Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Transcription: Jeff Watts - Housed From Edward - 02

Part two of Branford Marsalis's Housed From Edward, from the album Trio Jeepy, with Jeff Watts on drums. Let's do the whole thing. This begins at the top of Marsalis's solo, at 1:27. 

Most of the action is on the second page, enjoy. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Embellishing Chaffee

This is why I can't get anything done, when I sit down to practice somethingpractice something I'll get two patterns in, and get involved in developing them as playing ideas, working out how to use them as part of a continuity. It's a different thing from playing a page of stuff like a drill. 

I'm not just fooling around, it's a legitimate way to practice. But it's not great if the goal is to have a total, 100% worked out and polished body of stuff, as packaged by Gary Chaffee, or me, or whoever.  

Anyway: some embellishments to try when practicing the Chaffee linear patterns and phrases me-style, playing a single pattern/phrase and developing it:

These all suggest other possibilities, which may work better for you. Try some things. 

Get the pdf [WORKING!]

Monday, July 22, 2024

Transcription: Jeff Watts - Housed From Edward - 01

Trio Jeepy by Branford Marsalis is a long time favorite album of mine, that was very influential on my concept of jazz. It's got Jeff Watts on drums and Milt Hinton on bass. This tune Housed From Edward was a big lesson on playing a form musically— 12 bar blues, in this case. 

This is the middle part, beginning at 5:15, where Branford takes a hike and Watts and Hinton play time— very lyrically— for several choruses. Tempo is about 122. 

Not much to say, the lesson is self-evident. There appear to be a lot of other transcriptions of this floating around— with videos of people playing them. 

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Playing Bellson

Here's a video I made yesterday— there was a slight online mishegoss over me not liking the Reading Text In 4/4, by Louis Bellson, and it was requested that prove myself by playing one of the harder pages in it: 

I played a lot of things of this level of difficulty, and harder, as a student, via the usual snare drum books, but don't normally practice this kind of thing now. For reading difficulty, this isn't the most egregious page in the book, but there are several measures of it that are offensively written, with quarter notes (including dotted) placed on the & of 2 in several spots— that is only acceptable/correct in a couple of special contexts. 

I practiced it for about 20 minutes, put in beat marks on the more wrongly notated measures, then made the video— this was the second take. Tempo is about 90 bpm. 

Let's analyze/critique it like I would somebody else's video:

Accuracy there is 100%, and my time is solid— there's no metronome or anything. I am guessing at the timing of the quarter note triplet— if I was reading ahead better, and practiced the page a little more, I would anticipate it better and have better awareness of where beat 2 falls during that rhythm. Still, the timing is tolerably accurate, I don't believe I would be dinged for that. I'm a little bit seat of the pants in lines 7 and 8— the time flexes just enough to not be purely metronomic, but I don't legitimately drag. For all musical purposes it ends at exactly the same tempo as it started. 

With my touch, I don't think I'll be mistaken for a concert snare drummer. It's a good touch— I don't play hard— but it's a percussive touch, it doesn't scream concert snare drum musicality at you. That's a pretty strong concert f all the way through. If I were preparing this piece further, I would be looking to add some dynamic motion, if not actual dynamic markings. The phrases should feel like they're going somewhere, even when played at the same dynamic level. The writing here is not conducive to doing that automatically. I don't find it easy to make music out of this piece.   

My whole issue with the Bellson book, of course, is that it doesn't work well for what I want to practice on the drum set, which is my main purpose for that kind of book. I have a half dozen similar books I also do not use. Even with Syncopation, which I use all the time, I'll rewrite things, mark it up, and write new stuff to fill in the gaps in it. For the type thing in this video, I'll use any of 6-8 regular snare drum books.  

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Chaffee linear phrases - beginning with LH double

Getting back into Gary Chaffee's linear materials a little bit— originally outlined in the Time Functioning volume of his Patterns series of books. Since first working on this system as a student, it has been a little problem fitting the patterns into a regular musical phrase. That's what we do here, write up solutions to things that kind of bugged me 35 years ago. 

So here are some fill phrases in 4/4, beginning with a cymbal accent on 1, a double left on the e&, with the linear phrase beginning on the a of the beat. That's a natural entry. 

We have a choice with these: on the phrases ending with two bass drum notes— which makes three in a row including the 1 of the repeat— you can play that as a single 8th notes. That will be more playable for more people.  

Once you've learned a pattern repetitively, play it as a fill during a regular funk phrase, move your hands around the drums, and have a good time. 

Get the pdf

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Reed tweak: RH lead with single cym / flam

Yet another right hand lead Reed tweak— YART, or YARHLRT, for short. It's a little convoluted, but works out a slightly different thing from the other systems/tweaks we've done, and I think it's worthwhile. 

The plain straight 8th right hand lead system involves playing the melody rhythm from Syncopation on a cymbal* with the right hand, with the bass drum in unison, while filling in the spaces with the left hand on the snare drum, to make a full measure of 8th notes. 
* - You can also play the right hand on the toms, with no bass drum— most of my systems are written for the cym/BD way. 
Here, where there are two or more melody notes in a row, we'll hit the cymbal on the first note only, with the bass drum playing the full melody rhythm. We'll also add some flams. Play these warmups to get a feel for the kind of movement that creates:

Taking it in steps, here is how the first three lines of p. 38 in Syncopation would be played, with cymbal on the first note of any run of bass drum notes: 

Then add a flam right after each last unaccompanied bass drum note: 

Before, we added a flam at the end of the runs of multiple lefts, and there are several spots where we can do that in this system: 

Sight reading that gets a little silly, so you might just want to work out some one line exercises, and the p. 38 exercise. [UPDATE: Having played it a little more, it's not that bad, just do it.] 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

You should get drum lessons from me

Making my periodic public observance that I don't get enough drum students through this site. 

I know everybody doesn't instantly get everything I post on here. And I know people are overloaded with information about how they should be focusing their practice lives— you could spend the rest of your life working things alleged to be “crucial” by some youtuber, and still never get to a satisfactory place with your drumming and music making. 

It's not about getting more information, it's about talking to somebody like me, who can figure out where you, an individual person, need work, and who can tell you what to do now to take where you want to go. 

Hopefully by now it's clear that I cater to all levels of players. I'm actually most interested in people who are having difficulties. This instrument is playable in a creative, controlled, musical way, by anyone— proportionate with their ambitions, and the time they have to dedicate to it. 

I'm not offering a special or anything— the special is, I show you how to do this, in a way you will find very rewarding, I believe. Shoot me a note— over there in the sidebar, it says “Email Todd.” Lay it on me, let's do something. -tb

Triplet burnout with the jazz waltz telephone page

Here are some things I do over the course of 15-20 minutes playing that jazz waltz telephone page, in addition to just playing repeating measures as written, in 3/4 time: 

1. Play each measure in 4/4 by adding the first beat of the following measure. 
2. Play each measure in 4/4 by adding the last beat of the previous measure.
3. Play in 2/4 by playing just the first two beats of each measure.
4. Play in 5/4 by adding the first two beats of the next measure. 
5. Play each two beats of each line, moving ahead one beat at a time. 
6. Play each 3/4 measure within 4/4 time. 


The page is just for illustration, you do these looking at the original page. I won't necessarily rigorously play through the entire page each of those ways, but I'll do them for awhile, moving quickly from thing to thing— it's a lot to play through. Obviously you have to have this stuff together already pretty thoroughly, so it's about conditioning, rather than learning new stuff. It's a triplet burnout drill. 

I play the cymbal as written through all of those changes, and add hihat as appropriate for the time signature. 

Get the pdf

Monday, July 15, 2024

That Steve Gadd lick

More on that Steve Gadd lick from the Full Compass transcription. It's essentially a familiar kind of four note tom ruff ending on the beat with the bass drum, with an extra snare drum note in unison with the bass. Sticking is LRLR. I'll try to add some video to this post in the next couple of days. 

Here's how it appears in the transcription, measure 18: 

The rhythm is unusual, and the best way to get it might be to play it in some more easily quantifiable rhythms, and then finesse timing to match Gadd's rhythm— or whatever sounds good to you. The other rhythms are also perfectly valid themselves. 

Line 7 is the rhythm as I transcribed it. When you're playing it correctly, you'll notice the snare drum is sounding the rhythm on line 6. The snare in line 5 will have the same timing, but with the ruff timed more tightly than in the finished rhythm.

Line 4 is the nearest neighbor of the finished lick; once you can play it, you can adjust the timing of the two snare drum hits to match line 6. Line 3 starts with a double left to help get the timing of the quintuplet. 

The tempo on the recording is 131, so work these up to that speed at least— 131 = dotted quarter note in 12/8, quarter note in 4/4. You may find it easiest to finesse the final rhythm playing faster— the timing adjustment will be smaller.  

It may help to prepare to play just the ruff, as on the bottom line, without the snare in unison with the bass.

Incidentally: you'll notice the rhythm, with a triplet played over the last two partials of another triplet— or the last two partials of a beat of compound 8th notes— is similar to a samba “tripteenth” rhythm, which has a triplet played over the first two partials of another triplet. It's a worthwhile area of “organic” rhythm to explore.