Ideal length for a drum solo?

supermac

Senior Member
I'm not talking about John Bonham thrashing away for 40 minutes here, but the optimum length of a solo for a bar-room gig.

I've pretty much worked out a solo which is about four minutes long.

But I taped it and played it to somebody (not a musician) who said it was too long and everybody would be heading off to buy a beer as I played it!

It's hopefully 'musical' and accessible. It's not a highly technical solo, just 2 minutes of 4/4jungle and snare grooves and 2 minutes of free-form triplets, quads, high-hat chokes etc.

Does anyone else think four minutes iks too much to ask?
 
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Big_Philly

Guest
Long enough for you to show what you got...
But short enough for the audience to still want more.

Two or three minutes is plenty.
 

Leadfoot

Senior Member
Short & sweet if at all. Most bar patrons really don't pay attention to anything over about 30 seconds anyway. Seriously.
 

Rezn8

Member
Ideal length for a drum solo?

4 bars.


OK but really, In most situations- about a minute is all you'll need to show how awesome you are without alienating the entire bar.
 

Baddstuff

Senior Member
for a barroom gig I'd say 1 minute and absolutely no more than 1 1/2 minutes. That's more than enough time to make your statement.
 

k3ng

Silver Member
It depends on a whole host of things I suppose.

Firstly, in what context is the solo? If you're doing a solo mid song, I suggest keeping it as short as possible. The longer your solo, the easier it is to distract people from the actual song you're playing.

If you're doing sort of solos where it's just you - I.e if you've got a gig and you're the star and just wanted to do a solo for kicks, then i'd say as long as you can keep your audience interested. If you can put interesting ideas all along the way in a 10 minute solo, there's nothing wrong with that. You've got to keep people interested in what you're doing. I dunno about you, but for that reason I used to think that Buddy's famous west side story was a little too long for my taste. I loved it as a drummer, but unless you've got a name as big as that, don't be attempting that anytime soon.

I personally prefer trading fours than soloing.. and even in soloing I usually stick to something equally groovy. one of my favourite inspirations is Steve Gadd's solo in 'Way Back Home'. Incredibly smooth and perfect for the music. About perhaps a minute in length.

Take the hint from 'non musicians'. They'll probably make up a vast majority of your audience, so if you can't keep them interested, cut it short.
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
...Long enough for someone to use the bathroom and come back to their seat.
 

paradiddler

Senior Member
Hi guys.

Well, let's see. I agree it's all about context. If it's within a song, then it shouldn't be very long, 'cause the audience is already into the song, and it will throw them off if it's too long. Now, if it's a solo by itself, then it can be longer.

Cases in point. If you listen to "100,000 Years" from Kiss Alive I, Peter Criss goes off into a solo that's, well, LONG AND BORING. Now contrast that with, say Neil Peart. His earlier solos were usually within the context of a song (YYZ, for example), and those were three to five minutes. But later on when the solo was by itself, he lengthened them to around eight to ten minutes! Both lengths were appropriate, I think.

Coincidentally (no really!), I'm doing a countdown on my web site of Neil Peart's solos, from worst to first. You can follow along if you like. Here's the initial article:

Neil Peart's Solos Ranked

Take a look and let us all know what you think!
 

slyone

Junior Member
Like others have said, depends on the audience. Most drummers I know (myself included) are not fans of extended solos. In a typical audience, most people don't recognize that you're doing double paradiddles on a double bass while playing two against three on the hihat vs snare. Its sound and visuals. A normal audience recognizes and enjoys a good groove, can clap along and feel they're part of the performance. Solos that involve an audience can go on longer. You lose the audience, who are you playing to besides yourself? If you've got a musically educated audience, then go for the hi-tech performance with lots of linear fills, time signature changes, etc.. Just my thoughts

The longest solo I've played (many decades ago) was a fairly close rendition of the solo from Inna Gadda Da Vida, a smidge over two minutes. That's an example of a groove the audience can stay in. Actually lyrical at times too.

Lyle
 
Examples of drum solo versions:

Long version: The Mule, Moby Dick, Toad, Third Movement: Vivace - Presto...

Short version: Tom Sawyer, We Won't Get Fooled Again, Space Truckin', Fireball (intro)...
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
I do a solo almost every night I'd say it's about 2 minutes long on average. It's hard to give an exact time as I kinda don't KNOW where I'm going each time I do it. It has pretty much the same structure, but I just go with the flow and sometimes it changes a bit. I try to get a little audience involvement but stopping suddenly midstream to "ask" their approval, and it seems to work pretty consistantly.

You tell me how it is, here's one a fan captured on a regular camera that just happened to record video too, quality sucks but it'll give you an idea.

Tell me what'd you think?? Too long?? Boring?? My solo starts at about 2:00 to about 3:30 or so this particular night. Again, sorry about the bad quality.
Drum Solo - Viper

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I'd rather simmer for life than be a flash in the pan.
-Bermuda
 

baz

Silver Member
...a wise man once told me that a solo should last about as long as you can hold your breath.

Same goes for grudges.

Barry
 

darkcherryfade

Pioneer Member
Viperpercussionist, I'd say that's the ideal kind of drum solo for that kind of setting. Not too long, not boring, there was a build and a climax, and you didnt go overboard with anything. For the usual bar/club audience, I'd say even a 3 minute solo might be too much
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
Viperpercussionist, I'd say that's the ideal kind of drum solo for that kind of setting. Not too long, not boring, there was a build and a climax, and you didnt go overboard with anything. For the usual bar/club audience, I'd say even a 3 minute solo might be too much
Thanks for the evaluation, it helps to get opinions of others, especially other drummers.

I've found soloing is kinda like talking, once you've made your point, shut the heck UP!!! L0L!!

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I'd rather simmer for life than be a flash in the pan.
-Bermuda
 

Baddstuff

Senior Member
Viperpercussionist- I thought your solo was just about right, and nicely done at that. Too bad we can't see you but you were kickin' it!
 
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