Although every instrument requires its own expertise to play, there’s something uniquely challenging about the drums.
While playing in basic 4:4 time for a rock band is simple enough, the drummer has one of the most important roles in any band. It’s their job to keep the time for all the other players, and to make sure everyone is glued into the “groove” of a song.
Keeping it simple is one thing, but there are a lot of things you can do within a simple beat… and trying to keep the time on a complex beat can be tricky.
And the video we’re talking about today illustrates that perfectly.
The video in question was uploaded in July 2018 and is drawing plenty of attention.
It begins with drummer Nate Smith on-stage at a show in Chicago. For those who don’t know, Smith was born in 1974 and has been drumming since he was 11 years old.
In that time, he has played drums for plenty of different artists and has been a bandleader on several different projects as well. In any case, Smith is incredible at keeping time—and he decided to show the crowd just how to do it as well.
It all starts when he gets a simple rhythm going and the crowd can’t clap along.
After the crowd misses a clap, Smith gets on his feet.
“This is Chicago!” he yells at the crowd in mock outrage. Everyone laughs, but after that, Smith rallies them into a collaborative performance that rocks the whole place. First, he sits down and starts the clap again, drumming along with it.
This time, the audience doesn’t drop the rhythm on the second clap—and Smith nods approvingly. Still, even the first groove is a little tricky, even if the crowd can keep up.
After that, Smith takes things up a notch.
Once they’ve got the basics down, he adds some very unusual patterns in on top—but the crowd keeps the rhythm.
A few people gasp, but everyone is pleased by how complicated things are getting. Next up, he tries playing a kind of slowed down triplet pattern on top of it… and still everyone keeps up.
But things are getting harder! By this point, people in the crowd are laughing at how difficult Smith is making it for everyone.
After making the triplets even more unusual, the crowd’s rhythm gives out a little bit but they’re close!
Towards the end, things get way too complicated to describe—but the crowd keeps up with him!
At the very end, he slows it down and plays more quietly and they still keep the rhythm. When it’s all over, he stands up and gives the crowd their own round of applause.
Although audience participation is definitely part of many musicians’ repertoires, Smith took it to an entirely new level with this performance! Even so, following along with Smith is a great lesson in how a master drummer thinks of rhythm, and how we can all internalize rhythm a little more… especially for any aspiring musicians out there.
Special thanks to Nate Smith for this awe-inspiring and groovy performance! Be sure to watch the entire clip in the link below:
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