The Art of Playing Drums: Rudiger Maul Percussive Path

playing drums with Rudiger Maul, the interview Drumap series

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Share this post:

In the realm of percussion, the artistry of playing drums extends far beyond mere rhythm; it embodies a deep connection with the instrument, a profound understanding of cultural rhythms, and a continuous exploration of technical finesse. Our conversation with Rudiger, a seasoned percussionist, unveils not just his journey across the global percussive landscape but also offers valuable technical insights for drummers and percussion enthusiasts alike.

Rudiger’s Percussive Journey

Hey Rudiger, thanks for joining us. It’s a pleasure to have you. Can you introduce yourself?

Rudiger: Absolutely, it’s my pleasure. I consider myself more of a percussionist. I started learning Conga and Atabaque in my hometown in Augsburg, Germany, about 35 years ago with a Brazilian guy who was studying philosophy. That was my introduction to the world of percussion.

So, what sparked your interest in percussion, particularly at a young age?

Rudiger: I was always drawn to the percussion in music, especially listening to Santana. I wasn’t focused on the drums or the guitar, but the percussion sounds captivated me. It took me a while to find someone who could teach me, but when I did, it changed everything.

It sounds like what began as a hobby turned into a serious passion. When did you decide to pursue this as your main job?

Rudiger: Yes, exactly. I decided I wanted to make playing drums my main job, despite my friends thinking I was crazy. But I did it, and I’ve been successful.

Playing drums with Rudiger Maul the interview

I had to be creative and develop my own rhythms, which led me to seek knowledge from various teachers across the world, from Munich to Africa.

Your journey in music has taken you through various genres and cultures. How did that expansion come about?

Rudiger: I was influenced by many people, including a Turkish guy who played the Oud and a guy from the Balkans. They introduced me to Flamenco and oriental percussion, expanding my knowledge and skills in playing drums.

Learning from different teachers must have been an enriching experience. How did you adapt to learning different styles?

Rudiger: It was a challenge at first, especially with limited knowledge from my first teacher. I had to be creative and develop my own rhythms, which led me to seek knowledge from various teachers across the world, from Munich to Gambia, Africa.

Aspiring to greatness on the drums? Let Drum Coach show you how, with only 5 minutes of fun, daily practice. Watch your drumming transform swiftly!

Cultural Influences and Musical Soup

How have these diverse cultural experiences influenced your music?

Rudiger: Immensely. The feeling of playing drums changes with each cultural context. For example, hearing the Gembe in Africa or Samba in Brazil offers a completely different feeling. I’ve tried to incorporate these experiences into my own style, creating my own musical “soup.”

The Connection with Instruments

Playing drums involves a lot of instruments. Do you have a favorite?

Rudiger: I think a lot about my instruments, but currently, I’d say the bongo is my favorite. It’s versatile, allowing you to play every kind of rhythm and it fits well in many music styles.

That’s fascinating! How does your approach to playing solo or composing with these influences work?

Rudiger: When I play, especially solo, I first understand the instrument and its original technique. Then, I form a connection with it, bringing my soul and influences into the performance.

The Essence of Improvisation

Your improvisation skills are remarkable. Can you share more about your process?

Rudiger: Improvisation is about letting all these influences and my understanding of the instrument flow. It’s not strictly rational; it’s more about connecting deeply with the instrument and then expressing myself through it.

The essence of improvisation comes from connecting deeply with the instrument and then expressing through it.
Playing drums with Rudiger Maul the interview

Dream big, drum bigger! With Drum Coach, invest just 5 minutes daily for fun and effective practice that swiftly enhances your drumming. Begin your journey to greatness today!

On Learning and Teaching

You’ve learned from many teachers. What’s your take on teaching others?

Rudiger: Teaching is about guiding someone to find their own connection with the instrument. It’s not just about techniques but about helping them express their own soul through playing drums.

Rudiger’s Recommendations and Advice

Any bands or musicians you’re currently into that you’d recommend?

Rudiger: Yes, I’ve been enjoying GoGo Penguin and Mammal Hands. Both bands have amazing drummers and offer a unique take on rhythm and melody.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who looks up to you and wants to explore playing drums or percussion?

Rudiger: Practice different accents and possibilities of playing them. Understanding and experimenting with accents on various instruments, like the snare or conga, is crucial. It’s all about feeling free and expressing yourself through rhythm.

Technical Tips for Playing Drums

Rudiger shares specific technical advice for percussionists:

  • Versatility of the Bongo: The bongo, surprisingly my favorite, offers deep and high notes, enabling a percussionist to play a wide range of rhythms. Its adaptability across musical styles is a testament to its technical prowess.
  • Embracing Cultural Techniques: Learning the frame drum involved adopting finger and hand techniques from Indian and Persian music. This cross-cultural technique adoption broadens your technical skill set, making you a more versatile percussionist.
  • Improvisation and Connection: Technical mastery is about more than just hitting the right notes; it’s about making a real connection with the instrument. This involves understanding its nuances, from the traditional technique to how you can infuse it with your own style.
  • On Favorite Instruments and Techniques: My current fascination lies with the bongo, for its ability to blend into various musical styles and its rich technical possibilities. Additionally, exploring the Udu has been rewarding, given its deep, resonant tones perfect for tabla players.

Ready to elevate your drumming skills? Start your journey to greatness with Drum Coach! Dive into our drumming essentials course designed for beginners and enjoy:

🥁 5 minutes of fun, daily exercises.
🎵 A beginner-friendly approach to improve steadily.
💡 Engaging lessons that make learning easy and effective.

Rudiger’s Technical Advice for Aspiring Percussionists

  • Practice Different Accents: Mastering accents across different time signatures is crucial. Whether in 4/4 or a triplet pattern, understanding and utilizing accents can dramatically enhance your playing dynamics.
  • Exploring Time Signatures: While I don’t strictly think in terms of time signatures when improvising, having a firm grasp on them is vital when playing in a group setting. It allows for more freedom and creativity within the structure of a piece.
  • Instrument-Specific Techniques: From the snare to the conga, each instrument has unique technical demands. Focusing on the specific techniques, like ghost notes and accents, can elevate your playing and bring a distinctive voice to your performances.

Concluding Thoughts

Rudiger’s journey and technical insights offer a rich resource for drummers and percussionists aiming to deepen their craft. His advice underscores the importance of technical mastery, cultural exploration, and personal expression in playing drums. By embracing these principles, percussionists can navigate the vast rhythms of the world with skill, passion, and creativity.

Get ready to take your drumming to the next level. Get expert tips on coordination, drumming techniques, improvisation and more in the post titled “Charting Your Drumming Journey”. / Written by: Raul Rodrigues: CEO of Drumap, Drummer, Music School Director and Mariano Steimberg: Drum Professor at Berklee College of Music, Valencia Campus.


Rudiger Maul’s web page and Instagram account

Pictures references

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Get free groovy content to inspire and improve your drumming