Drummer stereotypes

lowdowner

Senior Member
whilst playing bass with my band I suggested to the other band members (lead guitar, flute, vocals) that we need to get some percussion - preferably a drummer.

The lead guitarist said 'Oh, drummers? Those are people who hang about with musicians aren't they?' in a kind of a snide way. It finally made me decide to take the plunge and learn to play drums. I've been playing bass, and classical guitar, for a long time, and can read music and understand harmony.

I'm genuinely in awe of drummers and percussionists and think that their understanding of music is as deep, or deeper, than most other band instrument players, and I can't work out where this stereotype comes from.

Do you think there is any genuine reason for this stereotype? Am I going to have to put up with this kind of bullish*t as I learn more and more about drumming? How do you guys put up with it?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
and I can't work out where this stereotype comes from.

Banging on rocks and logs outside the cave.

Do you think there is any genuine reason for this stereotype?

Not really. But the gag has been running for so long now that I guess everyone wants a piece of it.

Am I going to have to put up with this kind of bullish*t as I learn more and more about drumming?

It seems to always rear its head at some point or another. More often than not it's all in fun though.

We've had discussions about it here on DW before. It bothers some people immensely and is like water off a ducks back to othesr. I've always been in the second group personally.

How do you guys put up with it?

I pull the piss right back at them........then I sit down with them and make music. I've never had serious allegations of "neanderthal-ism" levelled at me. It's all been in good, yet strangely boring and predictable, fun
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I think other musicians tend to think they have it harder than the drummer does. There is a lot of subtlety to being a good drummer that just plain takes a good amount of thought and practice to come into. Until you put in that time, drumming is usually "hit the right thing at the right time". We know that's only a small part of it, but to someone who doesn't know, it's "easy" to play the drums since we don't usually worry about chord progressions or note scales.
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
It bothers me that everyone seems to assume they already know something about the instrument, like it's not as sophisticated. Of course this is because to the outsider we just hit stuff, and that's what stupid cavemen did with clubs and logs. So drums must be easy!

A great little comic by Grea comes to mind...

Edit: To answer your question, I'm not really bothered by the stereotypes and jokes. As has been mentioned, yes, they usually are just in good fun and a little self deprecation tends to go a long way anyway. But we all know the truth ;)
 

Souljacker

Silver Member
I can take a joke no problem. I mean I've a few myself. "How do you know someones a great guitarist?, he'll tell you" and "How do you know you're at a bass guitar clinic?, No one turns up" Then there is that one about the guy arriving late, he must be a singer.

But was the guy serious or did he mean it as a joke? I can't imagine people would think that is true.

I've never had that joke made to me personally, people really like drums generally I think. I can definitely see the insulting side of the joke.
 

lowdowner

Senior Member
But was the guy serious or did he mean it as a joke? I can't imagine people would think that is true.

I've never had that joke made to me personally, people really like drums generally I think. I can definitely see the insulting side of the joke.

I think he probably meant it - it follows a few 'jokes' about the terrible noise of drums and similar remarks.

The odd thing is that his musical knowledge doesn't seem to be that deep or anything, but just dismissing a whole vital part of music making (percussion) seems weird...

Still - it spurred *me* on to realise an ambition and pick up some sticks so it's not all bad :)
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
How do you guys put up with it?


Acceptance is the key.

They do have some valid points when looking at drummers as a whole. I've learned a lot more musically in the recent past but, all I really used to do was hit the drums to keep tempo. It wasn't very difficult.

I'd venture to say that your mates would sound pretty weak without a drummer. Even worse with a drum machine. Hate us all you want but, a band without a drummer is going to be lacking something. :)
 

toddmc

Gold Member
You have to learn to love drummer jokes the way lawyers love lawyer jokes.
What do you call a drummer in a suit? The defendant!
I'm here all week......
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
The loudness of drums creates hostility in some quarters. Naive people see drums as more primitive and less refined and because of that, as Watso said, non-drummers often don't realise that the nuances in drumming can make so much difference (as they can with guitar, not that they'd admit it haha).

Some musicians look down on us for this, some are in awe of us for using four limbs, some only notice us when we disrupt the flow, some think that drums are the most important part of the band, some are not interested in us and focus more on the vertical aspect of the staff than the horizontal (these players usually have weak timing), some are frustrated drummers themselves (or they get a bit on the side) - there's a lot of different attitudes out there.

Lowdowner, your guitarist strikes me as a tad insecure - he tried to crowbar the one joke he knew about drummers in a context where it didn't work. Mention drummers one more time to this guy and he's go nuthin' :)

Nerf, I forgot the cartoon - do you remember which one?
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
I'll give you the other side of the coin:

I play in two bands, but have been on hiatus due to a medical situation. They have attempted to keep playing, with either fill in drummers or no drummer at all. Both bands are counting the weeks before I can return to duty. If you are a drummer that knows how to fit in and enhance the music, as well as keep an appropriate groove, you will be appreciated and the stereotypes go out the window. Just by your playing, you can disprove the stereotypes very quickly. If the stereotypes continue, you may want to think about what you are doing to feed into them.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Could be, Henri, though it's only visually relevant. I did this one when I first started cartooning - it's visually very amateur but the message is clear ...

yarts_dumb-drummer.jpg


(Yes, I was blonde back then and, yes, I morphed my face - I didn't actually look that weird lol)
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Write out some drum parts, tell him to pick any four open string and read it down in time. You know the old joke about how do you get a guitarist to turn down?

I was chatting with a guitarist buddy after a gig about some outside harmony bits and some guy came over from the bar and asked "How do you know about b9's and such? You're a drummer". My buddy said, "No, he's a musician who plays drums."
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I'm going with the "You're amazing"/"You're hired". cartoon.

That wasn't mine. I'd like to take credit because it's very funny and true but, alas, I'm not that good.

Geez, Aeolian - pretty trag if people think that drummers don't understand chord structures. Still, it's fun when stupid people think that you're stupid - you can lead them into some pretty amusing places :)
 

lowdowner

Senior Member
That wasn't mine. I'd like to take credit because it's very funny and true but, alas, I'm not that good.

Geez, Aeolian - pretty trag if people think that drummers don't understand chord structures. Still, it's fun when stupid people think that you're stupid - you can lead them into some pretty amusing places :)

Having been through the 'classical' music training route (for some reason I inwardly groan when I think of that now even though it's given me a good grounding in music theory) I could have some fun with guitarists who think drummers are musically dumb. Mind you, I have a PhD in maths too so maybe I can think of other defences...

Maybe I'll just follow the advice given on here and treat it like water off a duck's back - I was just feeling defensive on *every* drummer's behalf as I'm new to it :)
 

wesporter

Member
The thing about stereotypes is that all stereotypes are based in "some" truth. I think the stereotype stems from back in a time when these concepts were indeed true of most drummers. Before Gene Krupa's time, drummers were generally "noise makers", and largely were known for sound effects in vaudeville shows, OR known for marching in military bands. Either way, drummers were not known for great musical knowledge. This has continued on even to this day, and in reality many drummers perpetuate the stereotype themselves. I was sitting in a music theory class at a jazz camp when I was in high school and another drummer straight up said, "why do I need to know this, I'm a drummer". That's an example of a drummer who perpetuates the stereotype. Most people are a little shocked when they see that I actually know something about music theory, scales, modes, harmonies, etc... Gradually the stereotype is being widdled away, but its been going strong for 100+ years of modern music, so it will take time before it is completely gone if ever. Remember there are stereotypes about every group of people, musicians and otherwise. I just laugh at it lol.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
I see this attitude mostly from guitar players who have not been playing long or don't have experience gigging much, or large egos - drummers being on the low rung of musicial knowledge and intelligence. So much so that they think they must dictate every note the drummer plays.

When told what and how to play, now I always jack with them and ask them to write the part out using quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, etc. because that is how music is written and how I understand rhythm. ALWAYS I get the deer in the headlights look and "Huh?". That always shuts them up.

Brass players tend to be either very friendly or don't talk at all to drummers.

I've found most jazz and blues players and singers period totally respect drummers and are very helpful and totally friendly.

Bass guitar players, I've found, are either very friendly, helpful and approachable, or complete jerks.

Concert and symphony musicians I've found tend not to talk to drummers because they are so worried about their own parts. LOL
 
Top