Music has a huge influence that spans society and affects anyone who listens, regardless of genre. There is an ongoing discussion about which elements are the most integral to a song. Most people argue that it is the lead singer or the guitarists and do not give the same consideration to the percussion. The percussion instruments keep the rhythm and help blend the other elements to create a cohesive sound.
Read on for the lowdown on the role that percussion instruments play in music.
How Important are Drums?
Take acoustic songs as an example; there are millions of acoustic songs and covers globally, but very rarely do they make it to the top of the charts. It is the same for other genres and styles of music. For example, an orchestra or a marching band cannot perform successfully without an adept rhythm section. Drums help to complete a song. Often in live music, it is the drummer that counts the band into the performance. Drums set the tone and communicate the feeling of the music.
The drummer is responsible for the melody, dynamics, and rhythm. Drums, but more specifically rhythm, provides the backbone for every musical endeavour. There are also psychological benefits of playing the drums. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve concentration and boost confidence.
Is Percussion Difficult to Learn?
This is a tricky question to answer as many factors would affect the answer. It comes down to personal abilities and what instrument you want to learn to name a few. Some people may even find it difficult to learn how to hold drumsticks. If you want to start learning or you already have, it may be worth considering renting a rehearsal space or a studio to help hone your skills. Pirate has locations across several countries, and so there is bound to be one near you.
Learning to play a percussive instrument can be difficult for someone with no previous musical experience, although not all instruments require rhythm from the start. Practice makes perfect, but there are some instruments that are easier to grasp than others, such as the tongue drum, handpan, tambourine and Kalimba.
The biggest challenge for those who want to learn is usually using full drum kits as they rarely have set notes, and the sounds can vary between kits. A full drum set is usually easier for those with previous experience and knowledge of rhythm.
How Does Percussion Influence Music?
Some of the oldest instruments discovered are members of the percussion family. However, there is no honest definitive answer as to who invented the drum. The idea of hitting something to create a beat has existed since the dawn of time – even some members of the animal kingdom have this notion ingrained in them. The oldest manmade drums date back to Neolithic China.
The inclusion of a percussive instrument is arguably a vital part of the playing and listening experience. Without the proper beat, the other instruments can sound lost and struggle to achieve harmony in their playing styles. An orchestra will struggle to stay in tune with each other, and a band’s sound tends to become hollow without the use of percussive instruments.
The use of percussion affects a song on a fundamental level; it provides the beat and the rhythm for the song to follow, allowing other players to know where to play which notes. Unfortunately, bands fail when their drummers aren’t particularly good. In fact, many of the greatest musical composers insisted on adding as many percussion instruments to the backline as possible to achieve the perfect sound.
Which leads to the question of how many percussion instruments can realistically be used at once? Some composers required cannon fire throughout their songs to evoke the right feeling as they were so fed up with the limitations of percussion instruments. Listeners still enjoy the sound of multiple drums playing in harmony today — take Paul Simon as an example; he often used up to four full drum sets to create the impact he was looking for.
There is always some form of percussion in music; there has to be. Even acoustic musicians will have some way of keeping the rhythm in their music, whether by using their hands and their guitar to create a beat or by tapping their feet. Percussion instruments are crucial in keeping the rhythm and the timing of the music.
Percussion instruments should arguably be the most significant consideration for any artist in any genre. However, it would be challenging to empirically measure the importance of percussion to you or your band as it would depend on several factors. That being said, without the inclusion of some form of percussion, the music will undoubtedly feel as if it is lacking, which is something, whether knowingly or not, an audience will pick up on.