The 5 Hardest Drum Songs: Are You Up to the Challenge?

The Five Hardest Drum Songs- are you up for the challenge-

Everyone learns drums at a different pace, and it’s important to determine the right pace for you. Sometimes, however, you want to challenge yourself and see what you can do. Take a break from your normal practice routine and try your hand at these challenging drum songs, chosen by San Diego, CA drum instructor Maegan W

Calling all drummers! If you’re ready for a challenge, here are some of the hardest drum songs (in my humble opinion) for you to tackle on your drum kit.

These songs are the most challenging because they include several, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Precise dynamic control and execution: Every level of every note is intended and complimentary to the music.
  • Technicality: Most, if not all, of these songs contain very unique and challenging grooves and fills. They may seem simple at first, but they are much more difficult than they appear.
  • Speed: Many of these songs have grooves and fills played at high speeds for the amount of notes being played. They include complex beats played at top speeds.
  • Polyrhythms: Hard drum songs usually contain poly rhythms, or the simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms.
  • Odd meter: Many of these songs are in odd time or odd meter. Common time is 4/4 and anything else is considered odd. Challenging drum songs will often incorporate several different time signatures in one song.

If you’re still up to the challenge, let’s get to the list!

Drum roll please…..

1. “La Villa Strangiato” – Rush

This song contains almost all of the criteria on our list, along with other aspects that make it extremely challenging.

Not only are there a ton of different parts to learn, but the technicality, speed, and precision put it on another level.

2. “Moby Dick” – Led Zeppelin

This song features some crazy footwork by John Bonham and great bass dynamics. There is a world of difference between playing these hand-foot combinations, and playing them with dynamics.

If you want to nail this song, you need to play with complete control and finesse.

3. “Ticks and Leeches” – Tool

This song can be described in one word: insane! But seriously, the polyrhythms are hard enough to figure out, let alone play all at once.

Watch the video, and pay close attention to Danny Carey’s precision.

This song is also physically demanding and requires a good deal of endurance.

4. “Goliath” – The Mars Volta

(or anything from The Mars Volta, really)

Start with a nasty groove in multiple time signatures, then add a blazing fast double bass beat, crazy fills, and blast beats (and that’s all before the breakdown).

Try this song, if you dare!

5. “Sedation Deprivation” – Nerve (Jojo Mayer)

Let’s compare this one to our list of criteria for the hardest drum songs:

Odd meter? Check!
Blazing speed? Check!
Insane Poly rhythms? Double check!
Complete dynamic control? Check!
Funky breakbeats? Check!

The list goes on…

This one may take a while, but will be well worth it once you’ve got it down; it has a hypnotizing groove and a smooth feel.

Of course, there are millions of songs that could be included in a list of the hardest drum songs, but these are my top five. My list may vary from other peoples’, but I wanted to include different types of music.

I hope you have fun with these songs, go ahead and have try to play some, or all of them. If you’re not quite ready to tackle the hardest drum songs, we’ve got some more options for you in our ultimate list of drum songs.

Want to improve your drum skills? Search here for a drum instructor near you! 


Post Author:
 Maegan W.
Maegan W. teaches drums, songwriting, and more in San Diego, CA. She earned a degree in Percussion from the Musician’s Institute, and has been teaching private lessons since 2004.  Learn more about Maegan here!


Photo by Sean Molin

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5 replies
    • Christian Gasior
      Christian Gasior says:

      Bruford? Yes, I know of him. Amazing jazz taught drummer who played on Yes’s two best albums (Close to the Edge and Fragile), then left for King Crimson after the Giles era, and he considers King Crimson his true calling in life, even though it was an abusive relationship. Strangely, I only read a lot about Bruford saying sessions were tough and that they were “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge”. I mean, I heard about it, but that bloke really wanted the public to know that being an elite drum hero for 2 of Prog Rock’s most successful and critically adored bands isn’t like coal mining or anything, it’s real work. Serious man indeed, as he even said his drumming was merely a side-gig and that he was taking a hiatus to head back to university. So a polymath at that. In between listening to his more frantic drumming for Yes and his more restrained, cerebral drumming for King Crimson, I like to sit down and read his thoughts on Chomsky and Hitchens. Kick em’ while they’re down for good, I always say. I wonder what he would think of this Jordan Peterson charlatan that is a New York Times best-selling author now for telling kids to clean up their rooms, lying is bad and truth is the policy that will win out in the end, that men are men and girls and girls, and you can’t dispute science, etc. Poor guy hasn’t seen the world. There’s 37 million people in Canada, most near the bottom where it’s livable, though that’s still 3 million or so less than California. Anyway, good drummer.


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