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Next up in the terminology series is one of my favorite words in the musical dictionary.  Understanding the way musicians use the word “feel” is a SUPER important aspect to being a successful instrumentalist, because the whole art form arguably hangs on this issue.

I’ll start by positioning the discussion around emotions, and the way the broader culture uses the word “feelings.” When I watch a sad movie, I “feel” sad. When I go on vacation, I “feel” relaxed. When someone upsets me with a hurtful word or act, my “feelings” get hurt. The mental pictures/experiences that come to mind when one thinks about the examples I just referenced are why I LOVE the way the word “feel” is used in the music world.

My thesis is this: I believe music exists primarily in the realm of feel and feelings. Rage Against the Machine vs Moby, Joss Stone vs The Beatles, Common vs Vince Guaraldi… if you’re familiar with these artists then these comparisons all display a sharp contrast in how the music makes you feel.

In fact, I’m deciding right now to cut this post short and finish it up tomorrow in order to give you some homework for today.  To make sure we are all on the same page on the way I’m associating sad/happy/angry/calm feelings with music, I’m going to continue with the comparisons.  I want you to:

1. Listen to this and think about how it makes you feel, both physically and emotionally. Also think about which points in the experience made you feel it most and least.

2.  Listen to this and reflect on it in the same way.  In fact, you might want to not even watch the video on this one, so you aren’t influenced by the visual, though that is an important part of being a performer.  For now I’m just wanting you to identify feelings that purely music evokes.

3.  Compare your feelings in both the previous songs with the ones that come from this… and then this.

4.  Lastly, see what kind of feelings hit you while listening to this.

…and then check back tomorrow for the rest of the post…

Prominent worship pastor/speaker/blogger Bob Kauflin recently interviewed Nashville session musician Greg Hagan on how to become a better guitarist. Greg’s advice is well-spoken and valuable for all musicians, not just guitar players. He’s got some really great things to say about how guitar players should view drummers, which is a helpful perspective for us drummers to have knowledge of. Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview are separated into two different posts, and when you’re done reading those you should check out Bob’s interview with my friend Ben Gowell from last year.

PS. Note the subtle U2 references, which only serves to reinforce the stereotype that Christian music always tries to imitate that band. I mean, what a great band to imitate, but here’s the proof that the accusation isn’t subjective…

Phil plays bass in the Jeremy Sanoski Band, and as a result he ends up being the camera guy for a lot of my random sound check videos. He’s a great musician, and a decent drummer, but I’ve posted two separate videos of him intentionally hacking, and apparently the Youtubers don’t all know that he’s kidding. Now you know, because this groove ain’t easy…

PS. We shot this video at a gig last night while I was getting some footage of my new 18″ hihat set up. I mentioned a few months ago that I’m going to keep non-educational posts on this site to a minimum and start doing more of that over at my Tumblr page instead. I’m currently giving a photo/video tour of my Paiste rig over there, so check that out if you’re interested.

My friend John Markiewicz at Audio Logic Systems just became a Mono dealer, and he’s starting off his retail relationship with that company with a 40% off promo sale! Many of you have commented to me that you’d like to check these cases out, so if you’re that guy then don’t pass this opportunity up.

Unfortunately you can’t purchase through their website, but go ahead and call the ALS office at 952-442-6305, ask for John, and tell him you got his number from my blog and you want to buy an M-80 cymbal bag. Because trust me, you want to buy an M-80 cymbal bag.

So I watched this earlier today.  It’s not BAD or anything, but I have to say, I’m kinda disappointed in it.  The Q&A isn’t great, and the soloing seems a little aimless.  I mean, I still love Matt, and I’m glad whoever recorded this 10 years ago finally got around to posting it, but it just let me down a little.

Decide for yourself…

I know this isn’t breaking news, but it’s a really interesting thing to me. I expect mergers from oil companies and other forms of big business… never really pictured it happening to companies in my line of work.  Oh well, seems like a good thing I suppose.

Get the full story at, with some additional unpacking at the Drumline blog.

PS… This would have been a great thing to include in a Mews (music news) post.  I really really really want to get the Mews posts started again.  Now I just have to actually do it instead of only wanting to do it…

Still trying to get my blog habits back up to speed here, so how about another installment in the Terminology Series.  I’ve already covered “Pocket” and “Beat,” and up today is the term “Groove.”

Now, the point again is to get specific definitions for specific words.  Drummers use the word “groove,” (as well as beat/pocket) all the time, except often with very different (even interchangeable) intentions and meanings.  As a drum teacher, I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s maybe not very helpful to my students when I use all these different words in an indiscriminate way.  Enter the Terminology Series, where I’m doing my best to nail down terms and definitions once and for all.  I certainly don’t claim to be “right” about these definitions, so please come back at me with disagreements or clarifications that you think I should consider.

So… “groove”… what is it?  I definitely use the term a lot when what I really mean is how I’ve already defined “pocket.”  The word “feel” can also be swapped out for “groove” in many instances.  However, I’m deciding to lock the term down in my own speech as a synonym for “pattern.”  I suppose, if it’s a synonym, then I should just use “pattern” and be done with it, but I like groove better because it implies musicality and physical influence.  Calling a particular groove a “pattern” just sounds too stiff and mechanical to me.

Example sentences:
“What groove are you playing there?”
“I’m having trouble learning this groove for the gig on saturday.”
“The best way to learn linear funk lines is to transcribe a bunch of David Garibaldi grooves.”

There it is.  Pretty simple and straight-forward.  Everybody knows what a pattern is, so what I’m getting at should be clear.  But I’m dropping “pattern” from my vocab in favor of “groove,” and the benefit is having the overtone of actual MUSIC behind the word instead of just math.  Anybody have any thoughts?

Terminology Series review:

Beat = a count in the measure, like “beat 1” or the “e of 3.”
Pocket = an ability to assess and perform a groove consistently
Groove = a pattern of notes on the drumset

Well, the hit counter continues to work its way up.  Thanks again to all who pay attention to this blog!  It’s a fun way for me to geek out. I plan on really hitting it hard over the coming months. I have a serious pile of drafts and all I need to do is just post them, so I’ll try to do one a day for a while.

For starters, here’s the wrap-up for 2010’s posts that matter… or at least I enjoyed writing them slash people seemed to enjoy reading them.  I think the “Pavement Sucks” posts got the most comments of anything I’ve written so far.

The Instrumental Pursuit
Glo Kit Q&A
Food For The Beloved Interview
“Uploading” Gigs
Transcribing (and Transcribing, pt 2)
Pavement Sucks (and Pavement Sucks, pt 2)
Good Gear = Gigs
Suzy Goold vs. Chris McHugh
Music Terminology: “Pocket”
Clinic Video

Lately I’ve been day dreaming about expanding my studio snare line up, and I really want to check out the stuff Johnny Craviotto makes.  He originally worked for Drum Workshop but now does his own thing, and his specialty is solid-shell drums (a thick sheet of wood steam-bent into a single-ply drum).  Although a handful of companies produce solid-shell snares (including RD), I believe he’s the only guy producing solid-shell kicks and toms.

So I was browsing the Craviotto site earlier today, and the stuff looks pretty sick.  All kinds of wood options (Ash, Walnut, Birch, etc), all solid-shell construction, and all very impressive.  Equally impressive is the list of artists who endorse his company, including two of my favorite players: Chris McHugh and Matt Chamberlain.  Chamberlain’s bio had a link to his personal website, and I remembered it being kinda cool from visiting it a few years ago, so I clicked on it and explored a little… and that’s the reason I’m posting right now.  Under the “recording” tab is a list of mics and other studio gear Chamberlain uses in his home studio set-up, and if you scroll down about halfway you’ll find the most incredible list of kits/snares I have ever seen.

Let’s just say I’m trying REALLY hard to not covet that stuff…

This is the opening tune from Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Live DVD, which I’ve owned for many years but revisited yesterday because a conversation with a friend reminded me how genius it is.  Holy cow.  The show is so theatrical and artistic, the players are so spot on, and the production is incredible, especially for 1993.  I love it.

And then there’s the clinic that Manu Katche is putting on.  His playing is of course mature and precise, but also totally inspiring and creative… everything you want.  I specifically like the marriage of the live drums and tracks, as I do more and more programming gigs these days.  Note how much of the groove’s foundation is in the track on this particular tune, instead of him playing it live.  The halftime backbeat in the sequencing means he’s freed up to do the tribal thing and almost take on an aux-perc kind of role.  I also love the snare on “e of 2” on the choruses – that’s a really unique idea but it just totally fits.

Oh, and I guess his solo breaks are pretty cool too.  Sheesh.

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