Monday, October 02, 2023

CYMBALISTIC: Last new cymbals before Germany!

CYMBALISTIC: I've posted the videos for the last four Cymbal & Gong cymbals I got for my upcoming mini-tour... next week I'm bringing a case of cymbals to Germany for people to play and purchase. If you're anywhere near Frankfurt or Berlin you should come hang out. If you're in or new Munich, I can meet you there to deliver a cymbal you pre-order. Email me (see sidebar) for details. 

I can only bring about eleven cymbals, so let me know if you want me to bring a particular cymbal! 

And: a lot of my current cymbals will be sold on this trip, so if you're somewhere else and want one, order now!

The new cymbals are: 

•  22" Holy Grail Jazz Ride “Ibrahim”
- Tony-like 22! Or compare with Joe Chambers's cymbal on the late 60s Bobby Hutcherson albums. 

•  20" Holy Grail Ride “Carter”
- Slightly heavier A-type Holy Grail.

•  16" Holy Grail Thin Crash “King”
- Nice solid 16 that will hold down the left side spot well. 

•  14" Wide China “Chi”
- Funky little Ed Blackwell cymbal. The Cymbal & Gong Chinas are great

Go to Cymbalistic to check out the others, and to hear what else I have in stock. Contact me and stay tuned to this site and Cymbalistic for tour updates. 

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Transcription: Philly Joe trading

Here is Philly Joe Jones trading eights and fours with Bill Evans on Minority, from one of my favorite records, Everybody Digs Bill Evans. It's a good tune to learn. 

I've written just the drum breaks. Transcription begins at 2:51. The tempo is quarter note = 247. 

No tom toms at all here, just snare drum, bass drum, a cymbal, and hihats. A lot of stick shots. There are a few passages of straight 8th notes— at this tempo the 8ths don't swing a whole lot anyway. Note the rhythm in bars 3 and 5. Bar 5 is the “intended” rhythm, in bar 3 he spreads it out a little bit, so the notes are evenly spaced— I've notated it pretty accurately. 

It's basically non-technical— you could do a rudimental sticking on the triplets— and much of it is linear, between the snare drum and bass drum. The rhythms could have been pulled from the book Syncopation, and give a clue for how to look at the phrases in that book— a subject for another time. 

The melodic idea for each break is pretty clear— listen for that, and how he repeats it and changes it, and listen for what sounds like the ending— the last bar, or two bars. The structure is logical, but the structure didn't come first, it's the natural result of thinking musically when you're improvising, and of doing your job, where you set people up to come back in out of your solo. 

Get the pdf

Friday, September 29, 2023

Four on the floor

It is said that, on the drum set, there are snare drummers and cymbal players— I would also say there are bass drummers and hihat players. I've always been a hihat player— meaning, I'll often keep a steady rhythm with my left foot, and do most of my playing with the other limbs. “Bass drummers” will be more likely to do that with the bass drum, especially when soloing, and have most of their activity with the hands. For example: 

That happens in a lot of 60s and post-60s rock drumming: on In A Gadda Da Vita; and Ginger Baker did it, Keith Moon did it, Neil Peart did it on his first big famous solo on Working Man. As prevalent as it was, I've never heard John Bonham do it, which made him seem much more modern than the rest of them. I can't really recall Ringo Starr doing it either, though I wouldn't be surprised if he did. 

I never regarded four on the floor as as a real sophisticated way to play, but I do it at times, with some major points of reference for using it— apart from the obvious swing, shuffle, or disco groove:

The English Beat was big when I was in high school, and I spent the next few years listening to them a lot, and learning Everett Morton's ska beat: 

After Ronald Shannon Jackson's great interview in Modern Drummer, I ran out and bought this record, and listened to it a lot:  

In the interview said some things about the bass drum I never forgot, even as I wasn't using that drum as my main driver:

“See, the most important thing is that foot- the master drum. It's the control drum. It's the center. It's the heartbeat, the relaxed pulse, the more musical tonal center as opposed to the more direct speaking tone- that's what settles the music.

In any ethnic group that employs the drum, you're going to find the large drums, like this Trinidadian drum I have- the long drum; the deep drum. That bottom is where music comes from in most folk cultures. In drums themselves, there have always been master drums- especially in African tribal drumming where there's always that pulse, that center to any social or spiritual event. You can take out the speaking rhythms or the communication on top- that which is portraying the event itself; the master drummer can keep everything going. The pulse, the intention, is still there on the bottom, so you can play the same pulse and change the rhythms on top of it. You can do the same thing on the drumset, when you start with that pulse from the heart- BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Now everything on top is good; those rhythms are the enhancers- what we emotionally want to say. But if the heartbeat isn't there, things are unstable.”

For a good 10-12 years I was really into Ed Blackwell's drumming, and he would use the bass drum this way in his grooves. On Chairman Mao (by Old And New Dreams) in particular, he brings in the four on the floor in a powerful way after ~ 1:15— I think about that exact thing all the time: 

A more random item, in the 90s I got to catch the Delta Blues guitarist T Model Ford playing in Portland, and his drummer had a really strong bass drum groove:  

In rock and country acts I've been involved with lately, I'll sometimes play the bass drum under tom fills, to give them some more weight. I noticed John Guerin doing that on some of his recordings I've transcribed, and of course Keith Moon did it, and it's very effective. 

“Feathering” four on the floor on the bass drum is a big part of the online discussion of jazz drumming, with people trying to learn a vestigial way of playing the bass drum without doing the first stages of it, where you play a ton of gigs playing it for effect. For example, Philly Joe Jones, working hard as an R&B drummer early in his career, was definitely playing the bass drum to be heard then. As did all the drummers whose careers bridged the swing and bebop eras— Kenny Clarke for example. Then they used it more subtly as they were doing bop. That's a natural, logical progression.  

This ended up being more about my personal stuff than I intended, but there is a larger point here about how we're supposed to notice things— like, notice what you notice; every little particular momentary thing that strikes your ear becomes part of your musical personality. People look for generic rules about what you're supposed to do in a “style” of music, but it's the particulars that matter. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Rhythm fills - dotted quarter and half note space

Minor little item, that can be done by itself as an elementary thing, or that can be used along with Syncopation. I wrote it to work through some fill alternatives within a right hand lead Reed system

Each numbered line has the same basic idea filling the space between dotted quarter notes, and half notes. 

Stickings are whatever you want— alternating, natural, RH does cym/LH does snare, mixed diddles, whatever. For people doing the page as a standalone thing, it would be a worthwhile exercise to make the cymbal hits alternate— using whatever sticking you must to make it come out that way. 

Get the pdf

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Book review: Note Groupings and Combinations for Drumset

Giving a shout out to, and a few comments about, a new book by Jeff W. Johnson: Note Groupings And Combinations For Drumset. Johnson wrote another good book, The Level System— pretty much the definitive practice manual on that subject. 

I'll put up front that this book is really good. Essentially we have some things suggested in Gary Chaffee's books, totally reinvented as complete practical system, in a form suitable for normal modern music.  

It's not a simple concept to describe, and the title and description are a little obscure:

[This book] demystifies the concept of note groupings: a system of arranging notes that span over the beat (and over the barline). We'll start with an introduction to the groupings in their basic forms before using them in grooves and fills. Then, by combining note groupings together, we create even more rhythmic possibilities. The concepts in this book will increase your rhythmic vocabulary and creativity, all while remaining musical.   

Or you could say: 

We're gonna group some 16th notes in 3s 5s 6s and 7s, and then group some triplets in 2s 4s and 5s, and do some different stickings, and then do some other stuff with that. 

Grouping rhythms differently than their normal subdivisions, essentially. Here's the basic template— go to the book's site for more sample pages.  

There you see some 16th notes, in 4/4 time, accented every five notes. There are some suggested stickings, and suggested four measure phrases (I would also practice each measure individually, and each two measures.) This is repeated for a number of different groupings of 8th notes, 16th notes, and triplets in 4/4 time. 

That is covered in about a dozen pages. The remainder of the book presents options for rudimental stickings, and for drumset applications, and for applying them to a musical phrase. 

On the one hand the idea here involves cross rhythms in 4/4— “metric modulation” as it's often called. For players it's is a normal-advanced idea— perhaps not thrillingly novel to people fascinated with advancedness. Doing it over an entire phrase is a particular effect that is usually done sparingly. I think people using the book would be best off using it as part of learning where all the notes in the measure are, and breaking open the box created by the time signature, while using the exact patterns in a more fragmentary way as fills, or as part of an improvised texture. 

Johnson does his job and figures out a focused mission with it, which is a big deal*. I like books that are scaled to a normal drumming life; average semi-ambitious drummers could learn a little something in a short time with it, or hardcore maniacs can do their thing with it, and take it much further, and he suggests some ways of doing that. It's hard to get that balance without swamping the fundamental concept. 

* - ...I'm increasingly annoyed[!] with maximalist books that, if you followed the author's instructions, would dominate your whole life forever. Fresh rant on that subject coming soon... 

So, it's $15, buy it. It presents a nice clear concept that you can explore in a short time, and continue using as a basic practice template for many years. 

100 pages, wisely self-published by Johnson, and available through his site, or from Amazon

Monday, September 18, 2023

Warm ups for Alan Dawson's “Para Bossa” system

Alan Dawson's Para Bossa system, from John Ramsay's book, The Drummer's Complete Vocabulary, is a way of interpreting exercises in Ted Reed's Syncopation as 16th note paradiddles, and extended paradiddles, with a samba rhythm in the feet. I was going over it with a student yesterday, and we thought it would be helpful to write out some warmups. Mainly for lining it up with the feet. 

For each line, on the left is the rhythm written as it appears (or would appear) in Syncopation, on the right is the interpreted pattern for it: 

No, there's no 6/4, in Syncopation, but if you play these exercises you'll be covered for all the ways the similar rhythms do appear there. 

Play all the warm ups— starting with the left hand, as well— then practice the system reading from Synopation, pp. 30-45. First with hands only, then add samba rhythm with the feet. 

Get the pdf

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Transcription: Peter Erskine - Duo - 04

Here are the next 30 seconds / 32 bars of Duo, played by Peter Erksine and Bob Mintzer, from Mintzer's record Hymn. The whole track is about three and a half minutes long, so there will be three more of these before we're done. 

Here they're trading fours— every second line is Erskine's solo. It's interesting, normally you might think of Erskine as being a very deliberate player, and therefore working with a lot of set patterns? It would be an easy stereotype to make. Here I feel like we're seeing how patterns evolve in the hands of players like this. 

Let's look at those Erskine's fours line by line: 

Line 2: Hahahaha, he's doing “my” pattern! He plays a three-beat pattern three times— starting on beat 4 at the end of line 1. The second time the notes got shoved around a little bit, if you're going to learn it, just play the straight pattern: RLL-RLR-LBB. In the third measure he does another pattern, RRL-LBB. 

Line 4: Again he starts his solo before the 1. There's some overlapping snare drum and bass drum here— at the time I would have associated that with a “New Orleans” kind of thing. The tempo is fast so you don't really hear it, but it was a thing of the time that people were cultivating.

Line 6: Just linear rhythm here, showing you how a couple of small changes in rhythm and dynamics can have a big effect.   

Line 8: Some not real particular stuff. You could practice that move going into the second measure, connecting alternating singles with a SBSB pattern, via a double on the bass drum:  

||:  RLRL  :||  RLBB  ||:  RBRB  :|| 

It's a good idea to practice soloing with alternating singles, and developing some options for varying them and getting out of them, and connecting them to something else.  

On each one of those breaks you can hear how the end of his solo is very clear, always setting up the horn in the last two or four beats. 

Get the pdf 

Blogger won't let me embed the video directly, click through to hear the tune on YouTube

Thursday, September 14, 2023

CYMBALISTIC: Playing some cymbals

CYMBALISTIC: I've just been doing a lot of cymbal-related business for people lately, and these are a couple of quick-and-dirty videos I made for that.  

Playing some different combinations of 20 and 22" Extra Special Janavars, by Cymbal & Gong: 

Those cymbals are all in stock on my Cymbalistic site. Grab them now if you like any of them— they'll be going to Germany with me in early October, and many of them will be sold.  

And some quick little demonstrations of cymbals I played at Cymbal & Gong HQ— 20" Extra Special Janavars, 20" "A-type" Holy Grails, 22" "K-type" Holy Grails: 

Many of these are on hold for me @ C&G— I'll be going Monday to choose a few of them to get for my site, the rest will be going out to other dealers. So.... act now if you like them, or want to hear more!  

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Transcription: Peter Erskine - Duo - 03

And here's the next 30 seconds of Duo, played by Peter Erskine and Bob Mintzer, from Mintzer's record Hymn. This begins at 0:59 in the recordings. The last line is solo drums, next entry they'll be trading fours all the way. 

We're getting into some denser stuff here, with layered 8th notes between the cymbal, snare, and bass drum, it's worth looking at those parts. Note that he plays the 8ths a little straighter there, too. 

Get the pdf

Blogger is not letting me embed the video directly, click through to hear the track on YouTube