This article is part of our On The Record series focusing on amazing musicians that have set a Guinness World Record. We discuss their record attempt, musical careers and current events.
Drummers across the world long for the chance to showcase their abilities, because that’s just what drummers do. However, only one drummer can be the fastest and that title belongs to Siddarth Nagarajan of Chennai, India. He currently holds the Guinness World Record for Most Drumbeats In A Minute Using Drumsticks with 2,109 beats in just 60 seconds set on February 14, 2017. We’ve caught up with Nagarajan to find out what more about his record attempt, his family and what really makes him tick.
As many of us know, one’s family is typically instrumental in facilitating music performance. Nagarajan’s family is no different. “I believe in doing whatever makes me happy and drumming and music always make me happy,” explains Nagarajan. “In my case, the lineage of musicians played a very healthy role for me. I was always surrounded by musicians and music from the day I was born, but never felt the pressure of continuing the family lineage nor the compulsion to do music. I had very supportive parents to support my ideas,” he continues. “I showed interest in rhythms and drums at a very early age of 2 and my dad built me a small-sized kit to see and tap my interest. Honestly, I can never imagine myself doing anything else other than music”
Nagarajan’s fast hands come from the music he grew up with. “My Indian Rhythm base has a heavy influence on my approach to any kind of music I do,” he says. “It has helped me in both learning any music and writing my own music, too.” His current released music is a fascinating combination of several styles. “The Indian schooling of music is WAAYYY TOOO WIDEE for anyone to venture. My compositions are mostly rhythmically inclined and have a strong progressive rock or abstract jazz material cruising on those Indian cultural elements, making them sound fresh and new to the world…because this is my world.”
Out of all the records, he had his target set for this record specifically. “It was purely out of the love for the speed. I was always inclined to speed drumming and I am guessing this interest was put to proper effect and recognition after the record,” explains Nagarajan. “Before the Guinness World Record attempt of mine, I had already set the record for Asia Book of Records playing 1,908 beats in a minute which actually beat the Guinness record count at the time, but I decided that if I had to do the same for a Guinness World Record, it should be more and so I set my personal target to be more than 2,000 beats in a minute,” he recalls. It turns out that practice is actually worth something. “I had to work towards only gaining that speed to get to my target, but never pressed myself into the pressure of overdoing the practice nor setting an unattainable target. The speed practice helped me a lot in many ways for my performance now though.” Who knew that practice could be so useful!?
Of course, there is such a thing as too much practice. Even though the record is only for one minute, getting there can be a difficult journey. Nagarajan explains, “The most difficult part about this was the concept of adjusting to the fact that you get JUST ONE GO for the attempt and all the practice was centered towards that one precious minute. On the other hand was the practice that I had to balance with my performance life, my schooling and the practice I did for this. The practice time for this wasn’t more than 15 minutes a day since it is a high intense speed thing and too much practice will cramp you.” Finding that perfect balance of life and practice was key to his success. “All the records that I did weren’t done in a motive to be breaking and setting a record but rather I was able to do it with my practice in a way that documented my ability and work. Working it out that way made more sense and brought me more peace without taking the stress to be doing it by force.”
When it does come down to practice, Nagarajan has only a couple of things that he needs. “My go-to setup is a 5 piece kit, a good pair of headphones that don’t give me a headache, a metronome & a small recording ability to record any ideas I get and would want to keep it stored for using later.” Whether he has those few simple things or not, he gets to it. “I believe that practice is a state of mind. Due to my super crazy travel schedule, it is a thought to take time off and stick to only a practice hour. I am not a person who practices every day nor do I go for super long hours of practice and strict to a schedule practice format. On a personal note, it hasn’t worked for me,” he explains. “My parents were supportive enough to have set me up with a place to practice and play the drums whenever I feel like since the concept of an affordable practice facility or jam rooms weren’t there when I was young. But even if you practice for just 10 minutes, every second has to be worth that time you spent doing it.”
Nagarajan’s motivation for setting this record was for his love of speed. He didn’t go into it with any other motives and the record hasn’t really affected his career in any meaningful way. “Honestly, It is a milestone in my drumming career and was appreciated by many, but with reference to making a difference in my career it hasn’t much affected it. I have had the chance to inspire many drummers in India to pursue drumming by focusing on it through my drum clinics which I started doing a lot more after setting the record. It made a lot of people curious as to how I was able to attain that speed.”
The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, including Nagarajan. “Music is one language which can be understood by all and can really express your feelings. The pandemic has opened up many opportunities and definitely has helped me build myself as a musician and getting to interact and work with more and more people from the musicians all around the globe. So, it definitely did help me. But honestly, I DO MISS THE AUDIENCE AND A STAGE!”
Looking for a bit of advice from the World’s Fastest Drummer? “There are three things available everywhere – Talent, Inspiration and Purpose. Everyone is talented in some way or the other. Tapping that will inspire you and others to search for more and therefore leads you to a purpose.”
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I'm the co-owner of The Music Box and a lifelong musician as a euphonium player. The son of a band director, alumnus of the University of Alabama and father of 3, I keep busy on my Peloton and managing multiple businesses.