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You Groovin'

Article by Sean Mitchell // March 02 2011
You Groovin'

It’s 3am and yet again slumber eludes me. As is often the case, I turn to my trusty laptop to help coax me into dreamland by surfing the web and seeking out the latest drum videos posted on the net. As I lay here in full envy of my beautiful fiancé who is in a deep, sound sleep, I can’t help but be inspired by the amount of information contained within this little virtual world. Often I bookmark things that hit me, something that sticks out, (puns fully intended here) something, damnit, that I want to steal! I need not remind you of the sheer amount of videos worth copping a lick from. You want technique, you want chops, you need only to Youtube it. In this world of Googleing things and Facebooking people, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring and create a verb just for drummers, “YouGroovin'.”

YouGroovin – [YOO-groo-vin] - verb 1. A method or means by which a drummer can amass a large amount of video information, therein creating a database of chops, grooves and tricks of the trade by YouTubeing videos and placing them in a bookmark folder for later consideration and study. 

Of course in my humble opinion, there are far more links to chops and tricks than there are to grooves, concepts or artistic ideals. Much like the cardio vs. resistance training argument, chops can give you instant recognition and results, but it is the art of the groove and the feeling behind the notes that really build your musical muscles.

Lately I have been searching out players who exemplify the ability to translate every facet of their abilities (groove, chops, technique, artistry, originality, space, time, meter, breath, and musicality) into a musical statement—punctuation, if you will, onto the sentence that is a song. (Copping a Yoda-like voice) “Harder it is to master the song than the parts that create it.”

I have spent many months as of late on the songwriting side of life and have found it a grand learning experience. I have traded in practice routines (temporarily) for the exploration of my inner character, my musical voice as it were. The things that make me inherently me are exposed to a drum kit to see how they can be expressed. These ideas I have had running over and over again in my head and have no clue as to why they won’t go away, instead I now record them (even if I can only speak them) and explore them; such is my songwriting process.

In light of this mini epiphany I have decided to sacrifice many hours of much-needed sleep in order to YouTube the examples I feel best represent a drummer in the throngs of a serious musical moment, examples that I feel show one’s soul in action. It’s that part inside of us that has the ability to materialize that which cannot become tangible until we stand (or sit) before our canvas.

In presenting the following links to you I encourage you to go inside the tune and beyond the actual parts of its makeup. Listen like a non-musician as much as possible, as a spectator. Only listen once and move on. The more time you spend on the tune, the more your musician side will begin to analyze; we can’t help this. I recommend closing your eyes and listening, as our visual tends to analyze technique quicker than our ears. As you experience the song, I want you to write down the first four things this tune made you feel. Don’t do anything after that, just do more of the same, connect to the feeling the songs create for you, bad or good. Here is the kicker (again with the puns), the words can have nothing to do with drumming.

A good drummer would never want you to walk away from a performance having only enjoyed the drum tracks; that would mean they did not do their job. With this instrument—as with any artistic outlet—our purpose is to serve a greater good within a group of musicians. Use the chops and the groove as an expression, not for the sake of showing one can do them; that is already assumed by the mere fact that you are up on a stage.

Much like a great choir we must strive to attain harmony; one voice from many. Thus we are using our language of drumming to enhance a grouping of melodic notes that once resided as only an idea in the mind of a fellow human being, or perhaps even ourselves. The point I hope to impress upon you is that it is ultimately the feeling you get from playing that made you want to be a drummer. Enjoy my YouGroovin list of greats below. Tycka om!

Ollie Brown: Higher Ground



Alan Dawson: Beautiful Love



Aaron Spears: Caught Up


Cindy Blackman: Are You Gonna Go My Way


Jeff Porcaro: Mushanga


Billy Cobham: Juicy


Steve Gadd: 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover


Manu Katche: Come Talk To Me


Marcello Colasurdo/Antonio Fraioli - Spaccanapoli


Mick Fleetwood: Rhiannon



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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.

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