Developing your own voice on the kit is a constant endeavor. Considering varied musical influences, teacher feedback, and an abundance of available educational material—among other factors—the question arises of how best to sit down in the shed and focus on your personal sound. We recently asked our readers and social media followers what they do to develop their own voice on the drums. Here are some of their responses.
The ultimate you’ll ever be in anything is yourself, so the sooner you realize this, the less frightened you’ll be with your own self. Setting up the drums with any combination of sounds you desire and playing in any manner is as easy as wearing any combination of clothes that appeals to you. The only hard part in the process of expressing yourself through an instrument and realizing your individuality is [focusing on] remembering yourself. We tend to forget to express ourselves because of all the dos and don’ts and the constant need to fulfill others’ needs—although those factors are a major part of the business, where it’s not all about you and your personal preferences.
But I believe you can get a much clearer picture of your signature identity through deep and meditative solitary practice. Being able to stay in that zone while interacting with others is a whole different story, which you’ll ultimately need to experience and practice to be able to sustain the joyous experience of being yourself. On a collective scale, when you’re interacting with other musicians, the singular “you” will change to a plural “you,” which is being expressed through a single song or piece. And that’s the whole beauty of it: becoming one with yourself to become one with everyone and everything around you.
Arash Pajand Moghaddam
Listen to everything. You can never be exposed to too much. If you play rock, listen to jazz, funk, and metal. You might hear something that inspires a different feel or technique. Many people have told me that it was great hearing a rock drummer playing blast beats.
Jam with every type of player possible, and don’t get stuck in a hole by playing with the same people over and over. Experimentation and exploration fuel creativity, and creativity is the key ingredient to finding your own sound.
Listen, listen, listen. Then just be you. Never be afraid to try something, but always try to understand when it doesn’t work and be willing to try something else until you find what does work.
Practice and explore your own way, and your personality will shine through. If you’re following someone else’s footsteps verbatim, you’ll always be compared to them. Take the extra steps when learning history, which is a necessary step. But don’t repeat—progress!
Listen to tons of music from all eras, and play a lot of drums in between exercises. It’s also very important to be aware of what you play, how you play it, and why, so you can reflect and reinvent yourself. Record and criticize yourself post-practice or post-gig, and request and welcome criticism from others.
Want your voice heard? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and keep an eye out for next month’s question.
Featured Image: Billy Martin
Photo by Paul La Raia