Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Just please tell me: "what does a drummer do" ?

This is a post from rec.musicmakers.percussion from a gent named drummerrob who captured my eye with his post on just what a drummer really does with his abilities....please read and soak this in.

"drummerrob" wrote in message
I've written a book called "Whole Music Drumming". My premise is that
drummers need to know all the parts of a song they don't play, so that
they know what to play. If you'd like to know more, go to

Meanwhile here's my essay from the book on the role of drummers, as I view it.


The drummer provides the rhythmic environment for the entire band.

Often the role of the drummer is thought to be the time keeper of the
band, but the drummer's role is far broader.  While the drummer's
playing is the closest actually stating time, everyone keeps time -
otherwise the song would fall apart.

The drummer most often - and appropriately - plays grooves (drum set
beats) and fills.  Simultaneously, musical drummers make choices based
on many pieces of information - meter (duple, triple, unusual,
combined, etc.), the style and corresponding feel of the music, the
melody, harmony and bass lines, the song form and phrasing, the
arrangement form (how the song is to be performed), and any number of
additional elements particular to the song being played.  That sounds
like a lot, but while making the journey from drummer to musician,
these things must be learned in order to bring to the playing
experience the knowledge necessary to render a musical performance.
When the knowledge and playing abilities are all there, the result is
sensitive, vibrant and artistic playing which fits into the song
perfectly and makes everyone sound great.  The best drummers
consciously and intuitively understand this stuff.  The rest of us
should be on the road to acquiring it.

Philosophically, I like to think of the drummer-musician as the play
caller or traffic director.  In sports the equivalent might be the
point guard in basketball or the catcher in baseball.  The drummer
accompanies and guides the group through one section into another,
helping set the feel, implying (though not often actually playing) the
beat.  The drummer has to push, pull, energize, and hold back, in a
sense providing a large part of the band's rhythmic environment.

Drummers are musicians of the very most important level...
if trained and taught to think that way.  
Too often the joke about the band consisting of four musicians and a drummer is true.  
Too often the drummer is trained to become drummer and not a musician.  
If musicianship is emphasized he becomes both.
If only drumming is emphasized he becomes a musician largely
as a result of aptitude and luck.



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