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The Best Drum Parts From Nirvana’s “Nevermind”

Brandon Toews  /  Jan 13, 2023

Nirvana’s Nevermind is one of the biggest records of the ’90s. It’s the defining album of the grunge era. And it’s considered one of the greatest albums of all time with over 30 million units sold.

Nevermind introduced the world to Dave Grohl, once a target of criticism in drum magazines but later acknowledged as creator of some of the most celebrated drum parts in recent history.

In this video and article, we dive into the best sections from every song on the album. You’ll also get insider tidbits about working with producer Butch Vig and what Kurt Cobain was like behind the scenes during the making of the record.

“They were living in this apartment complex, and it was chaos. There’d be graffiti on the walls, and the couches were upside down. They’d stay up every night and go down to Venice Beach until six in the morning. I’d go into the studio at noon and they’d wander in around four.” (Butch Vig, Rolling Stone Magazine)

 

Did you know the Drumeo members area has sheet music, drumless tracks, and practice tools to slow down/loop every song on Nirvana’s Nevermind?

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“Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Nevermind opens with the biggest hit on the record: “Smells Like Teen Spirit“. Decades later, it’s still praised as one of the greatest songs of all time. The massive drum intro is instantly recognizable even by non-drummers, and the syncopated chorus groove drives hard. It’s arguably one of Dave Grohl’s best drum beats.

smells like teen spirit drum notation nirvana
“Smells Like Teen Spirit”

“In Bloom”

Nirvana’s former drummer Chad Channing wrote the iconic intro part, though Dave Grohl played it on the album.

The triplet fills also bring the song together.

in bloom drum notation nirvana
“In Bloom”

“Come As You Are”

This track features Grohl’s signature quarter note grooves and lots of snare rolls. Because it uses some of the first beats and rudiments people typically learn on the kit, “Come As You Are” is a great song for beginner drummers.

come as you are drum notation nirvana
“Come As You Are”

“Breed”

Grohl stuck to the core part written by Chad Channing, which involves a quarter note groove with the odd ghost note. The heavy but syncopated chorus features flams and well-placed crashes.

breed drum notation nirvana
“Breed”

“Lithium”

The simple cross-stick groove in the verse uses a powerful fill to transition into the chorus. The bridge groove incorporates syncopated flams for an interesting change-up.

lithium drum notation nirvana
“Lithium”

“Polly”

The only song on Nevermind that features Chad Channing’s original recording, there’s no drum part – only a few cymbal hits.

“Territorial Pissings”

One of the most high-energy songs on the album, Nirvana would often end the set with “Territorial Pissings” and destroy their instruments on stage. The dense kick drum part makes it even more fun to play.

territorial pissings drum notation nirvana
“Territorial Pissings”

“Drain You”

The song starts with a great driving groove. The bridge builds into the end of the song with lots of toms and cymbal crashes.

drain you drum notation nirvana
“Drain You”

“Lounge Act”

While it might seem like a straight forward drum part, Grohl throws in off-beat crashes and quick snare fills in the third chorus. The song ends with some nice syncopated crashes and triplet fills.

lounge act drum notation nirvana
“Lounge Act”

“Stay Away”

Grohl adapted Channing’s original parts for this one. The song starts with accented snare roll and goes into a steady tom part.

At the very end, we get a wicked triplet-based drum solo.

stay away drum notation nirvana
“Stay Away”

“On A Plain”

“On A Plain” is one of the first songs Nirvana ever recorded with Dave Grohl on drums.

The heavy quarter note groove features interspersed tom builds. In the bridge, the drum part alternates between syncopated flams and a straight forward groove to follow the guitar and bass.

on a plain drum notation nirvana
“On A Plain”

“Something In The Way”

The simple and slow eighth note groove features the occasional fill, and each chorus ends with a bar of 2/4.

something in the way drum notation nirvana
“Something In The Way”

“Endless, Nameless”

“Endless, Nameless” is a hidden track on the physical album, and the drum part is based on steady eighth notes on the kick and quick snare fills mid-bar. As a bonus treat for drummers, there’s a solo at the end.

endless nameless drum notation nirvana
“Endless, Nameless”

Dave Grohl is one of the top rock drummers of all time. Some of his most well-known drum parts came from Nevermind. Try these songs for yourself!

FYI, Drumeo membership includes full drum notation for the entire Nevermind album, the original tracks with drums removed, and practice tools to loop and slow down. Get a free 7-day trial to Drumeo here!


Brandon Toews is an author, educator, and performer based out of Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of The Drummer's Toolbox, co-author of The Best Beginner Drum Book, and the Content Director at Musora, home to the award-winning online music education platforms Drumeo, Pianote, Guitareo and Singeo.

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