Playing Other Styles of Music
Even though this book emphasizes rock and pop drumming, some mention should be made about other genres of music. Why? Because rock does not exist in a bubble. As mentioned in Chapter 1, rock is a collection and accumulation of many genres. Its antecedents are blues and country and western, and modern rock embraces elements from virtually every other major style of music. These styles include, but are not limited to, American folk, European classical, jazz, Latin, and other world music styles.
This is not to say that every artist culls from all of these styles. However, rock artists collectively have their hands dipped in just about every stylistic pot. For instance, The Beatles borrowed from Indian ragas. Sting dabbles in jazz. Paul Simon draws from South and West African music. David Byrne has experimented with Afro-Cuban music. Peter Gabriel features a wide variety of world music in his repertoire. Emerson, Lake & Palmer appropriated European classical, and The Pogues combined punk with traditional Celtic music. These disparate examples are but a drop in the bucket; the list could go on indefinitely.
Contemporary rock drummers must recognize the monumental influence of rap, hip-hop, and modern R&B in twenty-first-century rock and pop. These urban styles are very drum oriented. They also rule the airwaves and the charts. Consequently, you need to know how to play these genres or risk sounding old-fashioned and even passé.
In general, if you are going to get gigs, make yourself marketable, or even recruit other players to join your band, you should be aware of rock's complex relationships with dozens of other styles of music. Rock is truly multicultural and multilingual, and more and more, musicians are expected to understand other styles of music in order to play “x” rock hybrid; every decade brings with it new combinations and amalgamations. If you want to play drums in the rock band of the future, you're going to have to learn about several other major styles. You cannot learn about every genre; however, you should know something about jazz and Latin music.
Jazz and Latin are pat terms that apply to a whole array of substyles. To whittle it down: You should be able to play a good two-beat and four-beat swing beat with brushes and sticks. You should also be able to play a bossa nova and samba together with a wide variety of Afro-Cuban grooves. These include the merengue, cha-cha, rumba, mambo, and so on. Plus, you should learn how to play island styles such as the calypso, soca, reggae, and ska. You don't need to be an expert at all these styles; you just need to learn a few basic beats and variations so you can get by without stumbling and looking musically uninformed. All drummers should be able to play funky grooves, which can be applied to an assortment of urban and R&B styles. Since this is a cousin to rock, funk genres are detailed in Chapter 11.