Should a drummer know how to play African, Indian, etc drums?

maxim

Junior Member
are you a drummer or a percussionist? a percussionist or a musician? I grew up in house that had Indian Instruments (Tabla, Sitar, Dholak, Harmonium). I wouldn't say that it's necessary to learn but just mucking around with any instrument (doesn't have to be Percussive) other than what you're used to will definitely open you to different ideas that you can incorporate into your drumming, and that can't be a bad thing.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I don't know any percussionists or drummers that excel at both. Hand percussion instruments are very specialized both in terms of how they're played, and the kind of parts they play. That is, there's very little crossover between what the majority of drummers and percussionists do. They're two different disciplines and mindsets.

While it's not impossible to do well enough at both, the perception that one doesn't do well at the other is still there for the person doing the hiring. Someone emphasizing their percussion skills is not likely to be hired to play a kit... and vice versa.

From a theoretical standpoint, it couldn't hurt to know as much as we can squeeze into our heads and hearts. But I don't think the value of that can be realized in the working world. It would be more for personal edification.

Bermuda
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
Thanks Maxim and Bermuda. Was just curious if people (band leaders at auditions, etc) tend to expect a drummer to know something about a variety of drums (other than the kit)...

I'm a beginner drummer and would want to stick with getting as good as possible on the drum kit, but I've been drawn to all kind of instruments all my life and enjoy messing about on anything that makes a sound. I agree that this might intruduce new ideas into your music!

From what you are saying, might make sense for me to play around with a tabla or djembe or other drums a bit, but given it's already hard to find enough time to practice the kit, prob going to keep percussion as a side hobby...
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Steve Smith is keen on Indian drumming, he vocalizes phrases while playing, I don't know what else he does in that area. I'm not big on it personally but it's cool that he's looking for inspiration elsewhere.

African drumming might already have a big influence on contemporary drumming.

I don't imagine anyone asking me to play Indian/African but if you like them enough to listen then you could take things from them.
 

XG65

Senior Member
My acquaintance knows how to play both percussion and the drum set... Malay, Arab, African drums... You name a world/traditional percussion instrument, he knows how to play it, most likely.

His drum kit setup has a traditional Malay drum in place of where (usually) the lowest tom is.

His name is Riduan Zalani. I can give you a few vids of him playing if you want me to... The dude's a beast.


That already said, I think that while it's not compulsory, I think it helps your playing. I don't think it hurts too much to learn another instrument or two... Unless you're broke.
 
Last edited:

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
Thanks, XG65, a few vids would be good.
Agree with ideally would want to play several instruments (sort if play the guitar and flute (badly)...
Hehe about bring broke... I'm not broke but don't have as much time to practice the drum kit as I'd like (full time job+commuting/roll eyes/ so I'm 'time-broke', if that make sense... :)
 

XG65

Senior Member
Thanks, XG65, a few vids would be good.
Agree with ideally would want to play several instruments (sort if play the guitar and flute (badly)...
Hehe about bring broke... I'm not broke but don't have as much time to practice the drum kit as I'd like (full time job+commuting/roll eyes/ so I'm 'time-broke', if that make sense... :)
His channel is right here (all show him playing traditional percussion instruments) :

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheRidUanZalani/videos

And here's a few vids of him on the drum kit :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAvkoF8lAuk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Iom4xMFyy0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NySaXyu9X5w

Note : The last 2 are interviews interspersed with performance footage, so bear with it...!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Thanks Maxim and Bermuda. Was just curious if people (band leaders at auditions, etc) tend to expect a drummer to know something about a variety of drums (other than the kit)...
That depends on how experienced they are. Someone who really knows instruments knows that drums and percussion cover different skillsets, and they probably wouldn't expect one person to be completely competent in both.

Consider a trumpet players compared with clarinet, and flute. Should one player be able to excel on all three instruments? Well, from the standpoint that the player blows into the instrument and uses their fingers to control the notes, you might think they were quite similar. The big difference is how the player's mouth works with each - the embouchure.

On the other hand, a trumpet player can be expected to play baritone, French horn, and tuba, as the embouchure and fingering are essentially the same. He may or may not be able to play trombone, however.

A clarinet player can normally play sax, and possibly oboe and bassoon which have a double reed, but have a similar embouchure.

And while a flute has similar keys as other reed instruments, the embouchure required is different yet again. So it's not uncommon that they would also play a clarinet and sax, but it's never considered mandatory.

So even where there's some crossover, there's still clear separation.

In the hand percussion world in particular, some lines are quite distinct. Just because someone may be a fabulous congero, doesn't mean they can translate that to tabla, for example.

From what you are saying, might make sense for me to play around with a tabla or djembe or other drums a bit
It doesn't hurt to know all you can, but be aware that tabla involves a lot more than just thumping the drums. Getting good takes years of discipline, becoming a master takes a lifetime. Djembe is much easier to learn, and much more likely you'd actually use it in real life.

Bermuda
 

MileHighDrummer

Senior Member
I think it depends on your interests. I play African and Caribbean drums because I have an interest in Latin and Afriicam rhythms. "Drummer" can mean several different things.
 

sethlowden

Senior Member
I find it very interesting. You can't go wrong expanding your horizons. Here is a link to a video of the band my cousin in. They are on the road here in the midwest U.S. now.

otaak band

My cousin sang in the I.U. Soul Revue and performed in the I.U. Brazilian Samba and Afro-Cuban percussion ensembles. He gigs around town a lot singing and playing guitar in a duo with a bass player. The drummer he hires for full band gigs is named Miguel Merino. Miguel is a great drummer and percussionist, and a founding member of the band in the link, and he asked my cousin to join the band. Going to see them this weekend, should be fun!

another vid of miguel
 
Top