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.