Lindy Hop music *needs* drums

I posted this in a Toronto discussion after hearing a new band play at our Saturday dance in Toronto.



I enjoyed hearing the new band on Saturday. They are very good and my following comment is not a reflection at all on the quality of the band…

But we *need* to have drums.

In Lindy Hop, you need to be dancing based primarily on the rhythm section and bass alone is not enough. At minimum you need bass and drums and piano is also considered part of the rhythm section even though the piano jumps between the melody and the rhythm. It’s even better to also have rhythm guitar when it’s a bigger band. But at minimum you need drums and bass.

For an occasional themed event, not having a drummer can work as a novelty, but there’s a real danger to getting in the habit of dancing to music that isn’t primarily based in the rhythm section.

We had this problem in the early 2000s and the dancing all turned into what became known as “wiggly hop” where we started to dance so much in the melody that we lost the rhythm section and the dance morphed into something else.

>>>Great band. I hope they’ll be booked again, but next time with a drummer.



I had the privilege of helping out with a musicality class with Lennart Westerlund. I wish there was a recording of Lennart Westerlund talking about the rhythm section but you can see when it zooms in on the board what I’m getting at. And at its core, it’s critical that Lindy Hop is based on the rhythm section first and then “decorates” with the melodic instruments. Otherwise, the dance changes –

In case you missed the music lesson and you find his chart boring and hard to read, here is Lennart walking us though Flying Home’s musical structure. Edit: if FB muted the clip for you, just play your own Flying Home by Lionel Hampton and follow along! Interactive post!

Posted by Sing Yuen Lim on Sunday, March 17, 2019


Bryan Vandenberg reminded me of this terrific video, and has also voiced his rightfully strong opinion that rhythm guitar, in addition to drums, is a key foundation to swinging music. Note Wynton Marsallis, “The drummer provides the shuffle that is the foundation of the rhythm of swing.”


Wishing whoever reads this some extra rhythm-based Lindy Hop this week!