I Gave a Speech on Drumming!

Howdy folks,

I’ve been quite busy recently, due largely to school, so I haven’t had much time to update anything here or even practice on my own drums everyday! Ironically though, I got the chance in my Speech class to give a talk on anything I wanted to, so you know my first thought was “DRUMS!”. And that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately, the speech could only be 7 minutes long, which is hardly sufficient to inform a group of non-drummers on anything drum-related, but I think it turned out alright.

I ended up talking about the basics of how drums are played, the importance of drummers in music, and where the future of drums is headed in recorded music. All of these topics haven’t really been touched on within this blog, especially the last one. So I thought I’d just briefly sum up the main points of my talk for you guys, so you guys wouldn’t feel left out ;). Keep in mind this is very basic, as it was intended for a specific audience…

Well, today’s modern drums are played often times with sticks in either the matched or traditional grip. And with these sticks, we drummers use 3 basic motions to hit the drums: arm, wrist, and finger motions. Arm motion is used primarily for loud, slower hits like accents, whereas wrist and finger motions are conserved for faster notes, which are, by their nature, quieter. And since us drummers are typically sitting at a drum kit, this frees up our feet to participate in the musical process. For most drummers, the left foot occupies the hi hat pedal, which controls the hi hat, and the right foot occupies the bass drum pedal, which obviously hits the bass drum. Everything up until here has been a description of the physical aspects of drumming, so I will now discuss the mental side of things. Drumming requires a certain amount of coordination between limbs which, if you aren’t accustomed to doing, takes an enormous amount of mental effort to accomplish. But us drummers who have experience under our belts don’t have to think too hard about coordinations that may drive the beginner insane. This is not to say that we don’t struggle mental with anything; if anything, coordination challenges only get more difficult as you improve! So in essence, it depends upon what we’re doing at the time to tell you what exactly we’re thinking about, whether it be a complex time signature or what I want for dinner haha.

Fortunately, drummers are hardly under-appreciated inside and out of the musical circle, so we don’t struggle as bad as the bass player does in explaining the importance of our position. Although, I would guess that there are still many non-musicians who would question the importance of drums, to which I respond with (mainly) tempo and rhythm. Tempo, or speed, is largely associated with the mood of a song. If you’ve ever heard a recording, then listened to it at a different speed, it produces different feelings when you hear it, sometimes ruining the song. But how do drummers influence speed? Well the prime example I can provide is this: if you’ve ever seen a live band performance with a drummer, you’ll likely witness the drummer playing the first notes of the song (esp. those where multiple instruments begin at the same time). These notes they play are the ones that count off the song, usually in a “1, 2, 3, 4, GO” fashion. Now, however fast the drummer choses to play these notes in the moment are essentially how fast everyone else must now play them. And if you’ve ever played with a band live before you can probably testify to the fact that we don’t always play at the speed we practice at. Usually it’s faster, due to the nerves. NOW, moving onto rhythm, if you’ve ever listened to pop/rap/rock music, you already know that the drums usually hit on every single beat in a song. Because they do this, the other band members often rely on the drummer to keep the time (or if you’re a string player, it’s the bassist). Thus, if the drummer messes up the beat, it can throw everyone off, which demonstrates their importance in music.

Lastly, the future of drum sounds in music are on a trend right now, and yes, it has to do with technology. Drums are now being electronically sampled in almost every genre of music (at least it seems), including rap/rock/pop/r&b/electronic/metal/etc. This means that real drum sounds (from a recording) are being replaced by either fake/pre-recorded drum sounds. And there are a variety of reasons why sound engineers are conforming to this, but I won’t go into it now. The basic pros and cons of sampling drums, as I see it, are the following; PROS: it’s faster and easier, there’s a large soundbank to choose from, the sound is a lot clearer, and it allows for a perfect drum track. CONS: it gets rid of the need for a drummer, the sounds can often sound fake (despite being on purpose sometimes), and the drum track is too perfect. It’s basically like replacing the drummer with a robot that only knows perfection. And if you’re a drummer, you can probably tell, as I can, the difference between when a human is playing vs this robot. Ultimately, I think it creates an artificial sound, which as I said, can work for the music but it just depends.

WOW, ok that was a lot. I’m done now haha. Leave a comment if you liked/disliked my speech; it is most appreciated either way! Thanks

Ryan Clark

A conclusion to the summer of 2013

Hey guys long time no talk,

Well summer’s just about at its end right now, as I go back to school at Las Positas College in 2 days. I’m excited to continue my studies, although I’d like to do a quick recap of the things I did over my summer (all of which I’ve yet to mention in previous posts) before school begins.

I’ll start my recapitulation with my musical endeavors; I played with two shows with two different musical groups. The first show was in Oakland with a metal band called Diatomic. The music was kinda tough to learn because of the fast tempos and many quick time changes. The gig itself went alright; a few flubs here and there, but it was quite solid. The other group I played with was of the progressive rock genre, which was called Orpheus. I really enjoyed learning these songs because I was allowed a sizable amount of creativity with the drumming, and there was a lot of happy, melodious grooves I got to play. I played with Orpheus in Livermore at an event called Jupiter Sunrise, which was hosted at someone’s house with quite a large gathering. There was someone taking pictures, so I’ll see if I can get some for you guys to gawk at soon haha.

On a non-musical note, I began volunteering with autistic children this summer in Dublin. The organization that I volunteer for is called Creative Autism Solutions Team, and it’s run by some of the kindest and loving people I’ve ever met. This whole experience was extremely eye-opening in too many different ways to list. I loved it so much that I’m going to continue volunteering during my school year as best I can while managing classes, homework, teaching drums, and my personal music. One of the greatest parts about this was that this was the first time I’d ever REALLY volunteered, by my own will and not because I was forced to. My main goal with volunteering was just to be productive over the summer, but as one might guess, I was affected much deeper than that. And if anyone from the Bay Area knows autistic children who need a daycare, I strongly recommend C.A.S.T.!

I’m glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this summer. I was able to make and write music, help kids with disabilities, see family and friends, and finally start learning guitar from my dad! Overall I’d say it was quite the positive experience.

Well that’s all for now. I hope everyone else had just as good a summer as I did!!

– Ryan Clark

I bought a Wuhan 12″ China from Best Buy

Hey everybody,

I hope everyone’s been having a good summer so far. Personally, mine’s been going great; I’m volunteering at a daycare for autistic children in Dublin and I’ve working on some musical projects. And, as you can see, I bought a Wuhan china cymbal from Best Buy for about $15. This wasn’t a very serious buy because I found an old Best Buy gift card that still had some money on it, so I thought “Why not?” and bought it. And for those of you who don’t know, $15 for any kind of cymbal is extremely cheap.

And so, as I expected, I pretty much got what I paid for in terms of quality. The cymbal came somewhat dirty with some scratches on it, but nothing too bad. And when I played it, it was surprisingly loud, almost too loud. Louder than all my other cymbals somehow. It sounded very trashy as well. And although I typically enjoy trashy sounds (probably from more expensive cymbals), this china’s tone just sounded cheap. However, I think I might’ve found a use for it in my kit by using it in a stack (two cymbals stacked on top of each other – it can create unique sounds). I put a Wuhan splash on top of it, which dampened the sound a bit and actually sounded alright. I might toy around with it some more later, but I thought I’d share my experience with you guys.

I think the lesson I learned here is that there usually should be a minimum on how much I spend on a cymbal. Although I prefer to buy cheap, good-sounding cymbals, I think this was too cheap. I could barely stand the sound of the china on its own, which isn’t a good sign. However, there are ways around it, like how I used it for a stack. And cleaning it can alter the sound as well. All in all, if you’re seriously looking for a cymbal, I would recommend buying something more expensive.

That’s all for now! Happy drumming!

– Ryan Clark

Summertime! Oh Yeah!!

Hey there drummers and non-drummers,

I’m very excited to be done with my semester at Las Positas College! It was easily one of my hardest semesters yet, although I managed to get high grades. I’ve decided to take this summer off and not take any summer classes. Instead what I’ve decided to do focus on teaching drums, my musical projects, and volunteering at CAST (an daycare for kids with autism). And of course, see all my lovely friends! haha

On a musical note (lol), I will be trying to expand my teaching career. If anyone happens to read this that wants to learn to play the drums or get better, I’m available to help teach you (be sure to look around my website for more info!). I think I will be making business cards with my name and occupation on them, as well as making this site look more professional. I think I might add some of my own music to this site to show what I can do.

Speaking of music, I have just finished another two pieces (made on tuxguitar). One of them, called “Peterbutter n jam,” was made for my friend Peter, and it happens to be a jam song. The other, titled “Circular Green,” is more like my first song (“Here…Eat This Mango”), in which I wrote a pretty strange song with many odd meters and melodic melodies. All of these songs are on my soundcloud, which is named Foxshine, if you want to listen to it. But I think I’ll eventually move them to this website for easy access.

Also on my list of things to do this summer is learn how to play guitar! I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now but I just haven’t had the time. So I will now be taking lessons from my dad, who has been playing for around 40 years, so he knows what he’s talking about. If you by any chance want to learn guitar, my dad is also available to teach lessons. If you scan the top links of my website, the last one should say something about learning guitar; that link will provide you with my dad’s website and all the information about him that you need to know. So my goal with learning another instrument (guitar being much more based on melody, rather drums which are rhythm-based), is to further my understanding of music theory. This will in turn develop and enhance my teaching abilities because knowledge is power! And eventually I hope to be good enough to play my own songs that I write so I may record them with logic pro, which will be much more interesting to hear than tuxguitar sounds.

So that is the basic update with me right now. How are you guys and girls doing? Don’t be afraid to leave me a comment or two πŸ˜‰

Happy Summer Drumming!

– Ryan Clark

Check out my first song! (Tuxguitar)

Hey there people!

Well if you’ve been reading my posts, you’d know I was working on some music stuff right now. And about a couple weeks ago, I completed my first song! It’s a standard electric guitar, bass, and drums set-up, all of which I wrote, but I can (hopefully) assure you that you probably haven’t heard many songs that sound like this. Now, I swear I’m not trying to brag or anything. I’m not even sure if many people would like it because it’s quite strange (at least in some ways). It falls under the category of progressive metal, which can mean a lot of things, but it’s the closest thing I can think of for a genre.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve written any guitar parts or anything, but this was the first time I actually organized a legit song. It took quite a bit of effort to make, as you might be able to tell from the many quick changes, odd time signatures, and yes, the melodies! It was all programmed on Tuxguitar, which a cool program that you can download for free on their website (just google it). They’ve actually got an impressive amount of different sounds you can use for making songs with (piano, strings, brass, weird effects, etc.). The only downside is that, to my knowledge, you can’t effectively write music (at least drums) using standard sheet notation. Instead you have to tab out the drum hits with numbers that represent the sound. I would prefer to use regular notation for keeping up my practice of reading music, but oh well.

Anyways, my song, titled “Here…Eat This Mango”, is on my Soundcloud profile if you want to hear it. The song name is just a silly little thing that I made up. I don’t believe in always making serious music/lyrics, and hopefully you can hear the non-serious elements in my music. So, my Soundcloud name is “Foxshine”, at least right now. That’s sort of an inside joke between super smash bros players…well not really a joke but just something they would understand.

So go forth and listen! Tell me what you think! All constructive criticism is welcome, unless you disagree with me, just kidding πŸ˜€

Peace to you all!

-Ryan Clark

P.S. Please ignore the substandard rap music on my Soundcloud.

Update on what I’m doing…

Hey everybody,

I just thought I’d check in with y’all and tell you what’s going on over here. Right now I’m studying pretty hard for midterms coming up next week, and looking forward to a relaxing week off after that. I’ve been trying to make room for at least one hour-a-day practices, but I don’t always get that time. It’s unfortunate but it’s all about priorities.

In other news, I recently purchased some recording software called Logic Studio Pro for 200$ (an Apple product). The real purpose behind this buy was to slowly begin my own home studio thing (nothing fancy, just enough to make decent-sounding music) which I could then use to record my band (A Flooded Mind) and any other side projects I get into. I’ve been composing some midi songs recently, mainly in the progressive metal genre, which I might use to create my own side project unless my band wants to use it. Buying this software has also inspired me to take up guitar so that I can, eventually, play the riffs I hear in my head. Lucky for me, my dad is a guitar teacher so I get free lessons from a pro player! I’m super excited to start learning guitar, but it’ll probably have to wait till summer when I have the time. Oh, and once I start finishing some midi songs that I have in the works, I’ll put them on Soundcloud so you guys can go listen!

All in all though, school is my main focus right now! Which is great except it takes away from other fun things like DRUMMING! haha but yea, that’s what I’m doing right now.

Talk to you guys later!

-Ryan Clark

Developing your “Left Hand” and Practicing

Hey drummers and non-drummers!

What I want to talk to you about today is a topic for mainly beginner drummers, but it does not exclude intermediate and even advanced drummers! Your “left hand”, or whatever hand you’re weaker with, is the hand that struggles more with learning techniques, speed, endurance, and becoming comfortable. This applies to just about everything you do with your hands on the drum set (singles, doubles, moeller, flams, buzzles, gravity blasts, etc.). Typically your weaker hand will require more practice than your stronger hand will to reach similar levels of ability.

Although this can be frustrating at times (trust me I’ve been there), it is a real test to push yourself and accomplish your goals, whatever they may be. The key is having determination, which means practice practice practice! Schedule practice times every day (preferably at the same time) for a specific amount. I usually recommend at least 30 minutes a day, and more if your schedule allows for it. Motivation plays an extremely large part in this as well because results are usually not guaranteed within a week. You need encouragement to keep pushing yourself mentally and physically. The source of this stimulation can be anything, so long as it’s positive; learning a song, your parents, an audition, or someone you look up to (drummer or not). Personally, when I watch drummer better than myself they motivate me to practice harder and longer. Without any drive your skills will likely flounder and never get much better.

Now, getting back to your left hand, it is important to note that your hands will never be exactly the same. My right hand is a bit stronger, faster, and has more endurance than my left hand. This appears to be the case with most peoples’ preferred hand. If you’re ambidextrous however, you might have an advantage over us one-handed people. The reason is because drumming is all about your dexterity, and striving to be ambidextrous will provide you with numerous advantages in your playing.

Well that’s all for now. Keep practicing and finding new motivations! Happy drumming!

-Ryan Clark

Acoustic drums vs Electric drums

Hey there!

Today I wanted to go over the basic pros and cons of owning an electric drum set, compared to the common acoustic drum set. Just incase you aren’t familiar with these terms, electric drums are pads that require an amp or headphones to hear the sounds, as they’re electric. Acoustic drums are the real deal, and they’re what electric drum sets attempt to mimic.

I own both types of drum sets (electric- Roland TD-6V acoustic- Ddrum and Meinl) and have played each for quite some time now. The main reason why people choose to buy an electric kit (which are quite expensive I might add) is because they are MUCH quieter. Although it’s still possible to disturb people with it, as I know from first hand experience living in an apartment. And this reason makes sense, considering acoustic drums can be extremely loud. In fact, this is the sole reason I play my electric drums more frequently (no noise curfew).

The large bank of sounds that you can utilize from your electric kit pretty much guarantees that you’ll find at least one drum kit sound you’ll like. Of course, your choices are limited depending on how much money you can spend on it. And although I think the electric kits sound better than my acoustic kit (I’m not that great of a tuner), the feel of an acoustic setup beats the electric kit almost always in my opinion. Acoustic drums just feel great when you hit them. Whatever material the electric kit is made of, it’s just not the same (though it is has a decent rebound). Plus the cymbals on electrics are rubber, which have poor rebound, and you can’t capture all the neat small noises you can get from a real cymbal.

The nice thing about electrics is you can customize a whole plethora of sounds and be playing with an orchestra or a band in no time. I don’t even need to get very technical with my electric kit to be satisfied. Another positive quality is that you can record drums waaay more easily onto a computer through electric kits than acoustic. Acoustics require special, expensive mics, that are positioned appropriately, as well as decent room dynamics to ensure you don’t record echoes. And I’m sure I’m leaving out other vital information about recording acoustic drums because I’m not an engineer. It’s much simpler just to use electric kits for recording drums (although I’m not saying it’s the best way).

These are what I see as being the basic pros and cons for both types of kits. Overall, I’d say nothing beats an acoustic kit. If the circumstances were right, I’d prefer to play my acoustic drums over my electric drums almost every day of the week. However, this is not to say that electric drums are necessarily worse. They can provide functions that acoustic drums cannot. Either way, you can’t really go wrong.

One of the new techniques I’m practicing…

Ever heard of the “Flying Fingers Technique”? It’s another way to hit the drums Β that involves using only your finger power on the sticks. It’s more common among the speed metal genre, but has a lot of use outside of metal. The technique is utilized typically for fast tempo single strokes. The wrist/arm energy you’d normally use for something like this can be conserved by using this fingers only method (not to say it takes no energy, but uses a lot less).

Why is this useful? Endurance. Plain and simple. Whether you’re performing a live show, recording at a studio, or just practicing by yourself, stamina is crucial to playing music. But don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you get rid of all other arm/wrist techniques. This is simply a useful tool to have in certain situations.

I’m hoping to perfect this technique soon and then teach it to my students. I have a lot of work to do with it still, but that’s what practicing is for!

-Ryan Clark

Welcome to Ryan on the Drums!

Hey there!

This is my first post for my drum teaching website! I’m quite excited to meet new people and improve my teaching abilities as a drummer. Look around my website to learn more about me and what I have to offer. If you are interested in taking lessons from me or have any questions, please email me at: ryanonthedrums@yahoo.com or on my facebook profile (listed below).

Have a great day! πŸ™‚

my facebook
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