Listening is probably the most important aspect of learning new styles.  Each style of music is characterized by certain feels and grooves.  There are usually repetitive accents which create some sort of rhythmic structure.  Ostinatos are repeated phrases which create solidity through repetition. Quite often in rock songs, the hi-hat will play straight eighth notes with various kick and snare patterns.  (insert pattern)  The hi-hat is playing an ostinato, a pattern which others are built from.  The traditional ride cymbal pattern found in jazz and swing is also an ostinato.  (insert pattern)  However, in more modern jazz it is often used less strictly and more as a basis for the groove.

Many styles of music use some sort of drumming to propel the song.  By listening to many different styles of music, you will better be able to broaden your familiarity and understanding of that music.  So much of what we do as drummers is learned by feel rather than technical understanding.  If we are able to feel what the drums are doing in a particular style, we will be more able to emulate them and thus play something appropriate and tasteful.  You will find in your listening that many styles overlap.  Though each style has it’s own vocabulary and feel, a slight twist may present something entirely different.

No matter what type of music you ultimately want to play, having a well-rounded ear will contribute to your progression as a drummer.  Having skills in different styles will also provide more opportunity. If you want to learn to play jazz, listen to jazz.  If you want to learn to play rock, listen to rock.  The nuances of most styles will present themselves through listening.