Drumming is such a great musical outlet, a source of creativity and relaxation for me. I've been playing drums since 1983 and I've played in a few bands that have gigged in Brisbane and Sydney in Australia. I'm putting together a post about three of the most common questions I am asked about drumming by those learning:
I hope you find the details about how I answer these 3 questions interesting.
Learning to play drums well does mean you need to put in the time to learn drumming technique. I can understand that if you are learning to play on a snare drum while you are learning, it can be annoying to others. This is why it is ESSENTIAL to get yourself a top quality practise pad and metronome. For a practice pad, I would recommend either the HQ Real Feel Dual Tone Practice Pad by Evans or the Tru-Bounce Practice Pad by Aquarian Drumheads. By getting a practice pad, you can practice your sticking exercises (drum rudiments) and not disturb others too much. Make sure your metronome has a headphone jack so this doesn't disturb others, and try to find one with visual and sound indicators of 1 in the musical bar. For a metronome, I would recommend either a Boss (Dr Beat DB30 is great for the price) or Korg Metronomes.
However, if all you practice are your rudiments, there is a good chance you might get bored with this and not put the effort in to learning drumming. So another important part of practice is to play along with music or other musicians. Obviously the style of music will depend upon the level you are capable of playing and the music styles that interest you. If possible, playing along with a MIDI player offers the advantages of playing the song with drums, and then you can turn the drums off and play along with drums in the track.
A HQ Real Feel Practise Pad and a Boss DB30 'Dr Beat' Metronome
If I only have a small amount of time to practice drums, and I don't want/need to practice a particular song, this is the program that I follow. This is also an excellent warm up before a gig. I hope it helps some of the other drummers out there. I recommend you do each example for a minimum of 5 minutes without stopping and concentrating on the accuracy of play, rather than the speed. Try to play just under you current speed limit where you lose your accuracy of play as this will build your speed and endurance as well as improving your playing accuracy.
Single Hand Four Stroke Roll
This little exercise is great for limbering up the forearm muscles. It's also a great practice exercise for developing arm and hand strength and speed! The idea is simple: play quarter notes only with the right hand. When you have finished with the right hand, move to the left hand. When you have finished with the left, go back to the right. Do twenty (20) reps of this pattern, keeping the speed and stroke weight consistent (ie. no accents).
It's our 'old friend' the Paradiddle. The object of this one is to maintain a consistent tempo through the various speeds. Again, start slow, then speed up; first leading with the right, then with the left. Do twenty (20) reps at 60/80/100/120/140 bpm.
With triplets, each quarter note gets three beats, instead of just one. Again, twenty (20) reps at 60/80/100/120/140 bpm.
A flam variant that works through those little, fast, intricate doublets and triplets. Work at a steady speed. As usual, twenty (20) reps at the same tempo.
Double Stroke Roll
Start this one slow and work up to speed, hold, then slow down, taking roughly 1 minute per repetition. Pause for 20 seconds, then repeat. Perform this for 5 reps.
Example one will help with dynamics while working on doubles and triples. Work through it as previous routines. The second example is the Paradiddle but with accented strokes on the ONE.
In Rhythm 1, the paradiddle is played between the snare and the bass drum. This is probably the simplest application. "Pattern 1" above starts the paradiddle with the snare; "Pattern 2" starts it with the feet.
Sometimes, when you just want to play drums and you don't feel like playing rudiments, you might prefer playing along with some songs instead. I have specifically created a playlist for my practice needs and these songs are challenging yet offer you a lot of fun, and freedom for your own creativity to add grace and ghost notes and try different fills when playing them. At the risk of getting flamed, here are those songs:
So you can see, they are a fairly varied bunch of songs covering a couple of popular music styles. I wonder what songs other drummers would choose?
I've been playing ddrum electronic kits since 1992. I still own a ddrum AT module, a ddrum4 module, a ddrum3 pad set and a ddrum4 cymbal and hi-hat pad set. I have also used a TD-20 with the full Roland pad setup quite regularly so I think I am fairly informed to offer some valuable insight on this subject.
I will firstly give my opinion of some modules and then give a list of questions you need to make sure you answer or you will quite possibly not be happy with your purchase.
My PERSONAL Opinion is that I feel a lot of sounds produced by the Roland gear doesn't live up to the hype it receives, however, Roland quite possibly has the most accurate hi-hat reproduction around. I do feel that the ddrum3 and ddrum4 modules are still better at reproducing accurate drum sounds compared to say a Roland TD-12 or TD-20. The ddrum hi-hat is only capable of 4 position sounds - closed, open, half-open and foot-chick, while Roland is far superior as I have previously mentioned. The other areas ddrum could improve at the number of inputs, the amount of memory and sample dump speed into the module. The Yamaha DTX units are very good and if I was made to choose between Yamaha and Roland, I would choose the Yamaha.
I also have an older Alesis D4 and that module was good value for the price. I believe the DM5 is much better than the D4, but I have never had an opportunity to play a DM5. If budget is your primary concern, I would start looking at some of the cheaper Yamaha kits. An Alesis DM5 would be a good choice for someone only wanting to trigger sounds, like on kick drums for loud music and perhaps snare and effect sounds.
Ok, so when you are buying an e-kit you need to answer these questions:
Regardless of which module and pads you choose, make sure you answer those questions honestly and you are happy with the answers. I hope this helps someone choosing their electronic drum setup.
My electronic ddrum4 setup
I am still using ddrum. The ddrumAT was my second e-drum system after I first dabbled with the Alesis D4. I now own and use a ddrum4 unit, which I use with ddrum3 cast precision pads and ddrum4 cymbal and hi-hat pads. I can't speak highly enough about the ddrum4, especially regarding the sound quality and reliability. When given the opportunity, I like to use the ddrum4 triggered with an acoustic kit live in a mix of about 60/40 with mics.
Clavia sold off ddrum to Armadillo Enterprises in the USA. I am waiting to see what develops of this but I currently feel the glory days of ddrum are over.
Before you commence any recording, you need to configure your kit accordingly. Firstly, I would check the sound absorbing/reflecting qualities in studio/room. This effects the drum sound and how the drums will sound recorded. Take a 10" or 12" tom and hit is a few times in various parts of the room and try to determine if it sounds bright/dark and/or boomy/smothered. Once I have found a location where to my ears my tom sounds bright and boomy (unless I want a dark and smothered sound), I set my kit up in that location.
Just before setting up my kit, I need to decide on what drum set configuration I will be using. 99% of the time I would start with a 'standard' 4 piece setup (kick, snare, 2 toms) as a guide and work from there. Other considerations before I setup include:
Now, after the kit is setup, it is time to tune the drums as close as possible acoustically to the actual sound I want recorded, applying any muffling if required. After the drums are tuned (the best I can do), I now need to eliminate any excess noise from the kit such as squeaks and rattles.
If there is a spare mixer input and mic available, try to use it as an ambient mic placed at a 'sweet spot' in the room, and a certain distance from your drums. This will add 'liveness' and an ambient character to your drum sound.
Now, if you are lucky to be working with a studio engineer, let them do their job and help you get a great sound. If you find your sound is not to your liking, simply tell them what you want. Occasionally, you might find a engineer who has very set ways in how they want drums to sound. Just kindly remind them that you are paying for this studio time and as the customer, you want the drums to sound how you want them. Communication is key!
Oh, and try to stay cool and play for the song, using your normal manner and style.
A Beautiful Drum Set To Record With
My Preferred Recording Settings For Snare Drums
My Preferred Recording Settings For Kick Drums
My Preferred Recording Settings For Tom Toms
My Preferred Recording Settings For Cymbals and Hi-Hats
My Preferred Mixer Settings For Drum Tracks
My Preferred Reverb Settings For Drum Tracks
My Preferred Compression Settings For Drum Tracks
The acoustic drumset I play at gigs - with Pearl Drums and Hardware, DW Pedals and Hi-Hat Stand, Pork Pie Little Squealer Snare Drum and Zildjian cymbals. I've recently added a LP cowbell and a Meinl Mini China cymbal.