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drumbum593

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No. 1 Posted on Apr 5, 2013 9:40 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
So, hello again. I'd be surprised if any of y'all remember me. I've been here a long time, dabbled a bit in the General Discussion board, but I spent most of my time over on the Marching board. I started college last year and got too busy, I get on here every once in a while, but the Marching board is a shadow of its former self these days.

Since I've been in college, I've actually started playing drumset for the jazz band and I thought I'd move over here and see how things were going on the Drum Talk side. I had a discussion with my director the other day and decided I'd see what some of y'all experienced jazzers thought about this. When it comes to fills, I've always been taught that less is more. You can let loose in spots, but sometimes it's best to just lay back and keep solid time. I usually like to think of Joe Morello as a good example of this. My director on the other hand, wants us to fill every space we can and ram out, ala Buddy Rich, on everything.

I can see where he's coming from, and I think that's appropriate sometimes, but I also feel like there's such a thing as too much when it comes to fills. So, thoughts? I'm sure you've had this discussion before, but is less really more?



Bartlett HS
Snare 07-08
Munford HS
Tenors 08-09 USSBA South States Percussion Champ
Tenors 09-10 USSBA Natl Champ Percussion, 2nd Overall
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technique2012





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No. 2 Posted on Apr 5, 2013 10:40 AM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Hi, Adam. Nice to meet you. I'm one of the newer members. In my middle school jazz band, my director is picky about what I do too. But really, just follow what they say. If they don't say anything, you can probably assume that you can fill whenever you want as long as it's reasonable and makes sense musically. If your playing big band, then I agree with your director. In order to drive the band, you need some powerful fills. But, I, myself agree that less can be more. Anything from rolls on the snare or a well-placed tom hit can to do the trick. Hope this help.


"Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple."
-Charles Mingus
drumbum593

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No. 3 Posted on Apr 5, 2013 1:48 PM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I agree, for big band tunes, I definitely lean more towards filling up all the space. For instance, last semester, when I played on Channel One Suite, that was definitely a tune where I did a lot more. But we do a lot of more laid back stuff too where I feel like sometimes it sounds better just to lay back and enjoy the band, if that makes sense. I just think it's an interesting topic to discuss. It's definitely a matter of taste, and I feel like there's a pretty good diversity of opinion on just how much is too much.


Bartlett HS
Snare 07-08
Munford HS
Tenors 08-09 USSBA South States Percussion Champ
Tenors 09-10 USSBA Natl Champ Percussion, 2nd Overall
Tenors 10-11 USSBA TN State Champ
US Army All-American Band
Tenors '11

technique2012





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No. 4 Posted on Apr 5, 2013 2:38 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
For laid back things, I'll agree that you shouldn't go over the top. Light embellishment is really all you need for more laid back stuff.


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





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No. 5 Posted on Apr 5, 2013 7:51 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Big band is not my thing but the key to it for drummers is to be able to read, drive the band through solos and ensemble and get the hits and lead in fills nailed. Just how complex those fills are is less important than accuracy of timing and suitability to the music. Less is only more if that fits and in big band tunes you can run the gamut from a Jo Jones type rhythm section of unchanging but solid swing to busy and dynamic Buddy Rich. Listen to how the greats did it for the tunes you are called to play is my suggestion. But every drummer should have his own style and try to find yours.


Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
paul

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No. 6 Posted on Apr 6, 2013 8:28 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I don't think there's a single "fillosophy" that covers all the bases. Even in a big band there are times when it's just the rhythm section and a soloist, and you effectively become part of a trio or quartet.

Whatever you're playing you need to be aware of not just your own part, but what the rest of the band is playing, and let that guide you in your choice of when and how to fill. And the fill you play can't just take up space, but must make sense in the context of the song.

I've had the pleasure of playing with numerous big bands over the last decade, and it's always a challenge with a new band to figure out what to play, even when it's a chart I'm used to playing with my regular group.

That said, if your director wants more expansive use of fills, do as he asks. If nothing else it's a challenge to find different things to play to keep yourself and the audience interested, and it's also a chance to expand your own toolbox.

In short, less isn't necessarily more. Sometimes it's just less.



The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely preferable to the presence of those who think they've found it. - Terry Pratchett

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OldFart

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No. 7 Posted on Apr 6, 2013 2:38 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
If I might add that what you do mustn't step on other featured players' space. In early years, I did that very thing accidentally and learned quickly enough, but the damage was done for the one-time listener.

So, don't be that player.

Also, Buddy Rich was able to do pretty much what he wanted, when he wanted - owing to his ability and stature in the field.

I'm not one who falls-back onto the 'Less IS more' mantra, but too much of the wrong stuff can be far more annoying than understated play. I'd add 'learn to properly emote with the music', too. People often repeat 'sell/serve the song' ... be disciplined, yet loose enough to 'move with the groove.' The band - certainly the Bass player - is expecting you to get that groove going and often your job is to keep it happening as far as the arrangement calls for it.

If you're Swinging, it's not just the note-pattern performed mechanically. The old saying is rather profound : "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Swing." So if you can project each tune's Feel, you're more than just a step closer to the ideal.

Last Key Word - 'Dynamics'. Play loudly when you ought to, and as quietly as you need to. Drive the band as far as it can go, not merely as far as you want. You're the Driver, but often someone else drew-up the map.



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Andy





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No. 8 Posted on Apr 7, 2013 5:08 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
The "less is more" theory works for me in regard to my drumming. When playing a song with a band I usually gravitate toward the simple rather than the complex. Reason: when I need to telegraph a change to the band during a song, they can REALLY hear the build up on the drums. Another reason: usually it just sounds better. I just finished listening to a video of a local band and the drummer's constant fills were really annoying. Crash, roll, crash, roll crash....etc..



technique2012





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No. 9 Posted on Apr 7, 2013 5:12 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Andy wrote:
The "less is more" theory works for me in regard to my drumming. When playing a song with a band I usually gravitate toward the simple rather than the complex. Reason: when I need to telegraph a change to the band during a song, they can REALLY hear the build up on the drums. Another reason: usually it just sounds better. I just finished listening to a video of a local band and the drummer's constant fills were really annoying. Crash, roll, crash, roll crash....etc..

My teacher once said, "It is possible to be too hip. You don't want to do so much sh*t that it takes away from the whole band." I agree with you, Andy. Sometimes a drummer just needs to lay back, keep the time, and control the dynamics.



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





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No. 10 Posted on Apr 7, 2013 5:32 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
technique2012 wrote:
My teacher once said, "It is possible to be too hip. You don't want to do so much sh*t that it takes away from the whole band." I agree with you, Andy. Sometimes a drummer just needs to lay back, keep the time, and control the dynamics.


That's pretty much what I do. THe other reason is that I'm NOT good at playing really fancy, odd-time, difficult stuff. I'm just "mediocre" as far as my chops. I've seen video posts from other forum members and most of the time, they completely blow me away.

So knowing that... I focus on what I can do well: timing, groove, managing the band, getting gigs, band logistics, sound man, providing the practice space, coordinating schedules of band members...




StillKicken





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No. 11 Posted on Apr 7, 2013 9:23 PM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Andy wrote:
That's pretty much what I do. THe other reason is that I'm NOT good at playing really fancy, odd-time, difficult stuff. I'm just "mediocre" as far as my chops.


Me too; I fall right in that category. I'm playing with a country band now and the songs I feel need some tom fills. I talked with a friend/instructor. He said I'm using too much tom fills; sooo I'm trimming that back now. Big Smile I plan on taking some lessons from the guy, it should be fun.

One thing I like to do is some really intricate work on hi-hat, especially on Country Two Step, in a fast shuffle.

sherm



K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple System
pgdrums





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No. 12 Posted on Apr 12, 2013 7:46 AM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I agree with what pretty much everyone else has said, and I believe strongly that any sort of "one-size-fits-all" approach is generally something to be avoided. Or as Paul said, any single "fillosophy." -- I love that term, Paul.

Still, I do believe that what separates the boys from the men, so to speak, often has less to do with the notes that are played than with the notes that aren't played. It took me a long time to learn that space can be more interesting than speed. As a listener, the brain can only process so many notes at a time. The spaces between the notes are often the secret sauce.




drumbum593

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No. 13 Posted on Apr 12, 2013 9:06 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I definitely agree with that. The spaces make all the difference, and I think we forget that a lot, or at least I know I do. I have a real knack for either doing too much or doing too little. Balance is the key, and it certainly seems to take practice, experience and a good ear to get it right.


Bartlett HS
Snare 07-08
Munford HS
Tenors 08-09 USSBA South States Percussion Champ
Tenors 09-10 USSBA Natl Champ Percussion, 2nd Overall
Tenors 10-11 USSBA TN State Champ
US Army All-American Band
Tenors '11

OldFart

Mapex



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No. 14 Posted on Apr 12, 2013 5:54 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
pgdrums wrote:
I agree with what pretty much everyone else has said, and I believe strongly that any sort of "one-size-fits-all" approach is generally something to be avoided. Or as Paul said, any single "fillosophy." -- I love that term, Paul.

Still, I do believe that what separates the boys from the men, so to speak, often has less to do with the notes that are played than with the notes that aren't played. It took me a long time to learn that space can be more interesting than speed. As a listener, the brain can only process so many notes at a time. The spaces between the notes are often the secret sauce.


Well said, Mark.

You phrased it better than I, but this notion is quite close to what I was alluding to when I brought up 'Swinging' and the Swing note pattern.



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technique2012





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No. 15 Posted on Apr 13, 2013 4:45 AM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
OldFart wrote:
Well said, Mark.

You phrased it better than I, but this notion is quite close to what I was alluding to when I brought up 'Swinging' and the Swing note pattern.

I believe we're hinting at the word, "articulation," right?



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

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No. 16 Posted on Apr 13, 2013 10:31 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
While I agree with most of what has been said, I'm definitely not a member of the "less is more" fan club. To me, less is often less. The important thing is not how much or how little is being played, but how well it fits the music.

Since this kind of discussion usually is mostly about fills, we should consider the purpose of a fill, which is not just about filling an empty space, but also about marking a transition from one part of a song to the next or responding to something played in a solo or group soli. A "busy" drum part can also be an integral part of keeping the groove moving and may even solidify said groove. Guys like Dave Weckl and Carter Beauford are masters of this.

It can be hard, especially when just starting out, to not play a fill every time a phrase ends, and to not always try to shove as many notes as possible into a given musical space, but it's an effort worth making. But at the same time, used properly, a big, fast fill down as many toms as you can hit, or a long syncopation that surprises everyone when it accurately lands on '1' can not only move the music very effectively, it's a helluva lot of fun for the drummer. And that's not a bad thing.



The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely preferable to the presence of those who think they've found it. - Terry Pratchett

Just Add Sticks


drummer5359





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No. 17 Posted on Apr 29, 2013 8:41 PM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I played in a big band years ago and I feel that big band playing requires a little bit of flash, as long as you don't step on the rest of the band.

Daniel Glass of the Royal Crown Review and Brian Setzer's big bands is a great example of a modern player who is capable of amazing technique, but really knows when to play it straight and when to show his chops.

Maybe your director just wants you to loosen up a bit.

Check out Daniel on you tube to see what I mean.



-Mike


"We don't stop playing because we grow old.
We grow old because we stop playing."

"I wish that my playing reminded people of Steve Gadd. But they seem to confuse me with his little known cousin... E."
technique2012





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No. 18 Posted on May 19, 2013 8:29 AM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
Because I'm moving into a combo setting, this is definitely the one area where I think less is more. In a combo, I think it necessary to only keep time. What do you guys think?


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





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No. 19 Posted on May 19, 2013 6:27 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
It depends. I play mainly in jazz trios where each player has to support yet shine in their role and be seen and heard.


Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
Andy





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No. 20 Posted on Jun 20, 2013 1:07 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
pwc wrote:
It depends. I play mainly in jazz trios where each player has to support yet shine in their role and be seen and heard.


That's why I could never be a Jazz drummer. It's WAY to complicated for my level of talent. Sometimes all I have is my good looks and charm! Smile




brad_leishman

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No. 21 Posted on Jun 20, 2013 4:23 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
There used to be a drummer on this forum; I think he went by "Modern Drummer". He was often strongly opinionated, and him and I would spar on occasion. Despite that, he once said something on this forum I thought was absolutely brilliant:

"less is more except when it isn't"



Zenquest
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