When I was a child, my world was surrounded by books due to the fact that my Grandfather was a book salesman. There were complete sets; all the cool Time-Life series that were being released back in the 1970’s routinely made it through his office and as a result I was exposed to many educational opportunities.

One book that I remembered was pertaining to “Correlation” and the fact that through steps or degrees of separation one element could be connected to another seemingly unrelated. For instance- one would never think to bridge a painting with a drum beat because a painting is visual and a drum beat is something you hear.

But if you think about it in a different manner, a drum beat is represented quite well by the painting. The overall picture would represent the idiom of the music, the lines in the painting represent boundaries or time signatures that the piece is comprised of, and the detail work within the piece could account for the ghost notes, flame, drags, rolls and other ornamentation that occurs within a piece of music.

A more simplistic way to view this is to think of the drum beat as the lines in a kid’s coloring book. With beginner books it’s really hard to mess up scribbling in because the lines, being simple and thick are forgiving to the untrained hand. A book for older kids would have drawings with thinner lines and even some shading and cross-hatch sections; those with more dexterity and training will find more of a challenge keeping the colors contained in the areas.

Those who scribble would be represented by the other musicians; it’s our job as drummers to draw those lines on paper for others, depending upon their skill level. A skilled professional would not go into a gig with a bunch of beginners and begin drawing fine detailed pencil lines with a #3 hard lead that’s barely visible; rather they would go in with a Sharpie pen with a tip an inch wide and draw the darkest and thickest lines they could while making an interesting picture.

That’s the job of a drummer. We are the ones who draw the lines, create the parts, make it easy for the others to “color in” and express themselves.