My First Drum Cover

January has been a month with not much free time, but for a glimpse of how I’ve been spending what little I’ve had, check out this video below:

Yes, I’ve finally recorded my first drum cover, using #41 by Dave Matthews Band. I’ve been excited to get into doing drum covers and open up a new chapter in my drumming.  Not only do I get a chance to apply my drumming towards some fun songs, but also this gives me a chance to learn about recording and video production.

For Christmas my family gifted me with a set of drum mics, along with the stands, mounts and cables necessary for recording.  I then got an audio interface (specifically a Tascam US-1800) to connect everything to my laptop via USB.  After getting a passable sound, I was eager to set out and record my first song. #41 is one I’ve always enjoyed playing and made a fun one out of the gate.  I set up a couple of mixes of the song: one with a click track identified, along with a mix with diminished drums – of which I found out was more difficult to make than thought. It turns out that it’s tough EQ’ing drums out of a mix without making the song sound empty.  Ultimately I tried to get the bass drum out of the mix, then diminish the rest. I think the results here were mixed.

I then set out to do some takes.  My goal here was to get something out quickly, so I did sacrifice a little bit of quality in terms of my playing and the ultimate mix.  If I were recording original music, contributing to a final drum mix, I would have spent a lot more time to do more compression and EQ’ing to get that perfect sound. For the purpose of these the video, I was pretty satisfied with the sound of my drums.

Next up was the video.  Using the Nikon D7000 that we bought for Clara last year, I mounted the camera on the tripod and used it as the primary camera. The video quality on the Nikon is pretty impressive, especially when stationary.  I then mounted a little web cam on a lamp to capture an overhead angle, outputting the video to another laptop. For my next video, I’m anxious to try some additional angles, as well as a different overhead angle. In this one, I didn’t like how my face was cut off half of the time.  I also learned the embarrassing lesson that I need to clean my room before recording again.

This process taught me a lot, and after doing some mental trail-blazing, I’m anxious to give another song a try.  I’d definitely welcome any suggestions or feedback.

Learning New Songs Through Notes

Over the last few days I’ve had my head down over my drum set, learning new song for Ken Stevens’ band. To expedite our timeline for being able to play out, we’re supplementing the originals with covers.  Part of the reason I’m so excited for this project is that it’s pushing my musical boundaries, but it also means learning some songs that I’m not familiar with.  To help, I’m mapping out each song into a 4×3 notebook.

While I could go out and either print out drum tabs or listen to the music or transcribe the songs into sheet music, but that would be a lot of work and could make me reliant on the sheets, especially when I’m playing in a genre that isn’t as accepting of music stands.  Instead, I’ve gone ahead and created a “cliff-notes” version of each song, writing some highlights.

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Some things that I start off with some basic: What is the meter? 4/4, 6/8? What’s the tempo (In BPM, or may just a note a general feel)? Do I go with sticks or should I use brushes or the Rutes?

Next I move onto the structure of the song. What do the drums do during the intro (or is the intro drum-less)? How many repetitions are there in each part of the song? Is there a point where I drop out?  What are the dynamics? Is there anything else special to take note?

The intention is to be able to read through these notes right before I play this song, and in combination with concentration and muscle-memory, be able to work my way through the song.  Obviously with practice I should be able to commit these original and cover songs to memory, but this is a good way to cheat my way through an evening of music.

What other ways do you use to get through songs? For my friends who are not drummers, does a method like this work for you?  Do you have any other tips on how to learn new music in a relatively short period of time?

Monday’s to come Tuesday

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Ok, so I am technically making a post for Monday, but I am promising better content for Tuesday in the form of two posts. Mondays are hard for me as I follow my day at work with band rehearsal with Ken Stevens. Tonight was actually the first night of practice, and I left with a book full of drumming notes and a sore left wrist – I guess it has been a while since I’ve rehearsed a full evening.  Definitely a good time though. It feels nice to be back in the Saddle.

See you Tuesday!

Closing the chapter on Greenfoot

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I’ve been sitting on this for about a little over a week, but I am now able to post that as with all good things, Greenfoot has come to an end.  We’ve had a good run, but we’re going to be taking an amicable split.

It’s been a fun four years. Over that time we’ve played over 50 shows, recorded 2 EP’s totaling 8 songs, have written over 20 more songs and played some really fun covers.  Both Jake and Julien – as well as Kevin – have been great band-mates, and I’ve really enjoyed playing with them.  Hopefully our musical paths will cross in the future.

Thanks to all of my friends who came out to support us over the years. We definitely had many fun shows, have played some really interesting places and appreciate all the support that you’ve shown to us – I personally really appreciate it!

Greenfoot wasn’t my first band and most certainly won’t be my last, as I definitely want to get involved in another project.  I’ve detailed some of my drumming influences and aspirations on a drumming page I created. If you or anyone you know is looking for a drummer, check it out and drop me a line!