Drumming styles on a sliding scale

deltdrum

Senior Member
Please bear with my rambling. I kind of wanted to just get this down in print.

I was talking about this with a buddy that I jam with from time to time. We were placing drummers (and other musicians) on a sliding scale ranging from "shredder/virtuoso" on the left, and then "soulful use of empty space" on the right.

We had an easy time finding guys that landed on that left end of the spectrum. We both agreed that the far left would be occupied by single stroke BPM champions and other drummers of the sort.

As the scale moves further right, you'd find stuff like drum corp guys, metal music, Buddy Rich (bebop kind of stuff).

We also agreed that the ideal drummer for any gig tends to lie right in the center of that scale. Someone that has the bag of tricks to show off, but that lets the empty space and "feel" do the talking. Drummers like John Bonham would be found here. Phill Rudd is known as the quintessential "four on the floor guy", but we both felt that his place was almost further to the right of the center.

One thing I had a hard time defining was the actual name for what one would call the right side of the spectrum. I called it the "soulful use of space". At first I was referring to it as the "tasteful" side of the spectrum, but that also didn't seem like the right word for it.

Anyways, what do you think of this abstract visual representation of drummingt? Me and Nate (my buddy) were also sort of tossing around the idea of what a 2nd axis would include. We though maybe the x axis would be this spectrum I'm discussing, and then the Y axis would range from hard hitters on top to soft brush guys on bottom.

But yeah. Thoughts? Where do you think some famous drummers are found on this? Any idea of a better name for each end of the spectrum? Where do you see yourself on this scale?

It would be kind of cool to come up with a numerical value (a point on a graph) to represent each drummer and then chalk it up as a visual on the site.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Please bear with my rambling. I kind of wanted to just get this down in print.

I was talking about this with a buddy that I jam with from time to time. We were placing drummers (and other musicians) on a sliding scale ranging from "shredder/virtuoso" on the left, and then "soulful use of empty space" on the right.

We had an easy time finding guys that landed on that left end of the spectrum. We both agreed that the far left would be occupied by single stroke BPM champions and other drummers of the sort.

As the scale moves further right, you'd find stuff like drum corp guys, metal music, Buddy Rich (bebop kind of stuff).

We also agreed that the ideal drummer for any gig tends to lie right in the center of that scale. Someone that has the bag of tricks to show off, but that lets the empty space and "feel" do the talking. Drummers like John Bonham would be found here. Phill Rudd is known as the quintessential "four on the floor guy", but we both felt that his place was almost further to the right of the center.

One thing I had a hard time defining was the actual name for what one would call the right side of the spectrum. I called it the "soulful use of space". At first I was referring to it as the "tasteful" side of the spectrum, but that also didn't seem like the right word for it.

Anyways, what do you think of this abstract visual representation of drummingt? Me and Nate (my buddy) were also sort of tossing around the idea of what a 2nd axis would include. We though maybe the x axis would be this spectrum I'm discussing, and then the Y axis would range from hard hitters on top to soft brush guys on bottom.

But yeah. Thoughts? Where do you think some famous drummers are found on this? Any idea of a better name for each end of the spectrum? Where do you see yourself on this scale?

It would be kind of cool to come up with a numerical value (a point on a graph) to represent each drummer and then chalk it up as a visual on the site.
In X,Y graphs, the Y variable is usually the dependent variable and the X is independent. Such as speed vs mpg, or pendulum length vs oscillation period. To chart drummers in this way, you need some kind of defining criteria. X,Y graphs are used by engineers and scientists to try to gain some kind of knowledge about the relationships between the two variables. Economists and political agendas use graphs to show trends and try to make predictions. What would an X,Y graph about drummers show? Fatness of groove vs time in pocket? Time in pocket vs amount of fills? I don't see being able to create an X,Y graph about drumming. Not one that would say anything meaningful anyhow.
 
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Drumsinhisheart

Silver Member
You'd have to truly attempt to practically define terms like technique, musicality, showmanship, etc, and categorize them into subsets. Perhaps a detailed questionnaire filled out by drummers, themselves, and used in a way which could be utilized by bands/musicians looking for drummers. Otherwise it would be a great deal of work with not much usefulness. Stuff like that tends to generate disagreements quickly, when it's a fan-based kind of thing. But something practical in nature might be interesting.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
The real problem is quantifying the information. Unless you are talking about a tangable, quantifyable value (strokes per minute, rudimants at certain bpm, etc) you cant possibly define music on a graph.

However, as an exercise I see where you are going with this. I think the reality is, the really good guys can be put anywhere on the scale. Guys like Tomas Lang and Jo Jo Mayer are technical virtuoso's who can also groove and play ambient space filler. One trick ponies like myself, well I fit into the find a pocket and stay in it side of the scale.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
…

This seems like a rather well disguised alias for the Chop v/s Groove debate.

...
+..I'm with you all the way on this,and just can't wait till the usual names ,start to ,get thrown around,just to establish a base line, for objective comparison.

Who is the better drummer,using the scientific approach,to quantify personal opinion?

Then the drummer X vs, drummer Y debate,soon to follow.A few well placed insults,and then .....wait for it...........the appearence of the BAN HAMMER

How about we also include music genre/difficulty to play ,sliding scales.That should really spice things up.:):)

Steve B
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
I agree seems more like chops bersus groove. I am not a metal guy so I am curious about the word soulful associated with metal drumming.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I suppose this is a good time to recount my experiences this last week. They reinforced what I already knew to be the case, but nevertheless, brought it back into focus.

Of relevance to this thread: I had a very interesting & fairly deep conversation with a number of tap dancers of international note. I was keen to explore the similarities between tap & drumming in terms of technique status, interpretation, musical structure, & a host of other stuff. Striking to hear how exactly the same conversations take place in the tap world, as they do in the drumming world.

Then on to the performance itself. The audience reactions were interesting to watch to say the least. I'd say the audience was split into three groups. Tap fans, drumming fans, & general music lovers. General music lovers being by far the biggest group. When Michele delivered something technically or otherwise impressive, the drumming fans reacted. When the tap dancers pulled off something outstanding, the tap fans reacted. At the end of each number, the whole audience reacted. When the tap fans reacted, I just didn't get it. Obviously something happened that was technically impressive, but it went right past me, & everyone else who isn't a tap fan. Similarly, when the drumming fans reacted to something, very few others did so. I can only conclude they didn't "get it" either. The bulk of the audience however, reacted to a damn good show.

Ok, there's a number of obvious messages here. One of them being the details of our craft are of little importance outside of drumming. Even in the slightly wider circle of musicians, those details diminish considerably. The event also promoted different feelings in me too. On one hand, I felt so damn inadequate as a drummer in such company, but on the other hand, I felt good about my ability to deliver what little I do know to a wider audience.

I know my little story is on the sidelines of the main discussion & the OP's intention, but I'm posting it as a personal context reminder.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
OK so let's say you're successful in creating a chart with drummers on it and everyone agreed about the placement. What then? What use would that be to anyone?

It's kind of a waste of time with no real benefit that I can see.

Better use of that time would be improving our own drumming.

1 or 2 dimensional labels can't describe a 3 dimensional person. What is the point of all this? To pigeonhole and label drummers is all I can come up with.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
"Are you insinuating that metal drummers can't lay down a fat groove, or that we have no soul? :) "

Well no. It has nothing to do with what can or can't be done. I just do not see the drumming for that style as soulful. I really don't associate soulful with rock music in general. That is not to say that drummers aren't playing from somewhere deep inside themselves, but rather a soulful style. For that I think of jazz and R & B type music.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Groovy chops are great...and even choppy grooves have their place.

Good drummers smear all over this artificial distinction.
 

deltdrum

Senior Member
. I hadn't really thought about chops/groove when I was posting, or when I was having the discussion.

I think that regardless of any style of music, a good drummer is going to play as tastefully and creatively as he possibly can. But the definition for what is a tasteful "groove" varies depending on genre to genre.

I think that the scale has more to do with what the drummer (or artist in general) is actually TRYING to put across rather than what their technical ability is allowing to do.

For instance, I consider myself close to the center, maybe a little bit off to the left. I mentioned Bonzo is in the middle (ish). This has no bearing on my ability compared to his, but just from listening to him, I can tell that I personally would rather include more "busy-ness) in my playing.

I knew this would be a difficult subject to approach and even harder to get the true idea that I have in my head across. I'm meeting with Nate again tonight. I'll see if I can go anywhere with this.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
Bingo...give the man a cigar.All this serves to do is to attempt to quantify,something that isn't quantifiable,but a matter of personal taste.There are somethings that math can't prove or disprove.

Where do people skills enter into the conversation,surely a viable factor in the skill-set for a studio drummer or hired gun ,like Vinny,Keith Carlock,Steve Jordan,Steve Gadd,just to name a few.

Just argee,that it's just a matter of personal taste sometimes,and thats that.

Your perspective that had the shredder/virtuoso guys in the the WFD BPM guys,and the Buddy Rich guys on the other side is totally out of any musical context at all.

While WFD guys do possess a skill,....that's just not drumming in a musical context at all.It's just pure speed,and just pure speed for the sake of it,....isn't drumming,and it's certainly NOT musical.

Let the flaming begin,but playing a metered practice pad,solely to recorrd the highest speed,does not a musician make.

Steve B
 

deltdrum

Senior Member
OK so let's say you're successful in creating a chart with drummers on it and everyone agreed about the placement. What then? What use would that be to anyone?

It's kind of a waste of time with no real benefit that I can see.

Better use of that time would be improving our own drumming.

1 or 2 dimensional labels can't describe a 3 dimensional person. What is the point of all this? To pigeonhole and label drummers is all I can come up with.
For s$!ts and giggles man (can I swear on here?). I agree my time is best spent playing drums (which I do), but I also like to discuss music and drums. I think that I unintentionally just tried to bring up the chops vs groove debate, but I meant to approach it from a different angle.
 

deltdrum

Senior Member
Bingo...give the man a cigar.All this serves to do is to attempt to quantify,something that isn't quantifiable,but a matter of personal taste.There are somethings that math can't prove or disprove.

Where do people skills enter into the conversation,surely a viable factor in the skill-set for a studio drummer or hired gun ,like Vinny,Keith Carlock,Steve Jordan,Steve Gadd,just to name a few.

Just argee,that it's just a matter of personal taste sometimes,and thats that.

Your perspective that had the shredder/virtuoso guys in the the WFD BPM guys,and the Buddy Rich guys on the other side is totally out of any musical context at all.

While WFD guys do possess a skill,....that's just not drumming in a musical context at all.It's just pure speed,and just pure speed for the sake of it,....isn't drumming,and it's certainly NOT musical.

Let the flaming begin,but playing a metered practice pad,solely to recorrd the highest speed,does not a musician make.

Steve B
I think it's human nature to want to quantify a completely subjective idea.

The more I read everyone's comments, the more I think that this scale should be labled

Busy-ness<<<<<<>>>>>>Simplicity

And again, I mean no reflection on each drummer's musical or technical skill, but more what they're trying to get across in their drumming.
 

deltdrum

Senior Member
"Are you insinuating that metal drummers can't lay down a fat groove, or that we have no soul? :) "

Well no. It has nothing to do with what can or can't be done. I just do not see the drumming for that style as soulful. I really don't associate soulful with rock music in general. That is not to say that drummers aren't playing from somewhere deep inside themselves, but rather a soulful style. For that I think of jazz and R & B type music.
I played metal for a couple years, enough to get my mind wrapped around it at least. I think that a real metal drummer definitely feels an emotional connection (soul) in the music.

Personally, I'm like you though. I feel more personal energy while playing the blues or rock n' roll, but it's all completely relative.
 

deltdrum

Senior Member
I need a day to gather my thoughts on this you guys. I've enjoyed reading all of your posts and will try and answer them the best I can.

The visual image in my head didn't translate to me as a chops/groove discussion, but it definitely came across as that. Hopefully a couple of you end up on the same wavelength as me once I kind of get my mind wrapped around all this.
 
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