I had the role of a session drummer for this last unit, therefore i spent time researching certain drummers that have either inspired me, or relate to the style of playing i have been doing during this unit.
One of my main influences for this unit or even before this unit is Clyde Stubblefield. He is known for playing for James Brown from 1965 up till 1971. There is a lot of controversy with the argument that he is the most exploited man in modern music. This is because of James Brown’s famous song ‘Funky Drummer’ and the fact that the drum beat ‘Clyde Stubblefield’ played has been sampled in 1446 songs..and he didn’t receive any royalties or credit for it.
He is well known for his style of playing which involved accenting certain notes on the snare and using ghost notes (these notes are played, very softly between the ‘main’ notes most often on the snare drum). He would also emphasize certain notes by opening the hi- hat. These are elements that i tried to enroll into my playing during for the final major project. Even though i didn’t play on any Songs that were remotely similar to James Brown, unless you count ‘Sun and Air’ which is heavily influenced by James Brown but mainly just has a funk feel to it, my style of playing was an attempt to use some of Clyde’s famous trademarks but in my own way of course. Two songs that would be the best example to use was ‘Crushed’ and Rory’s song, which are in terms of genre are probably the two songs that are furthest away from James Brown. However, if you listen to drums in the verse of ‘Crushed’ the whole drum beat is a very much sped up version of a ‘Clyde Stubblefield’ type drum beat; it consists of a lot of ghost notes and then accenting one of the notes with the snare and use of opening the hi hat to emphasize and the kick drum was just playing the same consistent part. In Rory’s song i used a lot of ghost notes, however in a different way. Where ‘Clyde Stubblefield’ would play ghost notes in between his hi hat and on the off beats, for this song i would play the ghost notes as double stroke rolls and at the same time as the hi hat.
John “Reni” Wren
Alan John “Reni” Wren is an English rock drummer and member of The Stone Roses. Th Stone Roses are an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1983. They were one of the pioneering groups of the ‘Madchester’ movement that was active during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their first album titled ‘The Stone Roses’ was a breakthrough success for the band and garnered critical acclaim, with many critics regarding it as one of the greatest British albums ever recorded.
‘Reni’ taught himself drums when he was young and is considered as a naturally gifted musician Reni, this is because he is also adept at playing the guitar, bass, and piano. ‘John Robb’ in his 1997 book: ‘The Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop’ notes that Reni could “play guitar almost as well as he plays drums.” However, it is his drumming abilities that made him stand out, he has a very unique style of playing, where his playing is quite loose but still tight at the same time.His laid-back style of complex, off-beat rhythms was influential in bringing about the blend of indie and dance music.
I don’t really listen to ‘The Stone Roses’ a lot however, i can not deny that ‘Reni’ played the biggest role in my playing for this unit. This is because the majority of the songs i played on were Jacob’s and ‘The Stone Roses’ are one of his favorite bands, also when him and me had conversations on the type of drumming he wanted on his songs, he always referred to ‘Reni’. If you listen to Jacob’s songs on which i had played drums for you can hear the influence, especially with playing on the off beat rather than on the beat, a good example would be on ‘Denches by Twenty, Dead by Thirty’ , on the chorus i play a straight 4/4 drum beat with ride, but on every offbeat hit the hi hat whilst opening it.
‘Eric Moore’ isn’t as well know in the mainstream media as the previous two musicians i have talked about, but he is a well known drummer on social media (which is how i find him) and has played for some well know artists. For example; he was a member of ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ from 2009 till 2015, played for ‘Infectious Grooves’ from 2008 till 2014, from 2005 till 2008 he toured with Grammy award winning R & B artist ‘Bobby Brown’ and he was the founder of the ‘Gospel Chops movement’ (2004).
‘Eric Moore’ started playing drums at the early age of 18 months and by the age of 4 he was playing for a church full time. He is well known for playing really crazy gospel grooves and on his social media he does several videos of him playing in different time signatures and playing quite complex chops. This is what really attracted me to his playing and inspired me, especially during this unit. For example, when i was playing Rory’s song, the verse is in 7/4 timing and i had never played in a different time signature than 4/4 or 6/8, therefore i struggled a lot at first trying to figure out how to play and what to play for this. Watching some Eric’s videos really helped give me an idea on what to play and made me realize that it isn’t as complicated as i had thought.
(video showing grooves in 7 timing)
Also when playing Jacob’s song ‘Saxon Sound, it involves playing a 16th not drum beat but in the beat it has a sequence of single stroke rolls played as 32nd notes. In the recording of ‘Saxon Sound’ the drums are very minimalistic, however, when performing the song live i added many more elements to the song to add to the craziness. This involved moving quickly around the kit and some complex fills. This was probably the song i struggled to play the most, because it made me feel physically worn out.
(Video showing techniques on out how to play quickly)
Warm up techniques and how to speed of your playing
Warming up before playing drums is really important. Depending on what you are playing and depending on the drummer, you can get away with not warming up. However, i find it really effective in terms of having more control over my playing, less wrist pains and being able to play quicker. For this unit especially, i was playing songs that involved more complex drum parts. Mainly for songs such as ‘Crushed’ and ‘Saxons Sound’.
(Useful video on wrist movement)
‘Crushed’ doesn’t involve overly complex drum parts, however when playing it live we would tend to play it at a faster pace and there is not one section when the drums don’t play at all and therefore it was very full on the whole time. I remember when would rehearse it i would always make mistakes and my hands would cramp up during the verse when i would try play all the ghost notes, it wasn’t until the week before the gig in which i researched different warm up techniques and how to avoid wrist and hand pains that i was able to play the song all the way through without making any mistakes. Warming up and using proper technique makes a huge difference and it made it more comfortable for me to play and i found myself enjoying it a whole lot more.
As i mentioned before playing the fast single stroke rolls in ‘Saxon Sound’ was really hard to get used to and no matter how many times i attempted to play it, it still ‘killed’ my wrist. I don’t think i ever fully mastered the technique, because i simply didn’t give myself enough time to adapt to it. However, after following the advice from this video, i remember my playing became much tighter in general, and i was able to play at a faster pace. This video below played a huge part in helping me play my single stroke rolls at a faster pace.