In a 2011 article in the New Yorker Burkhard Bilger wrote about neuroscientist David Eagleman and his research into time and the brain especially drummers’ brains.
Some of the drummers he has interviewed and/or tested include William Champion of Cold Play, Brian Eno of Roxy Music and Larry Mullen, Jnr of U2.
Eno, on keyboards (above) who was working on a U2 album, talks about Mullen’s amazing timing. They were using a click-track (computer generated beat) when mMullen complained he couldn’t drum to it. ENO adjusted the beat. Mullen was happy.
ENO adjusted the beat by 6 milliseconds!!!!!!!!!
6 thousandths of a second.
Cool Larry Mullen Jnr Drum solo
Tempo is measured in beats per minute or bpm.
Drum Beats for different tracks:
Here are some drum beats provided by Justin Alan Cox so you can get your timing right:
How Cool a Drummer are you?
Pick a beat and see how accurate you can beat tempo. Time how long it takes you to beat out 60, 80, 100 or 120 drum beats using a pencil. It should, obviously, take one minute if you are an ENO or a Mullens.
What was the difference in time in seconds?
Calculate your % error = time error (sec)/(60 sec) x 100
‘Like perfect pitch, which dooms the possessor to hear every false note and flat car horn, perfect timing may just make a drummer more sensitive to the world’s arrhythmias and repeated patterns, Eagleman said—to the flicker of computer screens and fluorescent lights. Reality, stripped of an extra beat in which the brain orchestrates its signals, isn’t necessarily a livelier place. It’s just filled with badly dubbed television shows.’