There is a vocabulary to music and drumming that remains a mystery to those who have not been indoctrinated into the society. Drummers and musicians in general talk about the different fills, licks and riffs to a rhythm, there’s the groove, and of course, the solo. This list is not exhaustive, however, but, it is a great start to beginning to not only sound like a drummer when playing a beat, but, to sound like a drummer when explaining your quest for rhythmic greatness.
Fills, licks, riffs: When a drummer wants to add a little momentum or interest to the rhythm, she or he plays these phrases that detract from the basic beat of the song. It is recommended that any fill, lick or riff is played in a measured manner, keeping to the underlying structure of the rhythm while adding interest and emotion.
Groove: This term is fairly inconsistent in definition, as it is the actual feel or flavor of the rhythm being played. Because of the differences in genres, playing styles and perspective of the rhythm heard, a groove can essentially only be understood by the drummer. It is the artistic interpretation of the rhythm that the drummer is called to portray; a groove may never be the same groove twice.
Beats: There are backbeats, upbeats, downbeats and other terms that define the particular beat in a measure. The beats come together to create a regular tempo that has a variety of accents and form the foundation for the rhythm, its fills, grooves and solos.
Solo: Perhaps the most illustrative term for drumming, a drum solo can take place during a song, between songs, in a drum circle, at the hands of a drumming facilitator, or even at your desk while working. Solos should be used sparingly, and always with respect to the other drummers or musicians involved in the song, as well as any neighbors that may not appreciate your drumming ambitions.
Learning a new instrument always brings about its own sets of challenges and triumphs. It is this pursuit of greatness that propels us to study all we can about the instrument and music itself. Drumming is no exception to this journey, as drums are much more complicated than many believe. We may all have a natural rhythm that benefits the experience of drumming, but, in order to truly prevail in the world of rhythm, a drummer must learn more than the hand strokes or drum stick twirls people assume are the heart of drumming.