Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

‘Where The River Flows’ – Scottish Worship EP: Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

And the 4th video from the EP – ‘Where The River Flows’. Here’s what the co-writer, my good friend Pete Crockett said about the song:

Here’s a song that myself and Allan McKinlay have written as a prophetic declaration for Scotland & Glasgow –

Bit about the track:
In the study of the Celtic saints I was struck by the prayer of Saint Mungo to the river community of the Glas-Cu “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of his word and the praising of his name”. Where the river flows is a transposition of Ezekiel 47 v9 “And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live”, and Revelation 22 It is designed as an inculturation of the divine river of life of the temple of heaven in Revelation, and the Clyde. Water metaphors are frequent throughout scripture, and are frequently associated with the giving of life, the choice of words in the verse is a further inculturation; 

God’s word will pour out like a river,
streams of living water, flowing from his throne.
Clean and pure as highland water,
pouring down from heaven, nourishing the earth.

As a subtle reference to Scotland, clean and pure as highland water, is both generic as ‘high-lands’ are not geographically specific, yet the highlands within a Scottish contextual playing will be presumed to be the Scottish Highlands. This is continued in the bridge where the repeated line everything shall live is accented with:

…In the highlands
…In the lowlands
…In the islands

Musically there is: a jig at the dynamic climax, ‘tribal’ drumming, blends of acoustic and electric drums, and clarsach & rhodes electric piano. It concludes with the clarsach and voices

‘Give Thanks To God’ – Scottish Worship EP: Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

Here’s the 3rd video from the Scottish Worship EP: ‘Give Thanks To God’. This is like a traditional metrical Psalm with a call and response from the leader and the congregation. Here’s what Pete Crockett, who co-wrote this song with Allan McKinlay, said about it:

Here’s a song myself and Allan have written based on psalm 136 and is intended to be a modern liturgical metric psalm.

I have used this form recently for prayer meetings where this liturgical form works well with the leader, or someone else singing/speaking a prayer and everyone else responding e.g.

Lord you have been so good to me
All – His never ending love is steadfast and sure
Where would I be Lord without you
All – Give thanks to God for he is good

It works completely acapella or with instruments

written by Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

 

‘Open The Doors’ – Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett: Scottish Worship EP

This is a wonderful prophetic song co-written called ‘Open The Doors’ by Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett from the recent release, ‘Scottish Worship EP.’ Hope you enjoy the drum section at 2:15!

‘I Wanna Know You’ – Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett: Scottish Worship EP

I really hope you enjoy this Scottish ceilidh ‘anthem’ –  ‘I Wanna Know You’ – the first of 5 videos from the recent release ‘Scottish Worship EP‘! This was such great fun to play! Co-Written by Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett.

 

Scottish Worship EP: Live at Stanely House

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At the end of February I had the immense privilege and pleasure of playing on the recent live EP recording, ‘Scottish Worship: Live at Stanely House’ featuring five tracks co-written by two of Scotland’s best Christian songwriters, Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett. I thought I’d just write a short blog about the build up and the day itself.

one rehearsal and it’s go time:

Yes, it really was just the one rehearsal we had – due to scheduling conflicts and the lateness in getting everything together, we booked in a 3 hour rehearsal on the eve of the recording. Prior to that, individual parts and clicks were sent via Dropbox and we all learned in our own time. Fortunately, most of us all play together regularly, so we know each other’s style quite well. Still, the thought of cramming 8 people into the recording and for it all to go swimmingly well was nerve-racking, especially for me as the drummer to make sure I was dead on the ‘grid’ with the click.

a bit about the day itself:

We all arrived at various times throughout the morning. Pete, Allan, as well as Gus Stirrat (live engineer and mixer) and his crew had been since about 9am. I arrived with my family about 11am to set up drums. All the setting up finished about 1.30pm and we had a brief lunch and went straight to rehearsal, which went well, but at points was quite intense, as we were trying to make sure we all knew our parts. The other band members minus Dave (bass) and myself then recorded through all the tracks – so Gus would have a ‘clear’ version without drum bleed.

to the evening:

As we anxiously awaited the audience of about 40 to arrive, we all changed and hung about and had a bit of dinner. When the crowd got there, we let them know the plan of the night itself, that we would be doing 3 sets back to back, and were looking for folks to be themselves and to enjoy the night – though participation was required in one or two of the songs! We also made folks aware that there would be no words on any screens, but that they were pretty simple to pick up.

clicking in:

I had my kit set up, Octapad ready to go, notepad and pen to briefly make a note of anything from each take from the drums point of view. I started thumping on the kick, and we went straight into the first song, ‘I Wanna Know You.’ The first run through was pretty decent, although I think we started to find our flow and comfort zone from the second run, as we began to ‘go for it’ a bit more, although a few mistakes were made. By the 3rd set, I think we had settled in as much as we could considering the rush of everything and the intensity of the night. But it was the set that felt the most ‘relaxed’ and ‘fun’ – we were making more eye contact with each other and smiling (not that we hadn’t been beforehand!). We had nearly reached the end of what was a long but worthwhile day – we were all on the same side in that we were routing for each other to play the best we could. Most of all, we wanted to honour God. We also wanted to lead people well in worship, but also most of the folk who were there knew us already and were supportive of this project. That helped a lot! What also helped so much was Gus and his team being so gracious and kind towards us throughout the day.

packing up with an afterthought:

This was the most enjoyable recording experience I’ve had to date – lots of musicians, a live recording, a cool venue, and authentic Scottish sounds – what was not to like! I’m now really looking forward to the release of the EP itself! Would I do it like this again? Yes and no. If we had time to practice more and make it ‘tighter’ as a whole that would’ve been great. But did we all learn a lot from the experience? Most certainly!

My sincere thanks to Allan & Pete on collaborating for this project!

 

New Scottish Hymns Band Album Release & Scottish Tour

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The New Scottish Hymns Band are releasing a new album on May 19th, 2016, and touring throughout May and June. This will be a great tour featuring wonderful new hymns written by Greg deBlieck. The band features Ellyn Oliver on vocals, Greg deBlieck on acoustic guitar and vocals (Greg is also the bandleader and will be sharing the stories behind the songs throughout the tour), Pete Crockett on keys, Gus Stirrat on bass, Richard Kennedy on drums (I will be playing kit for the dates Richard can’t do) and myself on percussion for some dates. Danny Robinson will be doing the live sound for each event. Really looking forward to being a part of this exciting tour and all the great Christian music currently coming out of Scotland!

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Drum Cover

My latest drum cover is the wonderful song that is ‘Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)’ – but first…at the bottom of this article I’ve put a fun link to something many of you will probably have seen before. It’s a video that has gone viral! My question is how did the worship leader manage to keep time?

Hope you enjoy my cover! *Skip to 1:33 if you just want to go straight to the drumming, but if not, please enjoy the visuals!

 

 

New Scottish Hymns Blog: Sound, Other Helpful Suggestions & Tips

Here we are at the last blog post. I have really enjoyed writing them and I hope you might have been blessed too. I thought I would finish off with some general tips and helpful suggestions for playing drums in Church.

Get A Good Sound Out of A Cheap Drum Set 
There a few good ways to get a good sound out of a cheap drum set, and it doesn’t have to cost your Church a tonne of cash. This video on YouTube is very helpful too.

Drum Heads 
Replacing seriously old drum heads on a well-used Church kit can make a world of difference. It can add that extra bit of warmth and tone, livening up the sound. I currently use the Evans 360 G2’s – coated. I love the warmth and sustain as well as the range of tuning they give. Learn and experiment with tuning drums. There are so many helpful videos on YouTube nowadays. The coated heads are also great for brush sounds.
read more…

Allan McKinlay – Follow the Star

Here is an awesome music video I was involved in released very recently by the brilliant Allan McKinlay!

‘Follow The Star’ by Allan McKinlay from the album ‘Nothing Hidden’ available to buy from MUSIC 4 MISSION RECORDS now! http://music4mission.com/artists/alla…

Find out more about Allan McKinlay at www.allanmckinlay.com

 

LYRICS

We lift up our eyes
And follow the star
Guided by The Light
That shows us where You are

We’ve come to worship
We’ve come to bow down
And give you all we have (x2)

Angels gather round
Releasing a heavenly sound
And together we Honour
Our King Jesus Immanuel

We’ve come to worship
We’ve come to bow down
And give You all we have (x2)

We lift our voices
And join with the angels
Singing Glory! Hallelujah! (repeat)

New Scottish Hymns Blog: Listening to Music

Sometimes I wonder if I listen to too much worship music. “What?! Did you really say that?” Ok, let me re-phrase that. Sometimes I wonder if I listen to too much modern worship music. “Ok, I see what you are saying. Are you now going to speak in favour of the old hymns?” No, I’m not going down that route either, even if I am part of New Scottish Hymns! For the record, I love both!

What I’d like to speak about in this blog is the importance of listening to different styles of music, and how that influences and enhances our development as musicians. The result I believe is that it helps us play better, and gives us greater freedom on whatever instrument we may play. Of course, I also believe is of first importance that we share musical opinions humbly, and it is my hope and prayer that I come across in that light here. (Bob Kauflin has some excellent thoughts on this matter)

The Importance of Listening

I love learning about new music from different people, to hear what influences and inspires them. I remember when I was about fifteen, and through my uncle, being introduced to bands like Deep Purple, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Who amongst others. That was a real eye opener for me! A year later I started taking formal drum lessons and my tutor introduced me to a wealth of jazz and great drummers such as Dave Weckl, Steve Gadd, Dennis Chambers and Vinnie Colaiuta, which completely changed my look on drums. He actually gave me a tonne of CDs and drum instructional books – thank you Paul Hudson! Around that time I also got into bands like Rush, another eye opener.

When I was eighteen and studying music I would use a good portion of my student loans either purchasing CDs, DVDs, or iTunes music. A lot of my suggestions would come from my tutors, fellow students and people in my Church. One day I would be listening to a new worship artist, perhaps someone outside the mainstream market like Misty Edwards, Sovereign Grace Music or Kings Kaleidoscope. The next day I would be listening to Miles Davis, then listening to artists like John Mayer, Chick Corea, Tower of Power, Dave Matthews Band, Robben Ford, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Peter Gabriel, The Police, many great drummer solo albums and much more. I found that through this my influences increased, my love for music grew, and I was encouraged to practice more.

Musical Snobbery vs. Musical Humility

I guess I could end the article there and say ‘happy listening!’, but whilst I love learning about new music, I equally dislike musical snobbery. I say this because I know how much music I have ‘snubbed’ in the past. I can and have snubbed music without listening to it whole-heartedly because I have a ‘Music Degree’ and therefore ‘know my stuff’…apparently! This is sooo not true. I believe my outlook has changed from that (and changing still) and today I try to listen to as much mainstream as indie music so I can keep up to date with what’s popular, relevant, as well as what will influence and what is fresh.

However, on the other side of the coin, before I studied music, there was also a tendency from me and others, to snob those who have studied music and look over genres like jazz and classical music (that second one I still need to work on!). I remember I used to think jazz was “above me” and immediately I ignored a lot of the great stuff. Oh, sure I knew “Take Five”, “Cantaloupe Island” and “In The Mood”…but not a lot else. I think we are all on a journey and we all need to be humble enough to be open to listening to new styles of music. And to give the whole song, or even the whole album a chance, having the discernment to appreciate what’s good and what’s bad.

Listening to the Whole Song

I remember once hearing a story about a well-respected Christian label executive who used to get so many CDs to listen to he would only listen to 30 secs of each key track. No disrespect to this executive but how can even the greatest expert discern what is good from that and why as an industry are we so reliant on one person to get results? Surely some tracks and albums take longer to get used to than others. There are many songs and albums that we listen back to and say “that one hit the spot straight away” whilst others were more along the lines of “I think I’ll put that one back on the shelf and listen to it later.”

If you had told me 10 years ago I would love a band like Steely Dan I would’ve told you to “get a life” whilst I put on the latest Blink 182 record. I would’ve also said that the production was “old school” and the instrumentation was “weird”. Now, that has a completely new meaning for me. I love the production values, instrumentation and high level of musicianship and great grooving drumming in Steely Dan, making them one of my favourite bands to listen to. I learn so much from the nuances of each song, how to play ‘for the song’ and to make it feel good. So it is also important not just to listen to the drumming in the song, but to listen and enjoy the whole song and the whole arrangement.

The Importance of Listen to New Drummers

I also love finding out new drummers, whether from past or present. For me, it’s not nearly enough to scroll on YouTube and see the latest drummer tear up the place with an awesome 15 mins drum solo (though I can’t hide I do love that every now and again!). I now find myself in a place where I listen to great ‘groovers’- guys who play for the song. That does not mean ‘boring’ or ‘non-technical’, because usually guys who are known to be ‘groovers’ have the ‘chops’ anyway! Whilst I will always love guys like Dave Weckl (my personal favourite), Steve Smith, Jojo Mayer, Antonio Sanchez etc – some of the greatest players in the world, right now in my own musical career, I mostly play ‘backbeat’ music, so I listen to a lot of ‘backbeat’ drummers.

Here are 10 drummers I have been deeply influenced by over the past few years: –

– Aaron Sterling (John Mayer)
– Jim Keltner (studio great)
– Rick Marotta (studio great)
– Jeff Porcaro (Toto, studio great)
– Daru Jones (Jack White)
– Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan)
– Russ Miller (session musician)
– Keith Carlock (Steely Dan)
– Carl Albrecht (Paul Baloche)
– Steve Jordan (session musician)

So, what are you listening to at the moment? What drummers inspire you just now? I’d love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment below.

Blessings,

Brian