Dale Baker - Sixpence None The Richer

Pro Drummer Tips: Dale Baker on Drum Transcription

In Drum Tips, Pro Drummer Tips by Philip4 Comments

Dale Baker - Sixpence None The Richer

Tip: Learn how to transcribe drum music!

Chances are you’ve heard Dale’s drumming recently.  Dale’s drumming propels the lilting melody of the hit song and perennial summer favorite “Kiss Me,” by the group Sixpence None the Richer. He has recorded for labels such as Mammoth, Virgin, Almo Sounds, Elektra, Epic, Sony, RCA and played on jingles and commercial projects for Southwest Airlines, Pepsi, Scholastic Books, and Frito-Lay. He’s also performed on numerous television and radio shows in the United States, Europe and Japan, including The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’ Brien, and Top of the Pops (BBC). You can find out more about Dale by visiting his website or taking private lessons from him.

Pro Drummer Tip:

“Learning how to transcribe will not only make you a better drummer, but a better listener as well.
When I’m asked to play for an artist or event, I typically am “subbing” for the regular drummer, and am faced with having to learn a large amount of songs in a short amount of time. Being able to quickly transcribe a song’s arrangement and drum part allows me to create a chart, so that I don’t have to rely on my memory to play the song.
When I have found a song that I enjoy listening to, transcribing helps me to focus on the parts of the song (the song structure, melody, words and the orchestration), that makes the song unique.
When I hear a drum part or fill that I find interesting or something that I wish I could play, I find that transcribing allows me to figure out exactly what the drummer played.
As I’ve transcribed, I’ve noticed how good drummers can structure their drum parts to best serve the song and the musicians they play with. Transcribing has helped me become a better listener, and has helped me become more aware of a song’s arrangement and all the component parts that work together to make a song stand out. The focused and intense listening that is required to transcribe has helped shape and form my drumming and given me real examples of how to “compose” a drum part that supports and interacts with the song and other musicians as well.”

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  1. Thanks for the tip!
    I can see how transcribing can be very helpful while gig, especially for stand ins.

    Any tips on how to transcribe for an intermediate level drummer who has never done so before? I can’t always get behind a kit since I work a full time job and have 3 roommates but I think it would be a great way to continue improving my skills by transcribing when I can’t practice

  2. Jesse, Glad you liked the tip. Probably the best way to get started is to get a sheet of notebook paper and a pencil and work on counting the measures in a song without transcribing anything yet. On the sheet of paper write a vertical line like: | when the song starts, start counting 1, 2, 3, 4 (for songs that are in 4/4), after each time you count 4 mark another vertical line (So that you end up with a series of measures on your page). You’ll want to organize your measures into sections (Intro, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Build, Outro, etc) so that you can quickly glance at your page and know where you are in the song. Once you’ve developed a system of organizing the song this way, you can then go back and transcribe the individual measures when you have time. It’s hard to describe this in text – if you wanted to contact me via my website we could set up a time to meet via Skype and I could probably explain it better that way. I don’t get a lot of time to practice as well, and charting out songs allows me to be prepared for a gig without having to spend a lot of time learning the song at the drums.

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