I attended a drum corps drummer reunion this past weekend. Saw old friends, spent four hours drumming, then another four hanging at a local pizza place and elsewhere afterwards. Just a great, great event with a bunch of great people.
And the weekend reminded me of how much I love drumming with other drummers. As a song drummer working mostly in pop styles (Rock, Country, R&B, etc.) I play in a lot of band and combo situations, but I rarely play with other drummers.
It’s wonderful playing and grooving with other musicians playing Rock etc., but playing with other drummers is another thing entirely. It has that feeling of blending harmoniously with other folks doing the same thing you are like an a cappella vocal group. However, with drummers there’s this additional primal feeling that happens. When it’s right its like this thing you can feel in your gut.
I’ve only had this feeling while playing in drum corps-style ensembles (which is what we were doing this past weekend) and Brazilian Samba Schools. The thing these two types of drumming ensembles share is lots of folks playing the same instrument and same part as you are. So, there’s an additional added thing that happens that I refer to as entrainment.
In terms of biomusicology, entrainment is ‘the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm’. In terms of drumming and playing music together, I describe entrainment like this: if I’m a good player and I’m surrounded by a couple of great players, my level of performance is elevated.
And the net net for me is this thing akin to ‘runners high’, so we’ll call it ‘drummers high’. When your level of play is elevated, AND all this other wonderful stuff is happening (that primal feeling, the groove, the entrainment, etc.), I get this amazing feeling of getting lost ‘outside’ of myself. Through taking part in something I could never duplicate on my own, I’m able to achieve a type of transcendence, and it’s the most amazing and truly wonderful thing.
And, for me, it happens in a very unique way when I’m playing in a drum corp-style drumline, or a Brazilian Samba School.
Have there ever been moments in your life where you have had a type of transcendence? Could be while reading or watching movies or hanging out with a close friend. Just amazing stuff.
And you know what–You? Me? We both need to think about ways to make these moments happen as often as possible. Yes? Yes.
P.S. And hey–check out this recent research study that talks about how drummers brains are different too (no really, in good ways too 😉