Rhythm in music provides the background for the other elements and instruments to fully express the vibe of a song. Through rhythm, and especially drumming, there is an innate ability to take a song and expand on its original meaning, through the interpretation of the phrases and overall feelings and emotions within. Without the drums and percussion, a song cannot first establish a regular rhythm and then improvise the beat to match the mood, communicating more than lyrics or other instruments. In this sense, drums become the heart of the song, the pulsing dynamic that starts, motivates and ends the musical journey, no matter the genre we prefer.
Drums and percussion have historically been used as tools for communication. From djembe drums in West Africa to the first version of the snare drums used during battle, these instruments gave a deeper voice to the cultures that included them in their daily lives. Festivals, celebrations and family gatherings were marked by the beat of drums and percussion. The rhythm would stir up feelings of excitement and anticipation, or, would encourage a group to feel a sense of reverence during times of grief and mourning. This communication through the heart, or drumming for love, was heard in the rhythms that reflected the drummer’s emotions and intentions, the situations at hand, and the overall motivation for the rhythm.
Because drumming, percussion and rhythm have always been such a vital part of communication, drum set drumming continues that tradition in its own way. In the drumming “driver’s seat,” these women and men are able to translate the emotional nature of the song being played – whether a relaxing jazz set or a hard-hitting punk slam. The rhythm leads, and connects the song, instruments and vocalists together, eliminating the question of who is really in charge of the music. That is not to say the other instruments are not a part of the fervency or relaxation within the song, but, it is the bass drum, snare, toms and cymbals that provide the urgency to complete the song’s message.
The rhythmists who sit on the throne are no better or worse than any other musicians out there, but they do provide the heart of the music, no matter the genre. They complete the song like no other, and are some of the best non-verbal communicators you can ever meet.