Dave Lombardo Says Music Theory Makes Music Lose Its Soul

Dave Lombardo thinks that music theory somehow lost the true spirit of music. According to him, being creative is more important than education.

Dave Lombardo, actual name David Lombardo, was born in 1965 in Havana, Cuba. His career began when his father bought him a Pearl Maxvin drum set, then he bought his first record Alive! which shaped his musical career.

He is also one of the founding members of the American-thrash metal band SLAYER. He founded the band SLAYER in 1981 and became one of the iconic names in the music world, leaving the band in 2013.

Dave Lombardo spoke to Ultimate-Guitar recently. During the conversation, UG’s Justin Beckner asked Dave what he thinks of music theory and the spirit of music.

He actually believes that music theory takes away from the soul of music. Dave says he noticed this better after leaving SLAYER in 2013 because he was doing a lot of drum workshops and clinics around the world. This led him to discover and get to know other drummers.

Dave, who discovered some great drummers, has a point where he regrets something. Yes, there are some pretty talented drummers, but he thinks they’re all alike. He explains the situation as follows;

“I felt that while they are amazing drummers who know every rudiment in every music book and had graduated from different schools all over the world, there was a lack of individuality.”

Dave Lombardo does not want to make a firm judgment on this but thinks that if he plays drums in a certain form on each recording, he will feel guilty afterward. He says he attaches great importance to unique experiences and creativity.

Dave also says that they didn’t have a rulebook in their time and that they collected samples from other recordings they heard and experienced it in themselves.

“Nobody ever told me I had to keep it at a certain tempo. So everything I was doing at that time went from hard rock into thrash metal and punk. We didn’t have anybody telling us what to do.

I feel like drummers will often focus too much on what they’re taught instead of playing what they feel from the heart, they’ll pack all these rudiments in and call it a drum solo, which is fantastic.”

Dave Lombardo also says that maybe if he had started his career in 2020, he would have gone and studied instead of going to concerts. But Dave says that when people go to school, he wants to go to concerts and focus on his career.

He is not an opponent of music theory. Of course, he understands the importance of learning and being educated and wants to encourage it. However, he says it is against the nature of music to stay away from creativity and stick to the rules.

“I had a band at the time, so I was happy [doing that]. The theory is fantastic. It’s brilliant they put all this stuff down on paper and it’s in the books and I feel like it’s important to learn.

But it’s also important to step away from it and just let your creativity flow. Otherwise, you’re going to be writing songs in the same format and the same key.”

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