Friday, February 18, 2011

Best books: Rudimental Patterns by Joe Cusatis

Rudimental Patterns
Full Drum Set Studies for the Modern Drummer
by Joe Cusatis

This book contains most of what I always felt was wrong with the traditional approach to learning the drums, and I LIKE IT. In learning to play, I always looked for ways to multiply my practice efforts: I wanted things to work on several levels at once- reading, hand technique, four-way coordination, orchestration on the fly, musical interpretation. As many things as I could fit in, I would. Things like pure calistenics and pre-packaged licks (especially out of that traditional Krupa-like bag) were verboten. If it could not be learned through a quasi-musical application, I didn't want to do it.

What I found in working through this book (and a few others like it) is that not only do calisthenics actually work, well, maybe they're necessary. At the very least they're better for isolating a move and learning it completely and quickly— which is difficult when you're dealing with several issues at once. By doing that I was creating a sort of Darwinian process, where some moves got unconsciously weeded out of my playing through never having been learned thoroughly. So it is worth it to address them directly with some calisthenic exercises as in this book.

Many of the licks in the book are clichés, and will be instantly recognizable if you're at all familiar with the more “drummery” rock drummers of the 60's— your Ian Paices and Ron Bushys— or with the legion of Krupa-influenced show drummers of that era. But I find I actually prefer doing my calisthenics in the context of clichés rather than in the nearly content-free, purely logical/mechanical mode of some newer books (Rod Morgenstein's Drum Set Warm-Ups comes to mind)— I'm learning the moves and learning history at the same time. Learning these old licks has not caused me to start regurgitating them verbatim, so far.

I'm not wild about the archaic notation system, a relic of a time when there was no standardized drum staff, and lot of drummers could barely read anyway. It's difficult for others to read quickly. A minor complaint.

A recommended book for mainly for jazz students— artist types like me will appreciate it filling in some technical and historical gaps, and novices will appreciate someone giving them some stock ideas to play.

Get Rudimental Patterns from Steve Weiss Music.


Unknown said...

Thanks for writing about my teacher and friend, Joe Cusatis. Joe is 88 yrs.old and living in Florida.He could pass for 58. His wife, Cathy, passed away, a few yrs. ago, and thats when Joe moved to Florida. The fastest player that I ever saw and the best teacher. He taught ''Chops''. His 2 books for getting around the kit, were the results of gaining your chops. Going to W.46TH St. to study with Joe or Sonny Igoe was what I did, and everyone should have. Thanks again. Danny Goodchild

Todd Bishop said...

Hi Danny-- I had no idea he was still alive! That's great that he's still going strong, though I'm sorry to hear about his loss. Is he still active in music in any capacity, or is he totally retired?

Todd Bishop said...

Wow, I'm kind of mortified at the way some of that was worded! I wrote it when I had basically no audience, so I felt free to be totally undiplomatic about my thoughts. I did a quick re-edit so as not to come off completely offensive in case Joe ever reads it.