The Parallel Between Writing and Drumming Part 2

A little while ago I wrote about the parallel between drumming and writing and I’d like to extend the idea with a few more examples.

I’ve been having a bit of dig into U2’s back catalogue lately and really enjoying the drumming of Larry Mullen Jnr. He is not touted as one of the world’s best drummers but he has some inventive drum parts that are fundamental to U2’s sound. It’s a unique voice.

The same applies to writing; each writer has their own voice, their own turn of phrase and vision of seeing the world that is evident in their work.

Here are my Top 5 U2 songs where the drum part is an integral feature, a way of finding and expressing voice. For me as a writer and drummer, sometimes the simplest groove can speak volumes but then it’s the little touches and flourishes that make your work stand out from the rest.

5. Pride (In The Name of Love)

There are 2 touches that I love in this song. The first is the floor tom hit just after the snare. The other is the snare roll into the chorus. Nothing flash; just solid and accented beautifully.

4. 40

I’m a sucker for a sixteenth note pattern on the hi hat (played on one hand) and this song delivers. It provides the motor to the song, accompanied with quick, open accents, and 32nd flourishes. Tasty.

3. Sunday Bloody Sunday

A military march played on hi hats and snare. Crisp, focused and aggressive. 

2. Bad

I love this song for its build. The kick drum is the foundation while the snare and hats become layers as the song builds to its climax. There are echoes of Sunday Bloody Sunday (and you can also hear the 16th note pattern feature heavily in other U2 songs like Where The Streets Have No Name, All I Want Is You, Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own. It’s a feature of Larry’s drumming and I love it).

1. With or Without You

The pattern on the floor tom, the snare hit and the open hi hat bark. Simple, elegant and brilliant.

I have my drumming heroes and my literary heroes. I am influenced by what they play, what they write, and through experimentation, amalgamation, inspiration I find my own voice.

How do you find your writing voice? 

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