Alright, if you haven’t yet listened to the links I put in yesterday’s post, then do that first before reading this.  Hopefully you enjoyed the tracks and were able to appreciate how effective they each are in establishing a feeling within you as the listener. Sometimes the feelings are emotional (the deep sorrow in Barber’s Adagio), and sometimes the feelings are physical (the “pump-up” quality of the Foo Fighter’s All My Life).

So I’ll pick up where I left off and again state my thesis: music operates/exists primarily in the “feelings” realm.  I want to suggest that we as drummers/musicians, in light of my thesis, only use the term “feel” to describe the way different grooves (patterns) evoke emotional/physical feelings within listeners… even within ourselves as we listen to our own playing.  Synonyms for the way I’m defining “feel” would then be words like vibe or atmosphere.  This allows us as musicians to view the notes that we play as sources of feelings for other people, and to talk about them as such.  In that case, we wouldn’t use the term to describe someone’s pocket or groove, even though those usages are very common.  However, “feel” would be helpful in describing the differences between various genres and sub-genres in music, because those differences often exist most obviously in the realm of vibe/atmosphere.


“I love the feel of East Indian music.”
“Wow, what you are doing in that chorus has a really great feel.”
“This producer always creates songs that feel exactly like the lyrical content.”
“The direction we are going with this particular track feels really strange”

Examples of mis-use:

“Man, listen to that drummer’s feel!”  (not so good)
“Man, listen to that drummer’s pocket!”  (better)

“I love all the different feels that latin percussionists use.” (not so good)
“I love all the different grooves that latin percussionists use.” (better)

The point is, I want the term “feel” to reference the emotional landscape of a song/groove, and thereby remind myself of the reality that music always deals with listeners in the currency of feelings.  And when I’m not talking about feelings, I’ll use a different word.

I really can’t understate the importance of viewing/understanding/talking about music on the feelings level, because it helps us approach music on the ground level.  That’s why I love using the word in this way!  I’m sure I’ll write more on the world of musical emotions in a future post sometime, because it’s totally dominating my thought process on music these days.