6 Of The Most Popular Drumming Styles Explained – LIFESTYLE BY PS

6 Of The Most Popular Drumming Styles Explained

It’s never too late to take up something that you’ll love, and if drumming has always piqued your curiosity, then perhaps now is the time to grab this hugely rewarding and addictive skill with both hands and give it a whirl. 

Here, we’ve broken down six of the most popular drumming styles - to introduce you to some different genre choices. So, let's dive in.

6 Of The Most Popular Drumming Styles Explained

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Rock and pop

The genre of rock music is huge, covering many sub-genres from the 1950’s to today, and it is most classically distinguished by its use of the backbeat. 

Gaining popularity in the 50’s and 60’s, the backbeat is a snare stroke placed on the 2nd and 4th beat of the bar (in a standard 4/4 bar). 

There are many formats when it comes to rock music – straight rock, pop rock, funk rock, blues rock and more. This means that whilst rock music is synonymous with heavy drumming, it actually varies a lot. 

Rock drum kits have changed in style too – typically with big, loud drums and equally loud cymbals. Many rock drummers will buy a large kit and tune the drumheads down nice and low to create that deeper rock tone. Drumhead manufacturer Evans produces a set of drum heads specifically for rock.

Pop drumming is much the same, as these two styles overlap plenty, especially commercially – with dialed down drums for radio friendliness. There’s a good resource on recording your drumming here.


With a close relationship to both rock and jazz, blues drumming can typically be divided into three categories: straight eight blues, shuffle blues and 12/8 blues. There are more variations we could discuss, but these are the main three by far.

Straight eight blues refers to how the timing is played. Essentially, you can mix up the snare and bass drum placement, but the main timekeeper continues to play straight, meaning that the timing between consecutive eight notes is equal.

With shuffle blues the pattern is not straight. The eight notes are instead played with a bounce creating notes that aren’t equally spaced. This familiar pattern can be heard in countless tunes spanning jazz, pop, rock and more.


This genre can be swung or played straight and is most classically defined by avoidance of overplaying on the first beat.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t play on beat 1, only that it is quieter and not emphasized in the same way that it commonly is in rock and pop music. Seasoned reggae drummers will play around with crafted fills and beats to highlight beats 2, 3, and 4 of the bar.

A common reggae beat is known as the ‘1 drop’. This beat utilizes the jazz emphasis of beats 2 and 4, whilst accenting the 3rd beat with a bass drum and rim click together.

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The origins of swing lay in jazz music, but it is in no way restricted to swing alone. Jazz is probably the most flexible music out there, with musicians continually adding new styles and sounds into the genre. There are plenty of straight eight jazz tunes out there, as well as shuffles and many more besides.

Swing jazz patterns can be played on any cymbal or drum, with the hi-hat often the one keeping time. Combine this with pedal work on beats 2 and 4 and you’ve got yourself a jazz swing going.

Jazz drumming is a style that allows you to express yourself freely and fuels your creativity. If you are serious about exploring this genre though, you really need to get yourself the right drum kit for jazz.


Drumming for Latin music can be daunting. Whilst some of it consists of familiar styles like straight eight rock grooves, the primary trademark of Latin music is irregular rhythmic patterns that are basically taken wherever the drummer’s inspiration goes.

It is also common for drummers to incorporate a set of bongos or conga drums to their kit if they want to play Latin music in an original way – that or add a hand percussionist to the lineup.

Drumming for Latin music requires a particularly natural approach and a relaxed manner, so it’s best to get really comfortable with easier genres before attempting Latin music.


The key to funk drumming is playing on the beat – primarily with drum bass, open hi-hats and irregular snare patterns.

The interplay between the drums and bass guitar gives this genre it’s playful, smooth rhythmic groove.

Funk drumming doesn’t require lightning speed but it does demand superior playing refinement with precision – thus making it another style that is best left until you’ve got a good grasp on simpler genres.

Final thoughts

There are many more genres and styles to explore and it takes time and curiosity to find your particular groove, so just get drumming!

Drumming Styles Explained

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