Open-handed drumming is a technique where a drummer plays with their dominant hand on the hi-hat and their non-dominant hand on the snare drum, rather than crossing their arms to play the hi-hat with their non-dominant hand. This allows for greater independence between the hands and can result in a more fluid and natural playing style.
In addition to the technical benefits, open-handed drumming can also be beneficial for ergonomics and can reduce the risk of injury, as it allows the drummer to maintain a more natural posture and reduces the strain on the shoulders and back that can occur with crossed-arm playing.
While open-handed drumming is not as common as crossed-arm playing, it is used by many professional drummers and is a valid technique that can be incorporated into a variety of playing styles and genres. Some drummers even use a hybrid approach, switching between open-handed and crossed-arm playing depending on the specific musical context.
What are the benefits of the open-handed drumming technique?
- Greater independence between the hands: With open-handed drumming, each hand can move around the kit without getting in the way of the other. This allows for greater independence and can lead to more creative and fluid drumming patterns.
- Improved ergonomics: Open-handed drumming can be more ergonomic, as it allows the drummer to maintain a more natural posture without having to cross their arms. This can reduce the risk of injury and can help drummers to play more comfortably for longer periods of time.
- Better reach: Because each hand is free to move around the kit, open-handed drumming can allow drummers to reach parts of the kit that might be difficult to access with crossed-arm playing.
- Versatility: Open-handed drumming can be more versatile and adaptable to different musical contexts, as it allows for greater independence and fluidity between the hands. This can be particularly useful for drummers who play a variety of different styles and genres.
- Innovation: Open-handed drumming can lead to more innovative and creative drumming patterns, as it encourages drummers to experiment with different hand placements and techniques.
Famous drummers who use open-handed drumming techniques:
- Billy Cobham – Cobham is a legendary jazz fusion drummer who is known for his virtuosic playing style and his use of open-handed drumming techniques.
- Carter Beauford – Beauford is the drummer for the Dave Matthews Band, and is known for his energetic and creative playing style, which often incorporates open-handed drumming.
- Benny Greb – Greb is a German drummer who is known for his innovative and creative approach to drumming, which often includes open-handed techniques.
- Thomas Lang – Lang is an Austrian drummer who is known for his technical prowess and his use of a hybrid drumming approach that incorporates both open-handed and crossed-arm playing.
- Dom Famularo – Famularo is a drumming educator and clinician who is known for his advocacy of open-handed drumming techniques, and has performed with many famous drummers throughout his career.
These are just a few examples of famous drummers who use open-handed drumming techniques, and there are many others out there who have incorporated this approach into their playing style.
What are the main differences between open-handed and crossed-arm drumming techniques?
The main differences between open-handed and crossed-arm drumming techniques are in the placement of the hands and the level of independence between the hands.
In crossed-arm drumming, the drummer typically plays the hi-hat with their non-dominant hand, crossing their arms over to reach the hi-hat while playing the snare drum with their dominant hand. This technique can provide a lot of power and control, as the drummer is able to use their dominant hand for the snare drum, which is often the most important part of the drum kit. However, it can also limit the independence between the hands, as the crossing of the arms can make it more difficult to move the hands around the kit.
In open-handed drumming, the drummer plays the hi-hat with their dominant hand and the snare drum with their non-dominant hand, without crossing their arms. This allows for greater independence between the hands, as each hand is free to move around the kit without getting in the way of the other. It can also be more ergonomic, as it allows the drummer to maintain a more natural posture without having to cross their arms.
While there are advantages and disadvantages to both techniques, many drummers find that open-handed drumming can be more versatile and adaptable to different musical contexts, as it allows for greater independence and fluidity between the hands. However, both techniques have their place in the drumming world, and many drummers use a combination of both techniques to achieve the sound and style that they are looking for.