Thought Experiment

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
The drummers as athletes thread has got me thinking. Is it possible that body type helps dictate the type of music that we play? Not music we like and noodle around with, but what our main playing focus is.

Here is the experiment. Lets imagine there are only 2 types of music, fast and slow. While we can all fall into either one of these categories, and play in either if we so choose, are skinnier people more likely to be the majority in the fast players category, and fat (sorry to use this word, but it is what it is) people more likely to reside in the slow category? I know that in the world of extreme metal, fat drummers are almost non-existent. Yes there are a few, but it is mostly dominated by skinny to normal body type individuals.

This has nothing to do with chops vs groove, or musical styles and taste. Just body type and the natural clock within each.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Well that's why I just had it as fast and slow, disregard style. This seems to be the case in sports. Not too many fat people in hockey, basketball, track and field, soccer, tennis, so on and so forth. Fat athletes play golf, bowling, wrestling, linemen in football, you get the idea. I don't care for baseball so I have no idea about its players. Does body type dictate the comfort level at which the body operates?
 

Arky

Platinum Member
I'd say yes. But it's those exceptions who make me wonder how they do it... haha.
Imagine some of the bigger guys would drop some weight overnight - I'm sure it wouldn't hurt their playing speed, rather the opposite. And they're lightning fast already.
 

Drumsinhisheart

Silver Member
Some of the fastest drummers out there are quite overweight.

Drumming, while certainly very cardio in nature, basically uses hands and feet, arms and legs, all in a seated posture. Body-type really really doesn't play a part in that, per se.

Someone in poor health, regardless of body type, will be stressed playing fast music tempos over longer periods of time, and hence, should gain heart strength, and burn enough calories to lose weight, unless they eat more than they burn.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Since most drumming is arms swinging a 2 ounce stick around and the legs pushing down on objects as we remain seated, I really don't think it matters. But then again you could always as Abe, Paul McCartneys drummer.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I say body type has no dictation on the style. Too many examples out there to mention.
Pretty much.

There are too many fat guys that just blaze and I don't think they are typically slow players either.

If there were more skinny metal drummers, one might draw the conclusion that a person who lets their weight take over is less likely to achieve in drumming as well as other pursuits. But look at Gene H, Dennis Chambers, Eric Moore.. All blindingly fast.
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Right thought, wrong path.

It has nothing to do with fat/skinny, heavy or light.

But the inner workings of our bodies does play some role.

In sport, you can two identical athletes, both are big, strong and relatively fast. Both have the same number of years playing at the high school and college level. Yet, one player may be much, much, much better than the other, and have better speed.

And we see it in drumming. So many of us have spent hours upon hours, day after day, week after week, year after practicing, yet still can't play any where near the level of someone like Vinnie.

The has to be some difference in muscle fibers, joints, tendons, nerves and such that allows some people to just be many times better than someone else when given the same practice routine.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Right thought, wrong path.

It has nothing to do with fat/skinny, heavy or light.

But the inner workings of our bodies does play some role.

In sport, you can two identical athletes, both are big, strong and relatively fast. Both have the same number of years playing at the high school and college level. Yet, one player may be much, much, much better than the other, and have better speed.

And we see it in drumming. So many of us have spent hours upon hours, day after day, week after week, year after practicing, yet still can't play any where near the level of someone like Vinnie.

The has to be some difference in muscle fibers, joints, tendons, nerves and such that allows some people to just be many times better than someone else when given the same practice routine.
I think it's probably more in the mind.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I think it's probably more in the mind.
See I disagree with this. A body builder with a giant set of arms is physically stronger than a skinny person. Yet a skinny person can throw a ball faster and farther than the weightlifter because his arms are longer and can produce more speed upon release. Shorter muscles are better for strength, longer muscles are better for speed. This has to relate to drumming somehow.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
See I disagree with this. A body builder with a giant set of arms is physically stronger than a skinny person. Yet a skinny person can throw a ball faster and farther than the weightlifter because his arms are longer and can produce more speed upon release. Shorter muscles are better for strength, longer muscles are better for speed. This has to relate to drumming somehow.
The point he was trying to make was about personal preference is a huge factor that determines what music the drummer performs.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
The point he was trying to make was about personal preference is a huge factor that determines what music the drummer performs.
That is not the point of this though. I am not saying fat people can not play fast. I am not saying that skinny people can not play slow. I am wondering if possibly it is EASIER for a skinny person to play fast for extended periods due to body type. Less mass on the body equals more efficient movement, skinny people tend to be more flexible allowing for a greater range of movement, these kind of things. It is about body construction, not personal preference or mental desire. Body type is a definite factor in other things, why not drumming?
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
That is not the point of this though. I am not saying fat people can not play fast. I am not saying that skinny people can not play slow. I am wondering if possibly it is EASIER for a skinny person to play fast for extended periods due to body type. Less mass on the body equals more efficient movement, skinny people tend to be more flexible allowing for a greater range of movement, these kind of things. It is about body construction, not personal preference or mental desire. Body type is a definite factor in other things, why not drumming?
Aaron Spears seems to move around the kit well enough.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
See I disagree with this. A body builder with a giant set of arms is physically stronger than a skinny person. Yet a skinny person can throw a ball faster and farther than the weightlifter because his arms are longer and can produce more speed upon release. Shorter muscles are better for strength, longer muscles are better for speed. This has to relate to drumming somehow.
I've seen scrawny tradesmen wipe the floor with body builders when it came to moving heavy objects and I believe we all feel weight and pain at different intensities so I don't think it's so easily summed up. Muscle size doesn't absolutely correlate with strength between different people, so it might be the same case with speed.

And drumming isn't a sport. I personally couldn't give a shit about George Kollias or those types of drummers but surely there are muscle bound guys who are also very fast drummers. Virgil for example, he's built.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
The hypothesis debated here ignores 2 things:

Brain - Your brain dictates you how to move yoru muscles thsi way, that way, how to hols yoru sticks,move yoru fingers etc to develop speed or feel on a ride cymbal or bass pedal. Brain is irrespective of body type for fat vs. skinny dude

Technique - the muscular drummer and can exhibit the same playing style/speed because they have both learned the technique(partly which involves the brain), which is independent of muscle tone

Vinnie is often used as an example. Clearly Vinnie has a unique brain geared for the technique and multi-tasking that is germane to drumming. His great brain allows him to play Zappa's Black Page while reaching for a piece of sushi....and so many other things he can do.

lets not forget you are using your brain when you drum.
 

Drumsinhisheart

Silver Member
Right thought, wrong path.

It has nothing to do with fat/skinny, heavy or light.

But the inner workings of our bodies does play some role.

In sport, you can two identical athletes, both are big, strong and relatively fast. Both have the same number of years playing at the high school and college level. Yet, one player may be much, much, much better than the other, and have better speed.

And we see it in drumming. So many of us have spent hours upon hours, day after day, week after week, year after practicing, yet still can't play any where near the level of someone like Vinnie.

The has to be some difference in muscle fibers, joints, tendons, nerves and such that allows some people to just be many times better than someone else when given the same practice routine.
That is genetics. Just whatever is in your family history, mixed up, passed down, and utilized. With the brain, too, yes. The gene pool is what it is in every human.

That's why speed is something which looks cool, but so often, despite practice or lack thereof, is just a matter of genetics, and no one can choose or practice that. Some people will just move faster than others, despite identical physical characteristics.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Aaron Spears seems to move around the kit well enough.
Agreed 100%, but do you think he could maintain his speed and movement for long stretches like, say, Roddy or Kollias as efficiently?

I've seen scrawny tradesmen wipe the floor with body builders when it came to moving heavy objects and I believe we all feel weight and pain at different intensities so I don't think it's so easily summed up. Muscle size doesn't absolutely correlate with strength between different people, so it might be the same case with speed.

And drumming isn't a sport. I personally couldn't give a shit about George Kollias or those types of drummers but surely there are muscle bound guys who are also very fast drummers. Virgil for example, he's built.
Agree with this also, on both counts. Leverage is a wonderful thing. I can't dead lift 100lbs, but I can move it where ever I have to because of leverage. And no, it isn't a sport. Virgil may be muscular, but he is also on the thin side.

The hypothesis debated here ignores 2 things:

Brain - Your brain dictates you how to move yoru muscles thsi way, that way, how to hols yoru sticks,move yoru fingers etc to develop speed or feel on a ride cymbal or bass pedal. Brain is irrespective of body type for fat vs. skinny dude

Technique - the muscular drummer and can exhibit the same playing style/speed because they have both learned the technique(partly which involves the brain), which is independent of muscle tone

Vinnie is often used as an example. Clearly Vinnie has a unique brain geared for the technique and multi-tasking that is germane to drumming. His great brain allows him to play Zappa's Black Page while reaching for a piece of sushi....and so many other things he can do.

lets not forget you are using your brain when you drum.
Totally agree with the brain allowing us to play a certain way, and that it dictates our movements. But intelligence does not make one fast or slow, as per the Vinnie example. He is also on the thin side.


I really don't know, but it seems to me that speed is linked to efficiency, which is linked to movement (or lack there of). A smaller body would use less energy to do the same movements because there is less to move, thus resulting in more energy left over to accommodate more movements. I would love to see some data on this but I really doubt there is any, for drummers anyhow.
 

wsabol

Gold Member
It all has to do with technique. Mastery of technique.

Bodybuilders can throw as fast as baseball player because they haven't practiced the technique. Arm length is a factor, but its not the factor, I wouldn't even say its a major factor. Technique trumps arm length and arm strength. Having the proper muscles toned to perform a very specialized task consistently and efficiently has nothing to do with strength, its technique.

Same with drumming. Your overall physical health may help your endurance but that's not directly related to weight and strength.

Did Thomas Lang's beefing up help/hurt his playing?
Did Keith Carlock's slimming down help/hurt his playing?

If I could guess, I'm sure they feel better as any human would, but no, it didn't effect their playing. The technique and mental capacity was already there.
 
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