Drummers Aren’t Stupid, Just A Little Different

Written by Tom Williams on 19th May, 2014

Drummers Aren’t Stupid, Just A Little Different

Drummers are often the butt of some very cruel jokes in the music world, but now researchers have confirmed that percussionists’ brains do work differently to most people’s, with an innate ability to problem-solve in dynamic situations.

As Policy Mic have noted, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm have found a link between intelligence, the ability to have steady timing and problem-solving skills.

The Swedish researchers had drummers play a number of different beats, and then gave them a simple 60-problem intelligence test, which revealed that the drummers who scored the highest were also the ones who were better at keeping the beat.

Despite the fact that a steady drummer might be more intelligent than their bandmates, their talents can also improve the cognitive function of those around them. In studies on the effects of rhythm on the brain, researchers found that steady rhythm can affect cognitive ability in an almost contagious way.

What’s more, studies have shown that drummers don’t only help their bandmates stay consistent during performance, but also provide what’s being called a “drummer’s high”. University of Oxford researchers have discovered that when drummers play together, their happiness levels and ability to tolerate pain increases, similar to professional runners and cyclists.

The “drummer’s high” phenomenon has led researchers to hypothesize that the physical act of drumming was integral to community-building during the evolution of human society, and that sharing rhythms aided in that process.

Whilst much electronic music utilises very precise electronic drum machines and sequencers, researchers at Harvard have found that real human drummers actually work off an internal clock which works in waves, and not in linear sequences like electronic drums do.

The internal clocks of drummers have been found to match rhythms found in human brainwaves, in heart rates during sleep and in the auditory nerves of cats, oddly enough.

Science has taught us a lot about music, including whether or not cannabis makes musicians better, how guitarist’s brains work, and that dolphins love a bit of Radiohead.

Watch: Phil Collins drum Solo @ Bercy

Watch: Buddy Rich vs Animal


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