Jul 222012

Percussion is an important part of almost all forms of music. Of course, it’s vital to metal, and it’s not limited to the drums. I may be stretching the dictionary definition of the word percussion, but I’d go so far as to say that in genres of extreme metal that use distorted down-tuned guitars and bass, those instruments are used more for percussion and rhythm than for creating melodies.

The presence of percussion instruments in all the world’s cultures stretching back many thousands of years suggests there’s something about the appeal of beat and rhythm, the patterns of sounds and silences, that’s innate in human beings, something we’re born with rather than something we’re taught. Maybe it comes from the beat of the heart we heard in the womb, or maybe it’s a puzzling product of natural selection, but whatever the explanation, the human affinity for rhythm — and especially for percussion — seems like an essential part of who we are (even for spastic white-bread dudes who can’t dance to save their lives).

In this post I’ve gather some fascinating videos of some fascinating people doing fascinating things with percussion, and what they have in common is that they’re using their hands and fingers to strike a variety of different instruments (and machines) directly. The music isn’t metal, but it’s metal, if you know what I mean.


I learned about Efrain Toro because my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting and spending a little time with his daughter and her new husband on their honeymoon last spring while we were on vacation. Efrain Toro is a Puerto Rican percussionist and music teacher who has some interesting ideas about rhythm. Much of what I’ve read about his theories is over my head and I suspect would mean a lot more to people who, unlike myself, have some actual musical training. But from what I’ve read about him, he seems to be regarded as one of the best percussionists in the world, across a wide range of musical styles and types of drums. Continue reading »