I'm musician (drummer) and I'm trying to figure out what can I study (related to Physics) for better understanding of the drumsticks and wrist movements, the force applied and the better way to apply it and introduce some theory in my training.

I'm really awful at physics, so I really don't know what areas are important (pressure, mechanics, acceleration?).

  • $\begingroup$ Are you also interested in acoustic physics (how the drums & symbols actually make noise), or just the mechanical movements of human + drumstick? $\endgroup$ – BMS Jun 24 '14 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ Hello BMS! Thanks for the response. Only in the mechanical movements. I guess that acoustic physics treat about the propagation of sound or something similar, right? $\endgroup$ – Victor Alencar Santos Jun 24 '14 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ Acoustic physics would also tell you how the drum heads vibrate, and perhaps how hitting different parts of the drum head results in different sounds. $\endgroup$ – BMS Jun 24 '14 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ mmmm, looks interesting, but i'm looking for the "mechanical" part of the thing... thanks again! $\endgroup$ – Victor Alencar Santos Jun 24 '14 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder if you'll get much out of a physics based approach. Physicists have a tendancy to simplify problems to make them mathematically tractable, and I suspect the factors that make you different from Ginger Baker are exactly the sort of fine detail that will have to be simplified away to make the problems simple enough to solve. By all means have a go, but don't be too surprised if you don't get much out of it. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Jun 24 '14 at 16:37

As far as drumstick manipulation goes, some understanding of the principles of "simple machines" (the technical term) might help; understanding the fulcrum and the effects of varying the distance and magnitude of the force applied on the power and speed and force (three different things!) of the force eventually "exerted" on the drum head might help gain an intuition on what nuanced aspects of your grip affect what.

I know that when I was taking percussion lessons in high school, our instructor made a big deal/emphasis on the physics of minding your fulcrum -- positioning it relative to your force for maximal power and impact with minimal exertion. He taught us to always be aware of the physics.

That being said, if you are a drummer, there is a very good chance that you have centuries of research and development by the brightest minds in your field to build upon. The best resource would be this tradition you are inheriting of tried and true best practices and grips. Grips not only optimized for best sound and minimal effort but also, most importantly, least chance of injury. Once you have mastered those and understood the motivation behind each aspect of each grip, then that might be a time to begin exploring more things. But even still, it is hard to know what will injure you or cause damage in the long run when you try anything new.


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