"But, I don't think any arranger should ever write a drum part for a drummer because if a drummer can't create his own interpretation of the chart and he plays everything that's written, he becomes mechanical; he has no freedom." - Buddy Rich
Drumming is one of those unique pastimes that has the ability to awaken an all-encompassing passion in a drummer. Many people start out drumming simply because they want to try something new.
However, the majority of first-timers also soon find themselves developing a passion for making music with their garage drum kits and begin discovering what a truly infectious hobby drumming is. Something that began as a New Year's resolution or a simple outlet for one's anger can soon become a focal point in one's life.
Learning a percussion instrument like the drums also has a key redeeming feature - anyone can play! Regardless of your age, height, weight, or even the style of music you prefer, almost anyone can master a short drum solo with a little bit of practice.
The drums have become increasingly popular as an instrument since the invention of the modern drum kit, which led the way for the mass production of drums by manufacturers and introduced drums to a mainstream audience. The modern drum kit also helped to expand a range of musical genres, including rock, pop and heavy metal.
However, not only is drumming a popular pastime, but scientists have also proven a link with drumming and higher intelligence levels. It's official - drumming makes you brainier! Why has drumming been linked to more advanced cognitive abilities? Drummers are rhythmically minded, able to achieve incredible feats in terms of improvisation but can also keep a steady beat in spite of what other band members may be doing.
So put down your popcorn, step away from the TV and pick up those drumsticks because drumming could do your brain more good than you might think!
What is the best drum solo for first-time drummers?
As a first time drummer, the prospect of picking up a pair of drumsticks and striking the drums to a beat can seem incredibly daunting.
Whilst online drum tutorials can help you learn the basics, if you really want to be able to play the drums with other bandmates then you will have to master a few tunes. The best songs for first-timers to learn are songs that have clear drum solos that allow the drummer to keep a steady beat and do not encourage too much improvisation.
Although improvisation is an amazing skill to have and the mark of an impressive drummer, keep in mind that Rome was not built in a day! Do not try to put to much emphasis on song difficulty when learning your first drum solo, otherwise you may become disheartened and give up easily. It is important to find a simple song that will help you to gain confidence as a musician.
Music to Suit You
Actually, most popular music songs can be simplified into just a few beats, so you can turn almost any song into a drum solo with a bit of a rhythmical workaround. What matters most when starting out drumming is that you enjoy it. Find a song that you like and start to simplify the beats down so that you can create your own drum solo with simple drum beats and use of the single pedal.
Catchy songs with strong choruses are really good for helping you to find the beat easily.
Examples of Beginner's Drum Solos
This is a short run-down of good drum solos for beginner's, but actually almost anything goes!
- Survivor - Eye of the Tiger drum solo
- Pokemon - Theme Tune drum solo
- AC/DC - Back in Black drum solo
- Michael Jackson - Billie Jean drum solo
Which drum solos are best suited to more advanced players?
Whilst you should steer clear of drum solos that leave too much room for improvisation when starting out as a drummer, if you are an experienced drummer and have advanced to much higher levels then songs that don't tie you down to much and allow improvisation are a great way to show off your skills and expand your range.
Even if you haven't been learning to drum that long, but find you have a bit of a musical talent for drumming - then you will want to look for music that encourages you to improvise.
Rhythmically complex music, which has frequent changes in time signatures, particularly drum solos where the drummer has to play cross rhythms and triplets in different signatures is not something for the light hearted! Trying to keep a steady beat as time signatures change is a hardened skilled and the mark of an experienced drummer.
Drum solos where the drummer has to play the double bass at an incredibly high speed or where the drummer has to switch between playing complicated rhythms with drum sticks to bongos-style with bare hands are incredible to watch and listen to as an audience member but technically challenging for a musician and suited too much more advanced drummers.
Play to Your Weaknesses
Depending on your own unique skill-set you may find some drum solos more challenging than others whilst other advanced players may not agree. Each drummer has his own talents and weakness, as you become more advanced at playing the drums it is always good to find music that pushes you to the limits.
Don't stick to simple songs that do not need improvisation and do not change time signatures, focus on songs that you find challenging and use them as a means to overcome your weaknesses as a player. Before you know it, your weaknesses may just have become your strengths!
Examples of Advanced Drum Solos
Here are a few examples of drum solos to keep you on your rhythmical toes!
- Led Zeppelin - Moby Dick drum solo
- Dream Theater - Dance of Eternity drum solo
- Tool - Ticks and Leeches drum solo
- Journey - Don't Stop Believing drum solo
- The Ventures - Wipeout drum solo
What are Some of the Best Drum Solos Ever?
Defining which songs have the best drum solos ever is really somewhat of a subjective feat, which makes listing them quite a challenge. After all, one man's straw is another man's gold!
From rock, to pop, to jazz, to heavy metal to classical - musical tastes differ so much. At the end of the day, the best drum solos will be ones that show incredible technical and rhythmical skill whilst also conforming to your own musical tastes.
However, when it comes to drumming, there are still some really memorable drumming solos that are classics for a reason. From tunes smashed out by Gene Krupa, Ginger Baker, John Bonham and Keith Moon to those played by the likes of Travis Barker - a wide range of listeners can appreciate the drumming stamina that these top players are able to achieve, which has made them go down in drumming history.
Examples of the Best Drum Solos
Some memorable drum solos include these smash hits:
- Blink 182 - I Miss You drum solo
- Jimi Hendrix - If 6 Was 9
- The Beatles - The End
- Phill Collins - In The Air Tonight
Examples of influential musicians and some of the greatest drummers who helped make some of the best drum solos in history include these stars from the drumming world:
- Tony Williams
- Ringo Star
- Mitch Mitchell
- Bill Bruford
- Max Roach
- Carter Beauford
- Billy Cobham
- Dennis Chambers
- Peter Erskine
- Geddy Lee
- Mike Portnoy
- Chad Smith
- Joey Jordison
- Mike Mangini
- George Kollias
- Taylor Hawkins
- Carmine Appice
- Dave Lombardo
- Charlie Watts
- Brann Dailor
- Gavin Harrison
- Phil Collins
- Dave Grohl
- Steve Gadd
- Tom Sawyer
- Josh Freese
- Tommy Aldridge
- Virgil Donati
- Elvin Jones
- Jojo Mayer
- Jeff Porcaro
- Matt Cameron
- Alex Van Halen
- Gene Hoglan
- Roger Taylor
- Max Weinberg
- Tomas Haake
- Bill Ward
- Mick Fleetwood
- Tim Alexander
- Nicko McBrain
- Chris Adler
- Jimmy Chamberlin
- Simon Phillips
- Joe Morello
- Vinnie Paul
What Makes a Song Good for Drumming?
So, we know there are some really great drummers out there. But what does it take to be one?
Practice and passion!
Oh, and trying to find the right music for your level too! A drummer is only as good as the music he plays, so if you are drumming to music that you are not passionate about or does not suit your level then you really won't get very far.
The best songs for drumming to are ones that you really love to listen to. These are songs that you can play over and over again until the rhythm gets underneath your skin and you still will not tire of playing them. Songs that allow simplicity and simple use of the double bass if you are a beginner or songs that are nothing short of rhythmical labyrinths and cross-beat mindfields if you are an old-time drummer!
Most drumming songs can be adapted to your musical level if you know how. And if you don't, well you can always look for the help of a handy drumming instructor or drumming tutor to guide you on your drumming journey.
Want to watch the best drumming movies ever?
Drum Solos: Definitions
All musicians - and drummers are no exception - will need to take on a new set of musical vocabulary if they want to improve in their playing. This is a given and one of the challenges of being a percussionist. Not only do you have to learn an instrument, you also have to learn a new language!
An unpitched metal bell (or pair of bells) often featured in samba music.
The term can refer to a strong accent on an upbeat note, or a 4/4 drum pattern that accents beats two and four.
Also called a drum skin or resonant head, the batter head is the membrane of an acoustic drum that a drummer strikes to make sounds. For millennia, batter heads were made from animal skins, but most of today’s drum skins are made from a plastic composite.
Better known as a rim, this is the part of the drum that connects the membrane to the drum shell. Drummers also use the batter head to produce sounds called rim clicks or rim shots.
A collective term describing devices used to strike both membranophones and idiophones. Examples of beaters include drumsticks, mallets, rods, and wire brushes.
Handheld wood idiophones that come in pairs. Castanets make a clicking sound when the player snaps two of them together.
Claves are wooden sticks that click together to produce an unpitched sound. They are a mainstay of salsa music.
Also known as a cross-beat, a cross-rhythm is when one rhythm is played whilst 'crossing over' or at the same time as another rhythm is played.
Also known as antique cymbals, crotales are made up of a collection of small pitched cymbals. They are a common sound in everything from classical music to 1970s progressive rock.
A rudiment in which a player strikes twice with one stick before striking with the other stick.
The first beat in a measure of music, or the quarter notes that define time signatures like 4/4.
An intentional break from a drum groove that provides a transition into a new measure or section. Drum fills often showcase a player’s ability on the instrument.
A repetitive drum pattern that changes very little throughout a section of music.
A short musical phrase for drums or percussion that trains a percussionist in fundamental physical and rhythmic techniques. Drum rudiments form the basis of many drum lessons for players of all abilities.
A flam (or flam accent) is a drum rudiment wherein a drummer strikes a grace note before striking the primary stroke.
A deep, low-pitched tom-tom drum that stands on legs near the drummer's dominant hand.
In drumming, ghost notes are snare drum beats that are played at low volume.
An idiophone made from a dried gourd and typically played by rubbing wire brushes against it.
A pair of cymbals mounted atop one another on a hi-hat stand. Drummers strike hi-hat cymbals with beaters (like drumsticks) or by using a hi-hat pedal.
An instrument that produces sound when the entire instrument vibrates. Some idiophones are wood instruments like cajon, woodblock, marimba, maracas, castanets, and clave. Others are made of metal like xylophone, chimes, crash cymbals, hi-hat, vibraphone, glockenspiel, steel drums, and cowbell.
Metal hardware directly attached to the drum shell, through which tension rods are threaded. A drum may feature either tube lugs or imperial lugs.
Instruments that make sound when a player strikes a tightly stretched membrane. This category includes timpani, bass drum, snare drum, headed tambourine, tablas, bongos, congas, timbales, djembe, and any instrument that contains a drum head.
A device used by drummers and percussionists (and all musicians, for that matter) to keep a metrically precise tempo as they practice or perform. Metronomes can work either by producing sound or by flashing light.
Thought to be the oldest type of drum still in use, the mridangam contains two drums faces—a left face and a right face. Traditional mridangam players apply a mixture of flour and water to the left face to lower its tone when playing.
In drum terminology, para means "single stroke" and diddle means "double stroke," and thus the term describes a sticking pattern where a single stroke is followed by a double stroke.
A passage of music that combines two time signatures. For example, a drummer may play a 4/4 pattern on their kick drum but a 3/8 pattern on their closed hi-hat, thus establishing a polyrhythm.
A pair of tom-tom drums (sometimes called a hi-tom and a low tom) suspended above the kick drum. These produce a higher-pitched sound than the floor tom.
A dried gourd covered with a netting of beads. Originally from West Africa but also popular in Latin American traditions, it produces sound when shaken.
A simple drum roll with alternating left and right hand strokes.
An idiophone made from a hollowed log, also known as a log drum.
An hourglass-shaped drum with drum heads on either end. Talking drums get their name from the notion that they can mimic sounds of human speech.
A series of pitched woodblocks popular in classical ensembles.
Metal screws that run perpendicular to a drum face and help keep the drum stable and in tune in a process known as tensioning.
Timbales are small, metal-frame drums that are mounted on a stand and played with beaters. A timbale player usually has two drums, plus cowbell and perhaps a woodblock, as part of their kit.
A time signature is a means of expressing rhythm in theoretical music. When you see the clef next time you look at sheet musical you will be able to tell how many beats should be played for a particular measure.
Also known as kettle drums, timpani sets consist of massive drums that stand on the floor in front of the player who strikes them with felted mallets. Timpani pitches can be adjusted using a foot pedal, which loosens and tightens its drum head.
Pitched chimes struck with beaters.
An untuned idiophone resembling a hollow jug.
An adaptation of a xylophone with metal bars and a built in electric resonator that projects the instrument's sound. A vibraphone is essentially a plugged-in metal marimba.
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