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What Are Air Drums?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2014
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Air drums refer to a mythical style of musicianship similar to air guitar. An air drummer pretends to play without the presence of an actual drum set, and it requires an individual to move his or her hands and arms as if he or she were hitting physical drums. It is a visual representation, often heavily exaggerated. Drumsticks are not required.

People have practiced air drumming for decades, even as long as air guitar has been popular. While it does not have the notoriety of air guitar, it is based on the same principles. Air drumming allows an individual to rock out regardless of actual musical ability.

Some consider air drums as a form of dance. The ability to keep a beat or play a drum set is not required. Playing air drums is more about the attitude than anything else. Air drums go hand in hand with the genres of rock music or heavy metal. Some may consider air drummers as drummer wannabes, but they are more commonly known for their enthusiasm about music and do not take air drumming as a serious art form.

When defining air drumming, it is important to note its close cousin: air guitar. While air guitar is a phenomenon recognized around the world, air drumming is slowly making its presence known. An air guitar network has developed that consisted of at least 20 countries at one time.

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International air guitar competitions are held each year. The annual Air Guitar World Championships takes place in Finland. There are DVDs available as living proof. The event was originally started as a joke but has since gained immense popularity and a competitive nature.

Events such as these have been a catalyst to air band competitions, in which an entire band simulates their respective instruments. The video game Rock Band capitalized on the founding principles of air drums and air guitar by exploiting the average person's desire to be a rock star without putting in the time and energy to learn the physical musical instrument. Instead of striking the air, a triggered sound plays to reward the user’s movement and simulate a drum set or other instruments.

As air drums require no physical matter or materials, anyone can acquire them at no cost. The only requirement to air drums is imagination. Air drums are also much safer than traditional acoustic drum sets, which can damage hearing with loud decibels.

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