Stumbled upon this article that’s quite worth reading. Check it out guys 🙂
First off, I think that I’ve just read some very good general observations of the drummer, but I think alot of them aren’t aimed directly at the question. The question was what is the purpose, not what does the drummer typically do; so what *should* the goal of the drummer idealistically bo?
I know there are many assumptions about the drummer, both traditionally (he’s supposed to be the one keeping time and ‘anchoring’ for the rest of the band..I’ll talk about that later), from other members (ex the bassist assumption that the drummer must line up the kick to almost every major bass note) and from the drummer himself (ex from above post, that we have to be cocky and egotistical). It’s easy to see how this can create alot of confusion for the band, the audience and especially us, the drummers.
Some of the drummer’s job description is standard and expected, however I think that most of it is up to the drummer and band. For example, I think the largest responsABILITY is to set the pace of the song. Ever double your highhat speed or cut it in half to the same guitar piece? I think of the drummer as the legs, the bass as the body, the guitar as the arms and hands, and the vocals are of course the face.
The non-standard optional part of the drummer’s job description is whether or not to be responsible for the abovementioned assumptions – will he be the anchoring, rhythm keeping stablizer for the rest of the band to platform from and return to? Will he be the cocky one or decide where to put his kicks based on the bassist’s notation? These depend on the rest of the band members as much as the drummer – yes they are necessary most of the time, but the responsibilities can be shared, and also like mentioned above, not everybody wants that sound.
Example: spag from Mudvayne (experimental math metal) infrequently lines up his kick to the bass guitar but it sounds amazing. Mudvayne’s guitarist is the one ‘anchoring’ – he keeps a simple constant pattern that allows the others to go off tangent and know how to get back, and it sounds tight. Their bassist is the cocky one, and makes it fit without being arrogant. The shares part of the responsibility in setting pace at times where the drummer adds to the feeling.
It’s a give and take between the personalities of the band, and although the members must reach an understanding of eachother before anything good can surface, its a sure safe bet that the drummer will be keeping the pace more than anything (not discluding the good observations from above, like transition accents). Frantic Bleep – Curtainraiser is the perfect example to any drummer of their goals, in my opinion 🙂
get the album LD-50 by Mudvayne, and if you’re like ‘im too important to hear a whole album i don’t already know about’ then just listen to any tool song you can get your hands on