The Studio Drummer Chats!

My Secret Drum Practice Weapon.

January 27, 2020 Jonathan Cazenave Season 3 Episode 5
The Studio Drummer Chats!
My Secret Drum Practice Weapon.
Chapters
The Studio Drummer Chats!
My Secret Drum Practice Weapon.
Jan 27, 2020 Season 3 Episode 5
Jonathan Cazenave

Today, I will share one of my top secrets for getting better at playing the drums.
I only share this with my students and if you try it for a month, I promise you will see serious improvement. Here we go...!

I can be reached for virtual sessions, podcast feedback and production requests on Instagram @thestudiodrummer

Join me on Youtube @thestudiodrummer

My Website- http://www.jcazmusic.com


Show Notes Transcript

Today, I will share one of my top secrets for getting better at playing the drums.
I only share this with my students and if you try it for a month, I promise you will see serious improvement. Here we go...!

I can be reached for virtual sessions, podcast feedback and production requests on Instagram @thestudiodrummer

Join me on Youtube @thestudiodrummer

My Website- http://www.jcazmusic.com


speaker 0:   0:00
Transcription of this episode:Welcome to the Studio Drummer Chats. This is a creativity podcast. We talk about music production, drumming how to be more creative, all kinds of fun stuff. This episode is for the drummers out there. If you're a drummer, this one is for you. If your ah vocalist or a bass player or a guitar player, I know most of you are secretly drummers, so I think you'll like this one, too. My secret weapon for practicing drums Man. If ever there was a podcast title, that's one of them. Before I start before I hit the topic, let me just ask you to please subscribe to this podcast and share it with at least one other drummer. I would greatly appreciate that. And if you would like to see what else I'm up to, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram at the Studio drummer or on YouTube at the studio drummer. While there are no shortcuts to mastering your instrument, to playing the way you wanna play it, expressing yourself the way you want to. It's a lifelong process. There are things that we can do to maximize the time that we do spend playing and practicing and trying to get better. And as you guys know, if you'd listen to some my other podcasts. I'm a big proponent of also trying to have fun while you're doing it. Some people really enjoy the grind of practicing hard, and some people prefer to treat it as an enjoyable hobby on Lee. Both those things are great. This time I'm going to give you today will apply no matter which category you fall into. We're gonna talk today about an idea called beat synchronization or transient matching before we get too deep into what that is and how we can work on that to make are playing better. Let me just mentioned a couple of things here that might help shed some light on why this is important depending on how long you been playing, maybe how old you are, what kind of music you grew up listening to what kind of music you play today on a regular basis. Your frame of reference for timekeeping might be fairly different from that of a young drummer, and the reason for this is because young drummers today say someone who's maybe been listening to music regularly for the past, say, 10 years, maybe group. You know, maybe somebody who's say, 20 years old, 25 years old. Every single piece of music they've grown up listening to is metronomically perfect. Now, of course, making a sweeping generalization here because they might listen to classic rock. They might be into big band jazz from the forties, who knows? But let's just take the most realistic and must take 90% of the people out there that falling with at that age bracket and say that the majority of music they've heard on YouTube in the video games, uh, most of my students. By the way, most of my young students stay here music in two ways, either. A from whatever their parents listen to, which often is, you know, could be anything from classic rock all the way through the nineties. To thousands who knows two video games in YouTube, it's usually you, too. Every day I hear about artists and I hear covers, and I hear real talented musicians playing stuff that I never ever would have heard. Probably if I weren't teaching a 12 year old student or an eight year old student or a 17 year old student. I have kids in that age range, and I stay in touch with what they're listening to also, and so that's a good education. But when you take a look at anything that's been produced in the past 20 years and realized that 95% of it is metronomic, Lee Perfect is on a grid. It's interesting to think about that as a frame of reference coming up as a young musician reverses. If you came up listening to music from the sixties or the seventies for the eighties or than nineties, even as I was thinking about that very thing for this podcast, I started thinking back on music from the nineties, some of the music in the nineties, even in heavy rock. Actually, a lot of the music in the nineties that was heavy rock, and certainly all of the radio dance stuff was really like pro Tools was really starting to become super popular, and everybody was kind of using it. So during that time period, you've got a lot of music that is on the grid, but also it wasn't really cool to sound like it was on the grid, so it's used a little more sparingly during that time period, even into the early two thousands, the majority of the music and certainly into 2000 ten's. And here we are in 2020. Think about growing up everything you dear, the majority of what you listen to being metronomic Lee Perfect, as opposed to. If you grew up listening to music and drummers where the tempo of the song would speed up and slow down and the music would ab and flow, the band would move together. In that way, I can't help but think of John Bonham or Keith Moon. You know, iconic drummers that we're all influenced by today, whether whether we know it or not, whether we even know the name or not. Trust me, your influence by both those drummers and, you know, bottoms a great example. Zeppelin moved beautifully together as a unit. They would speed up, and you know, when things got more exciting, they would slow down as, say, took things down dynamically, suddenly, sometimes dramatically other times. And it's one of the things that made their music so magical. But when you contrast that to the music of today, where everything is put to a grid. It's a different kind of thing. So if you grew up with listening to that music and playing along with that music and those were influences, certainly we are. Brains are programmed a certain way. Where were sort of unconsciously programmed to think that music should move a certain way versus a younger drummer that might be unconsciously programmed to think that music shouldn't move it all. They just sort of accept that music has one tempo. I would say another example of this in popular culture's the fact that orchestral music is not as popular as it once waas, even in the context of a film score, but where music does speed up and slow down based on the visual cue. But even today's film scores are more and more Elektronik and and certainly those are very carefully on very specific grids as well. So today I'm gonna talk about a fun and easy way that we can work on our time, feel work on our metronomic perfection, if you will in air quotes. And what I want to talk about today with this concept of beats, synchronization or transient matching is the idea of spending some time playing with drum machines and by drum machines. I just mean it could be a literal hardware drum machine, but I really mean some sort of app Where your programming a drumbeat. I'm gonna tell you a little bit about how I do it. Minute play, you a couple of audio examples of some things that listen out for. And I'm gonna give you some different ways that you can incorporate this into your practice. And I promise you, if you do this for 10 minutes a day for a month, whether you're a new player or an experience player, unless you're somebody who is in the studio every single day playing to a click, there's probably a couple of you out there listening to this that already do this. You're you're recording the clicks and you're synchronizing with drum machine parts that people have sent you for their demos on a regular basis weekly daily basis. So you're kind of already doing this and you're already know where I'm headed with this. But for the majority of us out there doing this 10 minutes a day for a month and whether you've been playing for 20 years or 20 minutes. If you can play the beat, I promise you will see a dramatic improvement in your time and what we're trying thio gain by this is control over the space between the notes were trying to get a better sense of how much space there needs to be between a note. There's a physical aspect, of course, of playing it, but you know, humans don't we don't do anything in perfect time. Our heartbeat is not. It's not in perfect time. We don't walk in perfect time. We don't breathe in perfect time. So the idea of us doing anything metronomic Lee Perfect typically takes a lot of work. I'd say, with very, very rare exception. It takes practice in time. I'm convinced that we all perceive time a little bit differently, just as we all probably see colors a little bit differently and hear things a little differently and smell things a little bit differently. Having taught for several years and studied this concept a pretty good bet, I think that our sense of time, our natural sense of time is probably slightly variable between from person to person, so some of the things we're gonna talk about the day are sort of ah, more definitive way too. Look at where your time is versus kind of just guessing. So let's throw some audio examples in here. I'm going to start with a simple beat along with the Metrodome, and you're going to hear three different versions. The first version is me playing behind the beat. Now what I mean by that is that island and then the Metrodome lands, though I'm landing in front of the beat. But remember, the beat is ahead of me. Tough. If we look at this, the Metrodome, in terms of time, is ahead of what I'm playing. So I'm pulling back, and that's why they call it behind the beat. I'm in a sense, placing my notes right behind each metronomic tick. Check it out. The next example is me playing in front of the click, and what I mean by that is the snare in the bass drum will land after or in front of the click, pushing it forward. But but and the next example I'll be playing right on top of the click. Here we go. But But so just for reference, none of these files have been moved digitally other than for the editing of this podcast. But none of the beets have been moved in any way, shape or form. The Metrodome that you hear coming into the doll is from an external source. So I'm not even on a grid at all. I'm not using the Metrodome in this session. Um, I'm gonna have all beat detection and everything turned off. So let's talk a little bit about what we heard. The 1st 1 playing behind the beat. So this is something that people talk about a lot in drum circles. And the idea and what they typically mean, I believe, is a groove that has a relaxed feel to the point that it's just barely microscopically pulling back. But has this sort of feel like you're just sort of, well, you can go all the way to feeling like you're walking through mud, but that would be really laid back. But you know the idea of just being like mostly on the beat. But maybe just a little teeny bit behind the beat. Imagine a lazy, slow stroll in the park. The example I played you is a little bit more exaggerated than that, because I want to make sure you can really hear the flam ing that happens with a click or a drum machine, which is coming up next when you are listening for this. If you've never done this before, I want to make sure that it's clear what you're listening for So you can rewind and hear that playing behind or ahead on top of the beat can all be useful in certain contexts. You know, if you think about like the blues, you know, typically, we think of that is pretty, especially slow blues kind of laid back. We think of the drummer pulling back behind to be any. Any time you hear something really slow and groovy and you're kind of nodding your head and tapping your foot, you might be hearing the drummer play in a very relaxed, groovy behind the beat fashion. Playing on top of the beat certainly is something that we hopefully try to do all the time. You know, just having good time, making things feel good, with the way that we're phrasing things and accenting and just playing really solid time. Playing ahead of the beat can be useful when you're trying to push something forward, a lot of people will talk about this in the jazz world. The idea one of the basic concepts with jazz is that the music is always pushing forward, always getting, you know in a forward direction. If you think about it on a timeline, this idea that we're kind of getting to the next thing. And there's a lot of music that is influenced by jazz, fusion and various other styles. When you're playing really fast music, speed, metal, things like this. The idea of this this urgency that the music is moving forward is a useful idea. So that concept is broad enough and deep enough that it's the topic of probably a whole different podcast we're going to focus on today. It's just improving our time, being aware of the space between the notes and mostly playing on the beat, so that if we decide that some other point down the road, we wanna control that a little bit and try to play behind her head of the beat, we can do that. But first and foremost, all those concepts aside, those air visual great concepts, first and foremost we need to have good time and we need to be able to play on the beat. That's kind of top priority. So that's what that's what the focus of this pod gases. So let's check out another audio example. This next one's going to get to the meat and potatoes of what we're talking about here. So I've taken an app that I use a lot and I'm gonna give you some tips. In some ways, you can set this up to do it yourself from simple too complicated. But what I'm using is an app that I use a lot called D. M one. And as far as I know it is IOS exclusive or OSX exclusive So you can put it on any of your iPad iPhone, and they also have a version that goes on your computer so it could go on your laptop or desktop. If you're using a Mac, I'm gonna talk about some other options for other platforms in just a couple minutes. But what we're going to hear is the same concept that I just played for you, but this time play with a drum beat. What you're going to hear first is me playing behind the beat. I think of it in terms of the drum machine Bass and snare landing first and then me landing after it. This is an exaggerated version. I want you to clearly be able to hear the flaming Check it out. The next one is me playing ahead of the beat. I'm going to land in front of or head of the drum machine. Here we go. And lastly, meet playing on top of the beat right in sync with it. This is what you want to strive for when you're doing this, right? So a few things. This degree of accuracy is difficult. It takes some time. It takes some work. We don't have to be perfect. You know, I've put an absolute microscope on this idea of transient matching so that we're actually hearing how accurately I'm hitting the transient is the very first attack of the note of my bass drum and the very first attack of the note of the drum machine. So we're comparing me and imperfect being  to a computer which is also not perfect but closer to being perfect. By the way, if you ever If you ever watch a metro gnome variable, it's quite fascinating. Even metronomes aren't 100% perfect, but they are far more accurate than we are because their computers okay, so my point is, it's nice toe have a diamond standard to strive for so that we know what it is we're after. In the studio, there's often been this concept that's known amongst drummers. That we refer to is burying the click, and the idea is that you're playing with 1/4 note click, and you're playing so accurately that the clique kind of disappears in your headphones because it's being drowned out by your bass drum and your snare drum in perfect synchronization. If you play with clicks a lot, you'll experience this, and that is absolutely something to work towards. But we don't have to be perfect to sound good, but what we do want to do is we want to get an idea of where we are. We want to, uh, try to improve our time, and we want to get a sense of the space between the notes, and it's a difficult thing to articulate. But the more you do this, do you get a sense of how much time and space there is between each note at a given tempo, and that's kind of where the magic is. And it can only be done by either playing a lot in becoming aware of that concept. And certainly I won't say you have to play with Metro gnomes or drum machines to become aware of this space between the notes. I don't think that's true, but it is absolutely a tool you can use to accurately check yourself to see what your sense of space between the notes is and how accurate it is. Okay, so drum machines the reason that I like playing with drum machines in particular, or the steam one app is a drum machine simulator, a digital version of it. Reason I like this is because first key concept in in, uh, analyzing your playing in this manner is you need to clearly be able to hear the attack or the transient of whatever you're playing, too, and you need to clearly be able to hear the attack of what you're playing your bass drum of your snare. So is a starting point. Let's talk about drum Machine Apps. One I like is DM1 It's a few bucks, and it's really easy to use. You can tap in the beat, and it will auto quantize it for you. It also has an old school grid sequencer selector, where you can select whatever notes you want to play on whatever instruments on 1/16 note grid. Super easy to use. So if you've ever used a hold school sort of sequence or drum machine, you know what I'm talking about. But it's pretty easy, pretty intuitive, and I like it a lot. I looked around some I'm mostly Ah, IOS Mac guy. So I looked around some to see what was available for Android, and I found a few that seem to have pretty good reviews. One is just called Drum Machine, and it looks in terms of the basics of the interface. It looks kind of like DM1 The skin is different, but it's the same feature set. Basically, there's another one called electric drum that's in that same ballpark, and there's one called Little Drum Machine on. Also, there's one. There's an NPC machine, so MPC is was one of the first really popular drum machines that were used on a lot of hip hop tracks and poppet tracks, and they're still heavily in use today. We may talk about that a little bit more, but I have an MPC simulator on my iPad's as well. And they're they're pretty easy and fun to use if you want to go a little bit deeper and use a doll. If you have an eye pattern or on IOS device, you can just use garage Man. You can program in beats in garage band as well, and the advantage to that is you can. Basically that could be your one stop shop. You could conceivably just use your phone to program in a beat, then record yourself using the the built in microphone playing along with it. And if you're careful about how you record yourself, if you don't play too loud, you can listen back and see exactly how synchronized you are now by careful. What I mean is, you can overload your I'll s or your android the microphone, and they're pretty easily so you may have to play a little quieter. You can try putting a towel rag over the top of the phone just to cut down on some of the volume. And you can also try putting it further away from your drum set, not point to Mike right at your drum set. This could be pretty effective. I've done it with my laptop, and it's It's doable the advantage to using a doll, and I'll tell you a couple more that that will work for different devices. But the natives to using a digital audio workstation to play along with the built in drums. Sounds that hasn't there, is that you can easily record yourself and listen back and look back at what you've just done, whereas with a drum machine app, you're going to need to rally all those signals into a doll. And I'll tell you about how do that in just a minute. So I've given you some some drum machine APs for IOS drum. She naps for android. GarageBand is great also for your Mac. If you're using that, and a popular doll for PCs is Reaper, check that one out. Be aware that some dogs, such a studio one live also very popular. Dawes may have a built in quant ization feature turned on do you want to make sure that any quantity ization is turned off for this exercise because you don't want it automatically correcting your drums and you're going to look at and think, Oh wow, I'm perfect. I must be the golden child. So that's important to make sure that what you're seeing back and what you're hearing back is exactly what you played. I'll also tell you about another way to route signals, which is closer to the way I do it on a little bit larger scale. You could buy like a little miniature mixer like a mackey for Channel Mixer for well under $100. And they make this, by the way you can get him have a Yamaha that is a also a digital audio interface. So it plugs in via USB and has an analog mixer built into it. I think it was also around that same price point, so there's there's a couple of different options, but the one who's going to talk about with the analog mixer is that do you have a little mini mixer and think of it is like your monitor mixer and you can plug your iPad into it, you can plug a microphone into it like you could buy A s and 58 for 50 or 60 bucks, and that can be your drum monitor. And then you come out of that with just headphones out of your little mini mixer and you've got full control over the volume of your drum machine or your clique or whatever, and you have also some control over the room like that you have set up. I have a set of similar to this with the stereo mike, that's kind of on the floor, pointed towards the bass drum that I use for sort of live monitoring so I don't have to deal with in late and see inside the box. If you don't know what I'm talking about there, don't worry about it, but a simple analog mixer and a mike or two in the room and your iPad plugged into there, and you've got a system where you can clearly hear everything as you're playing, and that's kind of what you're going for right now. And if you decide to record yourself, you can simply go out of the mini mixer into your doll or you could go out of the many mixer if you have an interface into your phone or your iPad. And in the case of the Yamaha Mixer I was referring to a few minutes ago, that is also an interface opposing via USB tear laptop, and that will serve as your interface. That's all in one, So that's a great option. Also, you can do everything I'm talking about, but this little $100 Yamaha mixer okay, next, let's talk about what to play. Start really simple. You may have noticed that the beat that I was playing along with was on Lee snaring base the bass drum on one and three. The snare on two and four and it shows that sound. By the way. That's a role in 606 sound because of the fact that it's very transient and it contrasts with the bass drum in the snare began. We're not trying to get this a sound Great if if if If I were using this on a track and I was trying to blend in, I would choose different sounds, but in this case were actually trying to have contrasting sounds. So my bass drum was big and Bumi, but the drum machine bass drum was more cliquey. I would recommend not programming a high hat part, even though you will probably want to play one. To start with, start with just basin snare, start with a simple pattern and start with a tempo that is medium. I would recommend around 100 beats a minute. Faster is easier. Slower is harder, I say 100 cause it's kind of middle of the road you want to be able to hear if you when you start getting getting up into 120 130 BPM, it gets a little harder to hear Thief lambing. So we don't want to play so slow that we're gonna throw our sticks across the room. If you if you try to start this at 75 beats a minute, it's gonna be a challenge. But at 100 beats a minute, 90 beats a minute somewhere in there. Unless you've done this a lot, then that is a good tempo and you could still hear what's going on. There's enough space between the notes and then as you get comfortable with it, then start speeding up or slowing it down, trying different tempos. However you decide to remember, you can just start with the app, and you don't even have to record yourself to start with. You can just start with one of these drum machine APS and your phone and Samir buds. That's all you really need to get started because you can configure your earbuds in such a way you could do one year in and when you're out. Or you can put both earbuds in, but not so tight that you can still hear your drums really clearly. And just look for a mix that you can hear the flam ing of the two. Now if you have an electronic set, it's even easier because you just plug your phone into the oxen and you play. And with that, you can very clearly hear those transience of how well you're matching. Start this process, knowing that it's gonna be a little bit challenging at first and there's a process. That's something you're trying to get on the first day, and I'll also tell you that super accuracy with clicks for drum machines. In my experience, it's somewhat of a perishable skill. If you don't do it for a while it tends to fade a little bit. So once you once you get better at it and what you've done this a lot. Your time improves to some degree permanently. But when you start talking about trying to, like, really bury drum machine parts, it's something that you really have to be doing every day to get to the point where you can just accurately sit down and do that. But remember, As I said before, we're not trying to create machines out of ourselves, necessarily. We're just trying to get a realistic sense of where time is improve it the best we can, and then that's going to give us more control. We're also going to start to have a better sense of if it were playing with other musicians and things start to speed up a little bit, we're gonna be have a better awareness of that. Things start to slow down a little bit. We're gonna have a better awareness of that. So our overall tempo is going to be steadier. And I did a whole podcast, um, in season one about what is the role of a drummer in our current day and age. But remember that initially and fundamentally, our role as a drummer is that of the timekeeper. I would love to hear some feedback from you if you try this. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram at the studio drummer. You can d m me and I will respond to you as quickly as I can. If you want to check out some of the things I'm doing elsewhere, you can hop on over to YouTube at the studio drummer, and, uh, I hope you try this out. And I hope that it helps you in some way. If you like the podcast, please share it with another drummer and hit the subscribe button. And I hope to talk to you soon.