Whether you’re into rock, jazz, gospel or blues, there are seven concepts that factor into being able to play any style of music on the drums. Here are the tools you need to get started (or improve on what you’ve already learned):
One of the most underrated and overlooked aspects of music and drumming is how dynamic levels relate to different styles of music. There tends to be a specific dynamic associated with each style. For example, the expectations of bossa nova (relatively quiet) and heavy metal (aggressive and high energy) are very different, and if you played either style using the wrong dynamics, you probably wouldn’t keep the gig. Listen to the music you want to play and pay attention to dynamics so you can get a sense of what’s appropriate.
All styles can be broken into either a straight (ex. surf rock, country train beats) or swung feel (ex. blues shuffle, gogo). Listen to music in the style you want to learn: does it use straight 8th notes or straight 16th notes, or does it have a triplet feel? Does it use both? You can mostly hear the difference in the hi-hat and bass drum.
Along with feel, it’s important to see how subdivisions work in different grooves. You’re likely to notice straight 8th notes on the hi-hats in rock music and straight 16th notes in funk music, but more likely to come across triplets in blues. You’ll want to make sure you understand whether the style is based mostly on 8th notes, triplets, 16th notes, or even quarter notes.
Most styles of drumming require three or four limb independence. Rock music often only needs three limbs, but jazz or afro cuban typically need four. Independence is inherent in all styles of drumming, so you’ll want to get comfortable with what’s required to play your preferred styles.
Most styles can be played at a broad range of tempos. After you learn a pattern, you might end up in a situation where you need to play it quickly or slowly. If you practice patterns at different tempos, you’ll already have what you need to pull it off.
Every style requires a different level of technique – and sometimes even a specific technique. For example, you can use the Moeller Technique to play quick hi-hat patterns more efficiently. You can use finger technique to get the control needed for uptempo swing, which would be nearly impossible using just the wrist. Learning to play bass drum heel-down will let you maintain a quiet volume in a jazz trio setting. From push-pull on hands to heel-toe on feet, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the techniques that will facilitate the styles you’re learning.
Many of the same patterns are used across tons of different styles of music. You’ll hear the same basic rock groove in rock, country, gospel, metal and more – just in different iterations, with different dynamics, and at different tempos.
Have you ever wanted one drum book to rule them all?
Brandon Toews, co-author of The Best Beginner Drum Book, was tired of looking in multiple places for answers, so he’s spent the last year-and-a-half putting together the world’s biggest book of drumming styles. With almost 500 pages and covering 101 different styles, The Drummer’s Toolbox is an all-out encyclopedia that includes the history of each style, grooves broken down limb-by-limb, and 1000 recommended recordings, plus links to an online resource area with pre-built playlists, downloadable playalongs for practice, and Drumeo Edge resources that pair perfectly with the book.
The Drummer’s Toolbox is an all-in-one resource, the be-all, end-all treasury of drumming, the ultimate guide, the master how-to reference. Click here to get your copy!
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