I would say “heavier touch,” but I’m not sure if that’s standard terminology or not. It’s just how I would phrase it. Or just say “hits the drums harder.” (Although does he? I would’ve put Ringo as the heavier hitter of the two.)
In informal guitar speak, it pertains to both: one can describe their attack and mean the initial contact of pick to string(s), or it is used in general to describe how hard they tend to play.
Jimmy Page and Billy Gibbons are known for playing with lighter strings and having a lighter attack, whereas Malcolm Young and Stevie Ray Vaughn were both known for using heavier gauges and playing with an overall heavier attack.
“Dynamics” is how much you vary your playing between loud and soft, yes? So Nirvana had songs with a lot of dynamics. A metal song that is full-out from beginning to end would have less dynamics. I think.
When I describe my playing, I say I “play with a heavy hand” and other guitarists seems to pick up on what I mean.
The drummer that has adopted me as “his” bassist, and therefore he’s “my” drummer has attack to the point where other drummers comment on it. They always describe it as “he hits hard”, even if they’re a very technical drummer.
They’re right. He’s what sets the volume level for the current band, and he’s playing an old, small Rodgers jazz kit. We have been asked to turn down far below our practice volume, with the PA running nothing but vocals, at some recent gigs.*
So, I’d just describe it as “hitting hard”. Some drummers just want to play the ride and the snare, and others want them to potentially die before the end of the set.
I think what I’m trying to say (badly) is that “attack” is too general a term to apply here.
Dynamics aren’t really the variations, it’s more of an absolute (although still relative; there’s no absolute value for “forte”, it’s just louder than “mezzo forte”). If a song has a lot of dynamic variation, I wouldn’t say it has more dynamics; it just has more dynamic variation.
(I should also emphasize that I have no idea what I’m talking about re drums.)
Thanks for your interesting replies.
The question arises from a discussion I’ve been having with a Beatlemaniac friend of mine. Perhaps I’ll start another thread about that discussion; it’ll probably make for a lively conversation here!