Neil Peart – Fun with the Four-On-the-Floor Bass Drum

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SKF NOTE: This excerpt is from the full transcript of my 1986 conversation with Neil Peart. Here’s the back story. Right before I asked this question about playing in 4/4 time, Neil spoke at some length about using odd-time signatures in Rush songs.

Scott K Fish: Do you feel more relaxed playing in 4/4 than in odd-time signatures?

Neil Peart: I don’t know about relaxed. It depends on the context, certainly.

Over the past few years, for instance, when the straight-quarter note bass drum became popular, it’s a thing that you can’t help wanting to get mischievous with. You want to take that quarter note bass drum and have real fun with it. I found that to be a real door.

I opened that door. Just once I wanted to try it; where I’d keep the four-on-the-floor bass drum and see how difficult I could make the hand pattern against that. I found that I got hooked on it. I started to really like the four-on-the-floor bass drum because it gave me so many rhythmic possibilities with my hands. You can keep a steady pulse going, keep a relaxed feel, and at the same time be mentally absolutely frenetic.

So, all things are important.

Here’s something I tried once, sort of as a joke, and found that over the last three or four albums I’ve been able to use it in totally different ways, and not get sick of it.

I really figured that I wouldn’t be able to use it on the new album. I thought I’d exhausted that rhythmic device. Sure enough, I started finding more and more ways that the bass drum became supplemental to the technique that I was looking for.

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