Drum Rhythms for Worship Songs

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by youngdavey, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. youngdavey

    youngdavey
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    Being new to drumming and self taught I am wondering if there are any rules or methods for determining which rhythms to play for worship songs.

    I have learnt a number of 4/4 rock rhythms plus a few others but am not always sure which ones fit. Sometimes there seems to be an obvious fit but at other times I get the feeling I may be a bit 'lost' (or the musicians are but I think that's unlikely). So far I have only played with no worshippers present so - no damage done - yet.

    Do I just press on going by the 'feel' of the music or is there a rule or method I should be getting familiar with?

    So far I haven't been able to find any drum scores or tabs for worship music from which to learn more.

    David
     
  2. Don

    Don
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    My credentials: started playing snare drum when I was in fifth/sixth grade. Self-taught drum set. Played all through high school, marching band, concert band, school "contemporary music" touring group. Went to college on music scholarship. Learned how to play multiple other percussion instruments, primarily emphasizing marimba. Played in college with the marching band, symphonic orchestra, percussion ensemble, and marimba quartet.

    All that to let you know I have some background for what I'm about to say:

    Most drummers don't know diddly-squat about how to play drumset. That included me.

    The *only* thing the drumset is really for is to keep cadence for the rest of the instruments. There are many, many talented drummers out there, able to do fantastic things with the drumset (Gene Krupa, the drummers for Rush and Yes, and the drummer for Def Leppard (he has only one arm)); the problem is that the drumset is NOT meant to be the focal point of the music.

    I have nothing against drumsets; they're a tool, just like a firearm. It's how they're used that causes the problems.

    My recommendation to you: Use a set of brushes instead of drumsticks. Be careful to resist the temptation to "heavy foot" the bass. Let the music flow, not the beat.
     
  3. Dale McNamee

    Dale McNamee
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    Dear Davey,

    I am also self-taught and have been playing the conga drums,
    bongos,and other hand drums in a church setting for the past 30 years and wanted to add my bits of wisdom to what Don has written.

    Since you are self-taught,you should check out practicing and playing the drum rudiments. They're the foundation on which all drum rhythms are built and will allow you to get out of the "rock 4/4 box" and explore other time signatures and become creative. The Vic Firth website has a online instructional area: http://www.vicfirth.com/education/studcentersnare.html that should help you play the rudiments. There is an area for drumset as well on the site.

    And even though I play the conga drums,I found snare drum rudiments to be very helpful in playing Latin rhythms and to be a more expressive and creative drummer.

    Much of my playing is improvised since worship music is written with the drumset in mind,so I listen to the melody line of song and then play to that. At my music director's request, I also am able to add certain "feels" (i.e. playing 4/4 with a "2" feel,etc.) that isn't written in the music. Also,learn how to read drum notation if you haven't done so already.

    And that brings up the subject of developing "big ears" by listening to all styles of drumming and music so that you can eventually play any style of music without sweating. And that is the secret to improvising!

    I listen to and play African,Brazilian,and Middle-Eastern music and incorporate some of it in the songs we play in church to keep them fresh.

    Don said : " Most drummers don't know diddly-squat about how to play drumset. " and listening to much of today's music (secular & Christian),I'd have to agree. The drumset offers a wide palette of sounds,explore it!

    Don also said : " My recommendation to you: Use a set of brushes instead of drumsticks. Be careful to resist the temptation to "heavy foot" the bass. Let the music flow, not the beat. " To that, I'd like to mention using timpani mallets as well. Also,try playing the set with your hands, Here's a Youtube video showing that : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYewJfFj-OY

    In closing,there are two Worship drummers that you might want to check out. One is Carl Albrecht : http://www.carlalbrecht.com/ and the other is David Owens : http://www.davidowensdrums.com/ Carl offers two DVD's that cover everything from holding the sticks to playing grooves. And both sites have helpful articles.

    I hope that this helps! :)

    In Christ,

    Dale
     
  4. youngdavey

    youngdavey
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    Dale et al

    Funnily enough I have just been reading about eighth, sixteenth and half note ''feel' in "Drums for Dummies".

    I was directed to the Vic Firth web site when I first started. I found it very helpful.

    I have now a very useful collection of books and CDs including Rick Considine's book/CD on 'rudiments', all of which are helping quite a lot.

    I am afraid hand drumming is out for me as as are brushes as I am playing an electronic drum set (although I do have at least one brush sound in the 233 sounds I have on my machine but it's not the same as 'using' brushes I am sure).

    I also find that since I started learning drums I now 'hear' the drum rhythms when listening to music rather tha just being mildly aware of them before. I try to work out what the drummer is playing and often try to write it down (not always easy to separate drums from the bass guitar at speed. Come to think of it I have a piece of software somewhere that slows down tracks - must dig it out).

    To answer an earlier question I learnt to read drum scores from the outset, it probably stems from my having learnt to read music from playing other instruments.

    More comments from drummers are still welcome please.

    Cheers.

    david
     
  5. Dale McNamee

    Dale McNamee
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    Dear David,

    Thanks for writing back!

    I read your response and am quite impressed with what you are doing!:thumbs:

    I didn't realize that you are using electronic drums and so my suggestions regarding using your bare hands and various sticks and brushes wouldn't really be of much help.:laugh:

    You wrote: " I also find that since I started learning drums I now 'hear' the drum rhythms when listening to music rather tha just being mildly aware of them before. I try to work out what the drummer is playing and often try to write it down (not always easy to separate drums from the bass guitar at speed. Come to think of it I have a piece of software somewhere that slows down tracks - must dig it out)."

    Keep on developing your "big ears" by listening, figuring out the drum parts and how they relate to the other instruments in the songs. As for "drum tabs",you're already doing it by writing out what you hear!:thumbs: :applause:

    In Christ,

    Dale
     
  6. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    I would add that the biggest issue in some churches is suiting your playing volume to the space and the song, so that it is a compliment to the music. If worshippers can't hear themselves sing, they tend to get a little annoyed, especially the older ones. This all comes from listening. Experience will be the best teacher.
     
  7. youngdavey

    youngdavey
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    Thanks guys. What did we do before discussion boards - well I should know after all I remember seeing Gene Krupa play.

    I am gaining knowledge all the time but am still not sure how you chose a drum rhythm to match a song.

    It's easy when I play along to worship tracks as I can hear the rhythm being used. With some tracks it is seems obvious which rhythm to use but I wonder how I would get on when confronted by a choice of song out-of-the-blue in church. So far I have not played with an 'audience' - I am still learning.

    At present we have to reform a band as we lost our worship leader and lead guitar and on top of that our drummer too (and coincidentally drums as they were stolen).

    My guess is that I would let the band start and then try to pick up a suitable rhythm by listening. Is that how it's done?

    I guess if we had rehearsals that would be the time to sort out a suitable rhythm but if a song is sprung on the group as so often happens there is no chance to do that.

    I have time on my side as we have to wait on God to send us some new musicians, and a worship leader, but I am sure that will happen. Of course He may send us a drummer too :).

    Although I am in my seventies (shock?) I love contemporary worship (as well as some Muse, Kassabian, et al).

    By the way this 'Drums for Dummies' is a great book. I am submersed in it every day.

    Cheers.

    David
     
  8. Dale McNamee

    Dale McNamee
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    Drum Rhythms for Worship Songs ?

    Dear Davey,

    You wrote: "
    Thanks guys. What did we do before discussion boards - well I should know after all I remember seeing Gene Krupa play.

    I am gaining knowledge all the time but am still not sure how you chose a drum rhythm to match a song.

    [That will come simply from playing the songs often. By doing so, you'll begin to remember the different " drumming styles" of the songs. The reason why I used "drumming styles" is that the time signatures (4/4,3/4,6/8,etc.) are fixed, but playing a different interpretation of them is wide open to improvising. That's what I do.
    Since there is no drum notation for the conga drums in worship songs, I draw on the many rhythms that I've learned and played over the years and use elements from them to create my own rhtyhms.]

    It's easy when I play along to worship tracks as I can hear the rhythm being used. With some tracks it is seems obvious which rhythm to use but I wonder how I would get on when confronted by a choice of song out-of-the-blue in church. So far I have not played with an 'audience' - I am still learning.

    [ Playing an "out of the blue" song is hard for anyone, especially someone still learning to play. When that happens,all you can do is listen to the first 4 bars of the song and try playing what you hear, Another thing is to listen to all of the songs that are played regularily at your church so that you can be as ready as you can be.]

    At present we have to reform a band as we lost our worship leader and lead guitar and on top of that our drummer too (and coincidentally drums as they were stolen).

    My guess is that I would let the band start and then try to pick up a suitable rhythm by listening. Is that how it's done?

    I guess if we had rehearsals that would be the time to sort out a suitable rhythm but if a song is sprung on the group as so often happens there is no chance to do that.

    [ These two paragraphs hit the "nail on the head". To listen,learn, and to feel comfortable playing what you've chosen to play, rehearsal time is very important. That goes for all other instruments and singers as well! Also,being able to play with and relate to your fellow musicians will help greatly!
    If I were faced with the situation that you're in, I wouldn't fell comfortable or confident either!]

    I have time on my side as we have to wait on God to send us some new musicians, and a worship leader, but I am sure that will happen. Of course He may send us a drummer too :).

    Although I am in my seventies (shock?) I love contemporary worship (as well as some Muse, Kassabian, et al).

    [ I'm 54! You're not THAT old!]:laugh:

    By the way this 'Drums for Dummies' is a great book. I am submersed in it every day.

    Cheers.

    David "

    I hope that this helps you !

    A Fellow Drummer In Christ,

    Dale
     
  9. youngdavey

    youngdavey
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    Dale

    Many thanks and may God Bless you in all you do foor Him.

    David
     
  10. Dale McNamee

    Dale McNamee
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    Drum Rhythms for Worship Songs ?

    Dear David,

    You wrote: " Dale, Many thanks and may God Bless you in all you do foor Him. "

    You're Very Welcome !

    I'm very happy that I was able to give you good advice and to encourage you in your learning and playing !

    I also pray that God blesses you in all that you do for Him and that He answers your prayers for new members and a music leader for your church music group,and that you all mesh together.:praying:

    Also,that He provides a drumset to replace the one stolen.

    A Fellow Drummer in Christ,

    Dale
     
  11. Dan Todd

    Dan Todd
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    I am not a drummer - but I do love good music.

    In my opinion - a good drummer sets the rythm for the group - but does not overpower the group.

    Using a sports analogy - the best umpire is one who controls the game - but is not the focus of the game.
     
  12. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    Drums in Korea were intended to drive us crazy waiting for the attack. They pounded them and blew bugles all day and night..when they stopped, we knew an attack was upon us. I still think of drums in that light and can't stand them in a church service.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     

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