Us drummers all have our favorites whom we admire. Maybe we love the impressively complex polymeters played by Danny Carey. Maybe we can't get enough of the unwavering pocket, taste, and feel of Tony Coleman. Perhaps nothing excites us more than watching Buddy Rich absolutely annihilate a drum solo. I know I get excited when I try and speculate which planet Larnell Lewis came from!
While it is important to have drumming influences, this is only the first step. Once we are influenced and inspired by our favorite drummers, the next step is to develop our own unique sound based on our own preferences. Naturally, we pick up certain things from our influences, which is greatly helpful, but we need to be sure to head off on our own stylistic journey in order for each of us to find our own unique musical voice.
How can we develop our own musical voice? There isn't one hard and fast rule for this, so I'm just going to share some useful tips that can be applied to help achieve this goal.
Play & listen to many different styles
- Through listening to and playing various styles we gain an appreciation and understanding of just how many different ways one can play the drums. This gives us new ideas that we can apply to our preferred style(s) of playing. We can decide what we want to learn once we are aware of what options are out there.
- Play without any prearranged drum parts. Improvising is a great way to find your own sound because it forces you to think on the fly and play whatever comes naturally. We should trust our instincts when we improv and lean into it when we play something we like. Follow that thread and see where it leads.
- We can play without any music at all or we can play along to one of the many available tracks on YouTube that don't contain drums. The second option is as easy as searching "play along track no drums." I highly encourage anyone to use both of these options.
- As we listen to and/or play many different styles, as well as improvise, we should take note of what we play that we like. Whatever that is, play more of it!
The steps above will help any drummer find their own unique sound. Be uniquely you. Play like only you play and lean into it!