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Practice Blog - Drum Solos

posted 13 Sept 2014, 14:18 by Chris Morris
Hello wonderful Dundee Drum Academy pupils, and welcome to this week's practice blog. This week we're talking about drum solos, and please note that the title of the blog is "drum solos" and not "DRUM SOLOS!!!!!". 

This is most drummers' first mistake. A drum solo is not something to be intimidated by, nor is it always an excuse for a drummer to just go wild on the drums and hit them as hard and as fast as possible while explosions and fireworks go off in the background. The best drum solos are well constructed, technically sound displays of creativity.

Let's start with the wrong type of drum solo. This is where the drummer just goes completely crazy for however long their solo is, throwing every trick, every flashy drum roll, and anything that will make the non-aware drummer say "wow!" without being stylistically appropriate or even, in a lot of cases, technically correct.

I scoured YouTube for an example of this and instead, I'm going to show you a video of one of my favourite drummers, Chad Smith. Now, I absolutely love this video, but imagine Chad played like this live with the Chili Peppers. The  audience would be begging him to quieten down for a second so we could hear what else was going on on the music. This is an example of completely overplaying and forgetting about what else is going on musically:

So, how should we play our drum solos? A lot of you have been working on pieces which call for drum solos, and in particular, we've come across two different types of drum solos, short solos, and long solos.

The short solos are relatively easy. These are where you can be really flashy because you only have maybe two bars to impress your audience. I came across a good video of a drum tutor who is playing a piece a few of you will recognise. Skip to 1:56 to hear his short drum solos at the end of the piece. Stylistically appropriate, flashy, but not overpowering, and technically sound:

And then we have the long drum solo. For most of the pieces we've been working on, this type of solo is often accompanied by some simple rhythms from the other instruments in the band. Always try to match what these instruments are doing and then treat the bare sections as more of a drum fill than a solo. Here's a good example from the Trinity Guildhall series (skip to 1:20 for the solo):

For all of your drum solos, you never have to go all out and play some ridiculously complicated thing. A solo shouldn't sound intimidating, it's simply an opportunity to express your musicality in as complex or as simple a way as you want to. A drum solo can often just be a short burst of simple fills, but if they are done in the right place, or in the most creative way they will be just as effective as John Bonham's wildest solo.

So get practising your solos! And even if you haven't encountered one yet, I promise you that you will. Maybe even some time soon...