Drumming for beginners
8 March 2008
So, what have I been up to in my long struggle to avoid actually finishing a song?
Well, I've decided to learn how to play the drums.
This is an ingenious and cunning plan. Instead of spending hours trying to make my computer sound like a real drummer, it suddenly became obvious that what I needed was - a real drummer!
Now, as anyone who has tried to put together a band will know, the band stands or falls on the quality of its drummer.
Fortunately, good drummers are easily identified. They're the ones who charge by the hour for rehearsal time. If you're in the awkward situation of having a drummer you think is good but who doesn't charge, here's another tip: they're usually also the only member of the band who can't dance. Which is odd.
Now, as most drummers don't accept credit cards, I had to find another solution. Having spent most of my childhood banging on the dinner table with fork and knife, it was clear to me that I had an innate talent, so I promptly went out and bought a drum kit.
Your average drum is a round shell with plastic skin stretched tightly over the open ends. When you hit the skin with a drum stick, the drum stick bounces back up, the door bell rings and the neighbour says, "What the f**k is going on here!"
Fortunately, this is the twenty-first century. You can now buy a collection of small pads bolted onto a frame instead. When you hit one of these pads, the drum stick bounces back up, a wire connected to the pad carries a signal back to a small box with lights and buttons (it's known as a brain - we all knew drummers must have done something with them), the brain recognises the signal as pad 3 and triggers a snare sound in your headphones.
And the neighbours? Well, after about a week, there comes a tentative knock at the door.
"Is your husband having difficulty putting up those shelves?"
So far, my wife has successfully managed to feign complete ignorance.
There's no getting around this, I'm left-handed. The Latin word for left is 'sinister'. The Latin word for right is 'dexter', from which comes the english word 'dexterous'. This is not a word I can apply to my right hand, whose sense of timing, not to mention direction. is frankly sinister. There, that's confused you. Still, this is an issue all drummers have to face. Each of the four limbs (with the exception of a few celebrated male porn stars who might introduce a fifth) has to be equally dexterous.
Still, like everything else, fixing this is simply down to practice. So for 15 minutes each day, I drum enthusiastically with headphones on. As a result, I've already worked what the drums really should be doing on 'I'm Back'. Once I started playing along with sticks in hand, it was obvious.
But no, listen!
There is a downside to this new silent drumming though. Casual listeners passing by hear a steady clicking sound which varies little over the weeks, whereas inside the headphones, whole new worlds of polyrhythm and syncopation have opened up.
So to silence the doubters, I've included an audio file which shows what you can hear outside the studio and what is actually coming through the headphones.
Judge for yourselves how far I have come on.
Electronic drum kit
The best description of what a drum is. Ever!
"Your average drum is a round shell with plastic skin stretched tightly over the open ends. When you hit the skin with a drum stick, the drum stick bounces back up, the door bell rings and the neighbour says, "What the f**k is going on here!"
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