Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

Bethany Coyle: Beginning//End EP

Bethany Coyle is a good friend and talented musician based in Edinburgh – I have the privilege of playing at her EP Launch in a few weeks. It’s a cracker of an EP with some really creative songwriting (and rhythmic stuff which means a lot of fun for me).

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‘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

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!