A drummer is a musician who plays a drum or drums, particularly a drum kit ("drum set" or "trap set"), marching percussion or hand drums. The term percussionist applies to a musician performing on any percussion instrument, but usually refers to one who plays classical or Latin percussion.
A studio or "session" drummer is ideally one who can play well in any musical genre or combination of genres. In a recording studio, a drummer will often be given sheet music or percussion notation to read from with one or two words describing the style or genre of the composition. From this basic information, an accomplished drummer will not only be able to play the song as written, but also convey the "groove" and "feel" of the song desired by the composer or producer. Some of today's most requested studio drummers are renowned for their ability to adapt to any musical style.
Drummers in the military
Before motorized transport became widespread, drummers played a key role in military conflicts. The drum cadences provided set a steady marching pace, better than often accompanying wind instruments such as flutes (signal instruments such as bugles have another primary function), and kept up the troops' morale on the battlefield. Military drummers were also employed on the parade field, when troops passed in review, and in various ceremonies including ominous drum rolls accompanying disciplinary punishments. In some cases drummers had the duty of administering those punishments of cruel death and pain with ease.
Drummers are no longer employed in battle, but their ceremonial duties continue. Typically the buglers and drummers belonging to the companies (which often have one of each) are massed under the sergeant-drummer and on the march play alternately with the band of a regiment or battalion.
Even more than in Europe (and its (ex-)colonies), military music was a well-established tradition in the Orient. When Emir Osman I was appointed commander of the Turkish army on the Byzantine border in the late 13th century, he was symbolically installed by the handover of musical instruments by the Seldjuk sultan. In the Ottoman Empire, the size of the military band reflected the rank of the commander in chief: the largest were reserved for the Sultan (viz. his Grand Vizier when taking the field). It included various percussion instruments, which also became generally adopted in European military music (as 'Janissary music' though until then it was never specifically associated with those Turkish troops) after the failed siege of Vienna which started a general Turkish fashion. The pitched bass drum is still known in some languages as the Turkish Drum. Alternatively, in old English, Tabert is champion of the people, or great leader, i.e. a great drummer.
Is a genre of marching ensemble descended from the military drummers and can be arranged as a performance of a solo drum, a group of drummers, and as a part of a larger marching band. Their uniforms will often have a military style and a fancy hat. In recent times, it is more common to see drummers in parades wearing costumes with a African, Asian, Latin, Native American, or tribal look and sound.
Pocket Drumming is a playing style that consists of a simple, solid beat that lacks the flair of flamboyant fills. A drummer sets a groove so deep that he/she never lets the tempo waver. This creates a comfortable "pocket" for the rest of the band to play in.
It is falsely labeled as an easy thing to do. Very few drummers can pull it off and it takes a talented band to create a deep pocket. It takes a great deal of maturity and a solid sense of time. Two good examples of this style are Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Steve Jordan.