By Tim Kane
STURBRIDGE, MA – Good drummers should be able to get a great sound going on any kit, as those shells are an extension of their own personas.
Selecting and striking a drum at just the right time and receiving the intended tone is an art form. Like a cymbal, any one head can produce a bevy of different sounds. That’s why well versed hand and foot technique makes good drum sounds possible.
What I have discovered in my own playing and analysis of how celebrity and full-time drummers approach their instrument is quite simple.
Once you have obtained a decent proficiency in 4-way coordination on the drums, your next step is to think about total awareness of your presence in the pocket and how interpretation of the music going into your ears affects the notes resonating out of your shells.
So how does one exude a confidence that a certain playing style will influence their overall drum sound?
Pro drummers such as Thomas Lang and Chad Wackerman are masters of playing as an integral part of the drum set versus sitting on a drum throne and just hitting drums. They groove and have tremendous chops to boot.
Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl prefers hitting with force, but understands that dynamics play a huge role not only in the song’s ebb and flow between verse, bridge and chorus, but also in what distinct sounds softer and harder hits produce on the drum kit – whether single-stroke rolls and flams or a solid slam is the best recipe for that moment in time.
Pure jazz drummers such as Jack DeJohnette are all about good posture, buzz rolls around the kit, left-hand independence as a piano and guitar accent tool on the snare, and soft hands. They tend to hit their heads with more beats per second than rock, and the tonal qualities of the shell change rather dramatically.
Good drummers are the instrument as much as the drums themselves. Drummers should hear the sound they will create before that musical phrasing plays in their ears.
Shell sounds are all your own to create and have fun with. Like Keith Moon showed the world, be the drums.
– Tim Kane, a professional writer, editor and drummer for more than 30 years. http://www.kanedrums.com
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