Playing Hymns...

Crunchm4n

Junior Member
Hey guys,

My church just started a "combined" worship service where we do half contemporary songs and half hymns.

I've been playing the contemporary songs for a few years so I'm quite comfortable with them, but I need help figuring out what to play for the hymns.

I've tried brushes, but they don't fit with all the songs, my fall to rock beats sound horrible.

I've tried switching to having the snare beats on 1 &3 but more then just being really awkward for me to play, it doesn't sound good. And niether does 2&4!

My next approach is going to be more jazzy Stylisticly, keep time on the ride/hi-hat and just try to do some comping with my left hand, But I wanna know if anyone has other ideas.
 

tracer

Senior Member
Multi rods or percussion (chimes,triangle,cajon,bongos,tambourine or "nothing").Some hymns are better acapella or keyboard/guitar accompaniment only..
Just an opinion
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Some of the old hymnal songs sound best when you put a little swingy boom-chick feel on them. Just think one-a-two, one-a-two. You can shuffle a little, but not too much. Staying low and keeping a pulse under the song instead of a beat.

Don't be afraid to go way out of the box and think more pit percussionist than set drummer. Get a set of mallets or swizzle sticks and do mallet rolls on the cymbals and floor toms.

Slow it down. Go half time, with the back beat on 3 or 4 only. Use the rims, or just cook the hi-hat. Think slow, majestic, understated. Do the best you can; most of those old songs simply weren't written with anything more rhythmic than an organist's left hand in mind. Serve the song as well as possible, and good luck!
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
Simples

Don't play. It's not needed and it doesn't work. If you're not adding you are subtracting.

People will respect you for not playing ... do it.

Davo
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
A lot of the hymns do nothing. They weren't written hundreds of years ago with drums in mind and sound horrible if you do try to add anything. I've purposely NOT played on hymns because I've thought the song is fantastic without drums.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
I've been playing both hymns and contemporary songs in my church for many years now, and I like playing the hymns the most. Like others have said, be sparse with your playing. Never overplay. Keep fills to a minimum. Be careful not to use a lot of crash cymbal accents except when it really seems appropriate. I almost always use smaller sticks. I'll play very lightly, unless it really intensifies, as some hymns do. Some hymns love a huge shift in dynamics from real quiet (when the drums are not played at all or are being played very lightly) to a big build up for the last verse. I usually don't play any drums at all during the first verse of many hymns and come in lightly for the second verse.

Many hymns are in 3/4 time and sound good with the backbeat on 3. But, sometimes I will change a 3/4 hymn into a 6/8 beat and put the rim click or light backbeat (hi-hat chick or soft snare drum hit) on 4. If the hymn is already in 6/8 time, then the snare or hi-hat chick usually sounds best on 4. Record yourself, if you aren't already, and you will begin to hear what works and what doesn't.

Really listen to the other players. When they're mellow, you be mellow. When they intensify, you intensify.

I hope this helps.

Edit: I meant to add...find and listen to modern hymn playing by top notch players/drummers and try to sound like them!
 
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Forgiven

Member
Our church plays a half & half worship service. Like others have said, on the hymns, play low key. On most of the hymns, I play shuffles, some are straight- forward. I base that off the piano player or the guitarist, depending on the feel that they're using. If you practice before the service, it would give you a chance to see if the hymns need drums. Some don't. Keep fills very simple and hang in there.
 

fixxxer

Senior Member
My church plays a hymn to start, 3 contemporary tunes and then finishes with a hymn. I do not play to the hymns. They simply do not need it, IMO.
We did have a praise leader a few years ago that insisted that drums be played with them. It was very frustrating trying to do that! I just don't believe in putting drums in just for the sake of doing it if it's not needed (regardless of the genre).
When playing praise music, it's not about what you can do, but providing the best possible praise experience for the congregation. When it comes to hymns, people have a tendency to have strong feelings to how they should sound. Most do not want them "modernized" with drums or otherwise......
 

Crunchm4n

Junior Member
Thank you all for the responses.

Unfortunately, as may be imagined from a recently combined service theres some tension in the church about mixing the worship songs. But cutting out doesn't seem to be the right approach(even though I've been tempted).

The whole point of mixing the services was to get the church to come together and appreciate each other a bit more. I'm all for compromising in playing outside my comfort zone, but simply not playing seems to be negating the entire point, and being a bit of a cop-out.

I tried a much more aux percussive approach the last practice, and it worked better by far. And I will continue trying more of these suggestions here.

I also go to brushes on a number of songs(small church) and it seems to work fairly well.

@ruok, I really like the idea of not coming in right away, I certainly have been impatient as far as coming in right after the piano into.

I've also been procrastinating on buying a pair of mallets, but they just might really do the trick.

Thanks again for all the feed back, I really appreciate it.
 

huskytool

Member
I play congas on some, don't play on most. The time sigs do need to be considered. The original post is asking about beat placement. Many are waltz, swing and samba patterns so looking for straight 2-4 or 1-3 is not going to fit.
 

Ciz

Junior Member
At my current church, we do a mixture. It varies on the service, sometimes we will do 75% hymns, the next none. We also do some rock/pop/southern gospel stuff, so it varies greatly. Reason for, the older people will be more keen to the older stuff, and the younger vice-verse. You want to be able to please both crowds. I love to hear a band, as well as drummer, who can play all styles of music, know what it needs, and make it sound good. The suggestions above on the actual playing part is alot of what I do. Very rarely will I use brushes, or go to a shuffle beat though, I will usually on a verse or two just go to half or double time to change it up, and if all else fails and you don't think it's sounding good, don't play! As mentioned, some songs really do sound better without drums. The Old Rugged Cross, IMO, is one of them. But that greatly depends on the style you play.

As far as the hymns go, when most of them were wrote, they didn't have drums in mind. The music was usually tweaked a bit later to add them in. So the way I look at it, less is definitely more on those. I'm just there to keep time for the most part on most the hymns, that is if they are done traditionally.

If you haven't already, check out Bart Millard's(MercyMe's leader singer) hymn CD's. He does alot of the traditional hymns and remakes them totally. The way he does them, at least in my opinion, makes it to where the younger crowds will get into it, and the older will enjoy it, so it might be worth while to see if you could do the hymns in more of your normal style. I grew up with most of the hymns on those CD's, and I love to play them like that(Just A Closer Walk especially.) Also, another CD to check out would be 4HIM's hymn CD, definitely...unique. We based the style of the song "The Solid Rock" off of them.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Simples

Don't play. It's not needed and it doesn't work. If you're not adding you are subtracting.

People will respect you for not playing ... do it.

Davo
Exactly what I was going to say. Some songs don't need drums at all, and the presence of drums can only hurt the song in its current form. Depending on the level of tradition in your church, reworking the song to accommodate drums may not be possible.

When I play with a group, in any gig, there are usually a couple of songs that don't have any drums. Some don't have vocals, some don't have some other instrument.
 
Simples

Don't play. It's not needed and it doesn't work. If you're not adding you are subtracting.

People will respect you for not playing ... do it.

Davo
This is true. The guy at my Church plays when IMO he should just sit back and chill but man it sounds very bad and takes away from the song/meaning. Just food for thought like someone said if your not making it better your making worse.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
I used to attend a church 20 years ago that eventually added a drummer after not having any in the past. So I was very interested in how he would handle the hymns. I assumed he would NOT play on 99% of them. Well, he actually played on the majority (but not all) of the hymns, which up to then, I thought didn't need any drums or percussion. To my amazement, he really made the hymns better.

So, I learned a lesson back then. If they're played right, drums will add to the hymn in a positive way. If the drums are played poorly, better not to play or the hymn will suffer. Of course, the other musicians need to know how to play their instruments appropriately during the hymn as well, to make it all sound good.
 
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