Luzifer
Enlightenment and Entertainment

 

Who is the World's Fastest Drummer?

 

Slipknot's Joey Jordison?
Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa?
"Who is the fastest drummer?" Music Fans have been discussing this for generations, after a Slipknot gig,  a drum'n bass rave, after seeing The Who, after leaving a swing club, after getting busted in a speakeasy in the prohibition era. And most of the time the discussion has the competence of a boy's quarrel that is as old:  Can Batman beat up Superman?

So let's settle this in a professional way.

There is a common misunderstanding that a fast drummer is a good drummer, and even beyond, that playing the drums fast means good music.
That is as truthful as thinking that wanking is better the faster you stroke your cock (or she does it, if you are lucky). Yes, might be. Sometimes it's just painful.
Same with drums: A fast drummer can make a song thrilling, electrifying, even breath-taking in the truest sense. But he also just might give you pains in your eardrums, your heart or even your bones.

Quantity: How to measure a drummer's speed

There are two ways of judging how fast a drummer is: looking and hearing. Before we take a look at  the subjective impression of someone who looks fast, let's try an objective approach to measuring how fast he is.

The scientific unit for measuring speed in music is beats per minute (BPM). To give you an idea here are some typical speed ranges:

Music Genre Typical BPM range
Baroque music 50-70 beats per minute
Slow blues 60+ beats per minute
Soul 75-90 beats per minute
Hip hop 80-100 beats per minute
House music 100-130 beats per minute
Jungle 140-150 bpm, even up to 190
PsyTrance 145 bpm (a kind of tradition)
Drum and bass 150-185 beats per minute
Gabber 200+ beats per minute
Speedcore up to 300 beats per minute

As far as measurable speed is concerned, the question is decided. That's what the Guiness' Book of Records is for. Mike Mangini does 1200 beats per minute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7TzWrKso4I

After watching that video you probably understand why no one is interested in the objective answer. Playing fastest doesn't mean playing good - it doesn't even mean playing music.
In our (Luzifer's and Trommelfeuer's) opinion being the fastest is not an art, it's a sport.

Artist / Band Song BPM
AC/DC T.N.T. 129
Aerosmith Crazy 54
Beethoven Ode an die Freude / Ode to Joy (Anthem of Europe) 130-200
Green Day Hitchin' A Ride 164
Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze ca. 110
John Lennon Imagine 76
Led Zeppelin Stairway To Heaven 84
Metallica Enter Sandman 124
Phil Collins In The Air Tonight 95
Queen Another One Bites The Dust 110
Status Quo Whatever You Want 123
Suzi Quatro Can The Can 177
Uriah Heep Lady In Black 86

Don't get fooled to believe that fast beats are a modern development. The classical tempi range from Largamente (10 bpm) to Prestissimo (200 bm+).
A good beat always is in sync with the feelings it evokes: A relaxed ballad or a typical Mozart Adagio (italian: at ease) has 6676 bpm - the natural heart beat ryhtm. Love songs typical create a faster pulse - the way we feel when we are in love. A classic Andante (italian: at a walking pace) has 76108 bpm) - like many pop songs that make you feel energetic. An Allegro means 120168 bpm, the same range most rock hits are in; you have to run or dance really excited  to get your heart beat that fast.
In "Master of Puppets" Lars Ulrich from Metallica speeds up to 220 bpm to express what the song is about: drugs controlling you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo

 

Quality: Ways to look at a drummer's speed

Ok, so we showed who the world's fastest drummer is - and that no one of us really is interested in that. Because what we really want to talk about is the subjektive impression of speed a drummer can create in us. That is what art is about: not facts, but feelings.
A good performer is able to evoke interest and excitement in his fans.

So the real question ist: What drummer can excite us most with his speed?

 

If you only want to hear that your hero ist the best we advise you to get to another website. If you are interested in learning a few things about fast drumming you didn't know - read on.

Neil Peart vom Rush is found in alot of Top 10 drummer lists. If people argue against this, they usually point to the fact, that his style depends on his extremely big kit. Then again, this man obviously is one of the fastest drummers in changing instruments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEVrN9SdRuk

 

The Ventures were one of the most successful instrumental bands; in the 1960s they sold more than 100 million records. As with most instrumental bands the main focus was on the guitars. But you need a really good drummer to keep so many good guitarists in rythm.
Here drummer Mel Taylor plays the fastest of all surf rock songs: Wipe Out by the Beach Boys. There's even a short stunt when Taylor is playing without using his hands ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8__EwAT8VM

 

In 1966 Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich performed a legendary drum battle at the Sammy Davies Jr. Show. Both are acknowledged as being the best drummers of their time, sometimes even the best of all times. Of course a lot of their expertise can't be compared to modern rock drumming.
The first minute is a standard swing session. In 1:35 Krupa shows a technique of playing cross-armed that even impresses show host Sammy Davies Jr. behind him. In 2:15 Rich starts a rampage against the main drum.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwJAAlXomVk

Rich's speed was so legendary that 20 years later in the Muppets Show he did a funny drum battle against the Animal.

 

In Beethoven's Ode to Joy the drummers mostly play Allegro to expess Joy, but in the finale they beat the whole orchestra into a Prestissimo frenzy. No one ever talks about these drummers when they discuss fast drummers. Granted, they guy on the kettle drum or tenor drum only has to play that one instrument, while a modern rock drummer has to master a whole kit of drums. But then again, how many modern music requires the drummer to change the speed 6 times during one song, perfectly in sync with 100 other musicians?

 

 

 

We would like to hear suggestions - especially if you have links to videos or facts proving a musician's class. We try to compile a broad view that people all over continents and decadeds can share.
But, fanboys all over, do spare us with childish mails in the style of the "WTF <insert fanboy's hero> rules. Why dinnot you fucks include <insert minority genre newcomer band>?"
If your favorite band really is cool then the guys will prove it by still being famous in 2020. If they are not we won't waste our time. We are talking about stars here - not about meteorites.