If you listen carefully, you can find rhythm everywhere.
And it’s all based in TIME.
A heart beat can be measured in beats per minute (bpm)
A drip speed can be measured in gallons per minute (gpm)
A rotating wheel can be measured in revolutions per second (rps)
As long as the beat or pulse, is predictable and reliable,
consistent, dependable, repeatable, stable, steady,
you can dance to it, play alongside it,
use that beat to base your entire performance round.
That’s why a band depend on the drummer so much.
Us Rhythm Keepers are the foundation of a band. The Rock.
The rest of the band need us, as a hand rail, a point of reference.
We keep them steady.
It is US that ensure a song lasts the prescribed 3 minutes 15 seconds.
It is US that ensure a piece of music is played at a set beats-per-minute;
no faster, no slower.
Disco dance music is traditionally faster than most people’s heart rate,
to stimulate the emotions and get them up and moving.
Love songs are traditionally slower than most people’s heart rate,
to relax and calm them down.
Everyone should have a best friend,
and a drummer’s best friend is the CLICK track.
Other musicians use this concept too, they call it a metronome,
something that clicks incessantly at a set bpm, and helps them keep ‘In Time’.
The CLICK is normally a cow bell type of sound. A solid Tock. Short and sharp.
If you use a hi-hat sound, it sounds more like a hiss,
and is harder to play to.
And don’t get me started, on that annoying beeping sound that recording software insists on using!
I put the click through my headphones, sit at the drum kit, and ‘play’ with the click.
Remember this is Time I am playing with. The ticking of a second hand.
I start off playing rudiments and exercises, familiarising myself with the Click.
Oh how I’ve missed you.
I ‘lock into’ the Cow Bell sound, feeling its strength, its reliability.
It ‘Grounds’ me. Hits me in my pelvis, making my legs move.
Then I start playing a simple groove, easing myself into the beat.
I become One with the Pulse.
I wait until the groove enters me.
Gradually I start throwing in some sneaky hits, just in front of the beat,
Just behind the beat.
I tease the Click, I play around the Click.
I increase complexity; fill after fill.
The Click tries to catch me out, but I’m all over it.
I insert silence, long pauses, feeling the seconds tick by,
before delving back in with the beat.
(Time doesn’t stop when I stop playing).
I go half time, I go full time.
Rhythm after rhythm I go through, testing my mettle against the Click.
6 time, 8 time, 4 time, 2 time.
If I feel brave, I will even practice a 5 time and a 7 time, just for fun.
Fun. It all has to be fun. It’s ‘Play’ after all. Not supposed to be unpleasant.
Ha, try telling that to old fashioned piano teachers!
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