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5 Modern Drummers Pushing The Boundaries Of The Drum Kit

Drummers are often thought of as being the backbone of the band, and this can sometimes lead people to think that even though their role is important, their parts aren’t particularly interesting. Besides, the same 4-on-the-floor groove is heard in so many songs these days that it’s hard to even imagine what kind of innovations drummers could be coming up with.

But wait! The drums, just like any other instrument, offer almost limitless potential in what they can do and the countless different ways they can sound. Here are five of the most imaginative, creative and unique drummers of the modern area who truly know no bounds when it comes to sitting behind the kit:

1. Mark Guiliana: You’d be hard pressed to find a drummer who encapsulates innovation, versatility, and sheer technical prowess in the 21st century like Mark Guiliana. The Grammy-nominated drummer is part of multiple projects, ranging from electronic to jazz (and sometimes even in between!), and has played with some of the greatest musicians in the game— Brad Mehldau and David Bowie, to name a few. Currently, Guiliana’s band BEAT MUSIC is working on their third studio album.

2. Anika Nilles: Hailing from Germany, Anika Nilles is one of the most highly rated modern drummers in the world. Known for her ability to mix different styles together, from jazz to rock and funk to pop, as well as the way she navigates even highly complicated grooves and rhythms with ease, Nilles has truly established herself as one of the finest and most imaginative drummers in the scene. Her innovations behind the kit even caught the attention of the late Jeff Beck, who asked her to be part of his touring band.

3. Carter Beauford: Granted, maybe Beauford isn’t the most modern drummer on this list, but his unique playing style has influenced drummers well into the last decade.

Perhaps Beauford’s most unique trait is that he plays open-handed; meaning that instead of crossing his hands like a conventional right-handed drummer would (right hand on the hi-hat and left hand on the snare), he inverts that equation completely.

This allows him more access to the rest of his kit, resulting in free-flowing grooves, unconventional rhythms and amazing displays of technical skill. Beauford has arguably been one of the most important parts of the famous Dave Matthews Band, and his contributions will go down in history for every drummer to be inspired by.

4. Danny Carey: What can be said about this great man that hasn’t been said already? Well, what about a quote from him to start?

“Any good drummer plays music, he doesn’t play beats. You participate in the musical experience.”

Danny Carey, most well-known for being the drummer of the legendary rock band Tool, has been pushing boundaries ever since he stepped into the limelight. He’s best known for his mastery of complicated rhythms, making polyrhythmic and odd-time signature playing look easy, mind-bending drum parts and fills, and his eccentric kit set-ups. Carey has consistently proved that he is one of the most musical and melodic drummers alongside his unrivalled understanding of what rhythm means.

5. Sarah Thawer: One of the most modern drummers on this list, Sarah Thawer is also one of the most revolutionary proponents of the instrument. She studied jazz and world music at York University, and has played with artists like Grammy-winner Jon Batiste and our very own A.R. Rahman.

Thawer has also stated how important the influence of traditional Indian rhythms on her playing is, even taking tabla rhythms and transposing them onto a drum kit for amazingly interesting rhythmic combinations. She is truly one of music’s greatest innovators at the moment—don’t miss out on listening to her play!


So there you have it! For every drummer whose role is to play simple backbeats for a band, there’s another drummer out there working with complex rhythms, combining global influences to introduce new kinds of drumming styles, and in general, having fun with the instrument and seeing where it goes.

If you’re interested in learning the drums and doing some of your own rhythmic wizardry, take a free trial class with Taaqademy! We have many teachers who are actively gigging drummers themselves, and are constantly on the search for new things to add to their repertoire.

To schedule a trial class, please get in touch with us at or 7676099000.

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