The Evolution of Drumline

Lane Armey

For this issue’s column, I’m presenting a smorgasbord of awesome observations that show the continued evolution of our great sport.

Left-Hand Rim Shots

I’ll be honest—I have never successfully hit a traditional grip left-hand rim shot and have no tips for being successful, but I’m assuming it involves an awful lot of practice!

This feat wasn’t on anyone’s radar five years ago, but it is a growing compulsory among the top drumlines in the world.

Dynamic Extremes

The only thing more impressive than aggressive, in-your-face, above-your-head drumming is immaculate control at extremely low levels. Very difficult, very impressive.

Long Phrases

The appetite for exposed rudimental drumming phrases seems to be growing.

As skill levels continue to rise, both in chops and in virtuosity, eight-bar solos are giving way to longer and longer drum-heavy moments.

Percussion Drill

The intricacies and demand of drill on marching percussionists is continuing to grow—not just in the speed of movement but also in the ways that drumlines are being individually and segmentally broken apart, moved around, and put back together.

No longer are percussionists moving in just simple arcs and lines.

Alternating Flams

The obvious evolution of flam rudiments was to get to a place where every single beat is a flam. And when alternating hand flams are achieved with sound quality and velocity—wow.

Splitting Phrases

Bass drummers invented the concept of splitting up a phrase among members and continue to set the bar, but the entire percussion section—keyboards included—is getting in on the action now.

Split 32nd notes between multiple players carries high risk but is incredibly impressive.
Year after year groups are continuing to innovate in our great activity. Music and movement that 10 years ago were deemed too hard to effectively pull off are now bringing thousands of people to their feet, bolstered with thousands and thousands of YouTube video plays. I can’t wait to see what we’ll all pull off next!

About author

Lane Armey

Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. In the past, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.