“11 Nights” Drum Transcription — Matt Garstka with Plini
Posted on November 26, 2023
Today is a very special day: I finally get to talk about Plini, with a single he released about a month ago called “11 Nights”:
Plini is my favorite contemporary musician, songwriter, and producer — he’s very creative, a wicked player, and his music sounds incredible. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to articulate the spell his songs put on me, but I think others can relate; everyone has that band or album or movie or whatever that just affects them in such a unique way.
Why has it taken so long for Plini to show up on my blog? Well, Plini’s usual drummer, Chris Allison, has transcribed all of the playing he’s done with Plini, so that crosses off a good chunk of Plini’s music.
However, “11 Nights” appears to be a standalone single — it won’t be on Plini’s upcoming Mirage EP, and it was not recorded with his usual trio. Nolly Getgood filled in for Simon Grove on bass, while Matt Garstka is the drummer on this one. So now I get to knock out two birds with one post since Matt Garstka is another very talented modern player who has escaped discussion on my site (mainly because he also transcribes his own drumming*).
There were two sections of “11 Nights” that caught my attention drumming–wise: the groove that drives the first chunk of the tune, and a little drum feature towards the end.
Honestly, I would have done the whole track, but I didn’t have the time or the energy. I was also a bit scared that picking apart such beloved music would zap some of the fun out of it. It’s never been a big problem thus far, but it’s something that’s always in the back of my mind when I start a new project.
I’m reminded of a quote attributed to EB White: “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog — few people will enjoy it, and the frog dies.” Just swap “humor” for “your favorite song”, and you’ll get the idea.
It appears that the entirety of “11 Nights” is, appropriately enough, in 11/8. The meter is felt as a bar of 6/8 and a bar of 5/8 — or, more specifically, 3 + 3 + 3 + 2. This could be another discussion about using alternating meter or one big time signature, Plini’s guitar tabs make it clear that he likes to count things as bigger time signatures, such as 29/16 and 15/8.
The track opens with some comping and easy fills on the drums before the main groove fires up. Matt plays a gnarly groove to kick the song off. Have another look:
It’s basically a half–time shuffle, but it sounds like it’s missing a note. The groove restarts on the “+” after 6, so Matt’s playing has a sort of 11/16 feel within the 11/8 bar. As this section continues, things get increasingly syncopated, and Matt starts to throw in triple strokes on the cymbal over the ghosted doubles on the snare.
When this section ends, the song transitions into a more straight–ahead feel — it’s basically 12/8 missing an 8th note. I looked at a few bars from this movement.
Next up is a 4–bar drum solo:
Matt toys with the backing riff before basting off with some double kick fills. The most intense part is probably the six–note hi–hat bark thing in the third line. Matt plays it twice, first on the hi–hat and then on the cymbal stack.
I’ll be honest, I had a tough time discriminating between the toms and the kick, even with the different tricks I use. I could only really hear two toms, but it seems odd to me that Matt would use a truncated kit for this session. And yet, it’s possible that he didn’t want to schlep his full getup to the studio, especially considering that he’s using two kick drums these days.
I suppose I could just reach out to Matt and ask him, but who has time to be that productive?
Right after the drum solo, things take on a half–time feel, with Matt sticking to quarters on the china cymbal. Because of the time signature, the cymbal moves to offbeat 8ths every other measure.
That’s all for today. I really wish I could have done more of the song, but these two pages took quite some effort; maybe I’ll revisit it sometime later…
“11 Nights” on Songwhip.
* ↑ Currently, Matt doesn’t have “11 Nights” transcribed on his website — if he ever adds it, I’ll update this article accordingly.