Thread: Girl drummers
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:57 PM
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BacteriumFendYoke BacteriumFendYoke is offline
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Default Re: Girl drummers

This idea of 'inherent gender characteristics' is an interesting one, to say the least.

Count me in as one of the 'nurture' crowd. I'm sure there are some inherent female characteristics beyond the obvious physical differences but in all honesty, in the field of drumming, I think it makes very little difference. I've had the pleasure of meeting a few great female drummers (Michele, if you're reading) who are as good as if not better than almost any professional male drummer you care to mention.

Quite simply, I don't see what the point of defining drummers by their gender is. Likewise, with any other instrument. I've met male flautists, male violinists, female contrabassoonists, male cornet players, female sousaphone players, female double-bassists, female orchestral percussionists and any array of other instrumentalists. I've never once bothered to even consider their gender in relation to their playing, it's just not relevant.

With the drums, there is certainly a history of male players dominating the instrument but that has nothing to do with any inherent 'female' characteristics and everything to do with stereotyping and the opportunities available to female players (very limited) in the early days of the instrument. Most of the early Jazz ensembles were male-dominated in all rôles - why that is I have little idea - but there was a novelty of any female players in some of the early Big Bands. Now, taken that the drums were originally derived from Big Bands then historically there is certainly a male lineage of great drummers - from Big Sid Catlett, to Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich then into the smaller bands like Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette and then into Popular bands like The Beatles and The Who - all of which were in male-dominated groups. That's historical and has no bearing on the 'inherent' characteristics of the instrument.

If anybody wants to spout out the 'aggression' 'strength' and 'speed' arguments, I'm afraid you're just wrong. You do not have to be aggressive to play the drums, you do not need to be physically strong (though I know plenty of women that are both) and the athletic abilities of women in general are no different in terms of speed - the only obvious differences being in high-class athletics that represent 0.1% of the exceptional population.

If you want to hear tasteful, strong, aggressive, agile drumming I'll take Susie Ibarra over any dozens of male equivalents any day and that has nothing to do with her gender. Just her ability and expressive nuance.

So why bother making these comparisons at all? It's like telling somebody in advertising that they're good at their job 'for a girl'. If anybody said that in a workplace I were in charge of, they'd be in a meeting with me in a femtosecond, explaining why they expect the standard of women to be lower. So why say it for female drummers? They're a drummer that happens to have female reproductive organs - so what?!
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