“Hey look he’s doing something cool”
When it comes to technical skill, non-drummers respond differently than drummers.
Audiences generally won’t pick up on specific technical details, any more than the uninitiated will pick up on specific details about gymnastics or ballet. I can’t tell you that one dancer or gymnast is better than another because he ‘extends his line further’, or because he didn’t miss that tiny step between the 2nd and 3rd beat of the bar. But we can tell if the overall effect is sharp and clear and if the movements are flowing and graceful. We can tell if a group’s movements aren’t properly synchronised, even if we can’t identify the exact points of difference or which ones are out of step.
Most listeners don’t know what a paradiddle roll sounds like, but they do know what slow, sloppy, or uneven stickwork sounds like. We can recognise tightness, we can recognise speed, and we can recognise sharp definition.
In any field, skill tends to shine through, even to the uninformed. A master craftsman will always make their prescence felt.
And audiences react to a show of skill. We respect mastery of a craft, any craft. So if you’re a drummer, don’t be afraid to throw in a solo sometimes … you may feel like you’re being a bit forward but the audience will enjoy it. You do want us to enjoy it don’t you?
Even though there is much more to being an artist than technical skill, it does matter to listeners, and it can mean the difference between liking a song and being extremely impressed. Much as I love a drummer with ears, I do like it when they have wrists.