By “hot”, I mean that drummers are in the limelight, getting the most press, and selling a lot of records.
It’s well known that drummers sell records.
Just look at any of the best-selling rock bands of the past fifty years (if you’re old enough to remember them).
But there’s more to it than that. Drummers have a PR life-span.
They’re at their most famous between the ages of 18 and 25. At their most interesting between the ages of 25 and 35.
They enter their slow decline of obscurity when they’re 35 and over.
The last time I checked, the average age of rock drummers is about 26.
That means that the public has an intense amount of music from a band’s first years to go through.
In a music market filled with live bands of varying quality, every drummer can do nothing but compete for attention
What that attention is is largely determined by the size of the crowd.
Larger crowds mean larger tours, more press, more press, etc.
Smaller crowds mean the drummer has to play fewer shows, record less music, or do all of it with less fanfare.
Obviously, a good live drummer isn’t worth less than a bad live drummer.
But the smaller venues have a relatively smaller footprint.
In a crowded market, the drummer who can draw a crowd with good songs will generally have the most success.
If a drummer isn’t doing that, that’s a problem.
One obvious solution is to record a more up-tempo or “hot” drumbeat to drum up the excitement.
There are three things to think about when approaching this.
- Can the song have a large enough variety of beats to be interesting?
- How much variety should you have?
- Does the song support the drumbeat?
Every song has a song structure. Every song uses a basic chord progression.
In music as in life, a few rules govern how you should approach creating new music.
These rules are, of course, subject to the performer’s skill
These basic rules apply to:
- Lead guitar
- Bass guitar
But to avoid confusion, we’ll use the most popular templates for all three:
Before we can write the drum beat, we need to understand the song structure of the song we’re playing.
So let’s look at a basic song structure:
#1 – #9
#2 – #1
#4 – #6
#3 – #2
#7 – #4
#5 – #5
#6 – #1
#8 – #2
#9 – #1
There are plenty of variations, but that’s a basic breakdown. Each line has a major-chord shape (major-chord = major chord + minor 7 chords).
Within that major chord shape, there are a series of minor chords. A minor chord is when you combine a major chord with a minor chord.
So the C major chord is the C major chord plus a minor 7 chord.
You need to know the chords of the song to be able to play along with it.
But the major-chord shape only contains the main phrases and tunes of the song.
So you can’t just hit a MIDI note to play along to a song, without knowing the chords.
So if we were to perform a song like “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”, we’d need to play all the major chords:
C – D
E – A
G – B
F – E
D – A
C – D
E – G
F – A
You’d then need to hit a note (the A minor seventh chord) to show the song’s structure.
You’d then need to hit a note to make sure you weren’t off-key.
It’s one thing to know the chords, it’s another thing to know the song structure.
The Basic workflow
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Now that we understand how a song can be performed, let’s think about how to create a piece of music.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a band, solo artist, or singer, or if you’re a musician who teaches music.
All successful musicians use the same basic approach:
- Thinking about what we want to play
- Thinking about what is needed to play it
- Thinking about how to actually play it
- It’s time to start writing your own songs!
A core part of any musician’s life is learning to compose music. You should be able to compose a simple drum beat in about a minute.
If you can’t compose a simple drum beat in a minute, you’re probably not going to be a good musician.
Writing songs is the core of any musician’s life
So we need to learn to create songs.
With each new piece of music, you’ll be attempting to improve your skillset.
You’ll be focusing on what it takes to make a song “click” with you, and you’ll be putting your time and energy into mastering one skill at a time.
And as a guitarist, it’s very important to master all aspects of playing the guitar.
By learning one element of playing guitar at a time, you’ll be focusing on mastering one concept.
This means that even though you’re learning to play a simple piece of music like the intro to The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, you’ll also be learning the necessary techniques of both picking and strumming.
You’ll be working to make sure that your playing sounds good, and you’ll be looking for ways you can make your playing sound better.
It’s important to continually work on your skillset so that you can perfect your playing and music-making.