Monthly Archives: August 2017
Here’s an update on what’s coming up here at Off Beat: Exclusive interviews with David Abbruzzese and Dino Sex (*potentially with DH Peligro and Cobus Potgieter). Dominion Cymbals promotional video, Veteran drummer’s story, Facebook live session and a very special celebration.
This week I conducted a survey via email and Facebook to determine a drummer’s preference on their rack tom placement. The question was whether the drummer preferred to mount their rack tom in a snare stand or on a bass drum. I prefer to set-up my rack tom in a snare stand as it allows more freedom to bring the drum closer. My rack tom is almost touching my snare’s rim with a slight angle between them. John Bonham and Dino Danelli both used this approach.
I found my preference to be a minority among responders. Of the 40 drummers polled, only 15 stated that they used a snare basket. Some of the comments in favor of that approach were: “I use a large rack tom (14”) and a bass drum mount simply isn’t strong enough to hold it.” and “I like to set my drums up perfectly flat and that works better for me.” Comments in favor of the mounts were: “I believe you lose tone by mounting your drum in a stand.” and “I like using multiple toms from time to time and a snare stand (or stands) wouldn’t work.”
Some drummers agreed that letting the drum rest in the snare basket without tightening the claws on the hoop, affected the sound minimally. Others argued that the sound was distinctly altered. One drummer went a step further to test for any difference. He added, “A snare basket will definitely affect the resonance (a.k.a. choke) of a tom if the tom is tuned low. If a tom is tuned medium to high, it has less effect on the sound of the drum. The way to find out if your drum is being choked by the snare stand is to compare how it sounds while in the snare stand to when you pick it up by the rim with your fingers and strike it. If you notice a difference in sound/resonance, then you know exactly what effect the stand is having on your drum sound. It might be a huge difference or negligent difference.”
My poll didn’t reveal any unexpected results. Like any drum set-up, it all comes down to preferences, in sound and appearance. What works for one drummer won’t necessarily work for another. My plan is to reconfigure my kit using a bass drum mount. Then compare both approaches. Beyond aesthetics whatever sounds best wins. (Or maybe not, my kit looks amazing as is.) Might I suggest this: It might be fun to try the other approach and see if there is anything that might change your mind. You’ll never know until you try.
Today I would like to share an exercise that was developed for beginners. My co-author of FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids (shameless plug) Rich Redmond and I came up with several compositions (*Rich wrote them out) that are delineated using a drum tablature chart (see below).This unique system breaks the piece down into single measures. Each excerpt is represented as a chart. Each exercise builds upon itself until the entire composition is completed. It is our hope that the student will then return to the entire piece of music with a better sense of reading it than they had before. I must admit that my reading chops are rusty and this exercise helped me. This particular lesson introduces one of our favorite genres, SWING! You can access a PDF of the entire lesson here. Drum teachers; let me know if this works for you.
Over the last few years I’ve shot a series of promotional videos for various drum products. Some of these were done for smaller companies who were looking to expand their marketing footprint. I have found that many people respond better to a relaxed one-on-one conversation versus an over-produced commercial. The more personal the video, the more a potential buyer can relate. Our friends at Drum Kit Accessories are an example of a small company manufacturing a quality product. If you are interested in having your product promoted on YouTube and this Blog, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . For an example here’s an excerpt from a four minute promotional spot I shot for Drum Kit Accessories:
There is only one band like GWAR. In fact, there may never be another band like GWAR. Known for their outrageous costumes and prosthetics, GWAR is as much a theater group as they are a rock band. For over 30 years, GWAR have put on performances that make KISS look like clowns. Jizmak Da Gusha (aka Brad Roberts) has been the drummer for GWAR since 1989.
Although his character’s costume has undergone many changes over the years his on-stage identity always resembles a monstrous fang grinning dog. Beyond the drums he can be seen wielding a large war hammer as part of his act. Behind the drums he is as good as any other drummer in his genre. Jizmak is the only central GWAR character who has been played by only one person.
In an interview with Drummer Zone Brad recalled his beginnings. According to Brad, “At the age of ten, I wanted to quit playing drums, almost as soon as I had started. It was my mother’s encouragement to make me finish what I started, that made the difference and allowed the learning and discipline of playing music a passion for me. In an interview for CDN he recalled his first drum set, “It took four years to get the trap kit and started playing seriously at 14. I had to mow a lot of lawns, cut a lot of grass, save up some money and then my parents agreed to go halves with me. So, if I saved up half of it, they’d chip in the other half. That’s how I got my first drum set.”
Besides Buddy Rich, Brad is influenced by artists like Alex Van Halen, Bill Stevenson, Dave Lombardo, Mikkey Dee, Bill Ward, and Billy Cobham. He recalled, “You name it, I listened to it. I wanted to study everything. For sure I like Billy Cobham! I think the most important quality a drummer should have is to not just be, ‘Oh, I’m so great and I can do all this stuff,’ but he should play within the context of the song. The drummer’s job is to make that song swing.”
According to his gear breakdown: Jizmak’s drums have been painted to resemble distorted eyes or skulls, adding to GWAR’s distinct visual appearance. Currently, his drums are unpainted except for the words, “F@@K”, “OFF”, “YOU”, “C@@T”, “COCK” and “BLOW” scribbled on some of the drums. This might be a reference/tribute to Stewart Copeland, the drummer for the new wave band The Police, who had the similar phrase written on his drum heads circa 1982 during tour. On stage the entire drum kit fits underneath a large arch-like structure.
Brad’s appreciation for his career is evident. In that same interview for Drummer Zone he was quoted saying, “Today, I find it odd that I’ve managed to carve out an enjoyable career as a musician over the past fifteen years performing as a prominent creative member of GWAR.”
Sometimes when you are conducting research into a particular subject you come upon somebody that’s already done it for you. Sometimes that person writes about their findings better than you ever could. This is one of those times. I have had a fascination with Freddie Crump ever since my pal Daniel Glass (Royal Crown Review, Brian Setzer Orchestra) introduced him to me on Facebook. Crump was a showman and innovator who started back in the 1920’s. He continued to perform all the way up into the 60’s. Only a few of his early performances are still available on film but they do a great job of presenting the drummer’s creativity. Crump played everything from the drums to the floor and beyond. I was intending to write a full feature on the man but the Music For Drummers blog has already done an outstanding job chronicling him: Freddie Crump – another forgotten genius. In addition, here are a couple 1920 videos featuring Freddie Crump:
Our friend Dominic over at “Drums on Stage” produces very informative videos on a variety of drumming topics. I’ve found a lot of useful information for the professional and amateur drummer. Sign up here to receive exclusive emails and links to more videos.
Last week my aunt and uncle went on a trip put together by Tady Bear Tours. The Tady Bears are a popular Pittsburgh Polka band led by award-winning drummer and vocalist Jack Tady (left-video).
The definition of Polka music is: “a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. Polka remains a popular folk music genre in many European countries, and is performed by folk artists in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and to a lesser extent in Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Russia, and Slovakia. Local varieties of this dance are also found in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America and the United States.”
There is a large population of these ethnicities in Pittsburgh and the Polka has been a staple at local weddings and festivals for years. The Polka gets a bad rap as it is not respected like mainstream traditional music. Perhaps this is due to the simplicity of it. Polka music is usually played in twos. It also takes a discerning ear to appreciate accordions. I have been listening to a lot of Polka music in the last week and I am coming to respect it. In fact, I think it would be a lot of fun to play drums in a Polka band. There is certainly a responsibility to maintain the down beat for people to dance to. You could even work in some four-on-the-floor and buzz roll fills. For more on Jack Tady visit: http://polkaplace.com/.
Welcome to the inaugural lesson here at Off Beat. Our first example comes via Richard Jackson from the Advanced Drum Lab:
Thanks for checking out this quick lesson on this fun chop. The two simple elements of this chop are Bass, Right, Left (represented by BRL) and Right, Left, Left (represented by RLL). Combine and move them any way you like. Then move them around your kit. Below I’ve written some combos but don’t stop there. Try to play them in any style you like. Hope you enjoy!
1 BRL RLL
2 RLL BRL
3 BRL RLL RLL
4 BRL BRL RLL
5 BRL RLL RLL RLL
6 BRL BRL RLL RLL
7 RLL RLL RLL BRL
8 RLL RLL RLL BRL
9 BRL RLL RLL RLL
10 BRL RLL BRL RLL RLL
11 BRL BRL RLL RLL RLL
12 RLL RLL BRL BRL BRL
13 BRL BRL RLL RLL RLL
These patterns should get you started. Try moving them around the kit and combining them any way you like.