After working out both hands practicing technique, it would be interesting to work on dynamics. However, apart from the advice to "play with others" I have not really seen a more concrete pointer. The book Jazz Workshop is good and I'm wondering if there are other books that address dynamics specifically when playing drums.

I'm aware of the exercises where one can adjust the volume of one specific limb or a drum but I'm wondering if there is more theory available on when/how to play soft or hard, etc. This may go into composition, arrangements, and orchestration, and it would be ok to address these topics at the same time.

  • Only now I've found a very similar question here. May 26, 2017 at 13:49
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    Listen critically to some jazz. Except in big band pieces, dynamics are almost never marked in jazz, and depend mostly on coordination between the members of the rhythm section and their reactions to the dynamics and movement of the current soloist.
    – Linuxios
    May 26, 2017 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Maybe not the sort of answer you're looking for. The when to play soft/hard will be directed by the piece in question, and who's playing what at that moment. Dynamics can be practised, but good drummers are listening all the time, and should complement the dynamics of the band in each number, sometimes even dictating them. Reading about this may put you on the nursery slopes. The how will depend on kit, sticks, damping and you. While you're at it - learn to play quietly and still swing. I've never met anyone who didn't like working with a drummer who could do that. Seriously!

If there's no others to play with, to get used to varying dynamics, then there's always 'Music minus One' - recordings of songs, less a particular instrument, as the title suggests. Certainly available on CD, and probably other formats now, they become your personal tame band.

If you are a reading drummer ( dots, not books!) then the dynamics should already be on the sheets.

  • Thanks, Tim! I'm not looking for any specific answer but rather wishing to see the approach others are taking at this. And, yes, perhaps books are not the best way to teach/learn this topic. Your note about listening is the key. I assume one has to listen and play actively all the time. You also point out probably the only exercise one can do - play the same groove but very softly or at different levels. This will help when expressing oneself later during the "real" play with others. Jun 1, 2017 at 10:30

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