Here’s a shorter blog post that will give you a lot to think about if you don’t already play this way. I attended a Russ Miller drum clinic recently in Southern California, and he made the excellent point about note duration and time placement. He was quite correct about hearing notes as longer or shorter in duration and how this helps you play ahead of the beat, behind it, or exactly on it.
Short duration notes (or thinking about them that way) tend to put you ahead of the beat slightly. Longer duration notes put you slightly behind, and to be dead-on, a medium duration note. Sort of like Half notes for behind, Eighth notes for ahead, and Quarter notes for dead-on. These concepts, applied to snare, kick, or cymbal/hi-hat, along with individual volume level control/coordination, are simple but a lot to think about.
But there’s more to this thought. It has to do with PRODUCING TONE, not just thinking about duration. When we hit a drum or cymbal, we sometimes stop listening to each sound we are producing and shift instead to keeping the sounds in time, which are two entirely different activities. If you focus on producing a tone, you’ll be listening at a much deeper and more intense level.
To discover this, put on a metronome, and just play along to it, striking any surface. You’ll be listening to the click and your notes in relation to it…
Now, try playing on a surface, but really listen to and WANT to produce the sound, making it as identical as possible to the last note created.
I’m telling you, this WILL improve your timekeeping, because you are focusing on the thing being created IN TIME… rather than just time itself.
The snare drum is a great place to start this exercise, especially if you focus on the rim of the snare to make a truer tone.
Like I said… simple… but game changing.