The role of the drummer in modern music

2019 marks 100 years since the advent of the contemporary drum kit, so we ask how drummers have evolved and what their role means today.

Posted: 13 February 2019

Music is continually evolving, but one constant over the past hundred years has been that of the drummer. Have you ever tried to reimagine your favourite songs without the beats and breaks that power it along? It simply doesn’t work. However, that’s not to say that being a drummer is predictable, so with this in mind we look at what’s required of a drummer in 2019, and how you can stand out above the rest.

Keep time

Simple right? The drummer lays the foundations, provides the pulse and brings the groove for the track, letting the rest of the band express themselves creatively. The beat of the track ties everyone together and the drummer proving themselves as a reliable timekeeper breeds trust amongst other players, ultimately leading to better music.

Listen to other band members

Drummers and bassists together usually form the rhythm section of a band. Think of a band like a car, with the rhythm section taking the place of the engine to power everything along. Meanwhile the vocals and lead guitar are the bodywork and paint job. They add the creativity and key selling points but won’t get very far without the engine. It’s key that a drummer and bassist connect and work well together, whilst also taking input and direction from the other members.

Perfection

As a guitarist/ vocalist/ other musician you can often get away with the odd mistake or bum note but this is not the case for drummers. Miss a beat or drop the tempo and it’s immediately noticeable to the band and the audience. This doesn’t just apply to the actual notes but also the dynamics and the feel of a song, with a drummer often responsible for leading the feel of the whole band.

Contribute to creativity

Forget about the tired jokes of drummers not being able to write songs, today’s players need to contribute towards the creativity of a band. Plenty of drummers beat the skins as well as sing and write, for example Isaac Holman (Slaves), Michael Shuman (Mini Mansions and Queens of the Stone Age) and Lewis Williams (Press to MECO) have all carved out a niche as respected songwriters.