It’s official: drummers are smarter than you (and everybody else)

on May 16, 2014, 10:37am

Far too often, drummers have been given the shaft. Second to only, maybe, bassists, they’re the member in the band considered most replaceable: you can just pull some chump off the street, sit him behind a kit, and on with the show. According to science, however, drummers aren’t the mouth-breathing neanderthals humorists have made them out to be. News and analytics site PolyMic compiled a group of studies that indicate drummers are not only generally smarter than their bandmates, they actually make everyone around them smarter too.

The research suggests that drummers have innate problem-solving skills and a positive impact on communities. Researchers at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet found that, after playing a series of beats, drummers who had better rhythm scored better on a 60-question intelligence test. Seems using all the various parts of a drum kit to keep one steady beat is actually an expression of intrinsic problem-solving abilities.

Furthermore, other studies show that rhythmic music can actually make other people smarter. A University of Washington psychology professor found that his students got higher scores after undergoing rhythmic light and sound therapy. A University of Texas Medical Branch researcher using the same method on elementary and middle school boys with ADD noted an effect comparable to Ritalin. In fact, the boys’ IQ scores actually went up and stayed up.

It gets even crazier, and more primordial, with reports suggesting drumming played a role in our own civilization. Researchers at the University of Oxford discovered that drummers produce a natural “high” when playing together, heightening both their happiness and their pain thresholds. The researchers extrapolated that this rhythmic euphoria may have been pivotal in mankind establishing communities and society. Essentially, drum circles were the very foundation that made human society possible.

And for one final bullet into the heart of drum machine enthusiasts everywhere: When drummers make errors in beat, they’re actually tapping into a natural rhythm found all over Earth. Harvard smarty-pants discovered that a drummer’s internal clock doesn’t move linearly like a real clock, but rather in waves. This wavy rhythm pattern is found in human brainwaves, sleeping heart rates, and the nerve firings in felines’ ears. So when a drummer slips up, they’re actually just matching the elemental beat of the world.

To boil it all down, drummers are smarter than you, more in-tune with nature than you, and are the whole reason you and I have a society in which to mock drummers in the first place. Kind of puts a whole new perspective on our “Greatest Drummer of All Time” poll, don’t it?

PolyMic also recently looked at research on guitarists’ brain power, determining that shredders are more intuitive and in fact slightly psychic. Next, we’ll learn how bassists are better than the rest of us at 2048.


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June 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Reblogged this on ecclesiaofburningones.

June 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Did you hear about the drummer who locked his keys in the car? He had to call the fire department to get the guitar player out.

August 15, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Haa Haa haaa! Funny.

June 16, 2014 at 7:43 am

Reblogged this on thepoliticalvagina and commented:
Verrry Interesting.
I can attest that the natural high when playing in drumming circles is true!
Drum therapy anyone? :)

June 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Well no… not me. But smarter than average? sure.

June 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Doubtful. I’ve known a LOT of really stupid “drummer dudes”.

I think learning any musical instrument is great for brain development though… but it’s no guarantee that you’ll be “smart”.

Rick Takeyama
May 31, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Take a mediocre band with a mediocre drummer and, they’ll sound bad. Take the same band and replace with a solid competent drummer and, you’ll hear a band that is pretty solid. A drummer is the single most influencial determining piece that makes a band mediocre to great!

Joe Chapman
August 13, 2014 at 7:42 am

“A drummer is the single most influencial determining piece that makes a band mediocre to great!”

That’s a generalisation on top of a generalisation. It’s an assumption and a very unsafe one. It’s easy to disprove at a high level on the basis that not all bands have drummers. Even assuming that you’re only talking about bands with drummers, it’s far from safe.

August 15, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Lol, guitar butt hurt

mike g
November 17, 2014 at 11:46 pm

you’re wrong, rick takeyama is 100% correct, not to mention it’s pretty clear you’re not a drummer. don’t talk about the moons surface when you haven’t been there, only seen pictures from people you never saw take them

August 14, 2014 at 11:16 am

nobody goes to see the drummer except drummers

J.E. Cole
August 16, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Really? You must not be familiar with TOOL then. It’s not only drummers gawking at Carey when they play live.

August 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm

But if the drummer stinks, they don’t go to see the band at all, and they don’t know why.

May 31, 2014 at 3:45 pm

This is my experience, I’ve been married to a drummer fro 26 years! I have seen this man study and learn complicated processes on his own. His mental capacity and intelligence far surpass any other men I know his age. He has made me and our family smarter by unselfishly sharing his wisdom, knowledge and love time and time again! ROCK THE BEAT!!!! MAKE US WELL :)

Joe Chapman
August 14, 2014 at 12:42 pm

“I have seen this man study and learn complicated processes on his own”

He’s very lucky to have you here to help him. Well done you and well done to your drumming husband.

Does he pull funny faces?

May 30, 2014 at 2:51 pm

funny they say drummers are smarter, then show a women playing drums. better to say ”not all drummers are smarter”, or here we used a placebo.

June 26, 2014 at 6:46 am

Foolish, stupid male chauvinist pigs like you embarrass the male population

August 23, 2014 at 11:46 am

Asholes. think women are not smart…must not have one

October 14, 2014 at 1:38 am

This would have been a great argument if you hadn’t misspelled “assholes” and mispunctuated/miscapitalized that sentence. Typical woman.

November 11, 2014 at 8:30 am

Gee, I wonder why you’re on “anonymous”? You wouldn’t dare put your name to such a disgustingly vile comment, now would you?

May 26, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Juggler’s are also smarter

May 24, 2014 at 12:56 am

Its way too funny people believe any of these “studies”. There are the exact same ones done with singers,guitarist,bassists,etc. They’re meant to feed egos.

May 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Nah. You’re wrong.

May 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm


Tim Otte
August 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Sounds like a reply from a stupid guitar player.

May 22, 2014 at 11:47 am


May 21, 2014 at 10:18 am

Reblogged this on paul scribbles and commented:
I always knew this intuitively but now there is science to back it up…read it and weep folks….

May 21, 2014 at 8:45 am

Reblogged this on closer9:18 and commented:
If I could only remember how to tie my shoes and avoid drinking paint…

Minge boy
May 21, 2014 at 4:43 am

I don’t buy that. When drummers slip up, they are usually tapping into the rest of the band. Quite a lot of drummers are more sensitive than your average person, so when someone in the band goes out, the drummer tries to correct the error. Which is why the drummer gets slammed quite a lot for screwing up. Leave a good drummer on his own with just a click and they’ll play in time until the end of time. Throw a few curve balls their way and they are only human, trying to get the band back on track and create a good vibe.

May 21, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Don’t buy it but do appreciate the point you are making…jazz drummers can turn on another band member’s dime and I’ve seen amazing drummers who are right there with others’ sudden changes in so called “jam” bands….just saying but again…the drummers who are human metronomes and not musicians have the difficulties you describe.

June 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

RIGHT ARM ANNY! How many times have I gotten the “STINK EYE” when trying to correct an over anxious guitar player? Finally I tell them, “I don’t care what you do in the middle, you just START with me and END with me…..”.

May 20, 2014 at 11:58 pm

The bassists being better at 2048 thing must be true, because I’ve beat that game 4 or 5 times now with no effort.

May 20, 2014 at 7:12 pm

And Meg White sucks too!

May 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Bass players are dumbasses.Period.

May 24, 2014 at 5:22 am

And….. Go fuck yourself… Signed, Bass Players Everywhere

May 24, 2014 at 5:31 am

Brian appears to be one of those non-elusive, no talent jackoffs.

May 24, 2014 at 5:26 am

And….. Go fuck yourself… Signed, Bass Players Everywhere

May 24, 2014 at 5:29 am

What do you play, dumbass? A mean tambourine?

May 24, 2014 at 5:29 am


Tim Otte
August 18, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Bass players are kind of daft.

May 19, 2014 at 11:12 pm

why use meg white, she not a drummer. she just hits drums.

chris g
May 19, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Totally disagree with the bassist is the most replaceable member part. kind of shoots a hole in the credibility.

May 25, 2014 at 10:37 pm

It was just saying people assume that they are easiest to replace

May 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Hey I just became a drummer and I have done a lot better on my tests and homework and other stuff

August 15, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Pics or it didn’t happen

August 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm

You started playing the drums. You didn’t just become a drummer. These are my words of wisdom for everyone. Playing the drums is easy. Being a drummer is much more difficult.

gene krupa
May 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

It’s ironic that the person in the photo accompanying this story isn’t even a real drummer.

May 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Test saxophone players and then we’ll talk.

jeff peters
May 18, 2014 at 6:13 pm

they are waiting until 2048 to prove bassists rule because it’s gonna take guitarists that long to tecover from the drummer story. we (bassists) can also wait because we don’t need the public adoration others need to thrive. we know how good we are that that is enough. :-D

May 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

2048 is a game bruski, but bassists are still cool.

May 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Reblogged this on Film Blog.

Kenneth Davis
May 18, 2014 at 1:47 am

I thought that ADD was a prerequisite for becoming a drummer.

Juan. That’s it.
May 16, 2014 at 11:03 pm

The title is misleading. What the body text says is that among drummers and people trying drumming out, those with better rhythm tend to score better on intelligence tests. In other words, it’s the ability to keep a complex rhythm, not the choice of being a drummer as opposed to focusing on some other instrument, that correlates with intelligence.

May 19, 2014 at 6:03 am

Juan – The title is not misleading. You misunderstood its point. It is not about choice. It is about a drummers’ intrinsic ability to solve complex problems and this ability’s correlation to their intelligence. The quality of a drummer’s rhythm correlates directly to higher intelligence.

May 16, 2014 at 4:09 pm

When John Lennon was asked, “Do you think Ringo is the best drummer in Rock and Roll?” He replied, “We don’t even think he’s the best drummer in the Beatles.”

May 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm

John said exactly the opposite later on and was probably being cheeky, earlier.

Michael G Conroy
May 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm

It all depends on what you think a drummer should do. Keep time? Ringo was a human metronome. Neil Peart, Bill Bruford, Keith Moon, et al, can/could flam and paradiddle circles around Ringo, but they can’t/couldn’t keep time if they had a click track.

May 17, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Neil peart most definitely can use a click track….

May 21, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Exactly…human metronome…whenever I jam with others and that’s all they want…I’m out of there toot sweet. Every instrument in a rock band is the rhythm section and if the others are not rhythmically competent on their own why waste your own time?
A metronome is not a musician.

August 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm

You have no idea what you’re talking about. Neil Peart began studying with Freddy Gruber precisely because his time became too metronomic, in his opinion. To say he couldn’t keep time if he had a click track is absurd. He uses a click in every live performance.

Tim Otte
August 18, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Keith Moon was an expert click track player, as well.

Joe Chapman
October 19, 2014 at 6:21 am

Being precise as a metronome, for a drummer, isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’d also be pretty pointless because one of the main reasons for having a real drummer is so you don’t sound like a drum machine. It’s doubtful that drummers like Ringo Starr really were that good at keeping time, simply because they are human, not machines working on mathematics.

May 16, 2014 at 3:56 pm

They’re a bunch of beat-offs

May 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm

So intelligent that I see them playing and in the subways all the time…barely getting by.

May 16, 2014 at 11:57 pm

and what does money have to do with intellect?

Michael G Conroy
May 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Obviously nothing. See: Trump, Donald.

May 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Financial success has more to do with having a fearless drive to succeed than intelligence. Here’s an extreme example. Pharmacists go to school for their doctorates and make six figures. Some become professors, educating future doctors. Drug dealers (the non-pharmacist kind) can make millions. Most end up dead or in jail. Which one makes more money and which one is smarter?

May 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm



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