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Groove Science

While good timing and precise control over drum strokes are essential skills for any drummer, robotic timing and overly consistent strokes can sound dull and lifeless like a badly programmed drum machine. Just what is it about the subtleties in someone like Jeff Porcaro’s playing that make his beats feel so good?

Sixty Symbols have posted a very interesting 2-part video on their YouTube channel that takes a look at this question. They hope to provide insights into the very nature of timing and dynamics by carrying out a scientific analysis of drummers performing Neil Peart’s famous groove from “Tom Sawyer”. Professor Philip Moriarty is inviting drummers to submit recordings of themselves playing the beat, not just on acoustic/electronic drum kits but also using Aerodrums. If you want to contribute data for the study you can send your recordings to and help answer the question – does the lack of rebound really matter when air drumming or can you play with as much nuance as on a physical drum kit?

Here is Part 1 of the Sixty Symbols video: