Thursday, January 19, 2017

Know your tempos: Beatles

It happens often enough: some other players are discussing a tempo for a tune, and they look at me like I can pull it out of the air just from a number. It's actually extremely simple to do that accurately, if you just memorize the BPM of some things you've heard a few thousand times in your life. You already know the tempo— you just don't know the number. Hence this Know Your Tempos series of posts, and today's list of tempos of well known Beatles songs.

What I suggest doing is getting out your metronome, and before turning it on, hear the song in your head— recall it like a mental photograph of the recording— and tap or clap the tempo. Then turn on the metronome and see how you did. Note the ones you missed— you probably won't be able to rely on your recall of them later. For the ones you nailed, memorize the BPM number, then dazzle your friends with your perfect tempo recall.

62 - You've Got To Hid Your Love Away
74 - Let It Be
84 - Come Together
86 - I Am The Walrus
92 - Strawberry Fields
92 - Octopus's Garden
95 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
95 - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
102 - All You Need Is Love
111 - Yellow Submarine
113 - With A Little Help From My Friends
114 - Penny Lane
119 - Good Day Sunshine
122 - Nowhere Man
123 - Drive My Car
124 - Getting Better
126 - Ticket To Ride
127 - Get Back
129 - Here Comes The Sun
138 - Taxman
139 - Got To Get You Into My Life
140 - Eight Days A Week
141 - Eleanor Rigby
143 - A Hard Day's Night
165 - Rock & Roll Music
166 - Magical Mystery Tour
181 - I'm A Loser
195 - Help!

Cymbals for sale

A few cymbals for sale. They're all nice, and I hate to part with them, but I've just got too many medium-heavy 20" rides around, and for whatever reason these haven't found their way into my regular rotation. Hit the email Todd link in the sidebar to contact me about them.

18" Paiste 602 (black label) Flat Ride - $240 shipped
Not my Chick cymbal! Have I gone mad? I don't know, but I just don't seem to be using it that much. You know the sound! Excellent for quiet gigs, rehearsals, recording, and it's very fun to practice on.

It's an early 70s model, so the finish has that lived-in look, and there's bag wear to the logos, some roughness on the edges, a tiny bit of wear to the hole. WHO CARES.

20" Paiste Sound Creation New Dimension Dark Ride - $240 shipped
I've written quite a bit about my interest in the Paiste Sound Creation line in the past few years, and I've acquired a few of them. I've had students play this cymbal and love it, I just already have a 22" SCND Dark, and a 22" 602 Dark, and I'm just not that likely to take this one to a gig over either of those. It's medium-heavy, with a rather aggressive sound, and a small, high-pitched bell. Everybody wants the 22" version, and they're priced accordingly— the 20" still sounds great, and is a good entry into the SCDR experience. I want to keep it just because I've seen video of Famoudou Don Moye, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Sonship playing this model, but I have to let it go.

Stick marks on top from the previous owner, but can be cleaned up easily, logos are strong.

20" Paiste 602 (blue label) Heavy - $240 shipped
This would be the prettiest-sounding pop or rock ride in the world. It says “heavy”, but it's about the weight of a Zildjian Ping Ride, with more overtones, and much nicer to play all around. Semi-crashable at higher volumes. With rivets it could be a decent Billy Higgins-type cymbal— passable until you can spring for the ~$500 to get that 22" 602 Medium Ride.

In played condition, finish is bright, logos strong on bottom, moderate wear on top.

20" Sabian Jack Dejohnette Series (original, not Encore) Ride - $200 shipped
Great all around cymbal if you're looking for a very percussive, dry Dejohnette or Joey Baron-like vibe. Good practice cymbal, because you can really hear your attacks. It's a very playable cymbal, very crashable in that very dry kind of way.

Doesn't really have that virgin showroom sheen any more, but it looks basically new.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 Book of the Blog NOW AVAILABLE for purchase!

OK, gang, the 2016 Book of the Blog is now available for purchase!

It's 119 pages of pure drum-practicing goodness: all of the downloadable exercises posted on the site last year, plus all of the Reed/Stone practice methods which didn't have an actual pdf download, all handsomely bound in this practice room-ready volume.


— BIG unit on funk! Hit these materials quick to get ready for the release of FUNK CONTROL later in '17.

— Lots of odd meter exercises.

— Transcriptions of Vinnie Colaiuta, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Jeff Porcaro, Airto, Ndugu Leon Chancler, James Black, John Guerin, Joe Chambers, more!

— Practice systems for all levels of players: linear funk with Dahlgren & Fine, New Orleans street beat developers, several EZ funk/rock methods, fluency in 12/8, EZ Tony Williams-like method, uptempo jazz Stone method.

— More Afro 6/8 and 12/8 pages o' coordination, which you've come to know and love. I want my readers to be able to smoke everyone in the world on this extremely fun and rewarding area of drumming.

BONUS: All of our previous book releases will be 15% off until whatever old time I feel like bumping them back up to the regular price. If there are any gaps in your CSD! library, now's the time to buy!


New Year's Skype lesson offer

Hey, it just occurred to me: I should have more Skype students than I do. I have plenty of followers, plenty of daily visitors, plenty of book-purchasers, and a fair number of  donors at fund drive time— but for some reason not many contact me for lessons.

Perhaps there's an intimidation factor at work? I know my online persona is a little cranky, and we do post a lot of hard core stuff on the blog. But in person I'm actually a very affable, easy-going cat, and as a teacher I'm truly interested in working with players of all levels of ability and commitment. I like people other teachers consider to be problem students. I like figuring out what you need to advance your playing, and how to communicate it to you, especially when you're having big problems with it.

So, hey: If you're following the blog, you like what we do, but you're horrified at the thought of revealing yourself to be a totally hopeless case— I want to teach you because you're a hopeless case. GET IN TOUCH.

My normal rate is $50/hour for Skype lessons, so what I'll offer is:

1. First 1-hour lesson for $25

2. 25% discount on first month of lessons paid in full. Basically, one free lesson in the first month.

And I know half the country is broke. If you're hurting for lessons but don't have the money, get in touch anyway, plead your case, and we'll see if we can work something out that's within your budget.

Page o' coordination: Elvin's Afro-waltz - starting off the 1

Hearkening back to one of the very first pages o'..., in which we worked on developing an Elvin Jones-style waltz, the way he played it on John Coltrane's Your Lady. It's an interesting groove, with a linear 6/8 BD/HH/SD pattern underlying the waltz rhythm on the cymbal. But I noticed in performance I had to be pretty deliberate about coming in with it on the 1— I had to actually “work it in” to play it, which I do not like to do. I don't want to be playing licks I learned, I want these things to happen organically.

So this page should help that— we're learning to fall into the groove somewhere other than the first beat 1. And in leaving the beginning of the phrase open it disrupts things a bit, so we don't just fall into playing it from a habitual muscular thing.

This is jazz, so swing the 8th notes. When you can play all the patterns, your real practicing can begin: play the entire page without stopping, with two, four, or more repetitions of each pattern. Move your left hand around the drums freely, or according to these stock moves, moving after each note or double. Try eliminating the circled bass drum note.

Get the pdf

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Odd meter Harr: flamcues in 5/8

Another Haskell Harr etude transcribed into 5/8, this time one of the flamacue studies on p. 79 of book 2— I only use book 2:

As in the original, the number 5 or 7 next to a roll indicates the type of roll— 5-stroke (with a 16th note pulsation) or 7-stroke (with a 16th note triplet pulsation). Set your metronome to click 8th notes, or the first and third 8th note of each measure, or the 1 of each measure.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Page o' coordination: triplet pattern with cymbal variations - 01

A slight variation on our usual page o' coordination thing; here we're doing a set triplet pattern on the snare drum and bass drum, along with various cymbal parts— some are standard rhythms, and some are just for technical practice:

You could do the usual POC left hand tom moves, or just improvise the moves, and extend the workout by doing combinations of patterns, the way we did with the Funk Control series:

1-2, 1-3, 1-4... 2-3, 2-4, 2-5... 3-4, 3-5, 3-6... etc.  

Do each measure of the combinations one or two times. And you can play the page as written, with no hihat. or add the left foot on 2 and 4, or on all four beats.

Get the pdf

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Practice loop: Max in 5

In honor of what would be Max Roach's 92nd birthday, here's a practice loop sampled from As Long As You're Living, from his album Quiet As It's Kept. The tune is a blues in 5/4, and I've looped an entire time through the form— twelve bars, for you jazz novices. To get a clean loop I had to start with the turnaround— the last four bars of the form— so the fifth measure after the start of the loop is the top of the form. You'll hear it. The tempo is quarter note = 186.

Play any of my materials in 5 along with this.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Gadd on time

Another item from Rick Mattingly's 1983 Modern Drummer interview with Steve Gadd. It's encouraging that a lot of the very common fuzzy talk about time makes no more sense to the greatest studio drummer in the world than it does to me. He also makes a very important point in his first answer, about managing your energy and enthusiasm.

RM: Jim Chapin quoted you as saying that coming from a jazz background, you
tended to put an edge on the time, and you had to learn to lay back.

SG: Yeah, it had a lot to do with that energy level that I was talking about. It was just that feeling of aggression—that personal thing between me and the drums— and the way I projected that into the music. And then eventually I was able to channel that energy into an enthusiasm for the music, and sort of separate myself from the drums, personally. I was able to channel it and start playing less. You start realizing that when you put that much energy into it, you might be on the upper side of the time. You just have to think about the other way to do it.

RM: How did you eventually learn to lay back? Did you sit down with a metronome and work at it?

SG: It's not that complicated. It was just something I realized I was doing, and when I was aware of it—when I understood it— then I could see how it could be different. It's just an awareness of something you have to look at inside yourself, and all you have to do is listen to yourself. I did it by being in a situation where I was recording, and then when I heard things back, it was like, "It felt one way when I was playing it, but now it doesn't feel the same way." So you have to realize that as comfortable as it felt at the time, this is what it sounds like. I think the only way to find out about playing on top is to put a click on, and then play loud and soft with it. If you can understand that it's real natural to get on top when you're playing loud, then you can start to understand it.

Time is a funny subject. It really is. It's a little bit different every time. And it gets confusing when you start talking about "playing on top" and "laying back" because those phrases are used in so many different situations. One person can say it and mean one thing and another person could say the same thing and mean something else.

RM:  I remember the first time I heard one of those terms, years ago. I was playing with a group, and things were really feeling good that night. Afterwards, a guy came up and said, "I really like the way you lay back when you play." I was thinking, "Oh really? I lay back?"

SG:  But it felt natural when you were doing it?

RM:  Yeah.

SG:  That's what I'm saying. Someone came up and said, "It felt good because you were laying back," and you didn't even know what the hell he was talking about. That's how vague it is. So the thing is, when they tell you it was happening because you were laying back, it might make as little sense to you as when they ask you to lay back.

RM:  Judging by the letters we get, people are hearing these terms and getting confused about what they mean.

SG:  There are a lot of confusing things that don't need to be that confusing. I think it will finally make sense to them when they finally play with people who make sense musically. Then they'll understand.