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How To Play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” On Drums How To Play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” On Drums


How To Play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” On Drums

Written by: Hettie Blanton

Learn how to play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on drums with step-by-step instructions and tips. Master the iconic drum part and rock out with confidence.

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Table of Contents


Are you ready to unleash your inner rockstar and master the iconic drum parts of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana? This timeless anthem is a must-know for any aspiring drummer, and by the end of this guide, you'll be well on your way to impressing your bandmates and captivating audiences with your thunderous beats.

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a groundbreaking track that defined an era and continues to resonate with music enthusiasts across the globe. As a drummer, learning this song will not only hone your skills but also provide a deep understanding of the grunge movement that swept the music scene in the early '90s.

In this comprehensive drumming tutorial, we'll break down the song structure, dissect the intricate drum parts, and delve into the signature fills that make "Smells Like Teen Spirit" a true masterpiece. Whether you're a novice drummer eager to expand your repertoire or a seasoned percussionist looking to add a classic to your playlist, this guide is tailored to elevate your drumming prowess.

So, grab your drumsticks, set up your kit, and get ready to dive into the captivating world of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Let's embark on this rhythmic journey and uncover the secrets behind one of the most electrifying drum tracks in rock history.


Understanding the Song Structure

Before delving into the drumming intricacies of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," it's essential to grasp the song's overall structure. This iconic track follows a dynamic arrangement that contributes to its infectious energy and raw appeal.

Verse: The song kicks off with a compelling verse that sets the stage for the explosive chorus. The drumming during this section provides a solid foundation, driving the rhythm with a steady yet anticipatory beat. It serves as a precursor to the impending sonic eruption that defines the chorus.

Chorus: The chorus is the heart of the song, characterized by its anthemic melody and fervent vocals. As a drummer, this section offers an exhilarating opportunity to unleash powerful, driving beats that amplify the song's rebellious spirit. The drumming here is bold, commanding, and serves as the driving force behind the song's infectious hooks.

Bridge: The bridge introduces a compelling shift in dynamics, providing a moment of respite before building up to the climactic finale. Drummers have the chance to add subtle nuances and creative fills during this section, enhancing the song's overall impact.

Understanding the song structure is crucial for drummers aiming to master "Smells Like Teen Spirit." By internalizing the ebb and flow of the track, you'll be better equipped to infuse your drumming with the appropriate intensity, precision, and flair at each pivotal juncture.

Now that we've dissected the song's framework, it's time to delve into the intricate drum parts that form the rhythmic backbone of this iconic composition.


Learning the Drum Parts

As a drummer diving into "Smells Like Teen Spirit," it's paramount to internalize the foundational drum parts that underpin the song's infectious groove. The drumming in this track is characterized by its raw power, propulsive energy, and dynamic shifts, making it a quintessential piece for drummers seeking to expand their repertoire.

Main Beat: The main beat of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is driven by a relentless, driving rhythm that forms the backbone of the song. It combines a balance of precision and raw intensity, propelling the track forward with unwavering momentum. As a drummer, mastering this foundational beat is essential for capturing the song's rebellious essence.

Hi-Hat Emphasis: Throughout the verses and choruses, the hi-hat takes center stage, punctuating the relentless drive of the song. It provides a consistent, pulsating force that fuels the song's infectious energy. Paying close attention to the nuances of the hi-hat patterns will elevate your performance and authenticity in capturing the song's spirit.

Dynamic Shifts: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" features dynamic shifts that demand a keen sense of control and intensity from the drummer. Transitioning seamlessly between subdued verses and explosive choruses is pivotal in delivering a compelling rendition of the song. Mastering these dynamic shifts will enable you to embody the song's rebellious fervor with precision and finesse.

By immersing yourself in the foundational drum parts of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," you'll lay a solid groundwork for infusing your own style and personality into the performance. Now, let's delve into the signature drum fills that punctuate the track, adding an extra layer of excitement and flair to the song.


Mastering the Drum Fills

One of the defining elements of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is its electrifying drum fills that punctuate the song with bursts of energy and creativity. These fills serve as climactic moments, intensifying the song's rebellious spirit and adding an extra layer of excitement to the rhythmic tapestry.

Pre-Chorus Fill: As the song builds towards the explosive chorus, the pre-chorus fill acts as a pivotal transition, heightening the anticipation and setting the stage for the forthcoming sonic eruption. This fill is characterized by its driving intensity and serves as a precursor to the chorus' thunderous impact.

Bridge Fill: The bridge presents an opportune moment for drummers to showcase their creativity and finesse. The fill during this section adds a touch of unpredictability and flair, contributing to the song's dynamic allure. Embracing the freedom to experiment with inventive fills during the bridge can elevate your performance and captivate listeners.

Chorus Fill: The chorus fill is a climactic release of energy, amplifying the song's anthemic fervor and propelling it to greater heights. This fill demands precision, power, and a keen sense of timing to synchronize seamlessly with the chorus' explosive dynamics.

Mastering these signature drum fills is pivotal for encapsulating the essence of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and delivering a captivating performance that stays true to the song's rebellious spirit. Now, let's bring it all together and explore the seamless integration of the drum parts and fills to embody the song in its entirety.


Putting It All Together

Now that we've unraveled the intricate components of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" – from its foundational drum parts to its electrifying fills – it's time to integrate these elements into a cohesive and compelling performance. By merging precision, creativity, and a deep understanding of the song's nuances, you can breathe life into this iconic track and make it your own.

Rhythmic Synchrony: Achieving seamless synchrony between the main beat, hi-hat emphasis, and dynamic shifts is fundamental in capturing the song's relentless drive and rebellious fervor. Paying attention to subtle nuances and transitions will elevate your performance and resonate with the song's authentic spirit.

Finesse and Flair: Infusing your rendition with the signature drum fills at strategic junctures amplifies the song's impact and adds a touch of individuality to your performance. Embrace the freedom to inject your own creativity into these fills while honoring the song's inherent energy.

Emotional Delivery: Beyond technical proficiency, channeling the raw emotion and unbridled passion of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" through your drumming is essential. Immerse yourself in the rebellious ethos of the song, allowing its unapologetic spirit to resonate in every beat and fill.

As you weave together the drum parts and fills, remember that authenticity lies at the heart of a captivating performance. Embrace the song's legacy while infusing it with your unique style and interpretation, creating a rendition that pays homage to the original while showcasing your individual artistry.

With dedication, practice, and a deep connection to the essence of the song, you'll master the art of playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on drums, leaving a resounding impression on your audience and fellow musicians.

Now, armed with the knowledge and insight to tackle this iconic track, it's time to pick up your drumsticks, unleash your passion, and embark on a rhythmic journey that pays homage to the timeless allure of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."



Congratulations! You’ve embarked on a rhythmic odyssey through the iconic realm of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, unraveling its pulsating beats, electrifying fills, and rebellious spirit. As you’ve delved into the song’s structure, mastered its foundational drum parts, and embraced its signature fills, you’ve not only expanded your drumming repertoire but also forged a profound connection with a timeless musical masterpiece.

By internalizing the song’s nuances and infusing your own creativity, you’ve cultivated a rendition that resonates with the unapologetic ethos of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” while showcasing your individual artistry. Remember, authenticity and emotional delivery are the hallmarks of a captivating performance, and your journey to master this iconic track is a testament to your dedication and passion for drumming.

As you continue honing your skills and exploring the boundless world of drumming, let the rebellious fervor of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” serve as a guiding light, igniting your passion and inspiring your rhythmic endeavors. Whether you’re practicing in the comfort of your own space or unleashing your beats on stage, carry the essence of this timeless anthem with you, infusing every rhythm with the unbridled energy and raw emotion that define the song.

Now, armed with the knowledge and insight to tackle this iconic track, it’s time to pick up your drumsticks, unleash your passion, and embark on a rhythmic journey that pays homage to the timeless allure of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Let the thunderous beats and electrifying fills propel you to new heights, leaving an indelible mark on every performance and captivating audiences with the rebellious spirit of Nirvana’s groundbreaking masterpiece.

So, go forth, channel the unapologetic energy of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and let your drumming echo with the timeless allure of a song that continues to inspire and resonate across generations. The stage is set, the crowd awaits, and your rhythmic journey is just beginning.

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