Technique = Creativity?

mwakhter

New member
Monday, May 21st Thomas Lang is coming to my town. I think Thomas Lang is one of the (if not THE) best technical drummers today. His overall skills are superb, but his music is kinda boring.

Thomas says with more technique, your creative range is much, much wider. But today, there seems to be to much emphasis on it. Every creative outlet has a school of standards and forms that produce good technical artists more quickly. Musicians today are taught how to be good.

My old jazz instructor was a Nazi about the look and sound of jazz drummer (granted, he was an amazing drummer). But has music like e.g. jazz, gone from soul stirring to the "white mans" music restricted in rudiments and standards?

Would one be forced to work outside of the box more creatively due to lack of technique?

What do you guys think.

Sorry, this may seem out of order, but I just HAVE to roast Mike Portnoy. That guys gets to much damn credit for his playing. You want to listen to a guy who recycles his shit (well, I guess Dream Theater has been their entire career). Here, in my opinion is a band with talented technical musicians and to much time and money (and an annoying single ranged singer).

:idea:
 

Shalaq

New member
Technique and chops does not improve your creativity. I think listening to music and education does. Technique is really what allows you to execute your ideas fluently.
You may know every single rudiment and would like to invent some crazy patterns but won't be able to execute them. On the other side you may have chops from hell and could not even play a creative beat.
 

Eiren

New member
I personally find a lot of the World's most technically proficient drummers, make TERRIBLE music or are in extremely bland bands.
 

mortem

New member
Eiren":1ev2jgw5 said:
I personally find a lot of the World's most technically proficient drummers, make TERRIBLE music or are in extremely bland bands.
uhm, such as??



Shalaq":1ev2jgw5 said:
Technique is really what allows you to execute your ideas fluently.
Key sentence there... very very true. If you lack the ideas, nothing is coming out of you, no matter if you master every single rudiment in Stick Control. Try listening to different kinds of music and most importantly, explore your drumset.
 

Eiren

New member
mortem":1j8y2pe6 said:
Eiren":1j8y2pe6 said:
I personally find a lot of the World's most technically proficient drummers, make TERRIBLE music or are in extremely bland bands.
uhm, such as??
Most of them, with the exception of Neil Peart, George Kolias, Danny Carey, and a couple others (i.e. I am talking about the ones who feature heavily in drumming magazines etc). I'm judging them by whether or not I would enjoy listening to the band, independent of how good the drumming techniques within are.

I think technical proficiency and song writing, are two very distinct skill sets. They don't always seem to go hand-in-hand.
 

Alexander

New member
So are those considered rudiments in George Stone's "Stick Control"? I'm not working on any of the 26 drumset rudiments right now. I seem to only be focusing on Stick Control, pages 6 & 7 lately. Am I missing out b/c I'm not working on rudiments? I do notice that many rudiments that I don't play well (yet) are very musical. I seem to play paradidles, double strokes, & singles, not much more when drumming/making music.

Also, creativity :idea: should be enhanced by technique & chops I'd think. Your playing happens so FAST, you really don't have much time to logically plan out what you play most of the time. At least I don't. I play alot of improvisation with my bandmates/brothers when jamming. So the music "just happens". :shock:
 

Waylon

New member
There is a lot of confusion about this topic. I sent someone who wants me to play Bonham style rock to my bands site to hear me drumming. My band plays involved arrangements requiring me to play a fusion funk hard rock style and it's rather busy adventurous technical stuff. I forgot about the problem w/ people misunderstanding drummers w/ advanced chops. But I didn't think that drummers also misunderstand this. We all know how to play simple like Ringo or Bonzo when the music calls for it. So, when someone develops their technique and limb independence to an impressive level then why do people start thinking wierd stuff? Just because a drummer can play technically advanced drumming styles it doesn't mean that he or she is now somehow incapable of playing simply and supportive. Please go back and read the MD interview w/ Lang and note that he says the same thing. After all in fusion busy is supportive! It's about styles.

I can play like Chambers, Campitelli, and other high chops guys and so I get stereotyped as a "technical" drummer as if that's all I can play now! That's an absurd way to think. I guess the idea is that you will be bored by simpler stuff. Absolutley not true. I love laying down 2 & 4 on an AC/DC or Led Zep or Beatlles song. I can be and have been Charlie Watts in a Stones tribute. It's not a big mystery if you learned that style it will always be with you. It's just another style and it helps develop skills that you will use in all situations. I believe you need to be better than you need to be because you never know when you will need it.
Later
Scott
 

Gaddabout

New member
Technique does a lot of things:

- It allows you to play the simple stuff better, focusing more on note placement and less on strict time keeping. There's a flow to playing a simple groove that only guys with some technique can understand, and that's with educated and so-called "self taught" players.

- It creates more avenues of creative expression simply because it breaks down the wall of limitations. How you travel down those roads and how far is a question of taste and the players around you.

- It opens up your ears to more sophisticated playing, likely expanding the kind of music you enjoy. For example, the better you become playing bop, the more you're going to enjoy bop and post-bop drummers. If you never attempt to play that genre, it's unlikely you'll ever understand the sophistication and nuance of the genre. The best you could do is appreciate it in a surface or peripheral way.

The problem with acquiring technique is its most quickly compiled in a systematic way. If you don't practice creative, random application, you will only be able to deliver the payload in a systematic way. Everything you do will played as if borrowing lines here and lines there from your systems. THAT IS NOT CREATIVITY. THAT IS NOT APPLICATION.

I've said it before but I will say it again probably many times, but one of the things that separates Vinnie Colaiuta from other drummers of his skill level is his phrasing. He's not just unloading a system here or system there. There is a higher level of application -- an almost alien level of application -- that comes from the music as he allows it to inspire him. He listens, he hears something, and what comes to his hands and feet is a highly sophisticated interpretation of rhythm. It doesn't just excite, it takes the music somewhere, provides direction, distinguishes one section of music from another. Everything he plays has purpose, even when he's shredding at almost inappropriate and pornographic levels.

Vinnie went through the systematic meat grinder. Anyone who's ever studied Gary Chaffee's stuff knows it's real easy to fall into the systematic trap. But Vinnie found ways to apply it without sounding like a pre-programmed machine. I think first and foremost he listened to lots and lots of music. He found ways to cop Tony Williams and Steve Gadd while finding inspiration in other players, like Jimi Hendrix and Sting. First and foremost, he loves making music, and I doubt he's as bad as me when it comes to listening. As good of a drummer he is, I bet he tunes the drums out when he listens to music, because he's so good at composing on the fly.

Technique should never be given a bad reputation because some drummers wrongfully worship at its alter. It does not ruin a player's creativity if the player is committed to a wide breadth of listening and is opening to inspiration from places at first outside of the player's comfort zone. If you love music, technique is not an obstacle, it's a helpful tool best used in the hands of serious artisans.

To me, it's the difference between someone who runs the world record in the hundred meters, and someone nearly as fast who can also change directions and play physical with a football in their hands. It's the difference between someone who can jump really high and Michael Jordan, who can do just about anything with a basketball and used his extreme hops as an excellent feature to his overall game. If there are sports fans out there, doesn't it get irritating seeing great athletes who do nothing to learn the team game and how to accommodate their teammates? It's a waste of athleticism. They could improve their overall numbers just by changing their way of thinking, but we celebrate, for example, guys who can dunk a basketball and don't really pay attention to how much or how little they actually contribute to their team's success. That's the difference between a drummer with great technique and a drummer who knows how to apply technique.
 

KillaCam

New member
I don't think that being fundamentally sound will hinder your creativiy..! It help your creativity... I've been playing for about 15yrs, but I'm a self taught drummer... Now at 31yrs old, I practicing rudiments every night for about 45minsjust so I can become more creative..! You're as creative as you wanna be, having good techinque should only allow you to to take that to a hugher level...!
 
Everyone has made a lot of really good point already in this thread. I think technique can definitely help your playing in the respect that it gives you more options and can definitely help you play easier for longer periods of time because you know the proper way to play. And as someone who's really into technique, it bugs to me to no end to see drummers who say they can do a double stroke roll but it's really just a press roll lol. However I do have a fellow drummer friend who is going to college to be a music teacher, so he knows technique and can read music. His playing, to put it nicely, is horrible. He's so trained he doesn't know how to play for himself, and I think that's just as big of a pitfall as no technique, so I think it's great when drummers are well-rounded and balanced. I've learned just as much from jamming by myself just coming up with new beats as I have practicing technique. And, like everyone said, I think listening to a variety of music is extremely important.
 

Gaddabout

New member
Since this is a topic so close to my heart, I'm going to make a second post!

I'm a writer by training and profession. The parallels between writing and making music are strong from my point of view. Defining good writing, like good drumming, is very subjective, but there is a universal understanding what it takes to become a good writer:

- You need to understand language, and the more the better.

- You need to be a reader as well as a writer, so you can expose yourself to language, to the rhythm of language, and to ideas.

- You need to understand the audience you're writing to. You don't attempt Heart of Darkness for a children's book.

You never hear anyone advise a young writer that reading is for fools, or that studying English will limit your creativity. Yet we hear that all the time in music biz because we tend to think of playing music as an impulsive or random act. NEWSFLASH There's nothing truly impulsive or random about what you play. You've almost certainly heard it before, or something very similar. You are merely mimicking those that came before you to a greater or lesser degree.

You also find a great deal of pride among those that consider themselves "self taught." The reality is there isn't such a thing as "self taught." There are those with formal educations and those without, but we all learned from somebody. Listening and copying by ear is one form of teaching. We are never our own islands when it comes to such a prominent instrument as the drums. We were most certainly first inspired by another player, and maintained inspiration by listening to players that grabbed our attention.

I have no problem with someone who never had a formal education and learned by their own independent study. There are plenty of great drummers just like that, such as Buddy Rich and Dennis Chambers. As great as they were/are though, they could not have become what they became without some form of external input -- help from someone else. They developed strong technique because they studied other drummers with strong technique and worked their butts off to become the great players we know of them today. I find there should be no greater pride in that process than someone who went through formal education, either by private study or through traditional educational outlets. Different processes, same objectives, although I find independent study to be a less direct path to independence and ability.

To me, people who suggest intensive formal study of technique limits creativity is a statement of:

1) ignorance
2) naivity
3) ill-placed pride
4) lack of exposure
5) all of the above

Technique is nothing more than the realization of the 100-year legacy of the Westernized drum kit. To ignore it is to attempt to blaze a trail that's already well-worn.
 

stidger

New member
its simple aint it !

the more technique you have, the more things you can do and hence incorparate into your playing

there are lots of things my brain tells me i can do, but my hands dont want to follow

i think this is what separates good players from great ones

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
 

break the prism

New member
there's a difference between being technical and being creative.
for instance, neil peart is a technically skilled drummer, but i wouldn't say that he is creative. i've observed him using the same beats in several different Rush songs as well as in his solos.
a creative drummer would be someone like gavin harrison from porcupine tree, who barely ever plays a song the way way twice live. every time i've seen them he's found a new way to spice up his drumming.
 

Waylon

New member
This is well said Gaddabout:

"Technique should never be given a bad reputation because some drummers wrongfully worship at its alter. It does not ruin a player's creativity if the player is committed to a wide breadth of listening and is opening to inspiration from places at first outside of the player's comfort zone. If you love music, technique is not an obstacle, it's a helpful tool best used in the hands of serious artisans."

Balance is the thing: well practiced technique + your emotion = good feel.
Technique is never an end in itself but a tool for self expression. Chops all by themselves are a novelty at best. Training my body to play whatever I hear in my head is my lifelong goal and my creative head always runs a little ahead of my technique, so that the goal becomes never ending.
I may never get to play half of it in a live or recording situation but I simply feel compelled to learn it. Also teaching and playing rudiments everyday is such an incredible boost in dexterity, stamina and speed. BTW you can't take Neal Peart's drumming out of the context of Rush. What he plays makes sense w/ that band. Same w/ Gavin Harrison, the music they play determines what they play. I think everyone has become more aware of trying not to repeat fills exactly the same each time. But some times it's still the right thing to do.
Love this one.
Later
Way
 

mattsmith

New member
First of all technique and creativity are not mutually exclusive, and I would rather have the chops to not choose to play something then to base my creativity entirely on my limited chops. In fact its not a given that most people with chops just flail away 24/7 as is the common and very untrue stereotype. For example if I own a Ferrari, that wouldn't necessarily mean that I would cut around every corner I see at 160 mph.

And yes, too much is made about chops today, but I'm probably betting this was also the case 10 years ago and 50 years ago. So to me there is no great epedemic of drum tastelessness that we haven't seen before.

What I actually see more of nowadays on drum forums especially are hundreds of self appointed groove saviors with no chops whatsoever pointing fingers at people in possession of chops and screaming they are unmusical to anyone who will listen, for no other reason than to cloak their own obvious weaknessess. Now in no way do I say this is always the case. For example the posters here have been very fair and I get what they are trying to say. But just look around some of the drum forums now. So many people are so afraid that someone won't respect their thoughts that they are willing to say these things, even when they haven't heard the drummer at all.

You should see some of my emails. It's just ridiculous. You would think working hard to be a better drummer was a crime.

I choose to have the technique to decide the borders of my musicianship. A lack of technical skills is not style or an expression of musical spirituality, it's just bad playing.
 

drummert2k

New member
technique doesnt give you creativity. it simply gives you the tools to pull off the ideas you have. you might have a super sweet groove in your head but if you're not at the technical level to pull it off what does it matter.

on the flip side, i feel sometimes having technique can negatively effect creativity only due to trying to play for yourself rather than the song. kinda like having a super complicated parts because it makes you feel good about yourself and you think it will impress people when in reality it doesnt fit the song.

i feel you need to have technique and then have enough maturity as a musician to know where you really let the techniques and technical factor fly and also to know when to lay back and just play way under your skill level for the sake of the song.
 

Gaddabout

New member
drummert2k":xy19pkx5 said:
on the flip side, i feel sometimes having technique can negatively effect creativity only due to trying to play for yourself rather than the song. kinda like having a super complicated parts because it makes you feel good about yourself and you think it will impress people when in reality it doesnt fit the song.
This is an attitude, and drummer with and without technique have it. I've seen drummers with virtually no skill whatsoever plow through their bandmates with meat-club fills at volumes inappropriate for even heavy metal bands.

You know what happens to those drummers? They eventually get fired if the band is worth anything. If the band doesn't have the cajones to do it, the label will, especially in the studio.
 

drummert2k

New member
Gaddabout":oefe4xey said:
drummert2k":oefe4xey said:
on the flip side, i feel sometimes having technique can negatively effect creativity only due to trying to play for yourself rather than the song. kinda like having a super complicated parts because it makes you feel good about yourself and you think it will impress people when in reality it doesnt fit the song.
This is an attitude, and drummer with and without technique have it. I've seen drummers with virtually no skill whatsoever plow through their bandmates with meat-club fills at volumes inappropriate for even heavy metal bands.

You know what happens to those drummers? They eventually get fired if the band is worth anything. If the band doesn't have the cajones to do it, the label will, especially in the studio.
i think you took my post wrong. i actually completely agree with you and thats basically what i was saying.

i've seen drummers with little skill and discipilne on drums just beat their kit and have it sound horrible. i've also seen really talented drummers throw down some amazing fills and licks in a song but they were completely out of context with the rest of the song also making it sound bad.

basicaly, you need the technique to be able to properly execute your creative ideas.
 
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