Given that my previous most was approximately one week ago, I can’t say much has really changed. However, we did move our band practice to Friday so that there would be something new to discuss for this weeks theme of concepts and alternatives. But before I get into that, I have an exciting announcement! We have officially posted our first song on SoundCloud! It is not yet perfect, and I will admit the sound quality is lacking, but we have put in a lot of effort to get to where we are and we hope you will enjoy our rendition of Today by The Smashing Pumpkins.
As a band it has taken us quite a while to get to a level at which we are fully comfortable on our instruments. But now that we have found the rhythm and the feel for our instruments, as well as playing in a band, we will have our 5 songs done in no time. Next weekend I will be posting a follow up blog post with our second recording of ‘Today’ with our vocalist Anika Venkatesh, who as unfortunately unable to make it to our last rehearsal. Fingers crossed that by then we will be able to figure out a better balance for our playing, so the recording won’t sound as heavy on the drums
Moving along to concepts and alternatives, which is actually a harder topic for me to write about. I still haven’t met with my mentor in a while, so I will have to refer back to meetings we have had before spring break, as well as things I have learned from my bandmates. These are also two very broad topics, so I have chosen to focus as equally on both as I can and provide a couple examples to give you a bigger understanding and insight on my learning.
Now, starting with concepts, a lot of concepts with drumming have to do with technique, timing, and rhythm, and less to do with the actually patterns and drums played at each given time. Some of the main concepts I try to focus on and remember while Im playing is to relax, count in my head (feel the music), and keep my heal up. Unlike piano and other instruments I have played, drums isn’t about perfection its about feeling the music and keeping a tempo for your band to follow. If you slip up or hit the wrong drum, just keep going, the likely hood of the audience noticing is very slim. That is, as long as you don’t lose the tempo/beat. As I have said before you are keeping the tempo that the whole band will follow, which brings me to my second concept of counting in my head. I have discovered that the easiest way for me to keep the beat is to hear the song in my head and follow the beat I think it would have. As crazy as it sounds, it has really helped me, and I think my progress has shown in the recording above. Lastly, I said to keep your heal up. Obviously that isn’t as big as the other ones, but when playing the drums you want power over the drum kit. Especially with the rock songs we have chosen to play. And because I don’t have a ton of muscle in my legs, it helps to keep my heal off the ground when hitting the bass drum, so I can control and give as much force as necessary. I remember the first day when my mentor reminded me almost 6 times to lift my heal up.
Alternatives are a bit less straight forward. I can’t list alternatives, as there hasn’t been a set rule or rules that I follow. Alternatives just arise here and there during my mentor and band sessions. A lot of drumming is coming up with alternatives. In other words, ways to make it easier on yourself and/or the band. This comes up especially often when reading other peoples drum notation because everyone’s is different. When I read over drum notation written by someone else it will generally work with the music, but there have been many times with the music unclear, or to hard for the level I am at, which is where alternatives come into play. During band practices I can’t say to my band, “Oh, sorry, I won’t be able to play today, as I can’t play this music.” It is disrespectful to the band and puts us all in a position where we can’t get anything done. Instead, I need to come up with alternatives and ways to adjust the piece to fit my ability. Some alternatives might be simplifying the music by taking out some sixteenth beats and replacing them with eighth and/or quarter beats, as well as changing a rhythm to something more suitable to the rhythm the rest of the band is playing at the time. I do believe it is becoming easier for me to come up with my own alternatives without my mentor. And it excites me to see the progress.