Sarah Thawer knows how to make people dance with her drumming – and she’s here to teach you five things to consider so yours gets the audience grooving, too.
The goal is to hold the pulse and make the music feel good – but how do you get your audience to feel the pocket? Look into the audience while you’re playing. Are they bobbing their heads or are they bored?
It’s up to you, as the drummer, to make sure they’re moving.
So what do your beats need so they absolutely kill it at the club?
When someone can anticipate what’s going to happen next, they can get comfortable with the pattern or groove. If there’s too much going on, people don’t know what to grab onto.
Not only is a consistent pattern important, so is the sound balance. Every hit you play should be at the same volume as the previous one. Many of these dance genres – like EDM – use grooves based on drum machines and computers, so it’s important to be authentic to that.
This is essential to dance music – especially styles like soca or calypso – and it can get anyone on the dance floor. It gives people a pulse to follow. Keep that bass drum consistent and build on it. Even if your hands change what they’re doing, four on the floor will make sure you don’t throw off the audience.
Give the music a chance to breathe. If you listen to well produced music – especially in EDM – you’ll notice how much space there is in the song. Start simple. Four on the floor. And then add layers to build the groove.
You can add a melody using other drums around the consistent kick and snare. A good way to test your idea is whether or not it makes your body want to move when you sing that melody in your head.
What brings the feel in a groove? It’s more than just going through the motions. Are your notes and subdivisions tight while playing in the pocket? Are you behind or ahead of the beat? Are you paying attention to the dynamics between your limbs? Is your snare really popping? How much are you pushing it?
Take everything you’ve learned here and test it on friends, family, or at a gig. Does your drumming make people move? Whether you’re playing EDM, R&B, funk, gospel or other styles of dance music, you want to make sure the dance floor is packed. Go get ’em!
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