Thursday, June 30, 2011

A start

It's kind of a joke, but the idea of a micro-size drum set that is a viable instrument is kind of interesting. It wouldn't have to be this small- maybe if you could fit the entire thing in a standard stand case.

(h/t to feldiefeld @ Bang)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Syncopation exercise - Solar

No big woop here, I just happened to need a fairly sparse syncopation exercise, so I wrote this up quickly, and I thought I'd share it. It's based on the tune Solar, by Miles Davis.

Get the pdf.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Things to do with a beat

Writing by making lists of things- it's just where I'm at right now. This is a quick run down of one of the main jobs/avenues for creativity on the drums- the manner in which you keep time. Often students will work through their books either thinking they've mastered the materials because they can play the patterns as written, or, better, feeling like they're missing something because they can't do anything but play the written beat. 

1. Play it repetitively at a comfortable volume and tempo.
Like I say, just the first step.

2. Play it from a dead stop. This hangs beginners up- they'll often need to put a beat together one limb at a time, over several measures. Usually I have them play just the first note of a beat and then rest for the rest of the measure, adding notes as they can do them perfectly, until they are into the beat and can keep going on their own.

3. Play it from a count-off. Meaning you are to come in in the right place, and at exactly the right speed when someone counts off a tempo for you.

4. Punctuate phrases. Be able to keep track of the number of measures you've played without relying on hearing the tune, and place a marker (like a cymbal crash) at the beginning of a phrase.

5. Make fills. The fills themselves are a separate issue, but you need to be able to smoothly get from the groove to the fill, and back into the groove.  

Keep reading, the interesting ones are all after the break:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Larry Appelbaum: Before and After with Billy Cobham

Larry Appelbaum, writer, blogger, and jazz specialist for the US Library of Congress, among other things, listens to records with Billy Cobham- covering Paul Motian, Lewis Nash, Ndugu, Philly Joe, and more. Here they are discussing one of my favorites of everything to do with it (artist, track, tune, record, drummer, etc), Las Vegas Tango from The Individualism of Gil Evans:

Before: Gil. Nobody writes like that, the chords and the phrasing. [as drums enter] That’s Elvin. What’s really funny about this is that Elvin has a way of playing in 3 while the rest of the band is feeling 2. Gil told me he likes to write and play on the edge of chaos but without falling in. He had this freedom and his using Elvin provides a looseness that could not happen with any other player. So Gil would match the music with the musician. I haven’t mentioned the bass player because the bass player is not listening to what’s going on. The bass player’s in his own world. I can feel that he’s reading what’s on the paper, and it’s correct. Now we have an oboe or English horn player in the mix, which means that everything’s being played very softly. That could be Kenny Burrell. This sounds like early to mid-1960s. You can tell by the quality of the recording that a lot of concessions were made, the technology wasn’t there. And if they did two or three takes of that, it was a lot. These guys know exactly what’s going on, they know how Gil likes to phrase. It’s beautiful.
When you were playing with Gil, what kind of direction would he give the players?
 None [chuckles]. What he did was put the music in front of you and then we’d start. Gil didn’t even look at me till after the gig was over. I still have the book, if you want to call it that. It was an inter-office envelope with a few pages of material. On Hotel Me Blues there was a scale and the rest of the chart was blank. That was the drum part. [laughs] Somebody counted off this really slow tempo and the whole idea of this blues was that the whole band had vibrato on every note. This was the funniest stuff I had ever heard. I was almost on the floor laughing, trying to play this. It was like the ultimate challenge to try and fit a square peg into a round hole with this tune and you had to go with it.
After: Gil had a personality you could identify with through his writing; slow, methodical, yet lyrical. He loved to dabble in the world of slowness. He was like a musical sloth; slow moving, deliberate. He could be considered in the category of a Borodin, but for jazz. I can envision lying on my back on the ground and looking up at clouds moving slowly.

YouTube of the track and bonus quote after the break:

Roy Haynes transcription round-up

I thought I'd follow up my Elvin Jones transcription round-up with one of the other great jazz masters, Roy Haynes. I'm a little surprised to find I've only put up two things of his, his solo on Morpheus, from Miles Davis and Horns, and his intro to H&H, from Pat Metheny's Question and Answer- we'll have to do something about that soon. Meanwhile, enjoy these other Roy transcriptions from around the web: 

Evidence - head and solo transcribed by Brian Adler
From the live album Monk in Action, a record I've never owned, strangely, though I'm very close to it's companion, Misterioso. Adler has transcribed the head and drum solo, helpfully providing us with the melody of the tune so you can see how the drumming interacts with it. His site has a nice downloads section I'll be taking a closer look at. Here's a bonus solo drum intro from it.
Download the pdfs: head - solo

Down Home - solo transcribed by Dan DiPiero
DiPiero's Tuneblog gives us this from the classic Haynes' album, Just Us, along with some analysis and background information. Tuneblog has moved since this was posted, so be sure visit him at his current address.
Read the piece and download the pdf via Mediafire.

Matrix - head and four choruses blowing transcribed by Peter Saleh
From Chick Corea's Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, this is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Visit Saleh's teaching site.
Download the pdf. - Bonus Elvin transcription- If by Larry Young!

Reflections - solo transcribed by Bryan Bowman
From Haynes'  We Three. I guess it falls on me to put up something from Out of the Afternoon (just to remind you how lucky you are, that's an album I picked up used in 1987, and never saw again in a record store until it was reissued I think in the early 00's.)  Aside from his personal stuff, there are a few more drumming tidbits lurking on Bowman's site, so I'd recommend paying him a visit. You should also visit Jacob Roved's site, to see an alternate version of just the intro of this tune, along with some other good things.
Download the pdf.

Solar - head and two choruses of blowing transcribed by Tim @ Tim's Parlour
An old favorite I've linked to before, from Pat Metheny's Question and Answer, one of my favorite albums.
Download the pdf.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things I like: drum writing

Here's a new feature: things I like about things. Today we'll talk about something I'm seeing a lot of currently: practice materials.

1. Things that fit on a single page. It's nice aesthetically. Give me something I can either cook through in 10 minutes, or cover thoroughly in 45 minutes-2 hours.

2. Materials written in 2/4. Or 2/2. Just give me the building blocks and let me decide how to put them together. I/my students can figure out how to count to four when the time comes.

3. Interpreting a melody.
I've come to appreciate other styles of writing, but making a single melodic line into a drum part is still the thing for making drummers into musicians.

4. Things written in 3/4 and 3/8.
The key to any kind of modern playing, and severely under-covered.

5. Practicality, not completeness.
As I've said before, I do not need every last permutation of an idea presented in tediously logical order to learn it fully. Writers, be selective about what you ask me to learn. Apply your musical knowledge. Try to imagine what will be helpful to me in performance and write that.

6. Fewer words.
There's a reason the good lord gave us drum teachers and students with working brains, and not just wordy drum books no one's ever going to read. Please s-can the pages of verbiage and just tell us the obvious stuff for the beginners, plus maybe a few one-line "master" techniques for the pros.

7. Tempo markings. Not including a performance/target tempo is sort of like broadly waving your arm and saying "buh- over there somewhere" when someone asks you directions (full disclosure: I'm guilty of this, too). Tell us how fast an accomplished musician should be able to play your idea. Where it makes sense, a range of tempos in which this idea is usually found in real music would also be great.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Double paradiddle thing

Matt's Paradiddle Thing has been so useful to me, that I decided to apply the same methodology to double paradiddles. Don't be put off by the amount of ink on the page- the system is straightforward enough once you're familiar with it. Apply the same sequences as with MPT.

Get the pdf.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

TONIGHT: my new quartet @ the Blue Monk - Portland

I want to invite any of my Portland readers to come on down to the Blue Monk, where I'll be playing this evening from 8-10pm. The band includes pianist Weber Iago, saxophonist Tim Willcox, and bassist Bill Athens. We'll be playing some fairly obscure Ornette Coleman tunes, and it should be a lot of fun!

The Blue Monk
3341 Southeast Belmont Street
Portland, OR 97214-4244
(503) 595-0575

More on samba feel

Following up on my earlier post on feel in samba, here I have gone a little further in analyzing what's going on with the repinicado/"tripteenth" (Michael Spiro's term, I believe) thing in samba, and have put together a little method for varying the accents without losing the feel. Once you get the concept, you may not need to see it written out like this, but it does help some people. It's important to bring it back around to conceiving the rhythm as an interpretation of 16th notes in 2/4 or 8th notes in 2/2.

File this under "things that are about as accurate as the idea that swing in jazz is based on triplets." You have to apply some musicianship, and do a lot of listening and playing to get to where this is supposed to go.

Visit my other samba posts for examples of this A drum set student who was really, really into samba and wanted to develop a lot of facility with this sort of thing might also apply the first thirteen Stick Control stickings to the 3/8 exercises, Accents and Rebounds-style.

Get the pdf.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Samba Cruzado - third surdo warm-ups

Here are some new preparatory studies for working with samba cruzado, and for getting this third surdo thing happening with the bass drum- I've refined my methods a bit as I've been working with this in my own practice.

To briefly explain what we're about to readers who haven't been following me on this: in a samba bateria, the first and second surdos provide the structural bass drum parts, and the third surdo plays a more syncopated solo line. In samba cruzado, played on the drum set, the left hand crosses over the right to play the first and second surdo parts on the toms (often suggesting the third as well), while the right hand emulates the tamborim or caixa on the snare drum. The bass drum usually plays a generic ostinato, which is actually made redundant by the left hand part.

So what we're developing here is the use of the bass drum as that independent third surdo voice, while using the right hand effectively. If we were strictly trying to copy a bateria, the right hand could play a two-measure tamborim part, with variations, while the bass drum plays a four-measure semi-improvised third surdo part. Realistically, you're probably going to have to choose between concentrating either on the right hand, with simplified bass drum accompaniment, or on the bass drum, with the right hand filling in where it can. And that usually makes the most musical sense as well- you will often want to emphasize one over the other.

Get the pdf.

Open-source music notation software

Via my man David Valdez, here's Musescore, a new free music notation program. I've gotten reasonably comfortable with Finale, and have developed kludges for doing most of the weird things I want to do with it, and I don't know if I want to re-learn it all on a new program. Let us know what you think.

Here's their little tutorial for creating a drum part:

Around the drums Max Roach-ily

More good stuff from Bang! The Drum School- a fun page of Max Roach-inspired fills. I like this kind of thing for just practicing getting around the drums- something I never actually did in isolation, until recently.

I also like single pages of exercises. We're going to have to have a talk about that soon. Too much writing either focuses on giving you 30 years worth of stuff (*KOF New Breed* ), or takes a completist attitude in which we must explore every bloody permutation of a thing, regardless of real need (*AHEM Stick Control, pp. 17-23*). I'm tired of that. Give me one thing to work on and really learn today.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kristen's rock micro-syllabus

Here I've written up a thing I've been doing verbally with Kristen, one of my 6th grade students, to acquaint with some of the basic moves in rock-style drumming.

Our method has been to run each measure in a section, memorize them, then run them without stopping from memory, then improvise with them. I've written them mostly in 2/4 to isolate each idea; after the exercises are learned and the transitions are smooth, we begin to count them in 4/4. I've found that putting the snare at the beginning of the pattern can help clarify the coordination, so I've written some of the exercises backwards. We don't include those in our memorizing/improvising routine. Once the fill/SD variations exercises are learned, we practice putting them at the end of one or two 4/4 measures of a basic rock beat.

Get the pdf.

By the way, for more of this sort of thing, at the excellent Bang! the Drum School blog there are a couple of pages of good basic rock beats available. If a few more people will start using the "monster mash" style font on our rock materials, we'll have a bona fide tradition going.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Transciption: Pete LaRoca - Oleo

I must apologize for the light posting- I've been occupied with work and with my still-upcoming, really-going-to-happen this time recording session for my new record. Allow me to make it up to you by offering this transcription of Pete LaRoca's playing on a very bright rendition of Sonny Rollins' Oleo, from the "A Jazz Hour With..." series of recordings.

I got to see LaRoca play in Portland on the tour he did around 2001 or so. His chops were a little down, but he still had a great, loose, Elvin-like feel. These old trio recordings with Sonny Rollins are some of the greatest things ever. Here he sketches out the melody just on the ride cymbal, and swings on the bridge, as is normal. I've transcribed the drums only on the fours- there's four measures of Sonny blowing in between each line of drums. The choruses of fours start at 1:10, and LaRoca's first break is at 1:14.

Get the pdf

YouTube clip of the track after the break.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Very occasional quote of the day

"Stop being against something just because it looks 'weird'."
- Boris, from Blue Movie by Terry Southern.
Hadn't thought of this book in years, then woke up thinking about that quote. The character is based on Stanley Kubrick, who Southern worked with on Dr. Strangelove.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Elvin Jones transcription round-up

I'm working on charts this evening, so here are some links to Elvin Jones transcriptions by other people:

Summertime - transcribed by Steve Korn
Have I linked to this before? If not, I should have. [UPDATE: I did] I remember doing this one off the LP   at my crummy little school-run apartment when I was attending USC in '88. It seemed very challenging, and I wasn't at all sure I would be able to finish it. There's an analysis of this solo plus a whole lot of other great stuff at Steve's site, so you should pay him a visit.
page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5

Three Card Molly - transcribed by Dan Sabanovich
Transcription and article from Drum! Magazine, analyzing how Elvin plays in support of the tune. Excellent, very insightful piece. With video clips.
Read the piece.

Pretty Brown - transcribed by Karl Enkelmann
From the Riverside album Elvin!, which is one of the few I have never owned. Transcription is of the intro and drum solo. Karl has several other things at the Jazz Education Database, including solos by Bill Stewart and Vinnie Colaiuta.
Get the pdf.

Blues for Elvin - transcribed by Tim of Tim's Parlour
Tim, you need to put your full name on your site somewhere! Ah, well. Tim's Parlour is an excellent drumming blog, and one of the sites that inspired me to turn CSD! into a real drumming blog. Here he gives us the comping from the slow blues Blues for Elvin, from Coltrane Plays the Blues, one of my favorite tunes from one of my favorite records.
Get the pdf.

Those, along with the things I've done on this very site (Ascendant, Big Nick, Soul Eyes, Tunji), appear to be all the internets have to offer on this subject. If you know of more, please tell me about them in the comments.

Check after the break for updates:

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Matt's paradiddle thing

This is a straightforward paradiddle exercise I wrote up for one of my students. It ends up a pretty robust page of stuff when you run it in the sequences.

Practice each measure individually, then play them as follows:

Two or four times each:
1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4... 2, 3, 2, 4, 2, 5... 3, 4, 3, 5, 3, 6... etc

Two-pattern sequences, one measure of each, repeated 2-4 times:
1-2, 1-3, 1-4... 2-3, 2-4, 2-5... 3-4, 3-5, 3-6...

Note that the sixtuplet patterns will reverse stickings on the repeat, which will make some interesting things happen when you get to the sequences. You can of course add variations to include accents on the doubles; I just wanted to keep it to a manageable size.

Download the pdf

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Cruise Ship Drummer! now on Twitter

First I want to say I object to having to refer to my utterances as "tweets" when using Twitter- it's kind of belittling, you know? "You can use our system, but you have to wear a pink tutu and say everything in a high voice. And no eye contact!"

Well. Anyhow, you can now keep up with the latest Cruise Ship Drummer! postings via Twitter. If you enjoy the blog, please also follow us (that is, me) on Google by hitting the 'subscribe' button in the sidebar.

We've been on kind of light posting this week, but more good stuff is coming by the weekend- a new "Todd's Method", for one. For now, enjoy Michael Derosier's drum solo on Magic Man, after the break: