25 Timeless Drum Books

Military Novel Journalism
2022 Jun 01

What makes a great drum book? Theres no single answer, as different books have been written to address a wide variety of styles and techniques. But judging by a recent poll in whichreaders were asked to name their favorite volumes, a few characteristics stand out.

For starters, many of the books that have stood the test of time and are now considered classics have multiple applications. You can play just whats on the page and learn a lot, but you can also apply the exercises to different styles and musical situations. Another characteristic of a worthy drum book is its practicality. Good books are not just filled with page after page of mechanical exercises that may or may not relate to what you would play on a gig; they offer usable material that develops musicality along with technical skills. All of the texts cited here fit those criteria.

We compiled the list with the help of information gathered from several sources: theModern Drummerwebsite, theMDFacebook page, and a poll of the 2011MDPro Panel. The books are separated into categories, but due to their versatility some of them could fit into more than one slot. Within each category, the entries are listed in order of their popularity, based on the number of votes each one received from all the sources combined.


This book was at the very top of the popularity list. For decades it has been used by drummers and percussionists of all genres to develop the hands as well as hand/foot coordination. (Purchase here)

When Joe Morello was studying with George Lawrence Stone, he would create his own variations of theStick Controlpatterns.Master Studiesincludes those exercises, along with material that Morello himself used to develop his formidable technique. (Purchase here)

Gary Chester was an in-demand New York studio drummer in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. He created the exercises in this book so that his students would have the independence and coordination to play anything they encountered. (Purchase here)

This book became an instant classic when it was first published in the early 1980s, and its still relevant today for developing the more linear style of playing thats characteristic of the funk genre. (Purchase here)

The title says it all.Realistic Rockis filled with practical, usable beats from a drummer who helped define the modern rock style. (Purchase here)

Containing everything from historical funk beats to the latest patterns, this relatively new book/CD package has quickly earned its place among the classic instruction manuals. (Purchase here)

This in-depth historical collection of R&B grooves provides the foundation for soul, funk, and hip-hop drumming. (Purchase here)

Future Soundshelps drummers develop sophisticated coordination as well as dynamic control and groove awareness. (Purchase here)

by Rod Morgenstein and Rick Mattingly

A book/CD package that takes the reader from the simplest beat and fill patterns to how to apply them to a variety of song styles. (Purchase here)


This is the legendary book that unlocked the secrets of coordinated independence as applied to jazz drumming. WhenAdvanced Techniqueswas first published, many considered it unplayable; today its taken for granted that an aspiring jazz drummer will master it. (Purchase here)

Since its release in 1994, this book/CD package has established itself as essential in learning modern jazz from a technical as well as a philosophical standpoint. Many people who listed it also cited Rileys follow-up,Beyond Bop Drumming. (Purchase here)

One of the first books to apply rudiments to the swing style. (Purchase here)

Drummers such as Steve Smith and Vinnie Colaiuta swear by Chaffees approach to teaching drumset coordination and independence. ChaffeesLinear Drummingbook also received quite a few votes. (Purchase here)

This was one of the first books to help drummers develop coordination and independence between all four limbs, and its exercises are timeless. (Purchase here)

Written by a drummer who has extensive experience playing odd times, with such artists as Don Ellis and Frank Zappa,Even in the Oddshas helped countless players get comfortable with time signatures outside of 4/4. (Purchase here)

Erskine starts at the beginning with this very musical approach to the drumset. (Purchase here)


by Bobby Rondinelli and Michael Lauren

With hundreds of warm-ups, beats, and fills, this is the most comprehensive double bass book on the market. (Purchase here)

Written for single bass drum but adaptable for double bass, this longtime favorite helps players develop the ability to play the bass drum fluently. (Purchase here)

Considered by many to be the master of brush playing, Ed Thigpen authored this classic textwith accompanying audio trackswhich unlocks the secrets of what can be an elusive subject. (Purchase here)

(Note: The legendaryBrush Artistryby Philly Joe Jones was also cited often, but its not officially on the list because it has been out of print for so many years.)


OnlyStick Controlreceived more votes thanSyncopation, and it was difficult to determine which category to place this one in, as drummers and teachers have found so many ways to apply its rhythms to reading, technique, and coordination studies. (Purchase here)


This is the book that showed drummers that rudiments are not just for military drumming, and that they can even swing! (Purchase here)

If you can play the material in this book, you can handle just about any snare drum part youre likely to encounter. (Purchase here)

A good follow-up to Podemskis text, this book includes patterns that can be used much like the ones inSyncopation. (Purchase here)

This classic text, one of the first formal courses on world rhythms, includes historical information, folkloric orchestrations, and contemporary applications for a variety of traditional Afro-Cuban feels. The similarly structuredBrazilian Rhythms for Drumsetis also highly regarded. (Purchase here)

This book focuses on drumset orchestrations of rhythms such as Ghanaian sikyi, adowa, gahu, and akom. Historical information and a well-recorded demo CD make this a vital study in exploring the origins of contemporary kit vocabulary. (Purchase here)

This piece originally ran in the December 2011 issue ofModern Drummermagazine.

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