One of the nicest people at one of my parishes occasionally sets up his drum set and plays with a contemporary group that occasionally takes the last weekend Mass. Great guy. Good to talk to. The problem is that drums are a terribly awkward fit for Mass music, so I can’t recommend their use, even at Masses with overly contemporary music. Here are some issues:
1. Church music doesn’t lend itself to good drum riffs. This is a stylistic issue. Your basic 4/4 hymn isn’t syncopated, which makes the drums, which keep the beat, a little less useful. A lot of hymns, as well, have a very simple melody, and I don’t think that makes it easier to come up with drum fills. This is what I hear, I fear, from the drummer at that parish. Just hitting a drum every beat. I’m willing to bet that if he were let loose, he’d show us quite a bit of drum talent, but he can’t in the context of Mass.
2. It doesn’t blend well in a church setting.
Consider your basic church and its acoustics. If the other instruments aren’t miked, the drums will likely be too loud. And even if they are, the drum noise reflects off everything. This might not be the case, I acknowledge, if the drummer uses brush sticks.
3. Yeah, it takes something away from the sacredness of the liturgy.
Drums are loud, somewhat discordant, somewhat distracting. And so a little bit of solemnity gets lost. Perhaps this isn’t as big a deal at non-Catholic worship services, but it’s a problem at Catholic ones. You want everything to be kind of on a continuum, so switching from praise-band drummy stuff back to the holy sacrifice of the Mass? Yeah, it’s a problem.