On Drumming

I just need sticks :D

Giving a new meaning to ‘The Stick Man’

How I Started Drumming

I was…not that interested in drumming as a young kid. I distinctly remember being shown a video of a drummer by one of my siblings, and remarked that it looked quite easy, just hitting certain  objects at certain points of the song.

By that logic, singing was simply a matter of opening one’s mouth and vocalizing specific sounds at a specific frequency.

In any case, I’d have to say there are a few reasons that got me into drumming around 2009.

  1. Anime would have been the first reason. At that point, some of my friends had just introduced me to an anime, and my first anime happened to be K-ON! For those that haven’t watched that series or don’t watch anime in general, that anime is a slice of life show that shows a normal Japanese high school band which plays pop music. I didn’t really care for the drummer’s looks, but the songs (especially Don’t Say Lazy) were admittedly quite catchy.
  2. Building on anime, I was on Youtube and spent some time watching random K-ON! related videos when I came across a drum cover of ‘God Knows’ by Teto. This drum cover was one which I was quite impressed by, and the drummer Teto later went on to become a major inspiration for my drum style.
  3. Around that point, I had been attending church youth service rather regularly and gained new-found appreciation for some of the drummers who I saw during the worship sets. The timekeeping function of the drums seemed to appeal to me more than the guitar or keyboard did, so it was an instrument which I gravitated to.

So despite not having a drum kit at home to practice on, I started learning from the Net from places such as Drummerworld.com and practiced on pillows after getting a pair of drum sticks.

Stages of Drumming

Early Practice (2009-2010)

As mentioned above, I didn’t have an electronic kit to practice on until 2010. So from the time that I started becoming interested in the drums, I rigged up a kit (and a poor attempt at a bass pedal) using chairs of varying heights and pillows from around the house. It worked out as well as one might have expected, with me getting a lot more practice done on my hand techniques than my foot.

Later on, I got a bass kick pad and a proper pedal, and some practice could be done. Around then I was practicing for about an hour every few nights or so, working on stick rudiments before I got bored of them and wanted to try some songs. After practicing to a metronome until I was fairly sure I could keep time, I was somewhat confident and quite happy to get an electronic drum kit (henceforth known as an ekit) in late 2010.

Practice and playing around continued. I realized that I didn’t know how to move around on the kit although I could play a basic beat decently, and was taught a couple of lessons by a few church drummers. That consisted of the informal, non-Net instruction which I have received, with other stuff being self-learned (for better or worse).

After figuring out how to connect the ekit to my laptop, I fired it up and tried my hand at recording some drum covers.

Recording Beginnings (Early 2011)

This was my first drum cover, one which was rather bad in hindsight. And after recording a few more,  it made me realize that I was not used to playing to tracks, and had pretty bad timekeeping ability. So it was back to more practice, but I resolved to record my practice sessions since it would give me something to look back in the future if I continued with the drums.

Solo Recordings (Late 2011-2012)

Time continued, and I recorded more. Two covers which I had done of “Ash Like Snow’ by The Brilliant Green, however, were taken down from Youtube, and I came within one copyright strike of losing my Youtube account.

In order to avert that, I decided to release covers on side accounts that were hastily made based on the wise logic of ‘not putting all your eggs in one basket’. I figured that if many videos happened to receive copyright strikes, it would be safer for the incriminating videos to be spread out over several Youtube accounts and risk losing a few, rather than losing all of them at one shot.

Hence came the start of announcement videos that were intended to inform my few subscribers where the drum covers had been uploaded to. I doubt many people checked the links, but it served its purpose in reducing the risk of copyright strikes to my main Youtube account.

Collaborative Stage (2013-mid 2015)

After a bit more recording, I reached the stage where I was interested to find other people to do music collaborations with. I had been interested in how Japanese musicians were able to collaborate with others in order to produce fantastic ‘band covers’ like this band cover of ‘Don’t Say Lazy’, which incidentally happened to be the first band cover I had ever watched.

Meeting random people in Killing Floor and looking around on the Net, I did a one-shot collab with a person called Hatoful Girlfriend and Niall Hamilton here, which turned out…okay. After searching fruitlessly for other people to collab with, I tried to make a collab group, but failed when I didn’t have enough time to make sure it succeeded due to real life commitments at that time. It was somewhere around here that I learned a few syncopated beats from a church drummer and practiced them, which would appear in later drum covers that I recorded. Somewhere within here was when I played for a few church services, but took a break for a while.

Return to Solo Recordings (mid 2015 onwards)

As mentioned, above, I gave up on finding others to collab with, and decided I’d just continue recording songs on my own. It was around this point that I returned to playing the drums for church services, which meant less time to play around with secular songs and more time learning gospel songs.

All in all, it would be nice to join a collab group (I’ve recently expanded to the Bandhub platform here), and I still am somewhat open to collabs based on my schedule. However, as the major groups like AnimeSongCollabo and CollaboDaisakusen aren’t auditioning now, it looks like it’ll be indie groups with a focus on continued soloing.

Drumming Influences

Teto

Teto from Foreground Eclipse (and formerly from Royal Straight Flush aka Ouzouku Band) has always been one of the major influences of my drumming style (to the extent that I made a wallpaper of him *cough* ><). I really liked his drumming style of being sharp, precise and adopting fast rolls over complex tom maneuvers, which made me try to mimic that in my playing. His ‘screamo’ part of his drumming identity also appealed to me when he was covering ‘Airman Ga Taosenai‘, and he seemed to follow the same path that I took: J-pop to J-rock, and then to J-metal and J-screamo.

Naturally I tried to copy his dressing by wearing a ski cap in some of my earlier covers, but stopped when a few people told me that it didn’t look as good as I thought it would look (which I verified to be true in a mirror ._.) Still, his accuracy and speed has always been one of the goals which I’ve tried to attain as a drummer.

Rojer

I first came across Rojer when surfing Nico Nico Douga (NND) in this band cover, and thought it looked quite nice. But it was only after watching other covers of ‘The Earth’s Last Confession‘ and ‘Hero‘ that I appreciated Rojer for his precision and long undulating rolls, which resulted in him being also a major influence on my playing style.

Drum covers on Youtube

Playlists in General

The purpose of having playlists was to sort out covers which I had recorded for the sake of convenience. These playlists are updated on a regular basis when I record new covers, so they should be pretty accurate.

Anime Drum Covers

This playlist is for songs which I record that are somehow linked to animes. Usually the OP or ED of a series. I try not to record songs that are beyond my skill range for fear of mangling them beyond recognition, so updates to here take some time. Also based on whether I have been watching any new anime series recently and whether a particular song appeals to me.

Chinese Drum Covers

There are but a few Chinese songs that I listen to, and they are nostalgic enough that I recorded covers of them. I’ve never been into C-pop, but some of these older songs remind me of a romanticized past.

Christian Drum Covers

Occasionally I’d record a drum cover of a Christian/Gospel song, and it would be categorized here. It’s not as regularly updated as some of my other playlists due to the fact that I don’t listen to recent Christian songs, so I tend to be unaware of newer songs. Some of the newer songs are also not…that interesting to me or are beyond my skill level.

English Drum Covers

This used to be quite a small playlist as I hardly recorded English songs, but it became larger after taking into account the recent Memories and Inspiration Collections. I used to listen to Western pop/rock songs when I was younger (a few years back), but not so much now, so these covers tend to be of songs sometime back.

Foreground Eclipse Drum Covers

I covered so many songs from Foreground Eclipse before and after they disbanded that it deserves its own playlist. I’ve not quite found a post-hardcore/J-screamo band like FE after they disbanded a couple of years ago in December 2013, so I doubt I will make a new ‘Band-focused’ playlist like I did for FE.

Instrumental Drum Covers

This playlist is for the few drum covers that exist of songs that don’t have English, Chinese or Japanese lyrics. Hardly updated as I don’t come across/cover these songs frequently.

Japanese Drum Covers

This playlist is for general Japanese songs that aren’t related to anime (that I know of or have watched). In any case, most of them come from J-pop groups like Supercell or something. I’ve recently stopped listening to J-pop as much too, so there’s a noticeable time lag between the release of new songs and the type of songs that I cover when I do cover Japanese songs.

Vocaloid Drum Covers

Perhaps the playlist that saw the quickest growth when I started drumming and has seen barely any new covers added to it recently, I was a huge Hatsune Miku fan around 2009 and when I started drumming, which was reflected in the Miku plushie and throw pillow cover that I got. I became less interested in Hatsune Miku and Vocaloid culture as a whole sometime around mid 2015, however, and this decreased interest in Vocaloids is reflected in the sporadic updates to this playlist.

Memories Collection & Inspiration Collection

These collections of drum covers represented a difficult time in my life that I struggled with, and was listening to music when I realized that a few tracks strung together made it possible for me to express my feelings through music (using the atmosphere/mood of the song as well as lyrics to say what I couldn’t). I don’t intend to do any more covers of this sort (as it is extremely time consuming to do subtitling and all for the videos to make them look nice), but it is something which I quite like how it turned out.

High School Musical Collection

This collection was made partly due to how smooth the narrative flows from When There Was Me And You->Gotta Go My Own Way->Start Of Something New->Breaking Free. A few other songs were covered and it seemed a bit too messy to just leave them all inside the English songs playlist, so a separate playlist was created for this purpose.

 Drum Lives

This playlist is for all the occasions that I’ve played the drums, well, live. Pretty much only with church as I’m not in any bands.

Final Thoughts

Drumming has always (well, since I started anyway) been something which I felt to be quite enjoyable. Despite not having had formal musical training and being somewhat shoddy in my timekeeping, I think I’m blessed to have a sense of rhythm, and to be able to keep a beat when required. There are many weaknesses in my playing, things like 3/4 timing that I’ve not spent much time learning or 4 limb independence or double bass drumming, and even fundamental basics like using rudiments around the kit for fills or how drums are to be manually tuned.

But I continue to drum as long as I’m able to, and record covers that I am glad to look back on, perhaps when I an unable to drum anymore. Or perhaps for the next generation to see (what horrible drumming skills I had, lol). Despite Teto having stopped recording covers since Foreground Eclipse’s disbandment and Rojer not recording as frequently as he used to, it interests me, that maybe someone will be inspired by them (probably not me though, lol) and maybe take up the way of the sticks one day.

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One thought on “On Drumming

  1. Pingback: On Drumming | Ramblings of Roe

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