How to drum in different musical styles
So what is the key to becoming a versatile drummer and being proficient in one or more musical styles? Simply – listening! Listen to the music, research and studying the history of the genre and understanding what makes those performers sound the way they do. And that’s the starting point.
Afterwards comes the challenging part of assimilating the skills required to develop that style and eventually putting all that knowledge into practice by playing to records or preferably with musicians who are proficient in that particular genre.
Studying the background of your favourite Jazz, Rock, Drum & Bass or Pop drummers is an inspiring and fascinating quest. You will inevitably end up finding the same bunch of names that inspired them all and propelled the evolution of generations of drummers up until today.What this approach gives you is the ability to identify the core style of a drummer and being able to exactly pinpoint where it came from and how his/her own style evolved from that foundation.
Let’s take the example of three great modern masters of the instrument who were all largely influenced by Tony Williams: Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Husband and Terry Bozzio.
Tony’s musical and technical influences are evident at the core of their drumming style, but they all went beyond developing their own vocabulary and respective techniques on top of it, each with a completely different approach to the drums, groove, interpretation and sound!
But to understand their approach to the drums today and why they sound that certain way you have to go back and meet Mr. Williams (along with a bunch of other influences of course…). And THEN you’ll be able to understand and eventually dissect their styles right to the “core”. Well… if you study a lot!
Why research other drummers?
The fascinating aspect of this “research” is that you learn about musicians and drummers that you may have never heard of, and then you suddenly realise the magnitude of those artists and find your playing being influenced by them right after the first listening or viewing.
From our point of view, that’s a great way to become a proficient musician as well as a versatile and musical one. Being aware of how a certain style developed, in which part of the world it emerged, who were the musicians involved in the inception of the genre and then getting behind the drums and studying their playing…
… the more you dig – the more you grow!