Creating interesting and unique drum parts to originals?

Otto

Platinum Member
"Good music" and "good commercial product" aren't mutually exclusive.
I would agree...but I would not agree that we primarily attend to music when we follow formula dogmatically...like saying "simpler is better" or "more complex is better".

It seems the market concept for playing is usually the argument I read when people say 'simplify' or 'jazz it up' as a rote response...quality of music, being subjective, is usually not cited when blanket concepts are put forth.
 

Jake943

Member
this might be an unpopular opinion
but try listening to some blink-182

I really liked a lot of what travis barker did on California, their last album
I second this. Really pay attention to 'Los Angeles' , No Future, and Bottom of the Ocean. I loved learning those parts
 

w3r1_drums

Senior Member
this might be an unpopular opinion
but try listening to some blink-182

I really liked a lot of what travis barker did on California, their last album
 

bonerpizza

Silver Member
Don't go out of your way to play something complex if it's not necessary for the song, giving specific details really is hard without hearing the music.

I would say pay attention to the accents and chord changes and accent SOME of them, that doesn't mean to hit the crash every time the chord changes but if there's a specific change pattern maybe accent that. Also, think outside the box of accenting with a crash cymbal hit, try a floor tom/snare hit if it works or a flam on the snare.

With the snare you can keep it on 2 and 4 if you're playing straight forward rock n roll, but try moving it around maybe putting it on 2, 4, 4& or putting the snare on 2, 4&. or other variations.

With the kick I follow the bass and the guitar strumming pattern, if it's choppy I try and lock in the kick and snare with the strumming pattern.

Good luck!
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Hi all, so I've managed to join a few bands who have some original material, and for the first time in playing drums for 8 years, I have to write/create my own drum parts to full compositions.

I'm used to making up drum parts when playing in my room etc, but this is quite different to actually making beats to a fully formed song, where the drums need to to fit the music.

These songs are mainly in the alternative rock or rock genre.


I really want to play interesting rhythms and drum parts to these songs, I feel I'm at least a decent drummer and so I would like to make parts that aren't necessarily just the bog-standard rock drum beat.

I want to separate myself from other rock drummers, otherwise in a sense I feel like - why take me over any other drummer, if I just play the same beat as everyone else?

I know this sounds a bit egotistical maybe.

I realise know it's super important not to sacrifice the feel of the song, and ultimately the most important thing is to serve the song. I get that most people don't listen to songs FOR the drums, but I still feel like I could add more to the song if I create something unique.



So are there ways to create interesting parts without just going insane on the chops (rudiments and doubles etc.), are there are time ideas I could play around with, different phrasings?

What are your general philosophies on writing drum parts to songs? (within this genre, obviously it varies for jazz etc)
Playing interesting and complex parts is satisfying, but it is far more important to "Play for the song". I believe my first thought should always be, what does the music require. Listen closely to the music and the emotions it suggests, the dynamics and the mood. Then play to enhance those emotions.

If it requires you to play nothing, then play nothing. if it requires/suggests a chop fest then so be it.

This is where you find out just how good and how creative you are. Good luck.
 

Tyrnox

Pioneer Member
I think it's a lot more about HOW you play as opposed to WHAT you play.

This is some really solid advice. Sometimes songs just require you to play that beat that has been heard before. But to make it sound just right can take a tremendous amount of musicality.

I had a band mate compliment me once on a gig saying "I love the way you play, everything you do has intention", that compliment stuck with me, because that's just what it is I guess "intention". And that was on a house band gig.. I wasn't re-inventing the wheel here.

I think what people value the most in a drummer is confidence, knowing that the person can provide a solid steady time who can really drive the songs they way they have to be played. That's how you make a name for yourself.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
What are your general philosophies on writing drum parts to songs? (within this genre, obviously it varies for jazz etc)
I think you need to come with open ears. First up - what is the vibe of the song? What is it for? Dancing? Chilling? Headbanging? Get the song's form and arrangement solid and happening before adding extra crap (but be ready to step up if it's the right thing for the song - laying pavement every song bores everybody unless you groove like Al Green, it's a balance).

What is the bassist doing? Most times locking in with bass and going from there is the go.

Give the main voices in the song a chance to express - don't make them work hard to be nuanced.

Otherwise it's all just ears. When I am truly at a loss I imagine what Ringo or Charlie might play because they tend to have a simple, direct and intuitive approach to their drum parts.

Enjoy! Originals aren't nearly as popular as playing other people's music but it's way more fun for some of us.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
...knee jerk response that drum parts must be minimal/maximal are an expression of someone's taste...and probably not someone making what I would call 'good music' but 'good commercial product'.
"Good music" and "good commercial product" aren't mutually exclusive. Back in the day, pre-internet that is, there was plenty of good music. GREAT music! But you probably wouldn't have heard it at all if it wasn't commercial enough to get on the radio.

There's good and bad commercial music, and good and bad independent music. Good and bad being strictly subjective assessments of course.

But I would suggest that a drummer who wants to make money, takes a hint from what the workingest guys in the business are doing. Choose a project that has good songs and commercial potential as a group. I know it's hard to predict, but going in, try and objectively imagine if ordinary people, who spend money at venues, would really want to hear the songs. It's not all about playing interesting and unique parts, even though that may be more fun. Ideally, the fun and joy comes from simply playing, it shouldn't matter what the parts are.

Drummers who have a personal musical agenda should form their own projects, with the other players' understanding that the drummer calls the musical and technical shots.

Bermuda
 
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Otto

Platinum Member
I do not believe you can distill a consistent usable formula for drum part/song writing when looking at this question with 'normal' human intelligence.

The biggest suggestion I can make is to try and avoid thinking about 'making a drum part' and more 'contributing to the writing of the song'.

At that point, it is all taste...or lack there of.

'Less' is not more...'more' is not less...'more' and 'less' in terms of quality do not relate empirically with more or less notes/complexity...knee jerk response that drum parts must be minimal/maximal are an expression of someone's taste...and probably not someone making what I would call 'good music' but 'good commercial product'.

If it does not jibe with the composer, time to find a new composer or become one yourself.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
I can't think of a quicker way to get uninvited to band rehearsals than by consciously trying to 'separate' yourself from 'other drummers'.

It simply shouldn't be the goal. Playing the music should be the goal, whatever that requires.

Why search for complexity when it doesn't necessarily add depth? Even the most basic rhythms offer so much more diversity and interpretation than most seem to realize. The written notation for 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang is identical to the notation for 'Back in Black' - and sure, the tempos are a little different, but it's the attitude and thrust that truly differentiate between the two. This is what's known as 'feel': not the notes you play, but how you play those notes. Shifting one note from the front of the beat to the back of the beat can change the flavor of an entire song.

Meaning, this new band you're playing with could have two different drummers come play the exact same beat for any given song, and they'll find that they have a definite preference for one over the other. Why? Each drummer FEELS different.

And exploring that feel is just as creative, just as demanding as coming up with complex/outré drum parts. As others have already underscored, this is about the SONG, not the drum part.

Listen to the music these new guys are creating, and write a drum part to fit the song. Don't we unconsciously do that, anyway, when we're joining a band? I've always been attracted to like-minded musicians, so the same musical philosophies are usually guiding the end product. I've joined bands because I knew that the style I play, and the music I'm drawn to, would suit that band perfectly. Isn't that how your joining this new band came about?
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
So much of my answer is "it depends". Your band's character and style, as well as the individual songs and what they call for, will drive how innovative your drum parts can be. But I think Gavin Harrison said it best: "What would *I* like to hear on this song?"

Diversify your listening habits and look for odd things to pick up and put in your toolbox. Try displacing the backbeat to different places. Play the ride pattern somewhere other than the ride or the hi-hat. Reassign patterns to nontraditional limbs. But above all, serve the song.
 

COBBtheDRUMMER

Junior Member
Hi all, so I've managed to join a few bands who have some original material, and for the first time in playing drums for 8 years, I have to write/create my own drum parts to full compositions.

I'm used to making up drum parts when playing in my room etc, but this is quite different to actually making beats to a fully formed song, where the drums need to to fit the music.

These songs are mainly in the alternative rock or rock genre.


I really want to play interesting rhythms and drum parts to these songs, I feel I'm at least a decent drummer and so I would like to make parts that aren't necessarily just the bog-standard rock drum beat.

I want to separate myself from other rock drummers, otherwise in a sense I feel like - why take me over any other drummer, if I just play the same beat as everyone else?

I know this sounds a bit egotistical maybe.

I realise know it's super important not to sacrifice the feel of the song, and ultimately the most important thing is to serve the song. I get that most people don't listen to songs FOR the drums, but I still feel like I could add more to the song if I create something unique.



So are there ways to create interesting parts without just going insane on the chops (rudiments and doubles etc.), are there are time ideas I could play around with, different phrasings?

What are your general philosophies on writing drum parts to songs? (within this genre, obviously it varies for jazz etc)
When I first started playing, it was in an original indie rock band where I didn't have any formal training at first. Ignorance can be bliss and you inevitably make up unique things by default. The important thing here is supporting the music and you can still do that without playing rock groove A & B. Sometimes hearing the tune a certain way forges an original groove idea and visa versa.
I've always been a fan of picking up fresh beats from all over the place and trying to fit them into different sections of songs but also altering the pattern slightly to make it my own. Check out Kings of Leon's Nathan Followill, he does a great job of coming up with a variety of rhythms within his skill set. This link showcases 10 of his creative ideas - https://youtu.be/66k4an6wYP8
 

MJD

Silver Member
I think contemporary pop/techno and pop/pop usually starts with drum tracks maybe some bass. Harmony parts are usually after thoughts, sonic filler for the vocals, kind of like noise effects or crashes. There might be a guitar lead, but probably not.
I think you are mixing up the recording process with the writing process. When recording it tends to work better to record the drums first as you can build up the track from there and line everything up. When i'm writing there usually isn't an instrument involved until we come to record the song(I use pencil and paper and traditional notation).Most of my fellow writers in my local scene use guitar or keyboard as their writing instrument and do not write their stuff down but instead use their phone or another device to record a rough demo.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I'd venture to say that just about every pop/rock song is written privately by a guitar, keyboard or bass player, and independently of a drum part. I've been in a LOT of bands doing original music, and I can't recall a time where I was present for the inception of a song.

Bermuda
I think contemporary pop/techno and pop/pop usually starts with drum tracks maybe some bass. Harmony parts are usually after thoughts, sonic filler for the vocals, kind of like noise effects or crashes. There might be a guitar lead, but probably not.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
So are there ways to create interesting parts without just going insane on the chops (rudiments and doubles etc.), are there are time ideas I could play around with, different phrasings?

What are your general philosophies on writing drum parts to songs? (within this genre, obviously it varies for jazz etc)
There are a few techniques I often employ when writing parts.

The first is "What would X do?". You listen to a drumless part, and imagine what it would sound like if Ringo, Moon, Bonham, Gadd, Purdie, Coppeland, Blaine, etc were playing along.

The second is fuzzing, where I practice rudiments, accent iteration and stick control over a part till things begin to fall into place.

Another is collaborative adaptation, where you have a cool drum part and adapt the singer/songwriter's simple 3-chord-wonder to fit the rhythm. I like this a lot because the drummer becomes part of the writing process, and you end up with interesting stuff like this.....

There's really no right or wrong way to go about it.
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
I wouldn't put much effort into a song that was written independently of a drum part.
I'd venture to say that just about every pop/rock song is written privately by a guitar, keyboard or bass player, and independently of a drum part. I've been in a LOT of bands doing original music, and I can't recall a time where I was present for the inception of a song.

Bermuda
 

Mozart1220

Senior Member
Interesting and unique drum parts are stupid. Stop working on everything except hitting your bass drum really fast with two pedals. Then you can just do that for every measure of every song. You can even be really creative by slightly altering the rhythms of your kick notes! Under no circumstances should you do anything new or unique. Quarter notes on a crash or china at most with lots of bass drum. It's best if your bass drum is devoid of tone and just sounds like a little slap noise.

You'll be hailed as a musical genius unlike those lame-o jazz guys who can't even hit their bass drum really fast.

LOL. Took me a minute...
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I wouldn't put much effort into a song that was written independently of a drum part. If the song isn't intertwined with a good rhythmic structure and groove to begin with, there is no point in trying to bolt it on later.
 
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