Have you ever realized you don’t necessarily need to add anything new to what you already know how to play?
There are drummers out there who play the simplest, and yet they are great, amazing musicians. Why? Because they focus on the ‘how’ of what they do.
It’s not what they play that makes them great, it’s how they play it. They noticed that when they focused on that, magic happened.
This is a crucial insight, often overlooked even by very good drummers, which is the gateway to taking your art to the next level.
There’s one effective and powerful way to focus on the how: it’s the application of parameters to what you play.
Parameters are frameworks, guidelines, variables. They are layers of variations we can add to what we are playing.
As you’ve probably heard, in any language the words are not the message. The words are the data, they are the ‘what’, and that part has been discovered to be less than 10% of the communication.
On the drums that part is the technical part: the rudiment, phrase, beat that you are playing. What gets the message across is the way you say it, the emotional content in it, which is located precisely in the how you say it.
You can say ‘hi’ in 10 different tones of voice, and with 10 different expressions on your face. Even though the data is the same, the meaning will be radically different each time.
That’s exactly what happens when you play a beat or a phrase in 10 different combinations of parameters. The beat is the data. What gets to the listener is how you play it, which contains the remaining 90% of the information communicated.
The reason many drummers are unmusical is that they play everything in a very mechanical and repetitive way. There’s no contrast, no tension and release, no nuances. In other words, they only care about the data, the what, and so there’s no emotion in it.
That’s why I recommend you start experimenting with this concept by applying the following parameters to anything you practice:
– Level of swing.
– Time positioning.
To read the full article check out this 8 page Pdf, you can download it for free by clicking here:
Imagine how far you can get even just with single stroke rolls, if you explore all of the above possibilities!
You can begin by using these guidelines:
– Start with one simple groove and one simple phrase.
– Choose one parameter and work only on that one. For instance, if you choose speed, practice from 30 to 300 bpm. If you choose volume, practice from as soft as possible to as loud as possible, and so on.
– Then choose a combination of 2 parameters.
– Create a combination that includes all parameters.
– Record yourself and notice what each combination determines in terms of emotions communicated.
– Dedicate 30 minutes every day to this study, 15 minutes on a beat and 15 on a phrase or fill, for one month.
– Include these ideas in your music.
Pick the parameters you are less familiar with and focus on those. This routine will benefit your drumming immensely.
You can read these few posts where I use these concepts in various contexts:
Musical & Creative Inverted Paradiddle Applications
One Groove – Eight Tempos – 40 to 180 BPM
Increasing Dynamic Control – Snare Drum & Grooves
Swing Level Control – In Between, Narrow, Hard
Creative Drum Groove Arrangement Techniques
Should you feel like going even deeper on this subject, I recommend you check these out:
‘Hands & Mechanics’ – Altitude Drumming – Volume 2
‘Phrasing & Fills’ – Altitude Drumming – Volume 5
‘Groove Mastery & Formulas’ – Altitude Drumming – Volume 8
‘Interpretation & Arrangement’ – Altitude Drumming – Volume 9