working on minus-drums mixes and odd-time thinking

Now that the album's up and out I've been getting together different versions of the mixes designed to drum along too. I'll also be making the kit patches and actual midi recordings for the tracks available to load into the Roland TD30 V-Drums. I use v-Drums all the time for recording because they're so much easier if you're a self recording drummer and allow you infinite choices sound wise when mixing without having to decide on drum sounds when the initial idea or urge to play strikes.

I've decided on versions with click and without and it's really highlighted how weird my timing choices are for some tracks! I want the parts to be challenging but musically satisfying to play at the same time.

 'Been Down' for example has two bars of 7/8 and 1 of 9/8 before repeating then goes into 4/4 for the verse. I didn't mean to make it such a complex drum part, but as the idea for the song came from the cyclic bass pattern, the drums had no choice but to follow the bass.

Talking about odd time, the way I like to count odd time is in groups of 4 until it's not possible to count 4 any longer then add the extra bar on top. So the way I'm counting Been Down is 1,2,3,4 (4) + 1,2,3 (3)=7 For the 7/8 part and 1,2,3,4,(4) 1,2,3,4,(4) 1 =9 To follow the melody.  This really simplifies playing it and helps give it a pulse and swing that suits the bass melody.

This technique was a revelation to me when I saw and heard Terry Bozzio explain it in one of his instructional videos and opens up all sorts of freedom with even more complex parts. You just count 4 til you can't anymore then add a bar of what's left.

On the flip side, switching the timing around so you play the odd bar first then the even bar totally changes the feel of the part. For example you could count 7/8 as 1,2,3 (3) 1,2,3,4 (4) = 7 or 1,2,1,2,1,2,3 (7) same count but totally different feel if you play the kick on 1 and the snare on 2 as you would in a conventional beat. 

Of course the aim is to not have to count once you've examined the beat and played it over it becomes automatic whenever you hear an odd time melody. When it gets in your bones, you actually stop thinking of it in little sections but more like long passages which helps you and your band mates to really enjoy playing it as it's like your all keeping the train rolling along.

one of my favourite drum parts is the one Matt Cameron played on Soundgarden's  Rhinosaur. It really demonstrates just what a huge difference to the feel it can make depending on how you count it. Rhonosaur's in 6/8 but the phrase Matt plays is actually over 2 bars so you can think of it as 12/8. The count seems to be 1,2,3,4 (4), 1,2 (2) for both bars but what makes it so interesting is the half time feel he gives it by playing the snare on 3,6 & 11. This makes the groove sound odd time but it's actually perfectly even being in 6/8. It has a hypnotic effect and when it goes into the chorus it drops into 4 which feels super straight against the previous 6/8. Very clever And musical playing...gotta love rhythm.


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