Wednesday, December 22, 2021

“Worst drummer ever”

Bookending Sunday's false prodigies rant, I suppose. Worst drummer ever is title of this video shared by Paul Mason (@tempusdrums) on Twitter. I watched the whole thing, which is more than I can say for most drumming content on YouTube:

Another 12 year old kid bashing on his drums badly, yeah, but here's what I like about it: 

•  The first instinct of any drummer is to wail and make some noise. I wish I could train that desire into some of my past students. That's got to be in your DNA somewhere. We work hard to become sensitive musicians and all of that crap, but there's got to be some edge of chaos lurking in there somewhere, a basic instinct for impact. For me to be interested, anyway. 

•  He has a band. Maybe they played five times total, I don't know, but it's step one: wanting to have a band and then figuring out what the hell to play together. Increasingly it seems not to be a thing kids do. 

•  He figured out a lot of things about how the drums are actually played on his own, apparently without any help from a teacher or anyone else. He plays a lot of bass drum and cymbal, I play a lot of bass drum and cymbal. The thing he does at 2:14 is a lot like “Jack's method” that I posted recently. 

Here's the non-independent groove he sort-of settles on at 0:50: 

He does quite a bit of stuff like that, that connects very directly with what I do every day as a grown-up played-the-drums-for-40+-years artiste. RH = cymbal/bass drum, LH = snare drum. It's a basic orientation. Of course the first thing a teacher will do is toss this thing he learned naturally, and make him learn a beginner rock beat, and drumming will become nothing but a big independence problem for him.   

•  He picked up a couple of beats that are apparently just in the DNA of every child on the planet, at 2:54 and at 3:03. After 3:10 he almost figures out how to do the Elvin/Bonham triplets lick— what he's doing is exactly how rock drummers learn to do it. After about 3:40 he's got an OK start on a kind of rock & roll jungle beat. He does some mixed stickings on the Rototoms, which is interesting, maybe somebody showed him a paradiddle once?    

•  There's kind of an episodic structure to his solo, where he does a thing for awhile, until he thinks of the next thing to do. I've seen lots of adult professionals who basically solo that way. There's a good deal of melodic content, and a kind of climax at the end where he's playing the tom toms. The only thing he repeats is the four note run down the tom toms— perhaps he's a little over-reliant on that piece of vocabulary, if we're going to be critical. He does that universal kid's thing of starting a beat kind of slow, and then speeding up until it falls apart.     

This stuff interests me. What do kids who have no idea how to play the drums, but play anyway, play? 

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