Sunday, June 2, 2013

Drumming & The Metronome

 Robbie Rodriguez
Drummer for Carnival Of Noise

   Performing is an extension of the heart, mind and soul. Ask any performer; more than likely, they'll tell you that performing is like breathing. If you’re an artist, you'll clearly have an understanding of what I’m referring too. I’d like to speak a bit about my personal passion; in my case, its drumming and performance. Drumming has been a part of my life for as long as I can recall. This article is an extension of the passion and respect I have for the craft. I’d like to take this time to educate those who maybe inspired to take up a pair of sticks in order to pursue their musical dream.

The drummer' role in any musical environment is a critical one; drummers set the foundation of the musical arrangement. The musician, or drummer has to be prepared to internalize time. All drummers face a daunting task in their approaches to all musical selections. There are many elements and layers which need to be examined in all arrangements. The drummer has to be thoughtful in the approach - this will assist the drummer to fully articulate on the instrument. The kit is an extension of the player, and the drummer has to master the voices on the kit. This mastery will exude raw emotion and a strong sense of confident time.

Let’s look at how the drummer can perform an arrangement to better provide the needed foundation described above:

In my early lessons which date back to the late 80's. I've sat down with my instructor, Bobby Sanabria - Bobby is an Grammy nominated musician and long time music educator, who was a Berklee School of Music graduate. My lessons took place in a small drum studio at Palomba Music in the North Bronx. I was just a teenager, not really sure what I was getting into. It was clear in my early instruction that I needed to learn how to read and interpret musical notation.

The reading process can be a bit cumbersome and frustrating, but for any new student, its the best solution in the long run to have the exposure to structure and foundation. It becomes a solid building block to lay other complicated bricks. In those days, I wanted to read as much as I could - I wanted to learn as much as humanly possible. I would always recommend a good instructor, but I would also supplement that instruction with books and video resources to assist with development.

For any student it is critical to play along with tracks and record yourself. This method will assist you in finding your voice. You’ll be able to focus on these areas which need attention. You’ll be surprised at what you really sound like, and you'll find out what you intended did not really translate well in the final performance. Using dynamics and the use of varied levels of sounds, it will allow the drummer to grasp emotion in order to convey that on the kit. Playing at one acoustical level will sound rudimentary, and will not show case emotion. By varying dynamics, it will provide you a larger tool bag of sound. By focusing on rudiments, the process will provide greater exposure and reach to increase your arsenal of drum riffs.

In my early years, I was reluctant to utilize a metronome. I felt it was restrictive, and it was difficult for me to find the correct path against my playing in following along with the click. In reality , not using the metronome was counter productive to all the work I was putting into my rehearsals. Let me explain what I mean, the body will start to memorize movements through repetition or muscle memory. In reality the muscle memory is in the mind, the drummer starts to internalize time and it may fluctuate based on the lack of a metronome. The use of the metronome will assist the drummer or percussionist to lock in and internalize time. Its extremely beneficial for the drummer and the other musicians. Your arrangements and overall performances will sound and feel tighter.

I’ve seen the changes in my playing; I now find that playing at slower tempos will solidify the rudimental performance in sticking, and will provide the muscle memory needed in order to start ramping up speed when called for. The metronome will assist the drummer to lock into the groove, and to expand the players arsenal by playing in time, off time or in complex time signatures.

The metronome helps to open up ideas while keeping the band and arrangement moving forward in a positive direction. I wasn't a believer in the metronome; but now I am. I’ve been playing for several years now; I truly see the benefits of using it in rehearsals and live performances.

I'm currently performing with Carnival of Noise, a progressive metal band based out of the Washington, D.C. metro area. I also support several solo artists with their musical arrangements and performances.

Currently supporting these artists:

Carnival Of Noise

Emma Zinck and EZG

Chris Lizzi Music

Eva Jade Landon

Ignite Violet

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