Finding your own drumming style

JJKK

Member
I just started thinking about this, how I want to emulate certain bands and play cover songs. They've had their own creative process in the music, so that cannot be emulated, but getting into the feeling of the music while playing cover songs is still possible. I'm getting at something intangible, talking about the creative process, but I've had limited experience playing with other musicians, and I think I haven't really found my own style yet.

I'm getting hints of it while I'm practicing certain beats, or doing endurance training or whatever. I'd like to hear about folks finding their own "thing" to do on the kit, whether it was with a band or creating music by yourself.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
I don’t think I’ve approached a song thinking that there’s “signature moves” I need to include, my style has just happened in much the same way as someone’s running, walking, standing style is a part of them. I think that the influences of the songs I played along to in my teens took a hold and they’re still in there.
On several occasions I’ve had people walk into a rehearsal room when I’ve been playing after setting up because they knew it was me so weren’t in two minds about opening the door. I remember being on a 3 band outdoor gig once soundchecking the kit and a mate of mine said he’d been walking towards where the gig was taking place and he’d turned and said to his wife that it was me playing because he recognised me (by the way I was playing I hasten to add, he couldn’t actually see me).
I think a personal style is what it is, I’ve fallen into doing things a certain way because I liked them so it’s not something that can be “forced” all in my opinion of course.
 

Channing

Member
I think it's something that just happens whether you want it to or not. When you learn to play something, a certain beat or fill or sticking pattern, it becomes part of your vocabulary. So then you're able to use those things later in other songs, and you'll end up sounding a certain way based on the choices you make or what feels natural for you to play.

I play a lot of older alternative covers, like Radiohead, Nirvana, Weezer, etc. so even when I'm playing original music, that's what my drumming sounds like.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I do think that your style evolves, but is sort of "Seeded" by what you are doing when you first "dig in' to music. For me, that would have been the late 70's. i know that my style is equal mixes of Joe Morello, Motown, Rush, Styx, Kansas, and Iron Maiden. That is what I would play along to, listen to, and analyze in my early days, so that was my foundational definition of time, space, melodic and phrasing control, and fill creation.

In the 90's, I added more proggy stuff and more jazz, plus a lot of drum corps influenced chops and groove stuff in my hands, but I still feel to this day that I can't shake the original influences no matter what I am playing.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I too wanted to cultivate my own style-in fact to the point I was wary of being influenced by others. However since I think my idea was all wrong because no one lives in a vacuum and inevitably people influence you. Much of "style" I think is just biological variation of humans-ask ten drummers to play the same thing and I wager you'll notice all a bit different (just inherit in individual uniqueness). I think we can cultivate the skill and ability to play any genre or style of music which takes a lot of effort and time however your "style" will just be unique to your anatomy and physiology so nothing to cultivate. I was one of three drummers in our church lineup and when I wasn't playing I could hear and tell who was playing long before entering the sanctuary. Some of that is not driven by variation but more so the lack-as they always play the same thing about every song. I noted that when I first started recording myself-my drumming sounded the same on about every song because I was playing the same stuff every song-rather than meet the needs of song. I think I should have been working on playing a variety of styles and genres and inevitably doing so it would be done so with my inherit "style". I use to get lots of "dirty" comments however recently I got a "slippery" so I'll take that LOL.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Unless we want to completely self taught regarding our concept, which is not recommended if we want to do "regular" gigs with other people, I think it takes time.

At a certain point of enough experience and emulation of your favourites you start getting a wide picture of what you like and want to sound like. Even the most recognisable players ever stop growing, though. Some have taken quite sudden left turn in their later years.

My biggest inpsirational aha moment was when I saw Karizma live in Oslo 20 years ago.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You were born with your own style already. It's not something you search for. Your signature is proof of that. You're searching for something you already have. Allow yourself to be yourself. Your job is to recognize what you offer and enhance what you were born with. Let you come out. Let it happen.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I'd like to hear about folks finding their own "thing" to do on the kit, whether it was with a band or creating music by yourself.
It's BOTH.

At first, it's really important to just copy other drummers, and be as detailed as you can. Being in a variety of bands and projects will force you to learn a variety of styles and musical conventions. At the same time, it's important to involve yourself in creative situations where you are creating the drum grooves, and collaborating with other musicians. So, it's best to have a lot of experience playing music that is not yours, in order to inform how you approach your own drumming, and music in general.

Don't worry about style; worry about learning/copying/imitating as much as you can, and getting some chances to be creative along the way.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I too wanted to cultivate my own style-in fact to the point I was wary of being influenced by others. However since I think my idea was all wrong because no one lives in a vacuum and inevitably people influence you. Much of "style" I think is just biological variation of humans-ask ten drummers to play the same thing and I wager you'll notice all a bit different (just inherit in individual uniqueness). I think we can cultivate the skill and ability to play any genre or style of music which takes a lot of effort and time however your "style" will just be unique to your anatomy and physiology so nothing to cultivate. I was one of three drummers in our church lineup and when I wasn't playing I could hear and tell who was playing long before entering the sanctuary. Some of that is not driven by variation but more so the lack-as they always play the same thing about every song. I noted that when I first started recording myself-my drumming sounded the same on about every song because I was playing the same stuff every song-rather than meet the needs of song. I think I should have been working on playing a variety of styles and genres and inevitably doing so it would be done so with my inherit "style". I use to get lots of "dirty" comments however recently I got a "slippery" so I'll take that LOL.
I had a friend who was a drummer who used to SWEAR by the whole concept of not listening to any other music because he did not want to be "influenced" by other drummers...and it was so frustrating to play with him and discuss music. He definitely had a "holier-than-thou" attitude about it as well...like we were all going to suck because we were "clones of what we listened to"

Personally, I never sought to create my own style because I was so worried about "being good" and developing the skills needed to gig. And I also agree with larryace that we are born with what helps shape our signature style, so it was happening to me before I was even aware of it. I still never think "man, the band leader is keeping me because of my style"...

It would be interesting to hear how people describe my style actually. In my cowpunk/rockabilly band, I do get a lot of comments about my train beat songs "feeling great. So smooth and comfortable to play with". I think the audience in the surf punk band is less "in tune" with things like style/feel/influences so I rarely get comments about playing there
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Its deceptively hard to develop your own style. The fallacy being that you can ignore what others do, and converge on something unique spontaneously. Take free jazz for example, for the most part it sounds like traditional second line Jazz, with call and responses and such. Typically, people who really want a distinctive style that is their own fall into the Avant Garde category, and go out of there way to ensure uniqueness. Though IMO new styles are more a reflection of social or technical changes, rather than a musical manifestation of a new idea. Though there maybe some amount of "This is boring and sucks, so lets do something different."
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I had a friend who was a drummer who used to SWEAR by the whole concept of not listening to any other music because he did not want to be "influenced" by other drummers...and it was so frustrating to play with him and discuss music. He definitely had a "holier-than-thou" attitude about it as well...like we were all going to suck because we were "clones of what we listened to"

Personally, I never sought to create my own style because I was so worried about "being good" and developing the skills needed to gig. And I also agree with larryace that we are born with what helps shape our signature style, so it was happening to me before I was even aware of it. I still never think "man, the band leader is keeping me because of my style"...

It would be interesting to hear how people describe my style actually. In my cowpunk/rockabilly band, I do get a lot of comments about my train beat songs "feeling great. So smooth and comfortable to play with". I think the audience in the surf punk band is less "in tune" with things like style/feel/influences so I rarely get comments about playing there
Yep you're friend was an idiot-so was I. I think it's a coping mechanism when you can't play the parts of songs so just wing it and say "I'm doing my interpretation" LOL. And you're right it is about getting better and being able to play different genre music and emulate others well so you get the feel per the genre. The goal should be they don't recognize you but think dang that sounds just like Bernard Purdie or Jeff Porcaro or John Bonham, ad infinitum. That said we are all unique and I noted on Jeff Porcaro's video on shuffles and when he got to his Rosanna shuffle he technically played Bonham and Purdie for contrast but it sounded like Jeff Porcaro emulating them so WTH do I know LOL.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
I agree with the sentiments above that it comes around at different times for different drummers.

I remember reading separate articles about Ringo Starr and Joey Kramer where each noted the album on which they truly felt they'd evolved their own 'styles' - for Ringo, it was actually a specific song, 'Rain' (recorded during the Revolver sessions); for Kramer, it was 'Rocks.' Each had played on several iconic, world-renowned albums prior to those particular points in their careers, but for whatever reason, those are the performances they use as a watermark for their personal expression.

I've listened to the catalogs of both men extensively, and I can't really find where those particular albums differ all that much from earlier ones in terms of what can loosely be termed 'style.' So why are they the ones cited by the performers?...I think only they know for sure, because it is SUCH a personal experience.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Everyone has by definition a sort of own style, but to say that style will always be recognised is complete nonsense, even with the very famous ones..

I read each month a blindfolded test where people have to guess which drummer is playing on an unfamiliar album..

The people who have to guess are always pro drummers, drum magazine editors, etc..

They basically never guess the real name, but only can say..: could be...."insert name"..

Otherwise try yourself when Mike Stern has a new album again with 5-6 drummers..

No one here will recognise each drummer on each track..

I am pretty sure on a lot of albums Colaiuta will not even recognise himself..
 

TMe

Senior Member
I've read that voice trainers tell actors to imitate a number of voices that they like. By learning to imitate other people's voices, they gain more control over their own voice, and that let's them shape their voice more consciously. Most people just let things happen, though. I'm not sure if that second approach is more "authentic", or just more passive. Hard to say.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
This is an excellent topic and one I've been thinking about the last few years. Reinforced by my current drum teacher - "you're unique and will continue to learn and play like yourself, not exactly like others". But then the difficult question, what is "my style"?
Its deceptively hard to develop your own style.
This is SO true.

But after thinking about it, and continuing and developing playing what I feel, I've been starting to recognize what I might characterize as my own personal style. And, I like it. I've noticed that it's sort of what I want or intend to sound like and draws from characteristics I like in some other drummers I hear. With this small awareness, it's a little easier to think about it (my style) and develop and shape it a little further as I go.

It would be interesting, and brave, to ask many of those that play with me in bands what they think my style might be compared to other drummers they play with. I'd be curious as to how much that would dovetail with my budding awareness of my style. Think I'm going to try this (and will report back on this thread later with anything interesting I learn).

I think the idea is not really about becoming something you're not or trying to actively copy a style. Instead, it's more subtle - gradually recognizing how you sound different and accentuating or bending that into something that's "signature" for you that comes naturally, is fun and speaks to the way you feel/interpret the music.

Just my 2 cents.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
By all means, find and develop your own style, but never let that be a substitute for substance. I see a lot of drummers limited by poor technique and poor ergonomics shrug off the inabilities as simply being a part of their "style". Not all styles are good. Remember the 80s?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What's Vinnie's style?

He's a chameleon. I can't pin him down, he defies pigeonholing because he does it all.

Does anyone here think trying to pigeonhole oneself into a style is a bad premise?

All opinion:

From what I have gathered, people's personalities 100% directly affects how they play the music.

So in my mind, the question of style directly relates to one's personality. Which is fairly set, generally speaking.

Style...it's not something outside to be acquired, it's all inside waiting to be developed.

In other words, you can't not have your own style, it's inseparable from you, for better or for worse. Sure you can improve yourself, that's the goal.

The better you do you, the better your inborn, already there, style will come across.
 
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oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..I see a lot of drummers limited by poor technique and poor ergonomics shrug off the inabilities as simply being a part of their "style"..

Well, someone like Charlie Watts managed to play drums (for quite some decades) with one of the biggest rock 'n roll bands on earth like that..
 
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