Rich Pagano/Hi-Fidelity Music Monthly

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One To One - The Art of Singing and Playing Drums As One
There are two four-piece kits that are face to face. I will start by playing for a bit (grooving with a drum machine percussion setting) - warming up. I then move on to performing with a click and demonstrating how to lay behind the click so to make a track sound more organic - as if not playing to a click. If the client is a drummer, then he/she would then take the other kit and we would go through steps to locking within a mid-tempo groove, playing off each other and trading fills. If the client is a guitarist, bass player or keyboard player, we would do the same with that instrument but it would be more about a groove lock and overall feel.

I then move on to tuning a drum, vocal warm-ups, conversation on influences and my philosophies with regard to honoring the song AND the singer and staying out of their way. Finally, I will sing and play to demonstrate the organics of vocals and rhythm (singing and playing as if both are entwined). Levon Helm is a template to emulate and talk about since he wrote the book on singing and playing as one.

It's fun, it's cathartic and I do recommend that you videotape.

For more info:

"It was probably the most beneficial thing I've done musically next to picking up an instrument. It's intriguing to listen to the organic and laid-back approach that works in a professional and real-world musical realm...."
-Steve Gorschboth, Baltimore, MD

"You can't leave the lesson without his his own tasteful interpretations rubbing off on you. More than a drum lesson!"
- Steve Gorschboth/Jess Banner, Baltimore, Maryland

"Rich Pagano has a great insight into what makes a drummer more than just a drummer. I now know that I can be a more integral part of any group by grooving and singing my butt off!
- Mike Bellusci, New York City

The Art of Recording Classic Drum Sounds: Brief Course Description
I have been teaching this course at my New York studio, New Calcutta, for five years and here is my MO:

Students talk with teacher about classic drum sounds that are definitive of a particular style. Conversation covers comprehensive techniques of - for example (but not limited to), a John Bonham sound, Ringo Starr early and late period sound, Nigel Olsson, Phil Spector 'Wall Of Sound' approach or a Van Gelder jazz sound and hypothetical guesses on mic placement and choices when a sonic is not so clear. I have a list of 'how to' drum sound approaches through tracking down the engineer and conducting a personal and comprehensive interview for my own knowledge. This list includes Geoff Emerick (Beatles), Chris Huston (Led Zeppelin 2), Elliot Scheiner (Steely Dan) and neo-classic engineer Henry Hirsch (Lenny Kravitz).

We will also study session photos from Motown sessions, Jimmy Miller Rolling Stones sessions and many more. At this point we list the drum sounds that we will tackle for the duration of the course and then get to work:

  1. Pick the correct drums and drum heads.
  2. Find the 'sweet spots' in the live room for the overheads and room mics by walking around the room with a tone (could be a drum tuned in a particular way that relates to the drum sound at hand or an acoustic guitar strum can also show where a room is alive).
  3. Comprehensive tuning and dampening of drums.
  4. Picking the microphones.
  5. Placing mics through finding optimum resonance in the way the drum is tuned and by studying official classic session photos. Students will be hands-on and will be working both sides of the glass. We will also discover ways of creatively manipulating the room.
  6. Adding compression - understanding ratio/threshold settings in a classic sense. Stereo/mono bus compression and its effect on the sound.
  7. Recording the drums.
  8. Listening to 'the real thing' - Comparison of existing stems of audio (my collection of actual isolated classic drum tracks culled from official analog transfers) and what we have accomplished.
  9. Touch on how ALL of these techniques can be applied to guitar, bass, vocals and every other mic'ing treatment in any kind of room (every room has a sweet spot).
  10. Leave with CD-R stems of all stages of the drum sound.
For more info:

"This was an extremely valuable learning experience and well worth the investment for anyone who is serious about improving the quality of their recorded drum sound. We replicated a John Bonham drum sound and a Lucinda Williams drum session sound. Top-notch. Flat-out pro!"
- Dave Cushing Montclair, NJ