Tape Study: Jason McGerr Flips Some Paradiddles Into A Groove

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It rained in San Francisco yesterday. So, naturally, I put on flannel and barricaded myself in my practice space to play some Death Cab For Cutie.

Here’s a video and transcription of the final part of DCFC’s “What Sarah Said” Drummer Jason McGerr plays a reverse flam double paradiddle. If you’re reading that in your head or aloud, it sounds like nonsense. But Jason turns a rudimental chop into a haunting and beautiful groove. Listen below.

Mc Gerr’s Groove

You can find the transcription of the chop below, and a video of me playing it as well.

Here’s a little more info on the sticking. The lower case, unbolded letters are the ghost notes of flams. The bolded letters are played at normal volume. But, keep this one on the quiet side. It’s a ghostly groove.

Sticking

lRRLRLR rLLRLRLlRRLRLR rLLRLRL

Transcription

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Video

http://[vimeo%20144561137%20w=500%20h=281]%20

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Tape Study: The National’s Secret Weapon And His Best Drum Fill

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Artist: The National / Bryan Devendorf
Song: “I Should Live In Salt”

No one is grabbing The National‘s “Trouble Will Find Me” LP off the shelves to get a party started. Unless that party is a dad-rock party. In which case, this is the first record you grab.

The National have a penchant for making records that unfurl the more you listen to them. The more you give, the more you get. You’ll hear Sharon Van Etten’s harmony buried beneath an organ on your 34th listen of “Hard To Find“. You’ll hear the way the wonder twins Bryce and Aaron Dessner captian an army of woodwinds, brass, and guitar swells that overlap but still move together like a weather pattern. You’ll hear those things, but you’ll feel Bryan Devendorf’s drumming.

There Are No Small Parts In Bryan Devendorf’s Drumming
Bryan perfectly illustrates how there are no small decisions in drumming. Every single note he plays has been carefully selected to serve the song in the most economical fashion possible. This does lead Bryan to play the same type of beat a lot, a call and response between bass drum and snare drum. (cough, cough, Apartment Story cough, cough) I’ve poked fun at it. But, his beats are variations on a theme. He knows what serves the band well, and sticks to his guns.

The National Plays In A New Time Signature, Bryan Makes It Feel Familiar
On The National’s last album, “Trouble Will Find Me” they entered new territory. They opened up the album with “I Should Live In Salt,” a slow burn of a track that oscillates from 9/4 to 8/4. The National hadn’t delved into non-traditional time signatures before, but they make this new terrain feel like home. This is largely due to Bryan’s work on the drums.

He makes the flow from 9/4 to 8/4 seamless, and demonstrates how comfortable he is in his opening fill. It’s not too flashy. He’s not accenting any weird upbeats like the “e” of beat 7. He’s guiding the listener into the song, and into the album with confidence and cool. It sets up the whole song, and in doing so, the whole album.

Here’s the fill transcribed below along with a YouTube clip that starts right at the fill. You’ll find his primary beat he uses in the verses transcribed as well.

Happy playing!

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Tape Study: Natalie Prass “Bird of Prey”

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Natalie Prass (and her band) ooze cool, even while sweating the small stuff. The tonal and compositional qualities of Natalie’s self-titled record makes that crystal clear.

Natalie recorded her debut LP on a “virtually non-existent” budget, and still managed to capture a warm, danceable sound not unlike early Stax recordings.

The hit single, “Bird of Prey” off her album captures the dynamic that makes Prass’ music so irresistible. After nearly three minutes of straight up groove, the band shows off their chops in the back as Natalie steps forward vocally on the bridge.

The band could go with the cliche stabs to punctuate Natalie’s bare vocals, but what they came up with is rhythmically genius, pretty complex and still somehow serves the vocalist.

I don’t know what kind of coffee those session dudes in Richmond, VA are drinking but I want some of it. Here’s my transcription of the hits + a video that autoplays at the start of the hits for you to follow along.

EDIT: Since posting this on Twitter members of Natalie’s band/arrangers Scott Clark, Trey Pollard and Pinson Chanselle have chimed in and given me edits on the transcription. It’s up to date. Thanks guys!

 
PrassEdit