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What Is Double Drumming?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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Double drumming is the act of using two drummers with two separate drum kits to play a single song. Made popular in the 1960s, double drumming became a staple of some of the largest rock-and-roll groups and was the power behind many popular hits. By utilizing the practice of double drumming, a stereo-like drum effect could be generated as well as very intricate drum beats that were, in reality, a blend of two distinct drummers' efforts. Discontinued as a feature of most post-1970s groups, the use of double drum kits continues to be a studio practice with some recording groups.

Several of the most popular groups utilizing double drumming did so for the added stage presence and visible shock appeal for the audience members. Placing two drummers on the same stage added an almost circus-like, visible image of twirling drumsticks and flashing cymbals. As the audience members watched, the double drumming began to draw them into a mystical feeling of being a part of the music. The two drum kits were commonly wired to give a stereo sound through the group's mixing board. Adding to the psychedelic rock image, good sound engineers could switch the sound back and forth from one side of the stage to the other to create a type of spinning effect for the listener.

Some of the more successful American Southern rock bands employed not only double drumming, but these groups utilized double lead guitars and double keyboards, as well. There were two complete groups on stage when some of the bands performed. The 1960s and 1970s were a period of absolute excess with rock bands, and double drummers were one such area where the music took a backseat to the stage show for a few musical groups. Some of the English rock bands began to see this fad as being over the top, and the practice of doubling the band began to diminish.

As some of the bands from the 1970s occasionally reunite and begin touring, they often are performing for a new group of supporters and fans who are amazed at the double drumming spectacle. This renewed popularity prompted groups from the 1990s and later to begin experimenting with a double drummer setup for live shows. Many recording agencies use the double-drum arrangement to achieve a special type of percussion sound not possible with a single drum kit. During the American country music rise to fame in the 1980s, some country music groups experimented with double drumming on tour and in the studio.

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