Quick question about about drum solos....



Depends on the person and situation. Sometimes a drummer will just play whatever based off the groove of the song the band is doing. Other times, when the solo stands by itself, it may be composed ahead of time.


Senior Member
Depends on the person and situation. Sometimes a drummer will just play whatever based off the groove of the song the band is doing. Other times, when the solo stands by itself, it may be composed ahead of time.
Thats what I was guessing but I just needed to make sure

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
The inimitable Neil Peart once described what he does as a kind of framework, so at the very least, if he was having a bad night, he could stick to the formula and get through his solo sections without letting the audience down. I absolutely prefer solos done over music, like a latin montuno, or jazz breaks within the music, and usually the audience does too. Unless you're completely incredible, many drummers don't solo well for more than two minutes - either that's the extent of how far they'll go or the extent of how much the audience can take before they get up to go to the bathroom!


Platinum Member
Thanks Bo, good post. I'm pretty sure most drummers have certain things they'll always do in a solo but they'll also follow their nose at times. Good if it has a musical structure, even if it's a framework. I like solos that make sense rather than rambling along unless it's amazing rambling.

It's an odd convention that other instruments solo over the music but drums are given their own little space because drum kits aren't melodic in the same sense as other instruments (discounting Neil's glock etc). Why not have a drum solo after the second chorus instead of a guitar solo? All the drummer has to do is what any soloist does - play notes that will keep the song's flow going and carry the music logically and satisfyingly to the next passage or solo. Anyone can do that within their own limitations if their head's screwed on.

I do a short note-for-note solo with in my band, where a piano solo would normally be. It's not a "chops solo", just my simple drum interpretation of the original song's piano solo. The shorter the solo, the more likely it will be played by rote. Remembering every note of a long solo is not easy.

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I recall reading a Max Roach interview when he and other drumming luminaries were at a show to show off how awesome they were. They all received the best drum lesson ever when Gene Krupa closed the show with his Sing Sing Sing solo and brought down the house with straight eighth notes!

That's what I try to be about!


Platinum Member
Bass players get a similar treatment. All the other instruments stop and the drummer usually drops to some simple side sticking pattern. The first time I played with Myron Dove, we were doing Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and he was doing a solo. He called across to me to keep the chord pattern for the turn around going. Afterward he said that he hates it when the rest of the band stops. There's no harmonic foundation to play off of. Talking with other bass players since, the good ones agree. It's a lot of work to hold up the whole song.

Similarly when playing drums, I like for there to be some constant rhythmic pattern (or better yet some harmonic goings on) that I can play against. Also much less boring to the audience than another Inagaddavida or Moby Dick wannabe. Especially if there is dancing involved.

My favorite "solo" drum solo is Vinnie's from the Jing Chi Live at Yoshi's over MD Blues. This is an old Miles standby that was never named, hence Haslip and company calling it MD Blues. The whole essence of the tune is space (Jimmie's bass solo not withstanding). And Vinnie plays it perfectly. You can hear each of the changes in the song, even as he's sub-dividing things and leaving huge holes. Vinnie has the ability to hold up the whole song like few can.

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Hmm....Intresting. What do you guys mean when you say "framework"?
Just like there's a certain framework when you speak: Noun, verb, adjectives, with additional pronouns and adverbs. You come up with the basis of what you want to say, but leave it open for experimentation, but if you don't experiment, at least you've got yourself a paragraph to say.


Gold Member
I always have a framework for when I do a solo....then again the other night with a smaller then usual crowd I managed some outside my comfort zone stuff we just finished some Zep the guys had to Drop D tune for the next couple tunes...this is my time to BS with crowd or do a solo or a little of both....feeling the Bonham groove after about 2 minutes of my framed solo I dropped the sticks and started doing the hands playing ala moby dick..have not done this in probably 20 years...and it may be another 20 before I try it again..frickin hands are still sore..the small crowd loved it though..


Pioneer Member
Check out Neil Pearts "Anatomy of a Drum Solo" he explains his approach to solo's and goes into what Bo was talking about.