Remember the Music
Drummers use the term "drum beat" to refer to a rhythmic pattern or collection of rhythms played on a drum kit. It's okay to talk about "drum beats", but in my opinion, to separate a drum beat from a piece of music is making the drum beat an exercise instead of music. For example, you can find many different songs on the radio that have the same or similar drum beat. If you listen closely to the drums, eventhough the drum beat is the same, it sounds different. In making the drum beat part of the music, the drummer (or producer) applied their interpretation of the drum beat to best suit the music. Dymanics, accents, the feel (on top or bottom of the beat) all get combined to produce a drum beat that is best for the music being played. Have you ever learned a drum beat from a book and thought that it doesn't sound right when you play it? Or you heard a song, figured out the beat, and praticed it to find that you don't sound like the drummer on the record? When you think just about the notes in a drum beat and not about the music being played, you can miss the essence of the music. The drums sound "Blah." Part of difference may be the difference in your acoustic drum kit and super-produced drums sounds used on the recording, but if you can ignore that difference, I think you'll see my point. I've seen countless drummers playing a drum beat or soloing and it looks to me like they are singing to themselves while they are playing. One of my favorite drummers, Bernard Purdie, almost always looks like he's singing when he plays. Many times, he IS singing while he plays. I think one of things that make's his drumming so great is that he is always thinking musically and sees the drums as a part of the music. When I was in music school and around many great drummers, it was common to sing a beat to each other. Each of us had our own distinct sound we would use for different parts of the kit. It was a great way of communicating a drum beat as music. So, as you practice and learn new beats, try incorporating singing out load or in your head to make your drumming musical. I think it will help breath life into your drumming and make you a better drummer AND musician.
Brad Hill is a drum/percussion instructor in Berks County, PA ( Shillington, PA ). Go to Drums1On1.com (Drums 1 on 1) and submit the Contact form for your free consultation to determine the best lesson plan for you. I offer drum lessons and percussion lessons. In person and online lessons available.