Rory Coleman-Smith Oct 4, 2021 9:51:17 AM 20 min read

Finance is the Drummer of the Business - Here’s why

Drummers and accountants: both important, yet often overlooked and disrespected; both marginalized. These two professions — drumming and finance — often suffer from the same unfortunate phenomenon. As a drummer who has married a trainee accountant, I feel like the finance department is also overlooked, bypassed, and sometimes treated as a means-to-an-end rather than a source of inspiration.

The comparisons don’t stop there.

Polyrhythms & 4-way independence

As a finance  team member, you should know all about polyrhythms. Only joking, it’s a musical term, obviously. 

What is a polyrhythm? Put simply, it’s two (or more) rhythms superimposed onto one another. The most common polyrhythm in contemporary music is “4:3” which means one instrument is playing a rhythm where 4 beats take the same amount of time as another instrument playing 3 beats. They stray slightly from one another, yet always come back for the first beat of the next bar. 

Here’s a useful demonstration:

In the world of drums, polyrhythms are one of the best ways to test your ability. Watch that video again and tap one hand with the 4 beat and the other with the three. It’s not easy. Now think about other possibilities. 5:4, 7:3, etc, etc. 

Now imagine not only using your hands but also your feet, all for different rhythms. This is call 4-way independence. It’s not easy (nor is it particularly impressive to non-musical folk…). Here’s an incredible demonstration of 4-way independence:

4-Way independence is like your finance team. Constantly multi-tasking, too scared to stop doing one thing in case it can’t be started again, and other parts of the business aren’t at all impressed by your perfectly structured spreadsheets. 

Besides the Drummer, Who’s in the rest of the band?

If finance is the drummer, who else is in the band? I reckon sales is the lead singer, product development is the lead guitarist, marketing is the keys, and HR is on bass.

All together they form a cohesive unit, with comprehensible music. Without the drums, the band may be able to go a song or two, but the best performances are from a full band giving their all. Here’s a great example (and a great way to use the next 11 minutes) see if you can spot all the polyrhythms, polymeters and odd-time signatures (those are for another day!).


What’s the point of all this?

I guess the point is, finance is crucial to a business, even if most staff members don’t realize. The plate spinning, ball juggling, 4-way independence polyrhythm playing that you do daily is impressive. There are things you can do to reduce your workload, maybe bring it down to only 3- or 2-way independence (automation perchance?), but I’m not feeling salesy right now, I’m feeling polyrhythmic! Maybe you’ve learned something you didn’t think you would today!

This is a finance appreciation post, in the guise of a drumming appreciation post, which are very rare. In fact, drummers often join groups of other drummers just so someone can appreciate what they do. The same goes for Finance, in fact, we’re attending a virtual even with the AP Association in October, which you can find out about here.
To top this off, I've put together a playlist of a few songs which I don't think would be as good as they are without their drummers. Of course there's the likes of Rush & Zeppelin, but there are probably some tunes in there you've either never heard or haven't appreciated the drums of. Some of the greats such as Steve Gadd, Ziggaboo Modeliste, Chris "Daddy" Dave, Steve Jordan, Travis Barker, Mike Portnoy, Roger Taylor... I could go on. Let me know what you think!




Rory Coleman-Smith

Rory uses technology to automate process around his home, from lights, the chicken coop door, and even alerts for when the oil tank is low (he lives in the sticks!). This automation allows him to spend time on what really matters, which for Rory, is his wife, dog, & chickens.
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