Christmas Drum backing Track - Drum and Bass

Christmas Drum backing Track - Drum and Bass

Drumless track to practice drums with this Christmas

Hi drummers,

As it's nearly Christmas I thought I'd share this slightly weird festive drumless backing track with you. It's a messed up version of Jingle Bells without drums so you can provide the rhythms.

The style is drum and bass so it is accordingly quick at 170bpm. The generic drum and bass rhythm is not difficult per se but maintaining the 8th note hi-hat part at 170bpm for the duration is a challenge.

Technique is the key so use the fingers, allow the stick to bounce and don't tense up. If nothing else this is a good excuse to review your technique and try to develop it up to this level.

And if this doesn't get you in the festive mood then you are a lost cause!

If you want to check out some live drum and bass drumming, two guys that I enjoy watching are the Andy Gangadeen and Jojo Mayer so get on YouTube and kill some time getting inspired. As well as their great technique, watch how they use electronics and alternative drum sounds to work sonically in a very electronic based genre.

New Drum Sheet Music Resource

New Drum Sheet Music Resource

Get your favourite songs in drum notation

Hey drummers,

A new online drum learning resource is currently being written but in the mean time you have access to full drum notation for some of your favourite drum songs, as well as some less obvious choices. These have the drum notes for the entire song so you can learn them slowly at a comfortable pace, practice them and then gradually build up to the full speed and play along with the original track.

To check out and access the catalogue visit totaldrummer.com

Here you can find songs by Green Day, Bon Jovi, ACDC, Frank Sinatra, The Police, Guns and Roses, Katy Perry, Muse, Led Zeppelin and many more.

So head over there and grab some new material to take your drumming to the next level.

Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan – John Robinson Drum Beat

Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan – John Robinson Drum Beat

Hey Drummers,

Following on the series of classic grooves (check out previous posts for SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT, LATE IN THE EVENING, CHAMELEON, FIFTY WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER , we are today looking at a groove my session drumming legend Jonh J.R. Robinson, a prolific recording drummer, proven with a glance at his extensive C.V. The main aspect that draws me to J.R.’s drumming is the flawless execution of his grooves as heard on tracks from Michael Jackson’s ‘Off the wall’ album as well as the track Ain’t Nobody from Rufus and Chaka Khan’s 1983 album ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’.

Here we are looking at the Ain’t nobody drum beat. A commercially successful track and one with a very strong vocal hook, it doesn’t immediately grab the listener as a great drumming track. But that is part of the skill that J.R. possesses in my view. The ability to play complex parts that sit perfectly in the track and support the song rather than detract from it. There is a reason that J.R. is called upon by so many top artists!

And this example is one of those tracks that sounds innocent enough to the casual listener, but upon closer inspection, is actually a cleverly constructed drum part and by no means the easiest to execute.

New music video

New music video

Rock video released

Hey drummers,

It's been quiet on here for a while which I'm hoping to remedy soon but it's mainly because I haven't had the time to make videos or write articles. That's great because I've been busy doing sessions in my studio as well as other studios around London, as well as loads of gigs and teaching.

I'm also slowly getting the syllabus together for the online drum tutoring service called Total Drummer so there'll be loads of new learning material coming out through that soon.

As well as the diverse and random work of being a freelance drummer,  I've also been working with a London based rock band called Fears along with Sony/ATV. There have been loads of great gigs and lots of time in the studio demoing and getting the album together but we can also now get the first video out there into the world.

Drum Practice Backing Track in Six Eight

Drum Practice Backing Track in Six Eight

Develop crucial timing skills

Hey drummers,

Playing with the click is an ever increasing skill that every drummer needs and it's crucial that we all spend lots of time working on this. But just as important is the ability to keep good time without a machine to guide us.

I have found in the past that I'm playing live and in the studio with a click so much that I've become dependent on it and feel exposed when the click isn't there. When that happened I made a point of going back and practising without a click to build back the confidence in my internal metronome.

I have a Soundcloud profile that has a growing collection of drum practice tools to help with timing and other concepts. The track below is one of these.

It is in six eight time and lasts for eight bars. The first five bars have backing music and a click but the last three are silent. The exercise here is for you to keep playing through the silent bars. When the loop comes back around again you will know if you sped up, slowed down, or maintained perfect timing.

If this is difficult at first, persevere and it will become easier in time. Start be playing a very simple groove through it all. As you become comfortable with it you can become more adventurous with what you play in the gap.

Huge Discount on Drum Books

Huge Discount on Drum Books

Grab 55% discount off my drum books and more

Hey drummers,

My publishers have given me a great discount that I want to pass on to you guys in case you want to get any of my drum books before Christmas.

If you do then now is a great time as you can get 55% off the price. The two books I have published through Rowman & Littlefield are 'The Drum: A History' and 'Drum Kit Secrets - 52 Strategies for the Advanced Drummer'; catchy name huh!

The fist one details the total history of the drum from the earliest evidence right up to the modern drum kit and studio technology. It's very in depth and goes into great detail to try and uncover where our favourite instrument came from.

The drum secrets book has one tip for each week in the year to help people become the best drummer they can. It covers everything from playing technique, timing, studio techniques, health, stage fright and loads more. It's a useful book for anyone serious about improving on the drums. Well I would say that wouldn't I!

Anyway, if you are interested simply head over to Rowman & Littlefield in the US or NBN if you're not in the US and search for the books. Use the code AUTH1555 before 31st December to enjoy a huge discount.

Enjoy!

Drum Lessons in Farnham, Surrey

Drum Lessons in Farnham, Surrey

Farnham, Surrey Drum Lessons

Welcome to the website for local drum teacher Matt Dean. Matt has been teaching drums from his drum studio in Farnham, Surrey since he completed his 1st Class BA (Hons) music degree in 2001.

Since then he has taught students from as young as five years old up to adults from the surrounding areas of Aldershot, Farnborough, Fleet, Hook, Camberley, Odiham, Guildford and Ash in Surrey and Hampshire.

His studio is well equipped with three kits (a smaller one for younger students), lots of percussion, keyboards and recording facilities so students learn the necessary skills of studio recording.

As well as his own syllabus he also takes students through the grade exam process when required. Lessons cover all styles whether the student wants to learn rock, pop, funk, jazz, blues, Latin, or simply gain a rounded understanding of all possible styles.

There is also the option to learn from his online drum course Total Drummer, either instead of or as a supplement to 1-2-1 lessons.

As well as teaching drums privately, Matt has taught in many schools 1-2-1 as well as giving workshops to whole schools. In that capacity he has also given drum clinics to children and adults across the UK. He drums professionally as a freelance live and studio drummer playing with many different artists and shows. He also runs his own drum studio where his drumming is used around the world on albums and TV. He has also written for all the major international drum magazines as well as having two drum books published in America. Information of these can be found on the author page.

He has an enhanced CRB check in place.

Contact Matt to discuss booking a drum lesson.

Drum Pratice Solutions

Drum Pratice Solutions

New Music Technology for Quiet Drum Practice

New Options for Buying a New Drum Kit

I was recently approached by Sky News to review two new bits of drum learning and creative technology as the ‘Drum Expert’. Their words – not mine!

The show went out over the weekend and can be seen below.

I often speak to people that want to practice drums and be creative but can’t have a drum kit at home because they are too big, too noisy, too expensive. It’s a familiar story and all of us drummers have had to make a compromise somewhere down the line. These limitations actually stop all drum practice.

Sky News Matt Dean Drums

Traditionally we have used practice pads, used silencers or drum mutes on the drums, or used electronic drum kits which are increasingly becoming more impressive.

With a greater focus on this side of the market and new technology allowing greater things, I’m always interested in ways to help people become more creative and I wanted to share these bits of kit with you as they might just help you out.

My full comments were edited down for the news clip (I do ramble on after all) but the basic gist was that I thought both of these were fantastic bits of kit. For someone living in a small, terraced house with neighbours close by, someone that lives away from home all week and can’t practice in their hotels, someone in shared accommodation or flats, or someone with very grumpy neighbours or even family members, then products like this make the difference between not playing at all and being able to progress as a drummer and get creative.

I don’t see these being used in a serious way such as live performance or studio work, but I really think these could be a lot of fun and great for enabling people to practice the drums.

The bits of kit were Aerodrums and Jambe.

Rather than explain what they do I think the Sky News item below tells it better or you can check out the product pages in the company links above.

HISTORY OF THE DRUM KIT EARLY 20TH CENTURY – DOUBLE DRUMMING

HISTORY OF THE DRUM KIT EARLY 20TH CENTURY – DOUBLE DRUMMING

DOUBLE DRUMMING

Hi drummers,

Many of you may already know the history of the kit but for those of you that don’t this short post simply highlights the relative infancy of our beloved instrument. It is only really in the last hundred years that it has existed in its current form, and with tunable toms it has been even less time!

Before this time several percussionists were required in the orchestra pit to carry out various duties with bass drums, snare drums, cymbals and other percussive effects. This was not only expensive as every musician needed paying, but also took up valuable space in the cramped theatre pits.

This situation was alleviated slightly when some bright spark conceived the idea of ‘double drumming’. This entailed the bass drum being positioned close enough to the snare drum so that a single drummer could operate one drum with a stick in his right hand and another drum with a stick in his left hand.

Now one drummer was effectively out of a job and the remaining man could do the jobs previously done by two men. Not good for the unemployment statistics but a positive step towards the drum kit.

I’ll talk about the next stage later but to give you a clue, a man named William F. Ludwig (you might have seen his name on the kits of some bright young players such as Ringo Starr and John Bonham) was heavily involved and it allowed the drummer to sit down…………what a relief!

Anyway, just to think how far the kit and the way we play it has come since then shows what can be achieved by forward thinking people. Who knows, maybe you can dream up the next drumming revolution and change the way we play.

BUDDY RICH, ANIMAL AND ALBERT EINSTEIN

BUDDY RICH, ANIMAL AND ALBERT EINSTEIN

A little food for thought.

As these blogs often look at the history of the drum kit and the drummers who shaped the genres we listen to today, I know it’s sometimes tempting to ask, “Why does history matter?” Albert Einstein who was nearly as clever as the average rock drummer once said, “If you want to know the future, look into the past.”

I believe that to take music to the next stage, an understanding of what has come before is crucial, so that we can learn and accomplish what those great drummers achieved before us. And with that knowledge and those skills we can push beyond into new territory which would never have been possible without that foundation to build upon.

With that in mind, to help us examine some more historical drumming here’s a video of Animal from the Muppets. A great drummer who is seen here in battle with another chap who is trying his hardest to learn from Animal’s skills. Legend has it that this young man did actually go on after this experience and took drumming to new levels.

By the way, that Einstein geezer also said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” So get back on the kit and try something new today, something that you wouldn’t normally do. Maybe play your favourite beat with reversed sticking so that the left hand plays the right hand’s part and vice versa. Maybe try your favourite fill backwards. Maybe play in a new style or time signature or tempo or anything you want. After all Buddy Rich, Animal or Einstein wouldn’t be afraid to do so.

DRUM KIT HISTORY. THE BASS DRUM PEDAL

DRUM KIT HISTORY. THE BASS DRUM PEDAL

Having looked at double drumming in a previous blog, it is clear that two drums were being played by a single drummer by the early 20th century but the desire to play even more was strong. Unfortunately for most human beings, not counting those who were cross bred with an octopus or even that famous example of a chap who possessed centipede genes (look it up) , the great limitation was only having two arms and therefore only being able to hit two things at once.

This limitation was removed when the feet became able to play music rather than just supporting the weight of the body. This happened courtesy of the bass drum pedal. Pedals had already been experimented with in the 1890s but they required a laborious toe heel motion in order to strike the drum and then pull it back to the start position. Some were in the recognised form, attached to the bottom rim of the bass drum, whilst others hung from the top rim of the bass drum with a cord attached between the bottom of the upside down beater and the foot pedal on the floor. Other instances didn’t even possess a bass pedal, the beater attached to the foot directly with a cord, which may help to explain the term ‘Kick Drum’, which is still in use today. These examples were large and cumbersome.

And then came along a German who created a sprung version which returned the beater to its position after striking the drum. That man was William F. Ludwig who had moved to America in the 19th century as a boy and by 1908 he was drumming in the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, getting increasingly frustrated with his poor quality wood bass pedal, whilst playing emerging up-tempo jazz and ragtime styles. He decided to build his own pedal, which turned out to be so successful that by 1910 he and his brother were mass producing metal pedals under the company name of Ludwig & Ludwig. The drummer was now a seated musician and had every limb at his playing disposal. 

And so here we are 111 years later on our very comfortable padded seats but we wouldn’t have had a decent excuse to sit down if it was for Mr. Ludwig.

What a great guy!

DRUM KIT HISTORY. GENE KRUPA AND THE TUNABLE TOM TOM.

DRUM KIT HISTORY. GENE KRUPA AND THE TUNABLE TOM TOM.

Even though it seems like the drum kit is ancient and has always been around, we know that this is not the case. So far we’ve looked at double drumming HERE and the development of the bass drum pedal HERE but still the drum kit was missing something that is integral to the modern set up.

That is tunable toms. That’s right, before the 1930s drum kits or trap kits as they were known, more often featured contraptions which came in all manner of various percussive objects clamped to an arching tube that sat above the bass drum. The only type of tom that might be seen here was a Chinese tom which featured drum skins that were nailed to the drum kit.

And so the final move came to evolve the drum kit into the beautiful thing that we play today. And it came courtesy of the now household name, Gene Krupa. Krupa stripped away all the contraptions to create a streamlined kit. Having done away with the rattles, bells, whistles and other sound effects, his set up of snare, bass, 13 x 9 inch mounted tom as well as 16 x 16 and 16 x 18 inch floor toms is still favoured by many drummer s today. At first the floor tom sat in a three legged cradle but soon the legs were attached to the shell as recognized in today’s drums. The modern drum kit had been born.

Here is a video of Krupa playing ‘sing, sing, sing’ with the Benny Goodman orchestra. Throughout the track Krupa drives the band with his mastery of the kit and showmanship which makes this an early version of a drum hit. Can you think of any others?

World’s Biggest Drum

World’s Biggest Drum

WORLD’S BIGGEST DRUM

We often see huge drum kits such as that of Terry Bozzio, Thomas Lang orJoey Jordison but who actually owns the biggest single drum?

In 1922, the University of Chicago commissioned the building of a huge bass drum for the football team. It was first used in a match against Princeton University. It now belongs to the University of Texas at Austin and is played by their Longhorn Band. Colloquially known as Big Bertha, this bass drum stand 96 inches in diameter and 44 inches deep.

In Japan the large barrel drums known as o-daiko hold the record. One in particular was made for the Festival Forest Art Museum in Takayama City which possesses a head diameter of over 81 inches and 106 inches at the widest part of the barrel. It sits upon a wooden stand with wheels that have disc brakes in order to cope with the colossal four ton drum. Here they boast to have the world’s largest drum. As well as being a temple drum and museum piece, this drum occasionally makes appearances in orchestral pieces.

But even bigger than that is a drum in Ireland. The 2001 the Guinness book of records described the biggest drum in the world as Brian Fleming’s Millennium Drum for the Millennium Drum Carnival. It stood 308 inches in diameter and 75 inches deep and was designed to resemble a bodhran on one side and a lambeg on the other to represent harmony between the protestant and Catholic fraternities of Ireland.

So next time you’re whinging about carting your little 22 inch bass drum to gigs, just remember…….it could be a lot worse!

If you know of any bigger drums, let me know in the comments box below.

SHAKESPEARE SAYS DRUMMERS ARE ALRIGHT!

SHAKESPEARE SAYS DRUMMERS ARE ALRIGHT!

Hi Drummers,

According to Shakespeare, we’re alright!

I know some of you lie awake at night worrying whether or not you’re trustworthy, panicking that you might be a nutter, contemplating whether or not you are capable of feeling real emotions.

Well me too. But as it turns out, all of us are just fine according to William Shakespeare. The character Lorenzo in the Merchant of Venice says, “The man that hath no music in himself, nor is moved with concord of sweet sounds is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils: The motions of his spirits are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erubus; let no such man be trusted.”

I think there might be something in these words. A human that isn’t moved in some way by music, that doesn’t feel some kind of emotion when they hear dramatic classical, swinging jazz, screaming metal or just a sweet pop melody, must surely be lacking something inside. Beware of that person!

So as we love nothing more than the sounds of a rocking drum beat, I think that means we’re ok. Let your friends, girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, pet goat and everyone else know that you’re trustworthy.

Enjoy a peaceful nights sleep safe with this new knowledge.

KILLER DRUMS

KILLER DRUMS

Gruesome drums of horror

The humble frame drum, known in many cultures across the world and taking various forms with different shapes, materials and sizes appears so innocent. Many of us tapped on tambourines at school, with the merry sound of the jingles accompanying our rhymes. But this hand drum has a dark side!

The ancient Hebrews called their hand drum a tof and it was generally played by women back then. Thetof  bears strong and gruesome connections to an area known as Tophet in Jerusalem; a region where great horrors occurred.

This hellish area was the site of child sacrifice which saw kids burnt to appease the God Moloch. Although these horrific deeds were carried out in the name of this God, the screams of the children were too much for the people in the surrounding area so drums were beaten to disguise their cries. Now many of us have played some bad gigs in our time, but this is on another level!

This area became known as the valley of Tophet and a possible derivation of this name is that of the frame drum, tof, or toph.

Apologies if that was a bit disheartening to read but the long history of the drum is fascinating and amongst all its productive qualities, there is a dark side too.

Now go and jam along with something happy and positive.

If you're interested in the history of our beloved drums you might like to check out my book which goes deep in the subject. THE DRUM: A HISTORY

Breaking News: Boy Drummer Decapitated During Performance

Breaking News: Boy Drummer Decapitated During Performance

Calm down, I haven’t cut a student’s head off for playing the paradiddle incorrectly, although maybe I should employ such teaching techniques! This was a little misleading as a news headline but in the battlefields of the past, it wasn’t unheard of.

The military side drum was still popular on the 18th and 19th century battlefields and conditions could be dire.

On one hand the favoured timpanists of the orchestra enjoyed membership of the trumpet guilds (with whom they were closely associated) in such countries as Germany, offering job security and high musical standards. In contrast to the members of the guild, a military side drummer or timpanist was faced with special duties. For a start they marched head on into battle with the soldiers, keeping a steady rhythm to which the fighters could march. But maybe worse than that, they also accompanied any negotiation parties, playing their drums so that the enemy knew they came forth to talk rather than fight.

Sometimes this tactic might work but other times their visit was met with great hostility and used as an opportunity to make a point. Sometimes the enemy would decapitate the drummers’ heads and throw their severed noggins back as gruesome way of saying, “We are not interested in your offer of negotiation kind sir.”

And to think that these poor drummers were often young boys. So next time you’re playing your drums, just think how much worse it could have been if you were here 200 years ago!

Now you’re in the mood, check out this modern interpretation of the historical Basle drumming below.

DRUMMING BACKPAIN

DRUMMING BACKPAIN

How to prevent your percussive passion becoming a spinal set-back

“Practice, practice, practice,” that’s what many kids are told, “Practice makes perfect after all.”

It’s a fair point. Steve Gadd may be naturally talented, but he still had to work hard to become the musician he is today. What many drummers fail to realise is that hours and hours of practising bad habits can do more harm than good. It’s easy to ignore such practical and boring advice in the early stages. It’s easy to nurture the single minded goal of playing 16th notes between the feet faster than Joey Jordison, but if correct posture and techniques are ignored you may be a cripple before you reach that goal. Let’s just forget about the limitations that bad technique and posture can put on your playing, and focus purely on physical health.

Eighty percent of adults suffer from back pain at some point in their life. This can have a severe detrimental effect on their lives and even force them to give up hobbies or work, with one in eight unemployed people blaming back pain for the jobless state.
These are depressing statistics but a large majority of these cases are purely muscular problems as a result of bad habits over a long period of time. Very few people actually have spinal damage. How many people do you know who slouch in front of a computer screen for 8 hours each day before rushing home to slump on the couch for a few hours only to move to an old, sagging mattress for a further 8 hours? The spine is not designed to support the body in such a way and if we habitually live like this, after several years, the strain will make its presence known.
This is no different for a drummer who may practice or gig for several hours, not to mention lugging the gear to and from the van. Concerning the constant lifting of heavy drum gear, you have two options; 1) become a superstar and get the roadies to break their backs, or 2) lift carefully with a straight back, bending from the knees.

The playing aspects, however, need to be looked at in slightly more depth, but as it is only muscular strain, it can often be easily cured by changing the fundamentals of your playing.
Doctor of Chiropractors Timothy Jameson and Founder/Director of the Chiropractic Performing Arts Network (www.musicianshealth.com) says, “The spine is a dynamic organ that responds to physical, chemical, and emotional stress throughout your lifetime.
Physical stresses are problems like postural distortions, previous auto injuries, previous sports related injuries, falls, forward head posture and cumulative traumas, such as repetitive drumming for hour upon hour.

Chemical stress is what you are putting (or not putting) in your body. Put lousy foods in your body and you have poor health, as your spine is directly related to your health.
Finally, a very important aspect of spinal health is your current and past emotional health. Your current emotional health directly impacts the way you hold your body. If you’re suffering from depression or poor self-esteem, you will carry your body with a forward head posture and drooped shoulders. If you have severe emotional stress in your past, it can be stored within the neuro-muscular network and create chronic spinal stress.”

So your diet and emotional state play a big role in keeping your spine in good working order.

WHEN IS A CHAIR NOT A CHAIR?

“When it is an instrument of torture,” says Richard Norris in The Musician’s Survival Manual. The very chair that seemingly supports you through all your greatest playing moments may actually be the most health threatening element of your set-up, engaged in a mission to sabotage your career. We’ve all seen the ergonomic office chairs that promote correct posture by positioning the feet behind us, but this isn’t practical for a drummer when the bass drum is in front so what can we do?

Stool Height
The importance of correct seat height is endorsed by Vinnie Colaiuta who used to sit incredibly low until he suffered from chronic back pain as a result.
As drummers come in many different shapes and sizes, each player’s set-up should be very individual, enabling them to play the instrument with ease whilst avoiding unnecessary stretching. The optimal height for a drum throne is when it allows you to sit with your knees level or several inches below your hips and both feet sit on the pedals several inches in front of your knees.

correct drum posture

Dr Timothy adds, “The position of the seat in relation to the drum kit is also important. A movement of an inch or two in either direction can be essential in keeping spinal and muscular balance.”

Posture

Why do some people manage to play for several decades without any problems when others can’t avoid the agony in a practice session? Clinical Associate Professor at Ithaca College, Nick Quarrier, says, “The answer to this million dollar question may be that repetitious activity is not injurious by itself unless it is performed in an abnormal stressful posture. More importantly, the abnormal stressed posture may be the cause of a large percentage of music-related injuries.”
The great, late Elvin Jones Spoke of the importance of his posture saying that he had to be comfortable and relaxed when playing. That meant sitting at the right height and being centrally balanced.
To sit correctly whilst drumming is no different from any other activity. You should be upright with a straight back with your shoulders above your hips. To find the correct posture, sit on the stool and completely slouch. Now straighten your back as much as possible with an over exaggerated lower back curve. You can then release the position very slightly to find the perfect position. This may feel very strange if you are used to slouching but by doing this process, it may highlight the extreme difference between correct posture and slouching. This way your core muscles are supporting your body rather than your spine. Instead of scrunching forward, your arms and shoulders should hang naturally and relaxed with your weight distributed evenly across both hips.
An upright spine is helped by raising the back of the seat by about 15 or 20 degrees. This is easily achieved with a block of wood under the back legs. This position encourages correct lumbar curve and sitting up so tall prevents the flattening of your diaphragm and collapsing of your chest, which limits full breathing.

As well as posture, the way you incorporate muscular movement in your playing can also prevent injury. A useful exercise from Dr Timothy is to, “Check the muscular tension in your neck whilst playing slower beats. Now play at 150bpm and check how much tension you are carrying throughout your body as the speed increases?”

BACK TO BASICS – PREVENTION

If you are lucky enough to have avoided back pain thus far, here are some tips to keep you on the right path.

Warm up An athlete would never burst into a sprint without a thorough warm-up and neither should a musician. Most players have their own preferred warm up to avoid injury and ensure optimum performance. It may simply entail a sequence of rudiments, gradually increasing with speed.

Analyze your lifestyle Your drumming technique may be perfect but that’s no good if you’re causing the damage elsewhere. Ensure good habits through every activity, i.e. sport, computer usage, lifting, carrying gear, etc.

Kit set-up Make sure your kit is set up for maximum efficiency to avoid over stretching.

Stretch Every human should stretch their muscles, especially if you’re involved in physical activity. Well stretched gluteal muscles and hamstrings are important to maintain looseness, and lower back mobility exercises are crucial to avoid seizing up later in life. Below are four examples of lower mobility exercises.

drummer back pain stretches

A) Flexion Stretch

Lying on back with head on floor, pull one knee back to chest and hold for several seconds. Repeat with other knee.

B) Flexion Stretch 2

Starting on all fours, bring buttocks down to heels. Hold for several seconds and repeat.

C) Back Extension

Lie on back, knees bent up with head on a small pillow and arms out to the side in a crucifix position. Hold it for two minutes without allowing the lower back to arch.

D) Back Stabilization

Starting on all fours, stretch out right arm and left leg simultaneously, keeping back and neck straight. Hold for several seconds and repeat with opposite limbs.

Core muscle stability Our core muscles are often the key to great posture. With bad habits, these muscles wither and so our back takes the strain which in turn allows the muscles to wither even more. A vicious circle occurs. By developing these abdominal muscles, the back is relieved from this extra strain. Core muscles are not your six-pack but do sit behind them forming a corset-esque band around the tummy. You strengthen these by tensing in the same way you would upon entering a cold sea. You should aim to hold that tension for 10 seconds whilst allowing maintained, natural breathing.

Meditation Drummers such as Steve Smith frequently talk about practising as a meditation in a relaxed way with focused breathing. Increasingly, physiotherapists are suggesting meditation as a method of correcting physical problems such as back pain. A mass of books and CDs such as ‘Meditation for Optimum Health: How to Use Mindfulness and Breathing to Heal Your Body and Refresh Your Mind’ (Andrew Weil & Jon Kabat-Zinn) are available to talk about the benefits of this and how to put it into action.

The Alexander technique is very popular with many musicians. Lessons are undertaken and your specific needs are addressed through a method that releases harmful tension by coordinating the mind and body. This also vastly improves posture and general health. INFO

The Feldenkrais Method, as taught at Berklee College of Music, is a system that allows the body to move and function more efficiently and comfortably. It can re-educate the nervous system and improve motor ability whilst relieving pressure on joints, allowing the body to heal repetitive strain injuries. Continued use of the method can relieve pain and lead to higher standards of achievement in music. INFO

NO TURNING BACK? –-CURE

If you’re one of the many who suffers from back pain, here are some tips to get on the road to recovery.

Acupuncture A Chinese method with a 2000 year history, involving thin needles pushed into specific points in the body thought to correspond to certain organs and anatomic areas deep inside.

Chiropractor The chiropractic philosophy is that realigning the spine relieves pressure on the spinal nerves, which can help restore natural nerve function throughout the body. They believe a well-aligned body is more naturally balanced and therefore less pain is experienced.

Osteopaths believe the body is an integrated, biological system. As a result, problems in one area of the body can adversely affect other areas. The function and structure are closely related so by correcting the structure, the body will function properly.

Massage therapy Studies have shown massage to improve range of motion, blood circulation and levels of endorphins.

Yoga develops muscular endurance and flexibility through stretches that allow the muscles to be strengthened.

Spinal Surgery Usually considered a last option as 95% of patients with low back pain can benefit from non-operative methods.

WHICH PROFESSIONAL?

Back pain is still not fully understood and different professionals from different practices will offer contradicting opinions and cures.

As a result, finding the right cure for your backache can be a real headache but it is well worth the effort, trying different methods to see what works for you. Find out which treatments are covered by health insurance and start with those to avoid the expense. Before embarking on any type of treatment, seek professional advice first and use this article only as a guide.

Whatever your situation, it is important to play with correct posture so you can enjoy a long and painless life of drumming. It may even help you play faster and more naturally so get back in the practice room and sit up straight!

RELEVANT BOOKS
The Athletic Musician: A Guide to Playing Without Pain
by Harrison Christine

Playing (less) Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide For Musicians
by Janet Horvath

Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique
by Michael J. Gelb

The Alexander Technique (2000)
by Jane Kosminsky and Deborah Caplan

Musician’s Injuries: A Guide to their Understanding and Prevention
by Nicola Culf

The Musician’s Survival Manual
by R. Norris

LATIN PARADIDDLES DRUM BEAT

LATIN PARADIDDLES DRUM BEAT

Hi drummers,

Here is a look at another use of the paradiddle with Latin paradiddles. It´s another reason to practice the rudiments and actually get something useable from them and it also gives you another groove to use in a Latin context, although it could be adapted for use in many diverse styles.

I have experimented with a video today. There will be many more to come and this one has flaws as I had to do a rush job before I travelled abroad for a while. Hopefully you can get something out of this until I edit and improve it upon my return. Let me know your thoughts on how useful this is.

HOW TO TUNE DRUMS

HOW TO TUNE DRUMS

LEARN HOW TO TUNE DRUMS. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO DRUMMERS OF EVERY LEVEL OF DUM KIT PLAYING WHETHER IN METAL, ROCK, JAZZ, POP, LATIN, OR ANYTHING ELSE.

So many times I hear students tell me that they need a new snare drum or that their toms are terrible. Sometimes it might be true but before they raid their parent’s bank accounts I always offer to check out their existing drums. Often it’s a simple case of an a poorly tuned drum.

 

HEADS

If anything does need replacing, it is generally the drum head rather than the drum. Heads reach a point where they are impossible to tune and this will happen more quickly if you’re a hard hitter.

When selecting heads, there are many on offer but discussing this in detail is for another article. As a general rule, the thinner heads resonate more freely and therefore offer more tone. These are better for recording purposes and include the likes of Evans G1, Remo Diplomat or Remo Ambassador.

Thicker heads offer more durability so if you’re practising at home, or doing rock gigs and can’t afford to keep replacing your split Ambassadors, these are worth checking out. For recording purposes they are less useful as they lack the tone and vibrancy of their thinner counterparts. Such options include the Evans G2, Evans EC2, Remo Emporer, and Remo pinstripe.

The bottom head is known as the resonant head. So to allow it to resonate, it is much thinner. Remo Diplomats and the like are great for toms. With the snare drum, some drummers use batter heads on the bottom but many will use the purpose made resonant heads offered by all the top brands.

TUNING

Before putting the new head on, make sure you have cleaned the debris and dust from the inside of the shell and around the bearing edges. Check that the bearing edges are in good condition as any imperfections will result in impossible tuning. If they are damaged, find a music shop that will recut them.

1. Place the head on your drum, place the rim on the head and slot the tension rods down into the lugs. Some people lubricate the tension rods with Vaseline.

2. Tighten each tension rod with your fingers. Always move across the drum and never to the tension rod next to where you started. If you begin at the 12 o’clock position, the next tension rod to be tuned is the one at 6 o’clock (see diagram above). Next you do the one at 1 o’clock, then 7 o’clock, etc. This allows the tension to be spread evenly around the drum.

3. Now, using the drum key start back at 12 o’clock and turn it 180 degrees. Now go round the drum, crisscrossing again with the half turn on each tension rod.

4. Repeat step 3 until the drum is close to the pitch that you want. You will want to do much smaller increments when it is close to the desired sound. Consider a 90 degree or 45 degree turn on each tension rod.

If it is a new head you will want to seat the drum head. Place one hand on the centre of the drum palm down. Place the other hand over it as if giving CPR. Push down fairly hard until you hear a terrifying splitting sound. Now relax, you haven’t broken the head. You’ve just broken it in, allowing the bond between the glue and the rim to stretch to the shape of the drum. This would have happened anyway once you started smacking it with a wooden stick and it would have gone out of tune. Now tune it back up and it should stay there.

FINE TUNING

We are now close to being fully tuned but there is one more stage. To fine tune the drum you must tap the head an inch in from each tension rod. The pitch should be identical on each. That means the drum is evenly tuned. If one area is different in pitch, tweak it with the drum key and use your ear to listen until each part of the drum sounds even. Voila!

SNARE

Generally considered the most important drum of the drum kit, it is also very personal. Listen to ten great drummers and you will hear ten different snare sounds. This is affected by the snare drum shell material, snare heads, bearing edges, tuning, snare strand tension, playing style, and so on. You must find the right head combination and tuning for your own playing.

If the snare is buzzing, there are some solutions you can try:

1. Detune the lugs either side of the snares. You must then tighten the other lugs to compensate. This is the snare (bottom) head only, not the batter head.

2. Tune the batter head, or snare head to a different pitch.

3. Retune the high tom to a different pitch if that drum is causing the sympathetic frequency response.

4. Some drummers tape the snares to the drum head at either end. Experiment with this.

5. If all else fails, smash it with a sledge hammer in an uncontrolled fit of anger and then calmly begin to tune your spare snare drum and hope for better results.

TOMS

These require the same technique as above but the relationships between each tom is important here. Many drummers tune toms a fourth apart. You can use a piano to get an idea of how this interval sounds. Some drummers are very specific and tune to exact pitches whereas others are happy with the approximate sound of the fourth. At the piano, hit a C note. Then go down and hit a G and then finally the D. That is the sound you want to aim for.

The relationship between the resonant and batter head is also important and, again, down to personal preference. As a general rule, the batter head primarily affects the tone, while the resonant head affects the note length. If the batter head is tensioned differently to the resonant head, it will decrease the resonance but may cause a pitch bend effect in the note sustain, which can be undesirable. Tuned to the same tension and the resonance might be too long. It’s a case of trial and error to find your preference.

BASS DRUM

In many styles, the bass drum is the easiest to tune as us drummers tend to muffle it to get that thud sound. Some drummers simply finger tighten each lug so that the wrinkles are only just taken out. Some use the drum key and go much tighter. Regarding muffling, some heads such as the Evans E-mad have their own integrated muffling systems. However, often something is placed inside the drum to achieve that dead sound depending on how much boom each drummer wishes to retain.

This might be a pillow, a towel, an EQ cushion (which is basically a more expensive pillow sold by drum head manufacturers) or a dead body (just testing if you’re concentrating!). Play around and see what works for you in your particular setting.

TO TAPE OR NOT TO TAPE?

Over the years many different materials have been placed upon drums to achieve certain sounds. These range from gaffa tape, paper towels, wallets, cigarette packets, tea towels, and anything else that does the job. Purpose made solutions include the O-rings and Moon Gel both of which should be part of any drummers tool box to help control unwanted overtones if and when they arise in different studios or concert halls.

My opinion is that you shouldn’t get caught thinking that the use of such techniques are needed in reaction to your inadequacy to tune a drum. If it helps achieve the best sound which ultimately helps you to offer the best drum track that the artist, producer or client is looking for, then do it. Every room causes the drum to react differently and your combination of drums/heads might just need a little helping hand for certain styles in certain situations. Do what you can to get a great sound.

I hope this guide helps a little but there really is no substitute to learning your own way through trial and error. Put in the effort to discover what works, make your mistakes, and learn from them. Whatever you do, don’t shy away from it or your drums will never sound their best.

THE WORLD’S LARGEST DRUM

THE WORLD’S LARGEST DRUM

Hi Drummers,

Following on from the WORLD’S BIGGEST DRUM blog, I thought this drum was another interesting example to fill in another part of the jigsaw in this ongoing human quest for the biggest drum ever.

Although it has been overshadowed in recent years, at the time this drum held the title as the World’s Biggest Drum, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records and seen on Roy Castle’s UK Record Breakers TV show in 1987.

Designed by East London Supreme Drum Co. proprietor Lou Dias, with wood working expert Frank Cahill at his side, together they built the ‘Supreme Drum’ using laminated strips of wood that were bent and joined together. The result was a shell with a diameter of 12 feet and 9 inches, and a height of 4 feet. Each part of the shell consists of 6 layers of Finnish Birch plywood to form a 1 inch thick piece of wood. The wooden counterhoop was also 1 inch thick as well as 4 inches deep.

Unfortunately they couldn’t find an animal who was willing to supply such a large surface area of his skin so they created one by stitching together strong sail cloth from Southampton that could withstand the ton of pressure that the lugs would apply to it.

This drum surpassed the other large drums such as the drum at Disney Land, which sat 10 feet and 6 inches in diameter, and the Boston Jubilee Drum at 12 feet in diameter.

The first performance of this new largest drum was held at London’s Royal Festival Hall with such audience members as ELP’s Carl Palmer, Status Quo’s Jeff Rich and world renowned percussionist and author James Blades.

Carting this drum around was not for the feint hearted as it had to be dismantled every time it was transported.

world's largest drum