Heavy Metal Music, Double Bass – History And Development Drummers Guide

Heavy Metal music has been a driving force in Rock for over 30 years. The style developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s through classic Hard Rock and the louder Blues Rock bands. Since then, it has evolved into music featuring exceptionally fast, technically challenging rhythms and heavy drumming, frequently accompanied by growling vocals and heavy, blistering guitar tones. The style usually requires an exceptional amount of endurance from the musicians playing it. Terms associated with contemporary Heavy Metal are “Death Metal,” “Goth Metal,” “Black Metal,” “Speed Metal,” and “Thrash,” which all suggest its sound. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and solo artist Alice Cooper are among the originators of the Heavy Metal style, which even at its inception featured louder, harsher guitar, more active bass and drum parts, and darker lyrics than in standard Rock. Another feature of Heavy Metal is that many of its artists put on live concerts involving elaborate stage sets, intricate light shows, pyrotechnics, and outrageous costumes (Kiss).

The Heavy Metal sound initially relied on high pitched singers (Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin), but has since evolved to embrace lower range, roaring vocals. Over the past two decades, metal bands such as Venom, Napalm Death, Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, and Slayer set a new standard for the intensity this music can achieve, paving the way for current Heavy Metal acts such as Meshuggah, Emperor, and Slipknot. Heavy Metal drummers need to develop the considerable speed, coordination, and dexterity necessary to play the intricate patterns, most notably double bass drum patterns, inherent to this style. Typically, Heavy Metal drummers utilize two bass drums in their set up, though a similar double bass effect can be achieved with a double pedal playing one bass drum.

Variations move from simple to more complex patterns, and are only an introduction to authentic Heavy Metal drumming. The most advanced Heavy Metal drumming grooves can also incorporate ideas and patterns from Fusion and Linear Funk. One of the signatures of the genre is the guitar power chord. In technical terms, the power chord is relatively simple: it involves just one main interval, generally the perfect fifth, though an octave may be added as a doubling of the root. Although the perfect fifth interval is the most common basis for the power chord, power chords are also based on different intervals such as the minor third, major third, perfect fourth, diminished fifth, or minor sixth. Tempos range from quarter note = sixty beats per minute to speeds exceeding quarter note = three hundred and fifty beats per minute.

Double bass playing is a strong characteristic of Heavy Metal. Skilled double bass drummers can perform anything from extremely fast alternating 16th note rhythms to polyrhythms to syncopated rhythms to rudimental style drumming with their feet (double stroke rolls, flamed rudiments, etc.). Be aware that it’s necessary to have patience developing the dexterity, control, and strength required for double bass drumming. Unlike the majority of musical styles covered, double bass drumming is primarily based on muscular development, and it takes ample time to become a well versed double bass drummer. The grooves include some essential patterns of this style of drumming. Quarter note = one hundred all the way to two hundred beats per minute.

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