Mental images of songs


Senior Member
Do you use mental images to help with the feel of a song? I do. An old man shuffling for a slow deep blues shuffle. A guy pissed of walking for an edgy rock groove. A great lap dance for a slow sexy ballad, etc. I think it helps me get the feel of the better.

Anon La Ply

Something I should do a lot more - what you're doing is getting to the essence of the song, at least from a drums standpoint. I like your approach a lot, AZslim - you pretty well can't go wrong that way.

I like to think of moods - happy, funny, melancholy, scary, jungley, sexy, angry, exotic etc... lol, I'm starting to feel like I'm naming dwarfs. Sometimes I have trouble pegging the vibe of songs that way, so using mental images seems like it's worth a try.


"Uncle Larry"
Not exactly mental images, but I try and relate almost everything I experience to how it makes me feel, music included of course. Everything affects how I feel, and I try and identify the feeling, preferably as it's happening, but some times it takes years lol. So if I hear a song, I try to figure out what feeling it conjures in me and tie it to that song.

Like I said, not visual mental images per se, more like a feeling it creates. I guess your images are just the feelings taken to the next level. Surely you must feel something to conjure an image. Like Pol said, it's a good thing, great even. Oops I mean Anon.


A lot of people who hear me play make the comment that I'm on of the most musical drummers they've heard. Obviously I'm nothing compared to some of the greats, however I appreciate the compliment. I attribute this to the fact that I grew up on country music. My earliest memories of listening to music with any kind of attention to detail was driving in my parents car listening to Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, and Flatt's n Scruggs bluegrass. I give a lot of credit to this early influence in my playing because all these artists sang "ballads" and not ballads as we currently think (ie slow songs), but ballads in the traditional sense of a song that tells a story. Country music is all about the song, the lyrics, and what the song is talking about. Sometimes its a tender love song, sometimes its a sad song about heartache and love lost, sometimes its just about partying lol, but no matter what the "song", "lyrics" are the most important part and all the rest of the instruments being played exist to support the mood and feel that is trying to be conveyed by the song writer.

After country music, once I actually started playing drum around 5th grade, my mom bought me a VHS documentary about Gene Krupa. This, in retrospect, was such an invaluable thing in the history of my career. She could have gotten me something on say Buddy Rich, but no, Gene Krupa. I love this and consider it fate because watching that video there is a quote from Gene that has always stuck with me till this day. He said, "I was taught to play dance drums, so even in the wildest solo I could possibly play, if the beat isn't there, and people couldn't dance to it, I'd feel as I was failing in the solo". Music dances. ALL music dances whether jazz, rock, country, RnB, funk, blues, metal, punk, classical, polka, etc.... The key to being a good and successful drummer has little to do with rudiments, four limb independance, odd meters etc.. it has to do with the ability to move people emotionally. In order to do that, YOU have to be moved emotionally by the music. Whatever song I'm playing in whatever style, I focus on two things, the lyrics if there are any, the story and message the song is trying to get across, and making song dance according to that emotion. To do so, I try to put myself in the mind of the songwriter. For example if the song is a sad heartache song, about love lost, etc.. I put myself back into that state I was in when my ex wife asked me for a divorce or any other time I went thru a difficult break up. If its a tender love song I think about how I've felt when I was in love with someone. If its an aingsty angry song like say something by "Rage Against the Machine". I think about all the d-bag politicians that are ruining our country. If I'm playing something raunchy like say the song "Crazy Bitch" by Buckcherry, my thoughts are, well, too pornographic to share in this forum lol. Being a musician is ALL about artistry and picturing images in your head, and pouring forth your soul thru, in our case, our hands and feet. Great point brother!


Senior Member
Yeah that's the idea. Sometime the images are of inanimate objects, not necessarily emotional. For example when I feel the song requires absolutely straight time with no hint of swing whatsoever, I picture parallel straight lines.