I had a thought the other day that drummers are actually masters of physics. They have to really understand some of the fundamental forces of nature to play their instrument well. It’s not book learning, it’s not mathematics, it’s and understanding how these forces actually work… and then what you can do with them to achieve a desired effect. Drumming is applied physics!
Force, Gravity, Space and Time
Understanding and controlling the bounce of the sticks requires a visceral and deep feeling for Newton’s 3rd Law (every force is countered by an equal and opposite force). I would also say that a lot of stick control is an understanding of gravity, which is part of the bounce.
Of course, space and time are connected, and by the nature of the instrument drummers have to have a keen sense of subdividing time. They also have to understand the effects of slowing down or speeding up time; playing ahead or behind the beat; rushing or dragging it.
Understanding and manipulating the decay of a cymbal is an appreciation of resistance and inertia.
So there you go. John Bonham, Elvin Jones, Marco Minnemann, Buddy Rich, Neil Peart, Gene Krupa and a million others – right up there with Albert Einstein, Neils Bohr, Richard Feynman and Isaac Newton!
Why Music Connects So Deeply
I’ve long thought that the inherent power of music is due to its nature being vibration. It’s an organized vibration of air received by our ears and into our brains. Since energy is vibration, and mass and energy are interchangeable, then it makes sense that vibrations can affect our very being. It connects with us in at a fundamental level. The realm we exist in is inherently receptive to vibrational input. I’m much more of an auditory person than visual so maybe I’m a bit biased; but I think auditory vibrational input is received more strongly and connects a more fundamental and physical l level than visual input. A deep bass makes our whole chest vibrate. A high pitched dissonant tone can make us cringe. It’s more than something our emotions give meaning to – music is something our very being is connected to.