What is a Pocket Drummer?

November 2, 2022

Nowadays you might often hear term a pocket drummer or drumming in the pocket.

So, what is a pocket drummer exactly?

“In the pocket” refers to three things: 

  1. having good timing
  2. smooth groove
  3. serving the music

Playing in this manner lets you create a pocket that allows other musicians in your group the space to perform.

Every drummer should try to become a ‘pocket musician.’ 

When you’re with your pocket, you’re playing in tune with the music, and sometimes, it means finding the perfect spot in between the groove and timing.

It’s a problematic concept initially because keeping your timing in check lets you not drift off or experience significant fluctuations in the timing of an entire song.

There are subtle nuances in the positioning of your strokes across the bar. 

The subtle changes are in the dynamics as well as ghost notes. But playing in an underlying groove makes the beat more personal.

what is a pocket drummer

Playing "in the pocket"

Pocket refers to the stage at which music feels perfect.

It sounds cozy and hip if you listen to that pocket you are in.

If you are playing in your pocket, you are playing the song and making it feel good.

The importance of music in the pocket cannot be overstated. It is essential in any genre. Additionally, it allows musicians in your vicinity to feel secure and grounded with a firm feeling of time.

In most cases, it’s the role of the rhythm section to create the pocket around which a groove or song is built around.

Drummers significantly influence the way a song plays and moves from beginning to end.

playing out of pocket

Drumming "out of your pocket."

The practice of dribbling out of pockets is, naturally, precisely the opposite of playing inside the pocket.

It’s any combination of the drummer not being sufficiently metronomic, not playing rhythmically, or not delivering the music.

The use of metronomy could mean you are performing exactly. The drummer may be playing in time, but negligible dynamics or intriguing subtle variations to the beat.

This is the same for playing without a groove. Playing out of pocket could be a sign that the drummer isn’t taking on the role of a human being when they stick the drumbeats.


To sum it up! 

What is a pocket drummer?

A pocket drummer isn’t about playing the absolute minimal.

You must know when you should play more and when you should use more subtlety when drumming to achieve the highest groove for the song.

Being aware enough to recognize what’s appropriate for the style of music you’re playing and understanding that there are moments when simplicity and elegance are the best approaches!

The importance of practice is paramount when it comes to enhancing your ability to play the pocket drum.

The more you practice with various musicians, the more you’ll be aware of what to perform in a song.

Listening to music at home can aid in improving your timing. The more music you listen to, the more of a concept of when things sound great together in a tune that you’ll have!

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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