Different styles of music require different styles of playing, and this applies to drummers as well. Each style requires a different approach and has its own sense of rhythm and timing. The elements of a drum set for each style also varies. So how do you adapt these elements for jazz, rock or even R&B? Although there are dozens of genres, we will focus on three major categories: rock and punk; funk and R&B; and jazz. There are others like Latin and reggae, but the aforementioned three offer a solid foundation that most other genres are based on.

When we say the elements of a drum set, we mean the following:

  •        Bass drum
  •        Low tom
  •        Snare drum
  •        Tom drums
  •        Cymbals
  •        Hi hat

Rock and Punk

Rock and punk are two genres that call for energetic drumming. Drummers not only keep time, but they can also add in “fills” in between the main rhythms. Generally, punk is often faster and more aggressive than rock.

Key pieces in a rock or punk drum set include a bass drum, a low tom, a snare drum, one or two other toms, one or two cymbals and a hi hat. Of course, the most adventurous of rock drummers might even add a dozen toms, a second bass drum and a variety of cymbals, while punk drummers would opt for simplicity instead, which fits the image of this genre.

Funk and R&B

Funk and R&B are the most laid-back genres in terms of drumming and also require great restraint on the part of the drummer. The drummer sets the tempo for these genres as well, but the style of playing is more relaxed, thereby creating what’s called a “groove” or “pocket.” For musicians used to rock music, it may be difficult to adjust to simple and relaxed percussion.

For funk and R&B, the drum set will resemble that of rock music. So it’ll include a bass drum, low tom, snare drum, one or two toms, one or two cymbals and a hi hat.

Jazz

Jazz is truly a legendary genre. Jazz drummers frequently play with the rhythm, using syncopated beats played off-beat. It’s the most complex playing style, and it entails the maximum of discipline to know when to play difficult rhythms and when to just step back and set the tempo. Like rock, jazz has evolved immensely over time, and there are several subgenres, such as Bebop, cool jazz, Dixieland, acid jazz and jazz fusion.

If jazz percussion is the most complex, the required drum set, on the other hand, is the simplest, at least in terms of traditional and pure jazz. A classic jazz drum set comprises a bass drum, snare drum, low tom, a cymbal and a hi hat. Of course, jazz offers enormous freedom; this means that among its subgenres, you’ll find various elements of rock, thereby resulting in more complex drum sets as well as ones that include several toms and cymbals.

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