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Be the Drums

Started by Rhapsody, May 17, 2009, 10:49:02 PM

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I stopped listening to music for the lyrics or the melody some time ago.  I'm not sure what changed, if it was a slow, gradual thing, or if I just woke up one morning and decided to listen for something else, something new, in the songs I'd already memorized back and forward.  Whatever the reason was, and whenever it happened, at some point, I stopped paying attention to the words, began tuning out the tune, and started listening for the drums. 

The drumline is often underrated in music; even on stage, the drummer sits all the way in the back while the guitarists prance and jump about and the lead singer belts out the song's vocals, amping up the crowd and receiving the lion's share of the limelight.  But honestly, without the drums, where would a song be?  A discordant clash of guitars, vocals slightly out of sync with the melody... a body with no heartbeat and no pulse.  Drums are life; they move you into the mosh pit, or inspire your body to get on the floor and dance like nobody's watching.

Drums set the mood and the atmosphere for the entire piece to follow, rising and falling in volume and rhythm with the message of the song.  A good drummer knows when to adhere to formula, and when to break free.  And if you get a really talented person behind the kit with sticks in hand, a song that's become a bit too formulaic can become a brand new wonder for you to experience all over again. 

A song can survive without vocals.  It can live without a lead guitar.  It can exist without bass.  But without drums, there's something vital missing, something visceral and ephemeral.   So when you're faced with limelight-hogging lyrics, screaming guitar riffs and throbbing bass chords all vying for attention, do yourself a favor. 

Be the drums.
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If you ever want a concrete example of this, listen to the first few lines of Styx's Renegade.  One vocalist, one drumbeat, and it can grab your attention like nobody's business.
"Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women.~*~*~Don't think it's all been done before
And in that endeavor, laziness will not do." ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Don't think we're never gonna win this war
Robin Williams-Dead Poets Society ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Don't think your world's gonna fall apart
I do have a cause, though.  It's obscenity.  I'm for it.  - Tom Lehrer~*~All you need is your beautiful heart
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Just drums and bass without any lyrics can be great at times too. Some of the best Stanley Clarke's work is like that.
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Indeed,song without drums is like people without hearts.It is the beating of drums makes songs alive.
Balance is all.

Darkforged Dove

They're also one of the earliest of instruments. When a human first brought a stick against the side of a hollow log, and then decided that they liked the noise so much that they would keep hitting the log with the stick. That's probably when music started, logs and sticks to pound out to the air the beating of our hearts.
Pretendy fun time games is good, but I tend to want as much of the real, original and undiluted as possible. A paradox, I know.