[Dixielandjazz] Drummers - Do you hear the changes?

BillSargentDrums at aol.com BillSargentDrums at aol.com
Mon Feb 23 13:13:40 PST 2004

<<You see, he plays "musical" drums". When he takes a chorus, or two, most
musicians and some in the audience can clearly hear the song. He is not
just tapping out rhythms, he is playing he song. (And yes, of course, he
tunes his drums) And nobody in the band has to count measures on the
drum solo, we hear where he is and come in automatically when he has
said what he wants to say. So I asked him how he constructs his solos.
He said:

"Simple, I hear the chord changes and I play them. Doesn't every drummer
do that?"

I don't know and so my question to drummers on the List. Do you hear the
changes, and play them when you solo?>>

Good dummers are "musicians" too.

I not only hear the changes, but it bugs the heck out of me when someone 
plays incorrect changes for a song.

I also know the melody lines impeccably and incorrect ones bug me too.

I also know the correct voicing for the bass lines and the proper harmonies 
within the band or vocal group.

When I play solos 99% of the time I play the tune and I usually have the same 
compliment paid to me in that people can hear the tune in my playing.

Good drumming is NOT a matter of simply keeping time and playing rhythms.

Good drumming IS a matter of realizing that drums and percussion instruments 
were designed to "give percussive reinforcement to melodies and the harmonic 
structure already happening around them.

This is impossible to do if you are not recognizant of the actual melody line 
and changes that are, in fact, happening.

Now there are several other functions of the drums and percussion, such as 
giving "color" and "mood" and add expression, ie to add breadth and make bigger, 
add dynamics and shadings, and so on . . . and in most situations, to be the 
perfect swingin' time keeper and dictator and to give something for dancers 
and tapping toes.

Oh yea, I know most of the lyrics when the singers forget them too.

Used to be, long ago, that the band consisted of 5 musicians and a drummer . 
. . with the drummer having the least musical skill in the band. Today, in 
many bands, the drummer is the MOST skilled musician in the band.

Glad someone finally asked. Thanks Steve!

Bill Sargent, MD

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list