Has drumming peaked?

iwearnohats

Silver Member
So, I was thinking today. Over the last few years I've seen many drummers appear on Youtube, but so few who are truly breaking new ground and being inspirational.

Obviously the bar for what makes a drummer good has been raised to a certain extent, but I am yet to see the next Dave Weckl, Virgil Donati, Vinnie Colaiuta or Buddy Rich, for example.

So what's happened?

Is this a trend that follows the continual dumbing-down of mainstream music?

Are people simply giving up when they have enough skill to just get by?

Or maybe it's because the cost of living in our modern lifestyle makes it prohibitive to commit time and money to practicing as much as we'd like?

I've even seen a few drummers who appear to have a great deal of ability, but they can barely fill 5-6 minutes without repeating the same ideas over and over. But hey, I've always been hopeless at drum solos so maybe I shouldn't comment on that :)

There are some great drummers out there who've only risen to prominence in the last decade or so, and I don't discount their abilities at all. But it feels like nobody is truly breaking new ground or pushing the boundaries like so many great drummers were throughout the last few decades of the 1900's.

Thoughts?
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Nah. True innovators, or even really inspirational players, have always been rare.

It will continue to be so, as most of the youtube hero's are simply showing the chops they have learned from someone else. They might play them a bit faster but its not new and never seems to display any individuality or personality.
 

24K

Junior Member
Youtube as a medium for finding anything decent is the problem. Ptople stood out more in the past because they worked hard to get to the point that somebody would want to show case them. Now anybody can make a video and slap it on Youtube. So to find the real deal is harder now since there is so much crap to wade through.

Nothing can peak. It will always change. And it will always revolve back on itself as older was of doing things become "retro" and cool. Peoples tastes in music change and that changes what we see in the musicians. You may not like something, where others love it.

But I do agree, right now things are in a slump.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
I don't think anyone with the mind to innovate would do it on youtube.. youtube seems more for covers or guy to put up bad bar bands. that being said... if you can spin sticks or set drums on fire you can get major endorsements without ever being in a band or doing 1 original thing.. so welcome to the age of youtube :(
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
Well, the thing is that I'm not just talking about random drummers on Youtube, I'm primarily talking about the drummers promoted by brands that I subscribe to. Don't get me wrong, the drummers they promote are usually "pretty good", but they're almost always (sadly) forgettable.

In the past I've relied on videos/DVDs from events such as Zildjian Day and AUDW to find new drummers but these resources seem to have become relatively scarce for a while now.
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
I do wonder myself though what is left to be technically achieved on drums.

Looking back at drummers like buddy rich and others of that era, it's easy to see how chops have greatly advanced. Buddy's playing still amazes of course. But where is there to go now? What could possibly exceed the technical ability of virgil, gergo and all the gospel chops players?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Well there's more than one way to look at it. Technically, drumming seems to be raising the bar. I'm not crazy about "lead drums". Musically, which is subjective, I feel it's going backwards. In the mainstream at least. No new news there. I don't need drums in music to be nearly impossible to play, I want to be emotionally moved. Which goes beyond the drumming. IMO the focus has shifted to acrobatics, and musicality is not really a goal anymore.

Musically, I think we had peaks. Which is not to say it's peaked. Musically, I don't feel we are in a peak. Technically I do, but again, not saying it's peaked.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Larry that last statement brings up an interesting point... why do drummers think in terms of technically peaking and not musically reaching the highest level instead. I understand that a musical high point is subjective to the tastes of the listener, and that the human body has limitations on speed and technique. But I personally would rather think in terms of musicality than chops.
Probably because mine suck. lol
 

Jhostetler

Senior Member
Coming from the marketing world, I would surmise that one reason we don't see someone of that caliber is because we no longer have large production companies promoting like they used to. As was mentioned youtube can make anyone a star these days. When everyone has access to a camera, the number of people who have talent rises tremendously. I would think that there were several drummers back in the day who might have been able to compete with the likes of Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich, but we never/rarely hear of them because that wasn't where the marketing focus was. Spotify and Pandora have effectively ruined radio. Before, the public had to listen to whatever the jockeys played for them. So if several radio stations played the same band over and over, John Q. Public has no choice but to assume that what he is listening to is good music, never having heard the alternative. Now people have the ability to listen to whatever band or person they feel like. When you do that you inhibit the ability of the larger producers to push what they feel is a great artist.

For musicality I do think that we are in a "valley" stage. I'm a millennial and I don't like a lot of what I hear my constituents are listening to these days. It's a lot of electronic R&B. And there are people like Jojo Meyer who, as fantastic of a player as they are, try to copy and emulate a computer. Its a great skill to be sure but humans are not computers. I do have hope though. I'm a huge fan of Bruno Mars. The drum parts in his music aren't particularly difficult, and he brings a sort of nostalgia I think to his music. He said in an interview on 60 Minutes that when people tell him he sounds like James Brown or such and such, he says "thank you, that's what I was going for." To many people are trying to find their own voice, its good to look back every now and then and copy what works.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Larry that last statement brings up an interesting point... why do drummers think in terms of technically peaking and not musically reaching the highest level instead. I understand that a musical high point is subjective to the tastes of the listener, and that the human body has limitations on speed and technique. But I personally would rather think in terms of musicality than chops.
Probably because mine suck. lol
I think it's related to the times we live in. The media especially. Money is the be all end all these days, and it personally makes me ill. It all gets translated into art by the inhumanity of it all in the form of cold technically masterful music that moves me not one iota.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I think music is constantly evolving but that means it can go forwards or backwards. I always thought it odd that Disco was so popular when some great rock was being produced-and most wasn't even allowed to be aired on the radio. Seems technically everything is moving forward though musically it may not be. Like I was pretty good on water skis, but dang what people do now is just mind blowing, records for fastest whatever keep getting broken, etc. But I don't if that means "progress".
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I would think that there were several drummers back in the day who might have been able to compete with the likes of Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich, but we never/rarely hear of them because that wasn't where the marketing focus was.
There were many that we used to hear, but never saw their faces. An example that comes to mind would be Ronnie Verrell.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Or maybe it's because the cost of living in our modern lifestyle makes it prohibitive to commit time and money to practicing as much as we'd like?
I think that the problem is that there is an over-saturation of activities that people can do these days as opposed to play music. I think right now, there are A LOT of people that are sort-of ok at a bunch of things instead of being REALLY GOOD at like one or two things.

When I grew up, I lived out in the sticks with no internet, two TV channels, and a stereo? Guess what I did? I listened to music. When my brother started playing in rock bands at age 14, they always practiced at our house because we had no neighbors. I've either been surrounded by music or played music since I was about 8 or 9 years old. I was listening to KISS records at age 4. Why? Because there was nothing else to do.

As far as those YouTube folks, I really don't really care for watching someone hammer out blast beats for 10 straight minutes. I don't care about solos either. I prefer listening to good music and then taking notice of what the drummer is doing. If the music only calls for doing the same fill at the end of each verse or chorus, then so be it. If it fits the music, it's just plain good.

I mean, listen to this. No flashing fills, but a d@mn fine and fun song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ter0p_iyIxk

Not THAT'S pocket. I'll bet they didn't even us a metronome. I can learn so much more from this than a 10 min. drum solo using 12 different time signatures full of blasts, chops, etc.


But, that's just me. :)
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I am confident drumming will find a different direction.

Fashion for a while has been mostly about chops. Practicing for 12 hours a day from the age of 4. Having the perfect single stroke roll, going to music college, not touching a kit till you have spent 5 years on a practice pad. Blah blah. We are raising a generation of technicians rather than musicians.

I don't care how even your single stroke rolls are, or if you can spin sticks while standing on your head, but I do care about the quality and invention of the music you produce with others, and does it move me. That's a real drummer.
 

Zero Mercury Drummer

Senior Member
Drummers like Weckl, Gadd, and Vinny took a lot from 70s funk. The funkiness is what is missing from a lot of today's music, in my mind.
Maybe it is drum machines that gave things such a rigid feel. You hear very little drumming with slick ghost notes etc.
Keith Jarrett complained that modern drummers turned drumming into a "freakshow" instead of playing musically. He might have been on to something.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I'll just echo some of the statements. There's no emotion to playing these days. Showing off is where it is. Fast is king and rarely do I meet any young people who want to devote more than 5 minutes to getting good at anything, but surfing YouTube or playing a pointless game. Creativity is generally shunned these days, because there may not be any money in it. Believe me, if I could pull something original out of my hat, I wouldn't post it on YouTube.
 

Chollyred

Senior Member
I'll just echo some of the statements. There's no emotion to playing these days. Showing off is where it is. Fast is king and rarely do I meet any young people who want to devote more than 5 minutes to getting good at anything, but surfing YouTube or playing a pointless game. Creativity is generally shunned these days, because there may not be any money in it. Believe me, if I could pull something original out of my hat, I wouldn't post it on YouTube.
Give a lot of these guys a pair of brushes and they wouldn't have a clue what to do with them. I feel like click tracks, ProTools, playing to the mark, and a lot of the training methods today have made some good technicians, but without feel.

Think about BB King in the guitar world. Not a great technical player by any means, but feel out the wazoo.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I think music with live drums, or at least with more creative live drums, is becoming less popular, which is part of it.

Even though many hip-hop and pop acts tour with live drummers, and many of them are fantastic drummers, they aren't really trying to innovate... not to say that they couldn't.

As Rock is fracturing into smaller subsets, and moving out of the mainstream, I think we're seeing more innovation in some of these niche genres, but they aren't going to be well known. Especially outside of those niche genres.

Berklee, for example, released its annual report a while back, and only 12% of students play the drums. The overwhelming majority of people going to school for music these days are vocals, then guitar, then piano... many of them going for composition too, not performance.


I don't think that drums have peaked, but music featuring live drums just isn't as popular as it used to be. There's still plenty of innovation going on, but it's in smaller and smaller sub-genres, and they aren't household names. Buddy Rich used to go on the Carson show, and most Americans knew him by name. If you went around asking the average person who the drummer was in their favorite band/group, they might not be able to name them.
 

PlayTheSong

Senior Member
The 50s, 60s and 70s represented an incredible burst of musical innovation, the likes of which have probably never been seen before in the history of mankind. I don't think it's reasonable to expect that kind of creativity to be replicated in our lifetimes.

Maybe that's why we see so much focus on the pursuit of technical perfection now. It's like the thousands of engineers trying to squeeze more and more mileage out of the internal combustion engine - until an Elon Musk comes along and changes everything.

And there's no way of knowing if/when an Elon Musk of drumming will show up.
 
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