Subjectivity and Drumming


Gold Member
I apologize ahead of time because I have a nagging feeling that I'm repeating myself.

At one point do the techniques and habits of a drummer fall under the umbrella of subjectivity? Has the realm of set drumming fully become "You do it this way, but it's okay that I do it that way"?

For instance, in joining drumline and my school's marching band, I've met plenty of percussionists who were also set drummers, and one of these young men has not-quite-terrible bass-pedal technique. It's bad enough that it affects his sound and in a lot of cases his rhythm, with enough mis-placed kick beats to make me feel uncomfortable when he's playing. Recently, this drummer has improved, but it's still present. When I first asked him about it, he attributed to a stylistic difference in the way we play drums.

I was like "Whaaaaat."

It didn't sound like a style to me, but I let it slide.

A different example is grip choice. This should technically be an entirely arbitrary decision, since how you hold a stick shouldn't change where it's fulcrum is or how it sounds when you hit a drum. Yet, there's a video floating around in which Buddy Rich criticizes drummers who play matched grip because 'it's not easy to move around the kit' with.

Is there some sort of happy medium we have to feel out as drummers to understand technique's place in drumming or is drumcorp style teaching and playing(technique, that is) the 'right' way to do things?

Thoughts guys, I want thoughts!


Senior Member
Playing in a drumline offers no real creativity (beyond writing) so there's no room for subjectivity. Either you nail the piece or you don't.

Playing a drumset though.. well I believe there IS a level above which things become subjective. Most people including me are well below that level =P. I think you reach that level when you have a substantial audience that pays to see you. Then they will do most of the fighting for you aka, My fav drummer is better than Your fav drummer! Most musician's up at that level respect each other.

As for your friend with the kick problem, try to explain to him that it's not subjective, that he just misses the beat a lot with his foot. Either he'll listen to your advice and progress faster, or he will get defensive and figure it out a lot later.


Senior Member
Buddy was trolling for sure though.
Haha! That made me LOL xD

But more to the point of your post:
Well, yes. Sort of. In my opinion, drummers get to a point where they know what works for them. In Buddy Rich's example,
he couldn't make matched grip work at all. But I know for a fact that Keith Carlock went through a complete changeover
from his drumcorps days to playing drumset (as he says here )

And if you look at different drummers in different styles, you will see that they use different kinds of technique. This is
mostly based on what they play to make a living/have fun. Derek Roddy plays completely different from, let's say, JoJo Mayer
(just to make a clear and easy understandable example). But there's a BIG difference in playing sloppy and playing with
odd/special/cool/fancy/smart/different/ergonomic/economic/etc technique


Senior Member
I know exactly who you are referring to. I can play with just letting the beater just come back its just sometimes the kick feels so quiet that I used to hit harder to get some volume out of the kick drum. I guess I'll stop burying the beater though, see how it goes.