The Evolution of Contemporary Gospel Drumming


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A vast majority of the drummers for award winning pop and R&B artists began their formative training as young musicians performing contemporary gospel music in the sanctuary of churches. Drummers trained within this environment obtain particular skill sets and techniques, and produce a characteristic sound referred to as “gospel chops.” This study traces the brief history of contemporary gospel drumming, details its technical evolution, and argues for the importance of the style. Through the analysis of listening examples and interviews conducted with prominent drummers, four main elements were determined: 1. the evolution of contemporary gospel drumming is a result of heightened technical ability, influence and changes within gospel music; 2. the formative training in gospel drumming has exposed young musicians to various genres of music and provided the ability to adapt to such genres; 3. although the contemporary gospel drummer has been equipped with technical and musical skills, the implementation and maturity of young artists needs to be addressed as well as developed: and 4. gospel drumming has evolved into a highly sought-after style of performance that has gradually become accepted within the drumming community.