Sunday, August 26, 2012

Would you play electronic drums at a jam session?

I received an invite for a jam session at the last minute yesterday. Since I'm now making an effort to get out and play as much as possible I quickly agreed. They always seems to come up at the worst times though, like when your weekend is already overbooked, over scheduled, or otherwise too busy to begin with. The players were people that I have worked with in some capacity, some more than others. I figured it be a jam with simple songs in a ABAB, AABB, or similar format. But I quickly learned that was not the case and I'd have to "work it" and not just sit back and listen to typical blues progression solos. The guitarist hosting the session is a Berklee Graduate and a veteran of the Boston version of  "Blue Man Group" (Core Redonnett).

As such, Core took us on a musical excursion of some of his compositions and I felt compelled to give it my best shot. It surprised me somewhat that I had to work that hard, as I had not played with that caliber of guitarist in some time. Core and I played in our church band together but obviously, well, you get the point.

What became a challenge for me was that I was using his Roland V- Drums when I'm pretty used to playing acoustic drums live. I do have a "built" electronic set that I use for practice, but don't find it very expressive to play on. In this case I had to deal with hard cymbal pad that were tiring (the mesh toms are fantastic) and a bass pedal that kept floating across the carpet. I also found myself kind of lost as the sound system for the drums was slightly ahead of me, off to each side. It did have plenty of power, though I hesitated to turn it up too much as I could not tell how loud it was for the rest of the players.
Eventually, I wised up and put on the headphones for the kit. Well, one ear anyway, and left one side off. This gave me the balance I was looking for. I also spent too much time "dialing" all the different kits and finally came to rest with the basic kit setup sans any fluffy sounds.

The next time out I hope to bring some real cymbals and a couple of acoustic snare drums. This, I'm sure will give me what I need to get the job done.   

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