Drum & Bass Thoughts

My dear friend, Stuart Smart, shared with me some notes he took from a reading of Victor Wooten's book, The Music Lesson. I found them to be very helpful and informative in putting language to what many of us intuitively know, but are perhaps unable to articulate.  Stu has tailored these ideas a bit for us at Trinity.

1 - Groove -  it's the feel, not the chops; subtleties of being in/on/behind the downbeat; find the groove/pocket before you play.

2 - Notes – the actual note/frequency/drum being played and its significance to the overall placement in the song; passing tones/drum fills; never lose the groove in order to find the note.  For bassists: don't be afraid of 'finding' the 'right' note: you're never more than a half-step off!

3 - Articulation/Duration - attack + resonance, don't beat the heck out of the drum, or you choke the tone, be happy we don't have plexiglass at trinity!

4 - Technique - to reproduce what you want to play as naturally as possible; wrist movement, elbow, how to hold the stick to maximize rebound; muscle memory!
5 - Emotion/Feel- You're a human, not computer; any music is about conveying emotion, and that is accomplished through your feel.

6 - Dynamics - playing louder is not the best way to get someone's attention, but real emotion has to and can be real when you're not hiding behind loud volume; each song has its own volume, and within songs, there is a build… a suspense; how to guide the rest of the team through tipping your hat at dynamic changes

7 - Rhythm/Tempo - the true pulse of the song is something that you should feel even when the song is over; keeping time, esp in fills; finding the tempo that settles.

8 - Tone - size/shapes/styles of sticks and impact on tone, percussion extras (eg shaker, tambourine); for bass, tone is mostly in the fingers and how you touch the string; the tone is what generates emotion.

9 - Phrasing - repeating the beat, establishing a consistent pattern; variations of phrasing as a component of song dynamics (i.e. more or less busy); for a bass player, phrasing is working around the rhythm.

10 - Space/Rest - the "13th" note, that can speak louder and deeper than any note played; When/what you play is just as important as when/what you don't play, don’t fill it up.  Allow room for other musicians; less is more with drums

11 - Listening - How what you play works with what everyone else is doing around you; maintain an awareness: keep your ears open (and maybe your eyes)- be dynamic: play off the bass, and be ready for an unexpected change to the arrangement or feel; always be reading the cues of the leader.  The more you listen, the better you can respond…and also better know when to be quiet.

Thank you, Stu.


Free Ulsterman said…
Some good thoughts here. It's also nice if the music/worship leader looks a t the congregation and pauses to encourage them to sing in between songs.

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