Learning New Songs

I have been playing for about a month and a half. I been playing basic songs such as Back in Black as well as other AC/DC songs. But when I try to move to more difficult songs I find that I get jumbled up and it gets discouraging. What is the best way to pick out all of those parts? Also is it better to play what I hear in a song or to play what I feel fits the song?

Any responses would be helpful.

Thanks,
Ben
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
If you really want to learn songs, then learning them and all their parts as they are written is the way to do this. It's good for numerous things: listening, being able to separate the parts in your head, being forced to play stuff you aren't familiar with doing yet, etc.

If you just want a tempo to follow, playing along to songs is fine. Lots of us do it, it's just as effective as a metronome.

Being that you are just getting started drumming, I would try to learn the songs. Learning all the parts and being able to play through them builds confidence, as well as the stuff I listed plus more. And if you decide to join a band, you have to be able to learn and remember songs.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I also will "air drum" to new songs first, so that I can hear every part of the drum part, and get some big picture things down. This also allows me to "learn" the other instrument parts, which I use a lot to reference while I play the song
 

JJKK

Member
Playing the difficult parts in isolation helps a lot. Then you weave what you learned into the song while playing over the track.

edit: It's pretty obvious in retrospect but I used to try and rush through the songs over and over again when trying to learn a new track. When I failed a part, I started the track over hoping to get the part "that time". :D
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
If possible you should get in the habit of transcribing. Short term pain for long term gain. I find I internalize a lot more quickly by actually writing out the drum parts. It’s like memorization by osmosis.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
Going the route of using existing songs to learn all the different patterns one needs to learn drums is probably the long way to improvement.

It would be quicker to employ a teacher and work through some books that will systematically work up your ability to play all the different patterns.

But if that’s not an option, focusing on the areas that trip you up on a song, figuring them out note for note and then playing them very slowly, but in perfect sequence and then speeding them up would be the way to get it done.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
FWIW...what I did was I break any song I want to learn down to it's constituent parts...intro, verse, chorus, bridge, solo, stop, outro, you get the idea.
Then I abbreviate it and write out the order. My arrangement notation might look like I/V/V/Ch/Br/Lead/Ch/V/V/end. Underneath I'll write reminder notes to jog my brain like song style for instance, who starts, how it ends.

Then I break down what's being played in each respective section. What pattern is the bass drum playing, the snare, the hi hat etc. I write myself notes like "sounds like hypothetical song abc's drumbeat" for instance. Anything I can scribble down that will remind me which one of the 30 songs I crammed for that I'm playing. Writing it out really gets it into my head.

People make their own systems/notations/terms up. Whatever works for you. I make up names for song sections that don't fit in the obvious categories. People write what the tempo values are, # of bars in a section, and anything else they feel they might need.

I write the arrangements and accompanying notes down with black sharpie on oversized white index cards using big enough letters so that I can read them from the throne if they are on the floor. I take them to gigs if I am subbing cold with newly learned material. It's like doing my homework and being prepared for class..they really help me when I need them.

Once you start deconstructing songs, you'll see common arrangement patterns repeated a lot. It's just a listening/analyzing/notating exercise, deconstructing a song.

Try imitating the song as best you can for now is my suggestion. That's the drum part that worked.
 
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timmdrum

Silver Member
The list of drummers with feature articles in Modern Drummer and other percussion publications who have stated they got started by playing along to recordings is a mile long, so there's nothing wrong with it. Certainly a qualified instructor would help you learn faster, and learning to read percussion sheet music (if you don't already) and eventually transcribing stuff will help also. But, to your actual questions, Benny, in my experience:

1. From listening to recordings, the best way to pick out the parts is just repetition. Some will be more difficult than others due to some songs having the drums lower in the mix and/or not recorded in the highest fidelity, more complicated parts being more difficult for beginners to suss out exactly what's happening, etc. Playing with the EQ might help- turn up the bass if you can't hear the bass drum very well, the treble if it's the hats or ride cymbal that's faint, etc. If you have access to audio software that will let you slow songs down on a computer or phone app, that would be a big plus.

2. Well, for learning- or getting better at playing- the song's drum parts, try to play them as they are. But, playing what you like in those songs' tempos and feels while listening is useful for getting used to deciding what to do, as if you're the drummer. While doing this, try not to get thrown by hearing the drums on the recording doing one thing while you're doing another. In either case, it's good that you're starting with material that's simple in its drum parts (before I get roasted, I know it's not so simple in other ways- Rudd has a great feel that few people can replicate), but don't stay stuck in one style- along with AC/DC & the like, play some classic r&b, less heavy rock like The Eagles, some mellow singer stuff like Linda Ronstadt, some pop, some country, etc.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Try looking on YouTube for the songs but type in “isolated” or “isolated drums” into the search as there’s a fair few isolated drum tracks out there that can help.
And yes Phil Rudd’s feel is excellent. I always knew it was but it wasn’t until I embarked on rehearsing in an AC/DC tribute project, as opposed to a covers band, and REALLY listened to what he was doing with an aim of replicating it to the best of my ability that I realised a) how hard it is to sound simple, and b) lots of AC/DC songs have a moment or moments that can stump you.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
FWIW...what I did was I break any song I want to learn down to it's constituent parts...intro, verse, chorus, bridge, solo, stop, outro, you get the idea.
Then I abbreviate it and write out the order. My arrangement notation might look like I/V/V/Ch/Br/Lead/Ch/V/V/end. Underneath I'll write reminder notes to jog my brain like song style for instance, who starts, how it ends.

Then I break down what's being played in each respective section. What pattern is the bass drum playing, the snare, the hi hat etc. I write myself notes like "sounds like hypothetical song abc's drumbeat" for instance. Anything I can scribble down that will remind me which one of the 30 songs I crammed for that I'm playing. Writing it out really gets it into my head.

People make their own systems/notations/terms up. Whatever works for you. I make up names for song sections that don't fit in the obvious categories. People write what the tempo values are, # of bars in a section, and anything else they feel they might need.

I write the arrangements and accompanying notes down with black sharpie on oversized white index cards using big enough letters so that I can read them from the throne if they are on the floor. I take them to gigs if I am subbing cold with newly learned material. It's like doing my homework and being prepared for class..they really help me when I need them.

Once you start deconstructing songs, you'll see common arrangement patterns repeated a lot. It's just a listening/analyzing/notating exercise, deconstructing a song.

Try imitating the song as best you can for now is my suggestion. That's the drum part that worked.
I do the same thing. My set lists end up looking like "Egyptian tomb writings" as my one guitar player calls them, but it absolutely works!!
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Dont let music education intimidate you....get instruction on music theory and transcribing. It is worth the effort.
 
Thanks to everyone who responded. It gave me a new perspective to the songs that I’ve been listening to. Woolwich you mean toon the isolated drum parts, would the instrumental of the song work as well? I’m sure instrumentals are easier to come by than isolated drum parts.


Thanks again,

Ben
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
If there is a fill that you want to study in detail then it may help to use a DAW such as Audacity to isolate the particular section and save it. You can also reduce the tempo in a DAW for closer study of the rhythm.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
How's your ear? I consider breaking songs down into their individual parts and deconstructing the individual patterns a great exercise in ear training. For me, my listening skills are far superior to my reading, writing and transcribing skills. I couldn't be a drummer without my listening skills. Musical memory is a big help too. I can't remember where I put my keys yesterday but I can play a song I know, but haven't heard in 50 years without issue. I'm both amazed and eternally grateful for that. The rest of my memory is noticeably deteriorating but my musical memory remains damn near perfect. Which makes no sense to me. There's no substitute for a sensitive musical ear.

When I want to learn a song, I just listen to it repeatedly at first, not breaking it down. After I am more familiar with it is when I begin to reverse engineer it. I usually learn it 100% mentally. No run throughs on the set. If it's in my head, I don't need a run through. The music I play isn't technically demanding.

I love having the skill of being able to mentally learn a song I never played before, and being able to pull it off onstage the first time we attempt it as a band. It's not something we announce lol, but I do get a lot of personal satisfaction from it.
 
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notvinnie

Senior Member
Playing for a month and a half, and getting discouraged by "difficult" drum performances? What's the rush? Enjoy the ride, and progression will follow. Try to find a local professional that you can take a few lessons from in order to make sure you're not doing anything detrimental technique-wise.
 
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