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Singlestroker





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No. 1 Posted on Oct 21, 2012 2:27 PM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I am presently “only” a drummer, although I am gradually getting into tuned percussion too. I play in a British brass band, which I enjoy very much, overall. However, I do not like the prevailing silly attitudes towards drumming and drummers. Some brass players are so keen to play in bands with the drummer they deserve, i.e. no drummer whatsoever, that, despite a near-dearth of them locally, they spout about, for example, themselves being musicians while drummers are, well, mere drummers. The ones that are more sensible and keep quiet apparently do, however, regard drums as somehow an easy thing to master.

I have two points here: firstly, I do not agree that playing drums brings fewer or lesser challenges than other instruments in a brass band. Secondly, I believe that someone who has mastered drums as well as mallet-keyboard instruments (glock, vibes, xylo, etc.) is a multi-instrumentalist.

I am not going to expand on this too much at this stage, as I’d like other members to comment first, if that is OK. What I will say, though, no names, no packdrill, is that I have witnessed a good many percussionists that, unlike Poh Soon Teng (Mr Percussive on here) are not impressive, or even good drummers. I am sure that they read the charts better than I do, but can they swing, put down a groove and, overall, come over as at one with the instrument...? How good they are at the tuned side, I am not sure, as I am not yet up to anything like speed.

Has anyone any thoughts on this, please?



technique2012





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No. 2 Posted on Oct 21, 2012 3:03 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
You should tell those brass players to get a computer and google your question posted on here. 95% of all responses say that drummers are obviously musicians. I highly doubt those outspoken brass players have all four limbs coordinated and can diss Buddy Rich about not being a musician. No single person in my school says the drummer isn't a musician. I'm considered one of the best musicians in my school, not for marimba or bells, but for drums. I don't know what those brass players are talking about. They need to think before they say something degrading about the TIME KEEPER and additional SOLOIST in a band. Musicians as rude and arrogant as them don't deserve to be part of that band. Let's see them try to play a fast paradiddle or samba. Or see them try and function without a drummer. It makes me solemn when I see this kind of arrogance or feeling of superiority among a band of musicians.


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HuskerFan

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No. 3 Posted on Oct 21, 2012 3:08 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Drummers are most definitely musicians. Just because our music comes through different media does not make us less than musicians.

Is the simple act of hitting a drum "an easy thing to master"? Yes. However, I think the same could be said for plucking a string or forcing air through a horn. In all cases, that simple act is incredibly basic, but developmentally is nowhere near the level of music that seems to be the core of the dispute.

Our instrument requires markedly different skills. No, we do not have to use breath support and embouchure to shape the sounds we make, but we do have to determine the appropriate striking implement, be it a stick, mallet, rod, or brush, to use, and precisely how to strike it to achieve an appropriate sound. We still enact a physical force on our instruments, causing the passage of air, like that in a horn. Our playing is also heavily shaped by the grips we use, affecting the level of vibration we allow.

Additionally, we have the challenge of constantly being required to perform on a number of different instruments, such as snare drums, toms, bass drums, cymbals, and various bells and whistles (literally!), often simultaneously. We can contribute to the musical spectrum, then, in a very similar way to playing the various notes of a chord, whether a group of horns does it or an individual piano player does it.

The caveat of our instrument of choice is the primary focus on rhythm. No, we don't tend to have the melodic focus (unless you're Terry Bozzio or the like) like the other musicians, but music has so many elements that to use something like melody as the dominant criterion is preposterous.

When it comes to music theory, we are in a different place from other instruments, because we are not always confined to specific pitches written for us. But we do still have to play within certain ranges of pitch for clarity, contrast, and harmony among sounds. Furthermore, the use of dynamics, I would argue, is even more important for us than other instruments simply because of the amount of physical force we can exert on our instruments, or the natural volume of them.

Having experience in tuned percussion such as mallet instruments (mostly bells/glockenspiel, but some marimba, xylophone, and vibraphone) and tympani has greatly aided my skills in non-pitched percussion. I learned piano long before any other percussion, so my reading skills were adequate from the get-go. Being able to read music definitely should add credibility to a drummer in the eyes of those other musicians, but it is certainly not a requirement, as many great horn players and such could not or never did read, like many jazz greats from New Orleans.

Basically, as you said, the "prevailing silly attitudes toward drumming and drummers" are just that.


HuskerFan edited on Oct 22, 2012 10:37 AM

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No. 4 Posted on Oct 21, 2012 8:36 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I have always had a simple viewpoint that says anyone participating individually or collectively in making music is a musician. Even if his role is limited to hitting a triangle every third chorus of a symphony. The reality is that almost any modern music minus drums would be a pretty pale listening experience. And that would likely apply to bass bands also.

Maybe my sign off line applies here ... Smile



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Singlestroker





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No. 5 Posted on Oct 22, 2012 9:00 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Thanks for the replies so far. One or two of them seem to imply that I'm saying that I don't read drum music. That's understandable, as I half-implied it in my first post. I do read, however, and am getting towards quite strong at it now.

Singlestroker edited on Oct 22, 2012 3:01 PM

Dave





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No. 6 Posted on Oct 22, 2012 4:07 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Not according to my Grandmother -

"When are you going to learn to play a real musical instrument, like the accordian?"





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OldFart

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No. 7 Posted on Oct 22, 2012 4:31 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Dave wrote:
Not according to my Grandmother -

"When are you going to learn to play a real musical instrument, like the accordian?"


Ha!

I can relate.

My grandmother - now long gone - thought it was nice that I played the drums; but she said, "Y'know, you can learn to play the Cut-tar, too!"

So she was subtly trying to influence me to take up something else. Her father played the guitar and harmonica - often simultaneously. I almost followed her advice with my interest in the Flute. But, alas, that never materialized.

Accordian was big when I was a youngster - then the Beatles destroyed that niche. They couldn't make guitars fast enough after that famous Ed Sullivan show.


OldFart edited on Oct 22, 2012 4:34 PM

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No. 8 Posted on Oct 22, 2012 4:42 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
More on point :

Drummers are musicians, irrespective of certain biases and predilection.

Fellows like Louis Bellson and many others cut from the same cloth would speak out against such notions as were reported. It's also a shame that many don't hear the music behind the beats/rhythms often playing in drummer's inner ear.

I hear similar "music" coming from everyday machinery, and enjoy the rhythm section ... sometimes I applaud Smile In time, of course -



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brad_leishman

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No. 9 Posted on Oct 23, 2012 2:54 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
If I am not a musician, then why am I in the Musician's Union?

B. Leishman
- - Local 591, American Federation of Musicians



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StillKicken





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No. 10 Posted on Oct 23, 2012 6:14 PM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
brad_leishman wrote:
If I am not a musician, then why am I in the Musician's Union?

B. Leishman
- - Local 591, American Federation of Musicians


LOL!! Good point!! Big Smile

I would have to say yes drummers are musicians although there are levels of musicianship throughout the lot of us. For some I would have to wonder!@#$%^&*. LOL!

You have to remember one thing; people that know nothing about drums have no clue and their perception of what they think comes from an array of bad to worse to maybe some good/great drummers. These people do not take the time to understand or listen to drummers for any period of time but yet some want to be bandleaders.

BTW: 90% of the musicians and people listening do not know that drums are tunable and that includes bandleaders.

One evening I got a nice compliment; I'm not trying to blow my own horn but I want you to think about this next statement. Soon after joining a new band, one of the members said, "I like the way you play drums, you play musically and a lot of drummers don't know how to do that."

Any musician that can:
Listen to all instruments and vocals while playing
Feel the music
Don't be the lead instrument unless called upon
Compliment/Blend in with the group
And if you are a drummer DON'T HIT everything in front of you

If you can do all of the above, then you are a musician!! AND you don't have to be the best drummer in town. Just have fun and that's what I do best.

Sherm



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Singlestroker





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No. 11 Posted on Oct 25, 2012 3:04 PM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
StillKicken wrote:
LOL!! Good point!! Big Smile

I would have to say yes drummers are musicians although there are levels of musicianship throughout the lot of us. For some I would have to wonder!@#$%^&*. LOL!

You have to remember one thing; people that know nothing about drums have no clue and their perception of what they think comes from an array of bad to worse to maybe some good/great drummers. These people do not take the time to understand or listen to drummers for any period of time but yet some want to be bandleaders.

BTW: 90% of the musicians and people listening do not know that drums are tunable and that includes bandleaders.

One evening I got a nice compliment; I'm not trying to blow my own horn but I want you to think about this next statement. Soon after joining a new band, one of the members said, "I like the way you play drums, you play musically and a lot of drummers don't know how to do that."

Any musician that can:
Listen to all instruments and vocals while playing
Feel the music
Don't be the lead instrument unless called upon
Compliment/Blend in with the group
And if you are a drummer DON'T HIT everything in front of you

If you can do all of the above, then you are a musician!! AND you don't have to be the best drummer in town. Just have fun and that's what I do best.

Sherm


I fully agree with your point about the ignorance of drums. There are quite a few musicians that I know who think, or used to think, that a drum with a broken head is at the end of its life. Bands that insist on having only top- quality brass instruments on their books are content to have cheap starter-drumkits, and seem to think that drums are drums, cymbals are cymbals, etc. A band colleague, on discovering that a 20” cymbal of mine cost over £300 (British pounds), and that my whole kit would cost, new, somewhere around £3000, exclaimed “that’s ridiculous!” He said “I suppose so.” when I said that it seemed quite reasonable as compared with his own instrument, which cost more or less the same. These misconceptions and attitudes abound, and not only in brass bands, or among musicians. When I have mentioned reading music for my kit, I have had several non-musicians say that they didn’t realise that drummers read!

On your definition of musician-status, surely, the need to “play musically” applies to any kind of musician, and all kinds of them can sound just as dreadful. Yet, drummers alone are subject to the prejudice I describe. Bad drummers and bad trumpet players are, equally, bad musicians, while the good ones of both kinds are good musicians. Accordingly, while your list of prerequisites might define a GOOD musician, it does not define a musician as far as I am concerned.

The other thing that I noticed about your list is that it implies non-reading drummers. As with other instruments, there are, as we all know, impressive players not only that do read music, but also who do not. Some of that has to do with the genre: jazz, at least of some kinds, probably requires the ability to improvise. Brass band work requires reading, although the ability to work from experience and tuition still does still arise. For me, at least, drummers are musicians whether or not they play from written music. Again, that applies to other instruments, and not just the drums.


Singlestroker edited on Oct 27, 2012 11:11 AM

StillKicken





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No. 12 Posted on Oct 27, 2012 8:50 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Singlestroker wrote:

The other thing that I noticed about your list is that it implies non-reading drummers.


I didn't mean to imply non-reading or reading but I think it helps if a musician is capable of reading music. It just makes him or her play a little more(for lack of a better word) professional; at least in the timing aspect of playing.

I know a number of musicians that play very well and know their instrument from one end to the other but they do lack in their timing at times. Like a fiddle player that plays very well but when picking the notes he sometimes try to get all the notes into one measure. LOL! I guess being a drummer I would notice that a little more than some others.

Although out of practice I can read; I just feel it helps individuals feel more in control while performing and understanding what they are really doing.

sherm



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No. 13 Posted on Nov 20, 2012 7:33 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Drummers can make...or break...a band or a song the same as any other member of the band.

I think that puts us all on equal ground.

With the exception of a couple of genres (bluegrass, folk..), just have them listen to the contribution made by the percussionist, or percussion section.....just see how prominent our intrument is.

Make or break? yes....NOW...just WHAT were you horn players calling me? Big Smile



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No. 14 Posted on Dec 3, 2012 8:31 AM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Drummers are not only musicians, but we can be the backbone of the band and the song. They don't call those snare hits "backbeats" for nothing.

We're just extremely rhythm oriented, and not so much melodic.



technique2012





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No. 15 Posted on Dec 3, 2012 1:42 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Technically we could be melodic if we wanted to be. It's just not necessary for our instrument.


"Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple."
-Charles Mingus
Dave





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No. 16 Posted on Dec 3, 2012 10:07 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
We are the most important part of the band. We are the band. Without drums, the band is nothing. Take away the guitar, the keys can take over. Take out the bass, the synth can accomodate. Take out the drums, the band sucks. I wouldn't want to watch a band without drums.

OK, just kidding, but you know what I mean.





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No. 17 Posted on Dec 4, 2012 9:07 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
You can spell "Music" without rhythm. I think that rhythm is one of the main definitions of music, as it organizes (or at least helps to) the variations of notes in a composition. If a monkey would randomly hit the keys of a piano, I would not consider it music. So, for me, rhythm is the line between music and noise, actually.

Since drummers are the ones responsible for rhythm, I think that, yes, drummers are musicians and I'd like to thank the academy.



Funny or interesting drum-related video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&v=6frNG86EMDQ&NR=1
(New video every now and then just for entertainment :) )

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