To start with, it isn’t a drum lesson or theory (although it might be better read as one). You won’t find a detailed list of names or hold the drums, so I suggest not to bother with that.
For those who know of these basic concepts, this may be a long read, but this is of equal importance to everything else in drumming. This will explain why some drummers cross their hands while others don’t.
So, why do some drummers cross their hands while others don’t? To answer this question, it is helpful to know what makes a person who they are.
So, let’s take a look at one possible reason.
Being human, we all have our traits. Some people are amicable, while others are a little standoffish.
This doesn’t mean that we will have the same personality traits; it just means that we’re different.
One of the best ways to see what kind of person you are is to see the different behaviors you show.
- Are you prone to showing other people your tongue?
- Are you impatient?
- Are you a people-pleaser?
- Are you a leader or a follower?
The more different behaviors that you exhibit, the more you’ll know what your personality is like.
Now, back to the cross-hand thing. It is a way of displaying who you are through actions, how you react to stimuli.
Think about it this way: if you put your right hand out and that hand has a thumb up and your pinky sticking out, it makes you stand apart. If your left hand is out, it stands for you are willing to stick out your neck and do things for others.
Now, if you put your right hand behind your back and left hand on your hip, it makes you blend in. This only makes sense if you have a matching outfit, but we’re going for the idea here.
If your right hand is out and your left hand is behind your back, you’re clearly drawing attention to yourself. However, if you are left hand on your hip and right hand behind your back, you look like a chameleon.
Now that we’ve all laughed and learned a little bit about people, let’s take a closer look at why some drummers don’t cross their hands. For some, this is because they have a bad childhood.
For others, this is because they don’t want to be different. But why are some drummers left-handed?
The cross-hand thing is a way of showing who you are through actions, how you react to stimuli.
Drumming isn’t just about hitting things with sticks. You’re communicating what you’re going to do to a crowd of people.
Even if a part of the audience hasn’t really paid attention to what you’re doing, you still need to deliver the message. That means you have to deliver the beat.
To achieve that, you need to know where you’re going with the song. Not all songs have a strong beat.
If it’s not going to be a memorable part of your song, don’t worry about it. If it’s going to be the hit, you better learn the beat.
But, if the beat doesn’t need to be a part of your song, then you don’t have to worry about it. Your creativity will take over.
If you’re left-handed, don’t be afraid to hold onto your sticks (I hope I made that clear, my puns never cease to amaze me). This will give you a natural advantage because you have a better understanding of your instrument.
Remember that whoever’s hand is closest to your instrument will most likely have an advantage over you.
Crossing hands for more creative “action”
Well, as it turns out, in my research, I have found that the correlation between crossed hands and musicality isn’t what I originally thought it was. In fact, no evidence crossing hands at the beginning of a song enhances music-making in any way.
This is true even in jazz. I know some heavy bass drum players out there are going to be sorely disappointed, but I have found that it’s the electric bassists and other rhythm instruments that come out on top when it comes to producing strong drum patterns.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. I have never heard a drum sound specifically made in this fashion, but it does make you wonder.
There are a couple of theories to explain why it occurs. One of the more popular theories of how crossed hands creates what many refer to as “good drumming” comes from a paper entitled “The Effects of Hand Crossed and Other Hand Action Patterns on Play Style and Performance” written by Berardi et al. in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology.
The study was conducted and published in 1994 and is based on the scientific study of hand action patterns.
First, I want to point out that the study was not looking specifically at crossed hands per se. The scientists looked at how the drummer’s hands differed in terms of movement patterns, resulting in different hand positions.
To that end, the study doesn’t take sides on whether crossed hands increase the sound of a drum, but rather the study explores whether there are differences in the musicality of different drumming styles.
Music matters the most
So, let’s start at the very beginning. While the study isn’t that scientific, it reveals a couple of important facts about the correlation between hands and playing styles.
First, for instance, their analysis indicates that the direction of a drummer’s hands at the beginning of a song tends to make a large difference in sound quality. For example, in an upright, back handspring hand position, a drummer’s hands appear to have the least amount of time to change direction at the beginning of the song.
A drummer with crossed hands, on the other hand, is more likely to move with a more horizontal hand position to maintain the least amount of time to change direction, allowing the hands to be in a more vertical position at the start of a song.