Roughness Part 3 supplement — Practice Roughness

Micky Waller.  Image via .

Micky Waller.  Image via


As artists, we become what we practice.  That much seems obvious, but what might be overlooked is that rough playing, which has its place, must be practiced.  It is not necessarily available to a dexterous player.

Thus, jazz drummers who sit in with rock bands might be impatient with the music they are asked to play, but their rock colleagues might be even more impatient with the jazzer’s inability to convey authentic rock swagger, because swagger must be practiced.  The stumbles and slop that go with that swagger are essential elements of the rock and roll musical vernacular. 


Micky Waller’s drum groove on Maggie May is a thing of beauty, and roughness—its swagger and slop—is an essential element of that beauty.  In order to pull off such swagger, a more sophisticated drummer than Waller must take a break from perfecting her rudiments and dexterity around the kit and devote some time to hearing and reproducing the rough attitude behind this kind of performance—the particular way Waller’s sticks flail onto the drums, the caveman simplicity of his fills, the sense that his kick drum is held in place by ropes tied to his drum throne.  It will not be easy for her.  Waller's drumming is awesomely messy, and the mess cannot be reproduced by someone whose practice time is devoted to tidiness.

Thank you for reading.