Saturday, July 23, 2011

Drummers Only pt 3: "I Must Decrease"

I got this tip years ago from an article with famed bassist Lee Sklar. Apart from his funny name and looks, he's one of the most recorded and toured musicians of the modern era. In this instance he spoke of how his bass was always the lowest thing in his mix. Why? So he could hear everyone else.

More and more drummers (as are other musicians) are using some kind of in ear or headphone monitor mix. This is great for at least 2 reasons: a) getting a monitor loud enough for a drummer to hear makes it even worse on a drummer's ears. b) it keeps the stage volume down for the front of house mix.

Since I share a drum chair with several drummers, one thing I notice when it's my turn to drum is how loud the drums are in the headphone mix. Hence today's post:

My drums in my mix must decrease.

Put the drums in the mix to the point you can hear them and loud enough you're not overplaying them (hitting them harder than needed). Your drums should sit LOW in the mix. You should hear lead vocals/instruments and bass player very clearly--louder than you.

Since our goal is to make the overall sound of the band better, we need to be able to hear what everyone else is playing. A humble drummer (pt 1) needs to hear everyone else more than his/her self.

If you can't get over how amazing your drums sound in the mix, and you just can't get enough, then turn yourself up on your own practice time. When we're playing with the band, our focus needs to be the greater good of the band. "I pledge allegiance to the band." Thank you for that, Jack Black.

Playing music is a conversation with instruments. In a conversation we have to hear what other people are saying so that when we chime in, it makes sense. What others are playing dictates the pattern and feel I'm going to lay down. I can't serve them if I can't hear what they're playing.

To listen well to the musical conversation and best serve the song and the band, I must decrease in my monitor mix. Simple.

Coming up: Pt 4 "Volumes, not Volume."