Free Drum Lessons | Drum Solos: Think Like an Orchestra

Finally, as we think about playing a solo on drumset, it helps to think like a large orchestra. Imagine all the voices in an orchestra: basses, violins, brass, and woodwinds. Each instrument brings its own color to the painting that the orchestra is creating. We can do the same thing on the drums. Think of your kick and low toms like the basses. Your higher toms and snares are like the violins and woodwinds. And your cymbals paint a color like the brass in an orchestra.

Now, as you solo on the drums, think about melodies and harmonies that you can create with all the different colors of your drums. You could lay down a foundation with the kick drum and hi hat while you play a melody on the toms with your hands. Now, what happens if you play a similar melody on the cymbals?  Or what if you lay a foundation on your lower toms and play the melody between your kick and hi hat with your feet?  There are lots of ideas to try.

Terry Bozzio has redefined the way drummers think about solo drums and he has taken the concept of thinking like an orchestra to the extreme. His outrageously large drumset is actually tuned to an A Minor scale through the bass drums and toms. And the cymbals are pitched too, though not to specific pitches. Check out his videos on YouTube to see an extreme example of melodic playing. You probably don’t have a gigantic drum kit at home, but you can still apply some of these same ideas.

Just remember to think like an orchestra!

FYI: There will be no on-line drum lesson on Monday, the 29th, so I can enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend with my family.  Instead, I’ll post a video on that day.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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