The Argument of Drums in Church Worship

Some see a method of regulating tempo and establishing new musical styles, others envision noise and an infiltration of secular values. Here's a look at approaches and options.

Kent Morris  ·  April 12, 2018

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Modern digital pianos, synthesizers, and even home keyboards contain a wonderful selection of drum and percussion sounds. A keyboardist may simply call up an appropriate preset sound and play along with the choir and organ, adding just the right amount of rhythm without becoming a noticeable element.

If exercised with discretion, the “phantom drums” will pave the wave for further instrumentation, usually in the form of hand percussion devices. Shakers, guiros, bongos, and, yes, tambourines are inexpensive instruments that can add marvelously to a worship experience. Companies such as Latin Percussion (LP) and Remo make these items in a bewildering array of diversity.

Of course, there is nothing worse than a rhythm instrument played out of time or too loudly, so training is essential to realize the product’s benefit. Many churches incorporate orchestral accompaniment for choir and solo numbers, so the addition of cymbal, triangle, and timpani can be accomplished without causing major disruption.

Again, the key to success lies in constrained use of the instrument by a trained player.

Overwhelming Spectacle?
Once the ladder of progression has been scaled, the church is ready to position a drum set on the platform.

As well prepared as the congregation may be, nothing will equip them for the imposing sight of masses of large drums surrounded by what looks like a dozen stands, each holding a bright cymbal. The spectacle is so overwhelming that it even looks loud.

Bringing out only the snare drum and hi-hat cymbal the first Sunday can effect a better introduction. Later, the bass drum may be introduced, followed by the rack and floor toms at a special musical event when the stage is filled with other instruments, making the additional drums less noticeable.

Thus, the drum set can safely reside on the same platform as the pastor’s podium. The next question to be addressed is which drums are appropriate for a worship environment.

The choice of drums falls between a traditional acoustic set and a state-of-the-art electronic set. While both versions have compelling virtues, the selection generally rests on the needs of the church.

If the room is an acoustic nightmare, with problematic reflections and poor intelligibility, and the drummer is incapable of moderating the playing level, an electronic set is the only choice, due to its ability to be controlled from the sound booth.

However, if the room is acoustically reasonable and the drummer is willing to play with restraint, an acoustic set will provide the better outcome since even the best electronic sets fail to deliver the nuances associated with an acoustic set.

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By neiljakson on April 18, 2018

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