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How do you cope with loud drummers?

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,233
Location
Sweden
Chris Potter played the Drums on his last album. In fact, he played all the instruments.

Pete Thomas is one of the greatest drummers in Pop/Rock. Come to think of it, I've never seen Pete Thomas in the same room as Pete Thomas?
Forget Pete Thomas saxplayer as drummer. Maybe he is a drummer????????
 

SaxYeti

New Member
Messages
4
Location
Wisconsin, US
We all experience this and I did so again last week. It seems to be commonplace that drummers will play loud unless it’s a ballad and even then there’s no guarantee. I spent a long time looking for louder mouthpieces but the one I have is as loud as I want. This particular guy I’ve played with several times and called him out on it but he just gets offended, as drummers seem to, this last time it was the first opportunity I’ve had in over a year and I told myself that he probably wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was wrong. Halfway through the session he said “you know, I think I’ve lost half of my hearing” which he blamed on having spent years next to bass amps. Then he went back to knocking the living excrement out of his kit.

Is it just me, because if I’m spending my energies on blasting the horn so I can hear myself I can’t play, certainly not with any imagination? How do you manage in these situations beyond making the best of it and leaving unhappy? Maybe I’m just being too precious but I think it’s bad musicianship and I’d be interested in your take and experiences.
A tazer device or maybe some beer cans (full) thrown at the drummer may be effective..
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,830
Location
brighton by the sea
To determine whether playing less loud is in the realm of possibilities, consider raising the question during rehearsal of “Could we try to use a wider range of dynamics on this song? How ‘bout we try to play less loud here so it can seem louder there?”
That reminds me of a wonderful line from the TV series Frasier- "If less is more then just think how much more more is going to be!"
 

LandWaterSky

New Member
Messages
2
Location
earth
A subtle (and insidious! ha!) method of raising your drummer's awareness of his volume would be to give him a few CDs featuring drummer, Jon Christensen. He's especially brilliant on all of Jan Garbarek and Ketil Bjørnstad's recordings.

As one writer noted, "Christensen’s approach to his chosen instrument was akin to a tai-chi master, the smallest amount of movement being used to maximum effect. His gestures behind the kit seemed slight, but through them, Christensen was able to draw out powerful rhythms and expressive shuffles."

Christensen completely changed my understanding of how lyrically a drummer can play.
 

Jimmymack

Member
Messages
589
Location
London
A subtle (and insidious! ha!) method of raising your drummer's awareness of his volume would be to give him a few CDs featuring drummer, Jon Christensen. He's especially brilliant on all of Jan Garbarek and Ketil Bjørnstad's recordings.

As one writer noted, "Christensen’s approach to his chosen instrument was akin to a tai-chi master, the smallest amount of movement being used to maximum effect. His gestures behind the kit seemed slight, but through them, Christensen was able to draw out powerful rhythms and expressive shuffles."

Christensen completely changed my understanding of how lyrically a drummer can play.
Interesting, I’ll look him out. As for the drummer in question I think he’s too far gone.
 

John Setchell

Member
Messages
200
Location
Norfolk UK
I’ve heard of singers doing that, I think it was Ella Fitzgerald, I’m not sure I have the same clout but I have considered it. Of course I wouldn’t be able to hear myself at all so maybe miming is the answer.
On one of Frank Sinatra’s famous live recordings one of the horn players was repeatedly over-raucous. He said into the mic “You want to go outside and we’ll sort this out?”. It did shut him up.
 

Hamfist

Member
Messages
51
Location
Southampton, UK
Loads of great suggestions in this thread. Its not a one size fits all of course. I have found that a combination of moulded earplugs/IEMS/plexi screen for drums/better monitoring can always considerably help and maybe even sort out your problem.
What will almost certainly not change is to make the drummer play quieter. You have to work around their style and if you can't co-exist then it has to end up as a "me or him" situation. To find a musical, dynamic, in-time drummer is like hitting gold !
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,233
Location
Sweden
I still think it's the cymbals that is the problem if you play in smaller places/stages. Maybe you stand 1-2 m from the cymbals. No monitor or "in-ear" ... ? Some kind of ear protection is good. What do you hear as horn player? On a bigger stage/place is no problem because they have good PA's. Here is a short clip recorded with a Zoom just in front of the saxes. It all came out good and the cymbals sounds good but .....
View: https://youtu.be/upa-6FOjGu4
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Messages
698
Location
London
I saw the Yellow Jackets at Ronnie's a few years ago, and they really seemed to have this business licked.
Apart from being an extremely musical bunch of musicians, the stage layout was interesting too.
The piano was placed stage right, as you might expect, but kit was directly opposite on the stage left with the bass and Bob Mintzer central and behind. The sound was excellent, full and well balanced and clear.
Now, I'm sure they did a good sound check, and that they were also very used to playing in that set-up, and very used to compensating for smaller or larger venues: but, I wonder if, psychologically, placing the kit off center makes the player feel more a part of the ensemble and less like the driving force? Thus encouraging listening?
I'm quite sure Marcus Baylor didn't need any encouragement to play musically, but I wonder if this might be an approach for others to try? I'm sure it would annoy a lot of drummers to be removed from the position of focus and make them feel less omnipotent: might be worth a shot.

Come to think of it, Garbarek uses this sort of stage positioning.
 

Jimmymack

Member
Messages
589
Location
London
I still think it's the cymbals that is the problem if you play in smaller places/stages. Maybe you stand 1-2 m from the cymbals. No monitor or "in-ear" ... ? Some kind of ear protection is good. What do you hear as horn player? On a bigger stage/place is no problem because they have good PA's. Here is a short clip recorded with a Zoom just in front of the saxes. It all came out good and the cymbals sounds good but .....
View: https://youtu.be/upa-6FOjGu4
Ear protection would help to protect my ears but as I can only hear myself when I blast the horn I wouldn't hear anything much then and when I'm playing the horn that hard any musicality I might have is for the birds. More distance would help, I'm thinking 20 metres, preferably 50. I think I just need to not play with him.
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
3,283
Location
Citizen of Nowhere
I think I just need to not play with him.

Although I have played with amplified bands without being amplified, the simple fact is that unless they're incredibly quiet the sax needs to be amplified, too. There are two bands in particular that I've played with, whose drummers were/are what I'd describe as ticklers - I still went through the PA and let technology do the hard work.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
2,281
Location
New Mexico, US
I still think it's the cymbals that is the problem if you play in smaller places/stages.
Sometimes, maybe....to me, it really depends on the guilty drummer. Quiet a few times I have played with drummers who were pretty tasty on the cymbals, it was just their assault on the snare drum which became eventually too offensive to continue allowing to go on.

Indeed, on crashes a lotta drummers like to bring down the hammer, and indeed if you are next to them it can be downright unpleasant....but it's pretty darn hard for a drummer to ride a cymbal or hi-hat it 'too loudly' as in 'this nonsense has to stop".
For me, it's often the snare which is the offending feature...
 

Jimmymack

Member
Messages
589
Location
London
The bass drum isn't going to cause anybody any problems, probably, the stuff that reaches into the middle and top of of the sound spectrum is, and that's what causes hearing loss I would think. The problem seems to arise when a drummer isn't playing as part of an ensemble.

It seems to me, and I could be mistaken, that when somebody is taking a solo they should be the loudest instrument at the time. This could be a flute, a voice, a guitar, a piano or a saxophone, doesn't matter, it's not a competition, the soloist is clearly the dominant voice. Everybody else, the bass, piano, horns and drums drops down. When I play with a vocalist, if I'm putting in fills, I play quieter than the voice.

If a drummer is just hammering away at the same level then it's poor musicianship, there's nothing intrinsic to the drums that says they should be loud, or soft, it should be appropriate. Drums are just an instrument whose volume generally depend upon how hard you hit them, not unlike other instruments really, why make excuses, they can be played at the right level. Loud is ok for drums when loud is appropriate, the rest of the time they should be part of the unit. Too bad this is being read by saxophonists.
 

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