How To Play Sunday Bloody Sunday On Drums (Larry Mullen Jr)

By JohnPascuzzi

The legendary Larry Mullen Jr. expertly crafts a simultaneously driving and syncopated groove. His hands alternate between playing rhythms on the hi-hat and the snare drum in opposition to his steady bass drum foot. This drum beat is so fantastic and enjoyable to play!

In this piece, we will demonstrate another passage from the book that teaches the drum beat to U2’s song Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Who Is U2 Drummer?

Who Is U2 Drummer
Who Is U2 Drummer

U2 is an Irish post-punk band that made a name for itself by the end of the 1980s as one of the world’s most well-known and creative acts. The band’s members are drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., bassist Adam Clayton (born March 13, 1960, in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England), guitarist and keyboardist the Edge (real name David Evans; born August 8, 1961, in Barking, Essex), and singer Bono (Paul Hewson; born May 10, 1960, in Dublin, Ireland) (b. October 31, 1961, Dublin).

U2 quickly established a distinctive identity with its grandiose sound, a fusion of the Edge’s sparse, reverb-drenched guitar and Bono’s nearly operatic vocals, despite being born in the furnace of the punk music that swept Europe in the late 1970s. The band members started practicing despite their lack of technical knowledge while studying at a secondary school in Dublin. Early music by the band was marked by an intense spirituality and a gentle and compassionate commentary on social and political themes, such as the unrest in Northern Ireland. Long before they had much influence on the mainstream charts, the band was well-known for their motivational live performances and was a word-of-mouth sensation. However, U2 rose to fame after The Joshua Tree album (1987) sold millions of copies and produced the number-one singles “With or Without You” and “I Still Have Not Found What I am Looking For.” The band investigated American roots music—blues, country, gospel, and folk—on Rattle and Hum (1988), a double album and documentary film, with their customary earnestness. However, some critics derided the endeavor as pompous.

With the release of Achtung Baby in 1991, with a sound greatly influenced by European experimental, techno, and disco music, U2 redefined itself for the new decade. The 1992 Zoo TV tour was one of the most technically challenging and artistically accomplished large-scale rock spectacles ever performed. It brought with it a stage act that traded in irony and self-deprecating humor, qualities that were virtually absent from the band’s music in the preceding decade. However, despite the band’s more glitzy façade, its lyrics continued to be preoccupied with issues of the soul. On subsequent records, the band continued to explore techno textures while also exploring the dehumanizing aspects of media and technology.

The band hastily released the Pop album in 1997 to meet demands for a stadium tour, and it received the worst reviews since Rattle and Hum. Another transformation was coming, but this time the band chose to reassure fans by creating songs that made references to their 1980s past rather than boldly moving forward. The appropriately named All That You Cannot Leave Behind (2000) and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004) emphasized the riffs and melodies more than the atmosphere and mystery, and they were financial successes for the group, but at what cost?

Over the following two years, the ensemble backed the record with a global tour. However, production was put on hold in May 2010 while Bono recovered from emergency surgery after suffering a back injury during concert rehearsals in Germany. It did not begin until the following year. The song “Ordinary Love” by U2 contributed to the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013). A few weeks before its physical release in 2014, Songs of Innocence, which Danger Mouse mainly produced, was made available to all iTunes Store users without charge. Although the decision sparked debate and garnered media attention, reviews of the music were mixed, with many critics lamenting that the band’s sound remained static.

The Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’s music, and lyrics were contributed by Bono and the Edge in addition to their current touring schedule. The production, which Julie Taymor first directed, was one of the most expensive in Broadway history; yet, it debuted in a sold-out house in June 2011 (more than a year after its projected opening) and lasted until January 2014.

U2 has received more than 20 Grammy Awards throughout its career, including those for album of the year for both The Joshua Tree and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. In 2005, the group was admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

*** Read more: How To Pick Drumsticks: Tips to Find The Best Drumsticks

What Are The Benefits Of Playing Songs On Drums?

What Are The Benefits Of Playing Songs On Drums
What Are The Benefits Of Playing Songs On Drums

#1. Keep Time

Simple, huh? The drummer establishes the framework, creates the pulse, and adds the groove to the song, allowing the other band members to use their artistic talents. The song’s beat brings everyone together, and the drummer’s ability to keep time while establishing trust with the other musicians makes for ultimately better music.

#2. Flexibility

Drum sets are constantly evolving. Early drum sets from the 1920s and 1930s included foot-high cymbals known as “low boys” before they evolved into the modern hi-hat. As the 1950s progressed, players switched from animal skins to the first-ever polyester drumheads. Today’s musicians must be able to play both electric and acoustic instruments, as well as a range of styles.

#3. Do What’s Required

Modern drummers frequently complain about the necessity to overcomplicate things. Since the music matters, a drummer might need to adjust their style to fit the tune best. In addition to their technical abilities, drummers also need to be able to use their ears and judgment. Even though the drummer serves as the center of the band, he or she still receives time in the spotlight. The key is understanding when to take the lead and when to let others do the talking.

#4. Listen To Other Band Members

The rhythm section of a band is typically composed of the bassist and drummer. Imagine a band as a vehicle, with the rhythm section as the engine to move things along. The lead guitar is the body, and the vocals are the paint. Without the engine, they can only add innovation and essential selling features and barely get by. The drummer and bassist need to get along and play well together while listening to and following the other band members’ suggestions and cues.

#5. Perfection

Drummers cannot typically get away with the occasional error or poor note like guitarists, singers, or other musicians. The band and the crowd can instantly tell whether you skip a beat or slow down. This is true not just of the notes themselves but also of the dynamics and mood of a song, with the drummer in charge of setting the mood for the entire band.

#6. Contribute To Creativity

Forget the old jokes about drummers’ being unable to write songs; musicians today need to add to a band’s originality. Many drummers not only play the drums but also sing and create songs. For instance, Isaac Holman from Enslaved People, Michael Shuman from Mini Mansions and Queens of the Stone Age, and Lewis Williams from Press to MECO have all established successful careers as songwriters.

#7. Ultimately

Every brand needs a drummer, but today’s drummers have a far more varied job, especially in creativity. 

*** Read more: How To Start a Drum Circle: Tip To Make a Great Drum Circle

Why Is The “Sunday Bloody Sunday” Drum Beat So Great?

Why Is The “Sunday Bloody Sunday” Drum Beat So Great
Why Is The “Sunday Bloody Sunday” Drum Beat So Great

Played to a click track and recorded at the foot of a stairwell, Mullen’s military tattoo sounded like the marching jackboots of the Irish Republican Army. This song frequently repeats phrases, such as “how long, how long shall we sing this song, how long, how long? “and” Sunday Bloody Sunday,” as well as verses and the chorus. This song’s variety is produced by changes in key and the number of instruments employed at specific points. By including more instruments and sounds throughout the introduction, tension is built up, but it dissolves after the first chorus. A distinctive and familiar “U2 sound” can be heard in this song because of the D chords’ predominance. When Bono sings at the top of his lungs, his high-pitched tones and voice immediately grab your attention.

How To Play It?

These are the song’s very first two bars. The drums begin on the ‘+’ of beat 4 of the previous bar, which is the first essential concept to grasp. This indicates that the drums’ first note is not played on beat 1. In reality, the first bass drum is played during Beat 1.

Throughout the entire drum groove, the hands are playing a double-handed sixteenth note pattern (RLRL). When necessary, the right hands descend from the hi-hat to play the snare drum parts, while the bass drum consistently plays a quarter-note pattern on each downbeat of the bar. This imparts a very military and marching sound and feels to the drum beat.

The left and right hands are used to play any two-note snare drum groups beginning with a “+,” while only the right hand is used to play any single note off the hi-hat. This indicates that the left-hand stays on top of the hi-hat whenever a single snare drum note is played.

*** Read more: How To Be a Successful Drummer: 6 Steps To Improve


The song is gorgeous but heartbreaking because it represents the suffering, injustice, and innocence that make up humanity. An essential lesson people learned from this song and from analyzing it is that, despite the suffering we inflict on one another, there is always room for forgiveness and healing. No matter how much we mess up, we can always get back on track.

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