Drummer Boys.

Let The Drums Sound!

Hi all and so nice to be here again. Well, I've been yammering about stringed instruments lately but thought I'd change my tune to talk a bit about percussion -- namely, the drums.

Now, I know very little about drums...don't or never have played or owned them, how to set them up, etc. But, what I DO know is about their sound, and how certain songs have used various drum sounds and playing to keep the beat. Here's a few examples of how the drums are used in pop, rock, and other genres:

Phil Collins was/is an excellent drummer, and a lot of us know him from his days with 'Genesis' and on his own. Phils' sound is mostly determined by song writing and how he fits the percussion to it -- he's a big fan of the 'electronic drums' as I call them, and he can certainly manoeuvre adequately with them. The thing is how they SOUND, something like with reverb, etc. added, although a lot of that can be engineered into the final mix. I think that sound fits his music perfectly as it was contemporary and mostly electronic in nature.

You can get SO many sounds from drums and with the Canadian group 'The Tragically Hip', you get a great example in the song "Poets". The drums in this piece sound 'elevated'... actually, I cannot quite find the right word to describe them. It's like they were tuned up really high or maybe engineered again, but it doesn't matter, really -- you still get a very distinctive sound in this song and I recognize it every time our local rock station plays it. Give it a listen if you have a chance to see what I mean.

Sticking to rock basics, check out the basic sound from Charlie Watts of 'The Rolling Stones' and other groups like that. Nothing too flashy, basic set-up and enough to get the job done. Lots of rock groups use that sound and it's quite effective.

hehe -- I'm going to admit it! I just ADORE the sound of the snare drums in a Scottish pipe band. Really. For ME, these guys REALLY know how to get a lot of beats out of a snare...I think they are absolutely GREAT! What a sharp sound those drums provide and you always know that sound and can readily identify from whence it originates. You can hear them miles away...

And finally, there's that sound that originates from today's hip/hop stations. I think, could be wrong, that the percussion in a lot of this music is engineered or done by software, but, still so effective for this genre. What's neat too is the young pop/hip-hop groups that bang and crash their way through a piece with multiple repetitive strokes to give that 'machine gun' effect. I'm not a great fan of this type of music, but,,,it fits.

So, how am I doing? Like I said, I am no authority on percussion at all, but wouldn't you agree that drums (the glue that holds the bands together), can be used in many different ways to generate many different sounds to suit the piece or group? Drums can actually be tuned as well, by the tightening or loosening of the top and bottom brackets, to put different pressures on the head and whole portion to get a certain sound. And, you can fill up the holes to muffle (as they do the bass sometimes) and you can angle them differently to gauge the sound that bounces off floors, walls, and ceilings.

Here's a great exercise for apiring 'hit men' of rock 'n' roll: The song "Rock and Roll" by 'Led Zepplin' (circa late 60's, I think) features the heavy-hitting of drummer John Bonham and is filled with syncopated hits, pauses, and beats. This is an absolutely GREAT practice song for drummers, as he plays the off-beats with precision timing. He is featured at the opening of the song and all throughout this piece, his drumming is forefront and drives this song to it's finish. See if you can imitate EVERY hit in this song -- it's great for timing and if you count accurately at the pauses, you will notice that for sure. As well, don't forget the cymbals which he used extensively within and added that spice which makes this piece a driving rock 'n' roll, heavy classic.

Bang on!*s

stay tuned...

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