The dark humorous clip above is from the movie Whiplash featuring Miles Teller. He’s a drummer getting hammered by a band leader about tempo, that elusive skill that musicians (especially drummers) strive to perfect and control. Time is everything for a drummer and it can be difficult to control in stressful situations like this one, on stage when you can’t quite hear the other musicians well, or in the recording studio playing with “scratch tracks” – recorded musical parts that can often be rushing or dragging themselves.
In college, I rehearsed and performed with the Orange Coast College Big Band, and the bandleader, Doc Rutherford, used to scold drummers. Myself included. It was ALWAYS about tempo. In the middle of a song he would frantically wave his hands to signal the band to stop. Looking straight at me he would say things like “DRUMS! you are dragging!, Keep up the TEMPO!”. Slapping his hands on the 2 and 4 with the force of a gunshot, he would get my attention and keep me focused. The older horn players next to me chuckling and laughing sometimes just added to the stress.
It was a good ass kicking for a young cocky rock drummer. Doc was never quite as intense as the Miles Teller clip above thank goodness, but he did have a passion for jazz, playing with the right feel, and authenticity. Doc helped make me and many other musicians become better because he did care, and wanted us to learn.
While I don’t think that aggressiveness is the best motivational strategy, working with people that have a passion for their work, and know what they want, can push the inexperienced to new performance levels. Throwing chairs is not best method though..
My good friend Louise Palanker created a new video for the Our Place theme song that we produced together. Our Place is a social media app for teens and tweens where kids get together and discuss issues, learn about life, and make new friends.
All of the recording and mixing took place at my studio with a host of talented people including Bob Cowsill (of The Cowsills), Lily Fair, Stephen Bock, Emma Bock, Rebecca Goldberg and Tyler Connaghan. Featuring OPOL Cast Members Alex, Ryan, Olivia, Jake, Aaron, Xio, Kiemute and more. Louise can be seen on percussion, and there’s a brief shot of me on the drums.
So here is the Our Place Theme Extended Mix, re-worked in the studio with footage from the sessions and also from her video podcasts. It should make you smile.
A great reminder of how great pop songwriting can be. Learning from classics like this shows how 3 minutes and 14 seconds can take you to unexpected melodic and harmonic places without sounding forced or erudite. I love how Elton John starts the verse on the ii chord!
So without further ado, here’s how to play Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on piano:
Here’s the first drumming video that I put on YouTube. It started from an improvised melodic tom theme that spoke to me as I was experimenting with some Factory Metal Percussion instruments.
Those big grey circular cymbals are prototype Gothic Radius instruments. They sound incredible, a blast of white noise with a short decay. Perfect for punchy accents. There are also some stacked Cross Benderz some of which have jingles to add to their metallic bell sound.
These unique metallic instruments make for a great alternative to traditional cymbals. They are especially great when you want sharp, intense accents without a lot of sustain.