Difficulties With Dynamics

Posted: September 02, 2010 02:20 PM

Andy Doerschuk_1

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I remember a time — long ago, gladly — when a change in the band’s dynamics could affect my tempo and feel. Being a rock drummer, for the most part, my average playing volume used to be fairly loud as a rule, and I had developed the type of technique one needs to hit hard throughout a gig. But I had a tendency to slow the beat whenever we brought the dynamics down for a quiet section — even just infinitesimally, but it would still frustrate me. My hands and feet just weren’t trained to keep a beat percolating at low volumes. Fortunately, I reversed the trend years ago and now really enjoy playing a medium and low volumes (as well as loud ones, too!). Has anybody else out there experienced similar dynamic difficulties?

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Andy Doerschuk
Editorial director, drummagazine.com

     
Posted: September 08, 2010 07:41 AM

LCD2010

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Hey Andy,

I can totally relate as I have been there myself.  I found that it all came down to technique in terms of stick grip and mechanics.  The more time I spend understanding how grip affected the way I executed a stroke, the more I learned that in most cases I was doing more work than I needed to.  By scaling back on the motion used between arms, wrist, and fingers, I was eventually able to establish a consistant technique that would work for all levels of playing.

When I teach now, I tell my students, “Drumming is about being lazy and we, as drummers, want to get more for less.  We want the most music for the least effort.”  By demonstrating how to scale back the physical motion of a stroke (arms to wrists to fingers) I can now demonstrate how it’s possible to play efficiently using smaller motions and only employing larger movements when trying to acheive very strong accents.

When dropping volume in low dynamic phrases and passages, I found that the struggle resulting in tempo loss was caused by trying to adjust the technique on the fly - essentially changing the way I execute strokes in order to reach that lighter dynamic.  Now, having realized that I can use a relaxed techinque to for all dynamic levels, the change is no challenge at all.  I’m ready and don’t have to alter anything besides the smallest finger motions.

By incorporating this new found approach into all my playing and practicing (especially rudiment work) a was able to gain the consistant ability I only saw in others. I strongly encourage others who are struggling with this issue to look at their overall technique and ask themselves - “Am I working to hard?”

Cheers,

Matt Carter

Posted: September 08, 2010 11:01 AM

Rev.D.

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I simply practice all my exercises, both feet and hands, at all tempos, at different volume levels. I’ve done this since I first started drumming 28 years ago. Unfortunately, when I was younger I only changed dynamics during drum solos, to build energy and excitement. Now I take full advantage of dynamics in every song I play. And I too enjoy playing at medium to low volume levels.

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A good drummer will sound good on anything. A Bad drummer will sound bad on anything.

Posted: September 10, 2010 07:26 AM

guarilio989

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I used to have that problem (I dont mean to brag) but I have a talent in finding and keeping a solid steady tempo. The rhythm guitarist? not so much… He is notorious for dragging the tempo through the mud during really low passages. unfortunately, he drags everyone else with him leaving me playing the correct tempo and everyone else just behind me. Then I get “the look” and the pleasure of explaining in vain the obvious blunder after the fact. I know all too well about Dynamic Difficulties.

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Hit Hard, Play Fast, Have Fun

Posted: October 14, 2010 09:31 AM

bigbeat

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Dynamics!! I’m playing as loud as I can!!

Two best ways to fix the problem:
1 practice with a click
2 record yourself & listen back

I’ve always gone in & out from using these two tools, but am using them more now than ever. I can tell the difference in my playing, and notice when the rest of the band is pushing or pulling. When you know when the guitar player is going to push, it makes it easier to keep him in line!

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loud is my forte

Posted: October 14, 2010 12:17 PM

Rev.D.

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bigbeat - 14 October 2010 09:31 AM

Dynamics!! I’m playing as loud as I can!!

When you know when the guitar player is going to push, it makes it easier to keep him in line!

I love that!!  LOL

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A good drummer will sound good on anything. A Bad drummer will sound bad on anything.

Posted: December 30, 2010 10:37 PM

gunnardrummer

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Giving music more of a listen and understanding where the tempo change should head up from a build down or something took me awhile as well, but since I’m studying more and more ways to hear outcomes of songs got me into choosing dynamics wisely.  but i do know how to vary on dynamics quickly during practices and gigs, you just gotta really learn your own creative end of the bargain to really put it out really good because every drummer should pay attention to their sound too in order to understand how louder or softer you need to get, just practice people raspberry