What is Dynamic Drumming?
Dynamics as it relates to drumming, is the actual volume and power with which you play each of the “voices” of your drum kit. For example, you can play soft notes on your snare drum (aka “ghost notes”), or playing louder rim shots to add an accent to a certain beat. These two strokes are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and thus exaggerate the difference that dynamics can make.
Each voice of your drum kit (hi-hats, snare, kick drum, etc.) can all be played at various levels individually and in relation to each other to create a unique sound. How you play the various voices that make up a drum beat determines the dynamics of your playing. This is why no two drummers will ever sound exactly the same. Every player has their own “voice” or style of playing the entire kit to set them apart. You need to determine your own “voice” with which to shape your own unique drumming sound.
Dynamic Drumming Tips and Ideas
There are many different ways in which you can play with dynamics around your drum kit. Here are a few suggestions for you to try out the next time you practice:
- Rim Shots – Hitting the snare head and rim with the stick at the exact same time (in one motion with one stick) will create a louder accented note.
- Normal Stroke – Playing a normal note on the snare with the stick hitting only the drum head. Typically the stroke starts somewhere between 4 and 6 inches from the drum-head.
- Ghost Notes – Playing very light notes on the snare – typically between accents. The stick should not be lifted more than an inch from the snare before playing this quieter note.
- Cross Stick (or rim click) – playing the stick against the rim of the snare while it lies reversed on the drum head. This is best demonstrated by an instructor, and works well in lighter playing situations.
- One Handed Drum Roll – This technique is great because it allows you to do a drum roll while another hand can still build a song around the drum kit.
- Moeller Method – This technique is great for not only being able to play more dynamic, but it will also allow you to hit the drum harder with less effort.
Learn How To Add Creativity
Tired of playing the same old beats? Sometimes as drummers we just need some fresh ideas to mix things up. This lesson will provide you with some tips and suggestions to fill your creativity toolbox.
1. Alter the Voices
Changing up a beat can be as easy as changing the sounds that make it up. This can include moving your lead hand from the hi-hats to the ride cymbal, crash cymbal, floor tom, or even a cowbell. Another option would be to change the snare shots to rim clicks or broken up snare/tom patterns. The main idea is take something you already know, and give it a new voice.
2. Change One Limb
Take a beat you already know, and change what one of your limbs is playing. You can change your lead hand from eighth notes to quarter notes, or change your snare hand to have additional strokes or ghost notes. Your kick drum could mix things up by changing the pattern or playing with a different technique (heels-up vs. heels-down, etc).
The main idea here is to keep the original beat flowing smoothly while a single limb changes it. Do one limb, then revert back and try another. You can eventually change multiple things to create an all-new beat, but the concept here is to create a range of semi-altered patterns that work well together.
3. Add Open Hi-Hats
Sometimes all a beat needs to take it to the next level is to have the hi-hats opened and closed on one or two beats. I typically like to add this on the “and” count of four (closing on the one count). It seems to work well over most music, so it comes most natural to throw it in there from time to time. That said, I like to mix it up and put it on other counts – even on the off-beat sometimes.
4. Change the Timing
This doesn’t work for every setting, but sometimes you can mix things up by changing the structure. For example, taking a straight 4/4 beat and playing it as a triplet or swinging pattern. You could even add a quarter note and make it a 5/4 pattern to really mix things up.
Believe it or not, this can actually be used within a musical setting with a band too. No, you cannot alter the timing of what they are playing, but you can take a beat you already know and change it to match the timing of their song. You just have to pick a beat that doesn’t already work. This is where you really start to think outside of the box.
5. Playing a Beat Backwards
Virtually every beat you play can be completely changed by reversing it. This is more experimental than the last tips, but it is still a great way to mix things up during practice. Sometimes it will work, and sometimes you will end up with something that is just un-musical. However, either way it is likely to challenge you in new ways and perhaps even give you some new ideas.