Every time I hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, I think about that time we tried to play it in pep band. It doesn’t translate well into a pep band song. But our Tuba player got stoked on it, gently placed his tuba on the ground, and sprinted for the drum set. He began banging on them fiercely with the song. (See, he always wanted to be a drummer, but his middle school band teacher made him play tuba. And he was good. But dissatisfied, to say the least.) Anyway, the french horn girl turned to me and said “He’s playing the exact drum part in the actual song.” Always cracks me up.
First off, I was a HUGE Nirvana fan in High School. As in, I argued with people about Kurt’s “suicide.” I knew the lyrics. Well, what the lyrics were supposed to be. I wore t-shirts, wrist bands, had all the cds, and listened to them every freaking day. So don’t take the following as disdain for the band, ok?
“The exact drum part.” WHAT? It’s a flipping DRUMSET played by a DRUMMER from the GRUNGE era! I argue that this is a ridiculous statement for the following reasons: 1- Anyone with coordination can play the drums. 2- No one knows what the “drum part” is in a song. 3- It’s grunge music. There is no “drum part” because they didn’t write “parts” for people.
Ok, coordination. No, I cannot play drums. I have yet to master walking. And I’m 23. There’s no way I will ever be able to play drums. But if you can move your hands and feet in a rhythmic pattern, you’re good to go. You swing sticks and tap your feet. Big freaking deal. That is not to say drums are unimportant. Of course they are important! They remind saxophonists like me what the tempo and the beat are for that particular PART. They mostly play quarter or eight or sixteenth notes at different tempos. Woooooo. Anyone who can bang on a surface in a pattern can be an excellent drummer. They’re so overrated.
What is a “drum part,” exactly? Is it the same every time? Don’t think so. It may be an easy instrument to play, but not to memorize exact formulas. And how can you test to see if you’re matching up with the song? Either you’re playing too damn loud to hear the music or the music is too damn loud for you to hear yourself. It’s drums, man!
Finally, grunge music. The guitarist learns 5 chords. He grabs a distortion pedal so you don’t notice he only knows three chords. The singer puts cotton balls in his mouth and people don’t notice if he messes up the lyrics. No one knows what they are anyway! (If you say you understood the words to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” the first time you heard it, you’re a dirty liar.) You think they actually took the time to write a drum part? No! They were like “Hey dude, give us an opening beat on this one, ok?” And then Grohl was like “Yeah, ok man.”
So no, there is no such thing as a drum part, and no, the tuba/drum player in our band was not playing the “exact” drum part. Stupid girl.
And that’s why I’m an elitist. I’m arrogant and disdainful. I apologize, but I believe what I said to be sarcastic, mostly-truths.