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Old 03-24-2004, 12:50 PM   #1
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Post Euro Clinic Tour Interview Translated by Frank

Hey guys, this is an interview from a dutch drum magazine called SLAGWERKKRANT. Frank agreed to translate it for us and he did a great job! I met the guys at the mag when i went over to see Virgil in Amsterdam, and they were really really nice. The photographer helped me get some excellent photo with my crappy camera. I still haven't gotten round to sending the pics to Chris, but i will soon.
Those of you who were about when this clinic tour happened will remember the numerous interviews of clinic experiences that were posted, this one is quite interesting to say the least:

In November, Virgil Donati did three drum-clinics in the Netherlands and Belgium, which will long be remembered. We spoke with Donati, previous to his clinic he did in the crowded Mezz in Breda (The Netherlands). The immense control over his instrument, the speed and the gracious power that were displayed dropped many people’s jaws. Yours truly decided to make a report.

The afternoon started off well with an extensive interview. After that, Donati sat behind his kit and it seemed he'd never leave it. While Donati was warming up for two-and-a-half hours, Slagwerkkrant had the opportunity to look around on stage and take some pictures. After that it was time for lunch. Well, for everybody except Donati, who just kept on playing, excited that he could finally pound his drum kit again after a few days with hardly any practice. He didn't want to eat...


So Donati was in the mood. It was the last night of his clinic tour, the acoustics were perfect and the place was crowded [packed to maximum capacity]. Of course he started off with an immense drum-solo and some heavy play-along songs. Papers with exercises were handed out to give the people an idea of what he was up to at the moment. The master played the exercises, but most of it was too complex for most of the crowd to understand, which lead to some mumbling. Donati was surprised for a moment but then asked the crowd for their attention, after which he continued.
A lot of questions were asked afterwards. Donati replied with words and sticks, leaving people flabbergasted quite a few times. All 'Donatisms' were present of course: his continuous double strokes on the bass-drum (e.g. in Dogboots), the cross-overs etc… Donati's arms were seemingly hovering over the kit like an octopus with the speed of light. After a 'grand finale' with more play-alongs and solo's Donati received a standing ovation and went off to eat.

Earlier that day

In an interview you did with Modern Drummer (1999) you sounded like someone who's always studying and dedicating his entire life to the art of drumming. Is this image correct and are you still that driven?
'I think so. I'm still trying to challenge myself and to raise the bar, but nowadays I'm much more involved in composing music for the projects that I'm doing. Besides that I'm studying the piano and composition, that's taking a lot of time as well. I'm into music the entire day, and to me, anything else is unacceptable.'

The absolute limit of the possibility be done on a drum-kit, doesn't that come in sight for you?
'Ha ha... There are limits to possibilities, but it's not in my nature to accept it. There are still numerous things I want to learn and control. Besides, every time I follow a new course, I discover thousands of new possibilities to study. So, to me, it's an endless journey.

Did you always have the urge of finding the limit?
'I've never really thought of that; it's not the reason why I play drums. Since I was a little kid I've had a very strong passion for music. I just wanted to practice every day and increase my skills, and since then things went on a roll. I played in bands, worked in the studio, and moved from Australia to the U.S.A eight years ago. That gave me the opportunity for more international activities.'

'At the right time you just see the light and you give it all you get. I keep on playing and studying as long as it feels good. I do my job with much devotion, and progression is a logical consequence. It's as simple as that.'


Can you tell as something about the things you're doing at the moment?
'At the clinic papers are handed out where you can find a concept called layers. It's extremely difficult, but very interesting. You play one layer over the other. For example, you're dividing your left and right side of the body. Then you practice a different pattern for both sides and then you combine those two patterns. It's a sort of the avant-garde of rudiments! I've been into this a lot the last couple of years. It requires a lot of coordination and independence. Besides that I just make up all kinds of grooves with subdivisions and syncopation to discover new fresh patterns. I also have the luck of being playing a lot of progressive music with Planet X and other bands. It's great blowing off steam for all that weird stuff.'

The way you move over the kit is very striking. It seems like some sort of ballet on a drum-kit, but of course with great power. Where did you get that moving pattern?
'Throughout the years I've been consistently developing fine hitting motions. Not to heavy, developing a nice flow and circling movements. That's what I call though: the way you hit your drum, how you get the sound out of it. A powerful sound without making it look l ike you're hammering. You can see it when you watch masters of martial art. Total control, fast moves, smooth and beautiful to watch. Touch is something you can't educate, you can only theorize it; it's a combination of all kinds of details, the way you move your wrist, tension, and relaxation.'

Feeling safe

Your reporter has been doing research for grip and technique for years, out of own interest, but also for a future article. A lot of famous drummers have been interviewed; lessons were followed from gurus like Steve Clover and Jim Chaplin. Also, videos from Morello, Adier, Chapin and Spivack were closely studies. Of course we asked Donati about his vision on this area.
'Ha nice! I followed lessons from Murray Spivack, but I think Spivack is out of date! He didn't play any of the music you hear nowadays! No heavy metal, no hard fusion, no rock music. I've studies his technique for years, but other techniques too, and I've changed technique several times.'

'Spivack's grip's too loose, too open. There are too less muscles working to hold the stick. If I make longer moves and do crossovers with that grip, the stick slides out of my hand. I was looking something more firm. I followed my instinct and found some pictures of my grip when I was 14 years old, and that was what I was looking for! My center of rotation is between my thumb and the second knucklebone of my index finger, and the entire hand is around the stick. It gives me safe feeling.'

Locked Grip

'I hit a lot from the wrist, but also a lot of finger control. The muscles only tense during the moment of the hit, that goes automatically, but besides that the muscles are completely relaxed and all holes are closed. I call this the locked grip. I play double strokes on several ways: two times wrist, one hit and one bounce or one hit and an after-hit with the fingers. The wrist is just flat and straight, as naturally as possible. Locked grip was an excellent option for me. I use it most of the time, and sometimes, when I have to play a bit lighter, Spivack's grip. I've spent a lot of time on both and it's very convenient just being able to choose. I can recommend it to everybody!'

According to you, is locked grip better?

'That's hard to say... With Spivack you're talking about the 30's and 40's. Times are changing, the art of drumming changes and some things just get out-dated. Look at George L. Stone, writer of Stick Control. He wrote: "With the slightest feeling of tension, you should quit and relaxed." But that's exactly the opposite of my philosophy. You've got to push yourself and challenge yourself. You have to find that point of tension, because your body has got to learn to deal with it and then has to relax to grow further.'

'You've got to keep focused and know the difference between a firm training and overloading. When you get to those points of tension, you try to handle it and try do deal with it. You've got to learn to hit that way that you have control, and that you relax a bit. But it still hurts! That's just the burning feeling in your muscles, it won't kill you!'

Virgil Donati changed his setup several times throughout the years. At the clinics he did in October last year in Netherlands, he used a relatively light setup (for his standards). Those drums are from the Pearl MRX-series and have a six ply 7.5 mm maple shells.
Donati uses a 22"x18" bass-drum, 10"x9" en 12"x10" toms, 16"x16" and 18"x16" floor toms and an extra 14"x12" tom left of the hi-hat. The 14"x5" snare is also from the MRX-series. Left of the hi-hat there's another 10"x4" maple sopranino snare drum.
The cymbals are from Sabian. From left to right, Donati uses an 18" Saturation crash, a 16" Saturation crash, a 14" Proto-type Saturation hi-hat, a 17" Saturation crash, an 18" Saturation crash, a 12" Regular hi-hat, a 20" Prototype Saturation ride, a 19" Saturation crash and a 14" MX Mini Chinese. All cymbals, except the Mini Chinese and the 12" Regular hi-hat, are from the Donati Signature series. All hardware is from Pearl, including the Powershifter Eliminator bass drum, hi-hat, and remote hi-hat pedals. Heads are from Remo: Clear Emperors on the toms, Coated Emperors on the snare and Powerstroke 3 on the bass drum.

Translation by Frank Tinge. ®©
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Old 03-24-2004, 12:55 PM   #2
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You guys are AWESOME!

I will add this to the articles section for everyone to read.

Christopher Nalbandian
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Old 03-24-2004, 01:33 PM   #3
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Yea, Jimi and Frank!
To Virgil,
A Drummer Who is Changing the World
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Old 03-25-2004, 04:58 AM   #4
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I salute you Jimi =)
Very interesting reading!
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Old 03-25-2004, 07:18 AM   #5
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Great article...this forum rocks!!! Great job Jimi!
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Old 03-25-2004, 02:07 PM   #6
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Frank translated it, dont forget him!!
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Old 03-26-2004, 04:39 AM   #7
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Thanks Jimi and Frank!!
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Old 03-26-2004, 07:23 AM   #8
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Very cool....Thanks a bunch Frank for the translation, and thanks Jimi for posting it
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Old 03-26-2004, 05:57 PM   #9
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Hey ppl!! no problem, it wasn't such a big deal translating it.. it took me about 4 hours.. Jimi's the one who was patient enough to wait for me to translate it.. It took me 3 months or so to make time for it .. hehe :S
btw Jimi edited the story, 'cuz my english isn't that good...
Anywayz, glad to be of service!
I've been too damn busy the last few months so I haven't been able to post much on the VD and PX msgboard.. hope to talk to you guys some more in the future!!
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Old 06-19-2004, 10:08 PM   #10
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oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Last edited by fubá : 03-15-2009 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 06-19-2004, 10:49 PM   #11
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Dude you need to chill and who gives a Rip what you think of Virg. The day you can even come CLOSE! to his ability and accomplishments just let us all know. You act like a few guy's from the past had all the answers and figured it all out, talk about arrogance, to think that those who come along after might not have something to say that is relevant and might even improve on
what has come before. And many of the guy's you mentioned guess what I have heard and seen them and many of them have very different views on
technique down to how you hold the sticks, motion, etc. They do not all believe in the same thing and do not play the same way. In fact some of them have very opposing views so quit trying to make it sound like they are all Loyal to one guy's way or one technique Hogwash!! Sounds like you realized you are NO!! Virgil Donati and it is nothing but sour grapes and guess what yeah Virgil has went light years ahead of Buddy and others in many different areas. Welcome to Reality.

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Old 06-19-2004, 10:57 PM   #12
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And another thing because someone does not agree with one's way of playing
means that they discredit the person. Man your NARROW perspective on things needs to change abit I would imagine. I guess if I do not agree with Murray's way than I am a fool also. What a Joke! I guess we should all tear you down because you do not adhere to Virgil's way(from what I know Virgil does not even have the audacity to say there is ONE way). No we would not even if we do not agree. People can disagree without sounding ridiculous as you do.I read the interview also and would like see where Virgil personally attacked Mr. Spivak. Everyone has a right to an opinion, but not everyone has a right to write pointless unfounded junk.

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Old 06-19-2004, 11:58 PM   #13
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Last edited by fubá : 03-15-2009 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 06-20-2004, 12:19 AM   #14
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Stop wasting our time and go back to your cave. Obviously you and those you worship have all the answers and anyone who has other way's of thinking
shatter your frail foundation's. I think your narrow minded, shallow and misguided views are what is disrespectful. You are the epitomy of arrogance.
If one does not line up with your beloved way of thinking than they are disrespectful, WOW! what planet are you from. It is one thing to have strong disagreements but to turn those disagreements into personal slander against Virgil or anyone else is absurd. You should be ashamed. And no I do not believe nine out of ten disagree with me. That I know to be true.
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Old 06-20-2004, 10:28 AM   #15
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I do not have much to contribute, but I will say this :

Tradition is meant to be broken.
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