Drum set players need to understand musical form to determine when to vary time keeping patterns and play fills. Music is typical divided into 4 measure (bar) phrases. Phrases are then combine to make larger music sections. Common sections include the: Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus or Refrain, Bridge, Interlude and Coda. Each of these sections serves a purpose and provides contrast and formal structure to the music.
For example: American Popular Song form is commonly described as AABA. The A section is referred to as the Verse and the B section is called the Bridge (or Chorus). So the overall form is Verse – Verse – Bridge – Verse. The Verse (A) sections are similar in melodic but different in lyric content. The Bridge (B) section is musically and lyrically different than the A sections. The Bridge presents the listener with a change in mood, often using contrasting melody, lyrics and chords.
Musical drum set players highlight the different music sections – form. They vary the texture, rhythmic patterns and add fills between sections. For example: Playing on the hi-hat with simple time patterns during the Verse sections. Playing on the ride cymbal with busier time patterns during the Bridge. And adding appropriate fills at the end of each section. Musical drummers vary and contrast what they play based on what section of the piece they are playing. They will add fills towards the end of each section to indicate closure or to serve as a transition to the next section. And finally: Musical drummers understand the purpose of each section and are aware of when each musical section begins and ends. This clarifies the music form.
Playing “Pick-Up” gigs, where you don’t know the arrangements, can present special challenges. It is essential that the drum set player REALLY listens and tries to anticipate the musical form. And on those occasions when you guess wrong, do NOT change until the END of the phrase. For example: You anticipated the Bridge and went to the ride cymbal. However, it ended up being the Verse section where you had been riding on the hi-hat. Relax – Stay on the ride cymbal – Adjust dynamics – And wait to change back to the hi-hat at the end of a 4 measure phrase or the music section. NEVER change textures or patterns in the middle of the phrase. Always maintain the musical form. Musical drum set players understand and listen to musical form to determine when to vary time keeping patterns and play fills.