I always make an effort to make sure my posts have something for everyone–not just my music-geek friends 😉 Today’s post IS for everyone, but it’s just music that I love…song drumming for everyone! (There’s links to listen to some classic tunes on the end of this post.)
I was just reading an article in Drumhead magazine (my favorite drum magazine–yes there’s more than one ;). It was an interview with Ash Soan, a UK drummer who’s played with Adele and Ceelo Green among others…most important for me, he played with Del Amitri when they were big.
The cool thing about the article is that he seems to have a very similar aesthetic approach to music as I do–play for the song, get your phrasing off of the vocal, keep it simple, etc. I’m like, “hey–that’s me too!”
And, it was validating in a way–not so much that he was a song drummer (most all of the great studio drummers are song drummers) but that the details of his approach so closely resemble mine. Things like listening to and keying off the vocal primarily–this is what I do naturally, but I feel guilty sometimes not listening more to the bass or rhythm guitar (I figure that those folks need to be listening to ME, and I need to be making the vocalist sound great).
What defines both of our approaches is that we play what the song needs, not what we as drummers need. That’s the bottom line. Another way of saying this is that we both focus on what record producers focus on, not what drummers focus on. This is a big difference from my approach when I was younger.
And it’s just a mental approach–just a rearranging of my priorities from when I was younger (I was definitely playing for my drumming needs as a teen and young adult). It’s also a way of being and acting as a musician that has nothing to do with technique or virtuosity or anything like that.
It’s probably better to have you listen to examples as opposed to try and describe. I’ll list some below for you to listen.
For me, it’s characterized by the drum part being vital to the song, but not really drawing attention to itself. The drumming serves the song…NOT the other way around. By definition, this means that the song is in the foreground, and the drum part is more in the background in a supportive role.
So, give it a listen–this is music (and drumming) that I love.
P.S. It’s interesting to note that a lot of ‘drum signature’ parts come from song drummers. (A drum signature part is one where you can hear the drum part by itself–with no other instruments or voices–and you immediately know what song it is.)
You might think that drum signature parts would mostly come from drummers who are focused on what the drumming needs, but I don’t find that to be the case. These parts mostly seem to come from drummers who are serving the needs of the song and a signature part came to mind during that process.
Examples drum signature parts: