Every stroke the LORD lays on them with his punishing rod will be to the music of the tambourines (drums) and harps, as he fights the battle with the blow of his arm.” Isaiah 30:32
“In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the maidens playing tambourines (drums).” Psalm 68:25
“Begin the music, strike the tambourine (drum)…” Psalm 81:2.
“Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine (drum) and harp.” Psalm 149:3.
“Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre, praise Him with the tambourine (drum) and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute, praise Him with the clash of cymbals, praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” Psalm 150:3-6.
The “tabret” was a smaller version of the “Toph”. It was very similar to the medieval tabor drum (or tabour), which consists of a circular frame of two hoops fitting within one another in which a cloth or animal skin is stretched across to create a small, one-headed or two-sided drum. Since no records, pictures or drawings of tabrets have ever been found, some have come to believe that the tabret is an instrument that is between a tambourine and a modern-day drum. Here are some references of the instrument in scripture:
“After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret (drum), and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy.” 1 Samuel 10:5
“And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tabrets (drums), with joy, and with instruments of music.” 1 Samuel 18:6
“Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets (drums), and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.” Jeremiah 31:4
(Note: Cymbals are mentioned extensively in 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Psalms.)
Our friend Marisa Testa (read interview) has her own signature snare drum out. It was developed by the folks at Queen City Drums. According to their website Marisa decided to build her own snare drum while taking a break on her Summer 2017 Tour backing Corey Feldman. The result was a 5.5×14 with classic beavertail lugs and inverted flange hoops for a vintage styling. Marisa stained the drum herself. According to the website (visit here) while Marisa was staining the drum, the brush started to go dry. As they went to re-dip, she stopped them and let the brush empty on the shell. Distressed Purple was born. The drum was turned out so well and had such great response Marisa and Queen City partnered to re-create 10 snares with a portion of the proceeds going to the Little Kids Rock Music Education Charity (see here). According to Marisa, “It’s dynamic and versatile! Has a nice low, punchy tone if you want that country style sound, or you can crank it up and it’s great for rock to metal!” She adds, “This drum is great for heavier music.” For more information, visit Marisa online at https://www.marisatesta.com/.
I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate my friend and co-author Rich Redmond for landing the cover of December’s issue of Modern Drummer. Order the issue online at: https://www.moderndrummer.com/.
Today I want to share with you a journey. Some of you may have shared the same experience I did and I venture to guess it’s not that uncommon for those of you who grew up in the same time period that I did. I started playing drums in the early 1980’s when hair metal was just coming on the scene. Drummers at that time went way overboard and were often surrounded by huge double bass drum kits that they couldn’t possibly play. “More” was considered better and it was as if drummers were competing to see who could outdo the other. This excess greatly influenced my opinion of drummers. To me, these were the drummers worth listening to, not those traditional cats who played little four piece sets. That wasn’t cool. Because of that ignorance I automatically passed on the non-metal drummers of the world. At least for some time.
Then one day I was introduced to big band and jazz. What a revelation! Suddenly I didn’t care about hair metal anymore. I found myself listening to some of the most exciting and technically sound drummers I’d ever heard. Unlike hair metal, I couldn’t play it very well, but it sure inspired me to be a better drummer. Instead of wanting to be on stage I wanted to be on a bandstand. I discarded one of my rack toms and even picked up a pair of brushes. I studied these cats, how they accentuated what the band was doing. Their technique and form complimented each song and they crafted their parts around the other instruments. This was what drumming was supposed to be. Not just timekeeping. It had musicality. Vinnie Colaiuta explained it like this: “Anytime you strike the drums, you have to be aware that you’re creating a musical event.”
This music motivated me. I practiced and practiced and got as close as I could to what Vinnie spoke of, a musical approach to drumming. Soon after I found myself playing in the high school jazz band and selected to play at the Mellon Jazz Festival. What an experience! I still don’t consider myself a jazz drummer but I do feel that I broadened my horizons. Today I listen to all kinds of music and I can appreciate all kinds of drumming, but it was that first leap forward that opened up my mind to what is possible with a little inspiration and a pair of drumsticks. Have you experienced anything that changed your approach to drumming? Share your story in the comments below.
You may remember our friend Mike “Woody” Emerson aka “The Gigging Drummer” who we interviewed a while back (Read Here). He’s known nowadays as “Woody Rockinfeller,” drummer for the popular 80’s cover band The Rockinfellerz. We asked Woody about his conversion from acoustic to electronic drums for his latest gig. He gave us his thoughts, experiences, as well as the pros and cons.
Hi Michael! The “gigging drummer” aka “Woody Rockinfeller” is honored and excited again to be part of your Off Beat series. Well first of all…I have a new band (because I can’t stop my passion of playing drums) The Rockinfellerz. Yes with a “Z” at the end. (The other spellings were already taken. Ha!) And yes, I did answer a Craig’s List ad. I showed up at the audition for the band and there was an electronic drum set there (Roland TD-20X drum brain for V-drums). Ok stop! I’ve played on one twice filling in for my friend JR’s band live and of course being an idiot in the drum room at Guitar Center who didn’t like it. It felt weird.
So anyways, I got the job and I played on the “electric thing of a jig” for rehearsal. It was already set to a mixer at low volume with guitar, bass, keyboard and vocals so learning songs was easy to hear. We booked our first show and I was excited to bring out “The Beast” my Ludwig seven piece with Roto Toms cowbells, blocks, lots of cymbals and a bunch of other percussion fun. The show was in a couple weeks. I was still playing on the electronic “thing” but as I was playing on it my keyboardist Phil Rockinfeller showed me that the rims and pads can be programmed to do anything I want. So we started putting in cowbells, tambourines, clap sounds ect.
Yes it was a little fun (shhhh did I say that?) because a lot of the songs that we cover are from the 80’s (my favorite genre) which had a lot of double track studio magic and electronic drums in them that my acoustic drum set can’t do live. So I agreed to use them for the first show. And I’m sorry to the “The Great Almighty Drum God” they worked out well and yes, that’s why I’m still playing them now.
The difference between playing my acoustic drums and the electronic ones live is the “big drum sound” response time is gone! If my monitors in the mix on the Rolands are too low it sounds like I’m hitting practice pads. I go through the motions, but I don’t know what it sounds like coming out of the P.A. system. Meanwhile my Ludwigs, when mic’d, sound great to me. Still, when the mix out front is too loud I can’t tell. It’s misery for the audience if they can’t talk to each other or order drinks at the bar which is why we get paid!
When I’m on stage with the Rolands I can have a conversation with my band while playing live. There is no ringing cymbals or drums so we can talk about the next song we’re playing or if my tempo is too fast or slow. But with my Ludwigs, I miss the power and the intensity which is the reason I started playing drums in the first place.
I have a few pros and cons between electronic vs. acoustic. First off, since the Roland’s cymbals are rubber, or whatever it is made of, I don’t brake drum sticks or have huge chips in them, plus I love this one, my wrists don’t hurt as much after playing a two hour show because I’m not hitting metal rims or heavy crashes. Plus the setup time for the Rolands takes way less time to setup on stage.
The pros on my Ludwig set is that it looks cool on stage when the lights shine on them Ha! It’s easier to hit the drums without triggering a programmed rim (which I do often) and I can hear them without a monitor. Of course, the big sound is there when you just tuned them to your liking. Oh what a feeling! The cons I pretty much just described in the differences. You have to decide for yourself what you like. I’m just happy to still be playing out live and I don’t care if it’s on an electric or acoustic drum set. Like Sonny & Cher sang “The beat goes on.”
Visit The Rockinfellerz on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheRockinfellerz/
We all have our favorite rudiment. My personal favorite is the paradiddle. I just love the feeling and flexibility of it. A paradiddle consists of two single strokes followed by a double stroke, i.e., RLRR or LRLL. When multiple paradiddles are played in succession, the first note always alternates between right and left. Therefore, a single paradiddle is often used to switch the “lead hand” in drumming music. It is also common to accent the first stroke of each diddle (Rlrr Lrll).
For a little history, the word “paradiddle” is probably of an imitative origin. The history of these words (if taken apart) is: “para” (which means “beside” or “beyond”). It was spoken by people of Greece starting about 1000 B.C. and “diddle” (which means to “move with short rapid motions”) and is of unknown origin. In percussion, a “diddle” consists of two consecutive notes played by the same hand (either RR or LL).
Some songs that prominently feature the paradiddle are “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly, “Vaseline” by Stone Temple Pilots, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane and “You Fool No One” by Deep Purple.
Mark Feldman over at Big Bang Drum School has generously posted a 100-page PDF of Advanced Paradiddle Exercises by Dave Tough. Tough was a drummer who was active from the 20’s through the 40’s. He played with swing bands including those of Artie Shaw and Woody Herman. You can read Tough’s bio over at Drummerworld. Tough’s approach to teaching the paradiddle is outlined in the Foreword of his book:
“I have designed this book for the advanced student who has a knowledge of the rudiments of drumming. The book deals with the three forms of paradiddles – single, double and triple, each form represented and mixed in each of the two hundred exercises. This will assure him of improved coordination, technical development and fluency of sticking in his practical day to day playing. It will be invaluable to the individual, while practicing these exercises, to play two or four foot beats to the bar. To my knowledge, this is the only book published that is devoted entirely to varied paradiddle exercises. In conclusion, I have found that too little time is devoted to the practicing of varied combinations of paradiddles, and it is my sincere hope that this book will prove to be an aid in acquiring a well-rounded system of drumming.”