Sunday, March 31, 2013

More flams than you can shake a stick at!

Plenty has been said and written about Stewart Copeland's playing with The Police, but I want to focus on a very small aspect of it--an astounding number of songs that The Police recorded have either very short or somewhat long drum solo introductions. Some are a full four+ measures long, some are just one beat. This is a catalog of all(?) 30 of them, taken from the Message In a Box four disc collection. ("Box set"...I almost don't remember what that even means...). I'm not sure when or why I became obsessed with these intros, but they're all such great little gems. All of these songs could have started with the full band on a downbeat. But I'm glad they don't.

After searching around online, I've decided not to worry about sticking to any notation protocol. Every chart I find is slightly different, so I just wrote something that seems passable, and the description should clarify any uncertainty. Drummers: feel free to let me know if anything is way off in terms of notation or what you hear.

I have included links to YouTube videos, all of various audio quality and some could be taken down at any moment. Spotify works great if you're really interested in checking these out.

The first two tracks were released as a single in the UK:

1. Fall Out
This gets us off on the right foot. Well. Literally. And with a flam on the snare. There are plenty more of those.
2. Nothing Achieving
Another flam, this time without the bass drum.

From Outlandos d'Amour:

3. Next To You
Let's call this a modified "blackum": the typical snare flam followed by the bass drum, except with snare drum hits with the bass drum and toms at the end.
4. So Lonely
A single "blackum": snare flam followed by bass drum.
5. Roxanne
Just one eighth on the open hi-hat, then the guitar enters.
6. Peanuts
Tom pickups into two measures of driving, open hi-hat beat. There's a transcription online that has eighth notes in the hi-hat in measure 2, but I hear a closing hi-hat "shht" sound, not a stick sound.
7. Can't Stand Losing You
Maybe I'm hearing things, but I hear snare, crash, AND closed hi-hat on beat 4 of this intro. I think the cymbal was overdubbed.
8. Truth Hits Everybody
Another bass-flam pickup.

B-side of the "Message In a Bottle" single:

9. Landlord
Another snare flam on 4.

From Regatta de Blanc

10. Deathwish
This is classic Stewart Copeland shit: hi-hat and rim clicks with shifting accents.
11. Walking On the Moon
The drum track for this song is well-known for its use of a delay effect, but the intro is just the hi-hat (and guitar amp noise), no delay.
12. On Any Other Day
I've included Stewart's spoken part with the snare drum intro. It flows pretty well.
13. No Time This Time
Choo-choo train intro. He kinda muffs the fourth bass drum hit.

B-side of the singles "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (UK), and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" (U.S.):

14. Friends
This one took me awhile. I kept hearing it an eighth-note off with the splash cymbal on the "and" of 3 instead of on 4.

From Zenyatta Mondatta:

15. Driven To Tears
A modified "blackum," with hi-hat closing in place of bass drum.
16. When the World Is Running Down
Double flam! Flam it good! Flam it right! Flam it TWICE!
17. Bombs Away
One tom and the snare. This project has reinforced something I already knew but had never paid such close attention to: drums can sound really different depending on how hard they're hit.
18. Man In a Suitcase
More signature stuff: splash cymbal and a really high-pitched tom.
19. Shadows In the Rain
Hi-hat alone.

B-side of the singles "Invisible Sun" (UK), and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (U.S.):

20. Shambelle
Another boom-flam. These are technical terms.
From Ghost in the Machine:

21. Spirits In the Material World
This was another tricky one, mostly due to the synth.
22. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (this audio sounds rather fast--Sting's voice sounds quite odd)
A simple hi-hat intro made more intricate with a stereo panning delay effect. Repeats are at the 1/16 note. This is the sounding intro--he probably played half as many notes.
23. Hungry For You
A single snare hit. No flam.
24. Demolition Man
This one is tough for me. Honestly I can't make out nine individual attacks. But I saw it written this way online and I'm going with it. In some ways the strangest of all the intros.
25. Rehumanize Yourself
26. One World 
I found a transcription of this that notates it in 4/4 with a lot of triplets. It's a tough call, but I like my way better: a modified shuffle with straight elements. Really cool feel. Stupid lyrics, but rhythmically very interesting.
From Synchronicity:

27. Miss Gradenko
This intro features a high-pitched octoban.
28. Every Breath You Take
This quarter-note pickup features another non-standard addition to the kit: gong drum.
29. Wrapped Around Your Finger
This is either a splash cymbal or some other small metallic thing-a-ma-jig.
30. Murder By Numbers
This is perhaps the drum intro. My transcription is only the first two measures, but it shows several Copeland hallmarks: the off-putting splash cymbal downbeat, the cross-cutting rim clicks, and the strong two and four on the bass drum. I actually found a transcription of this that put the bass drum on one and three at the beginning of the verse, then turns it around with a 3/8 measure. Which...makes no fucking sense. (Must be getting to the end of the post...he's cursing!) The whole point is that the verse is a modified one drop/shuffle pattern and the chorus shifts to a heavy shuffle with a backbeat. Anyway. Great tune. Great drumming.

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