Sunday, July 31, 2011

Matt's paradiddle thing, pt. 2

As I've mentioned, I've been working a bunch with the paradiddle page I wrote up for my student Matt F, usually combining single repetitions of each exercise, as described in the post. Last night I played through it combining single beats, which is fairly easy to do on the fly, but I thought I would write it up anyway. I'm trying to keep it on one page these days, so I've just given some examples. If you want to be a nut about it, go ahead and play through all of the 16th note combinations from the original pdf.

Lately I've been all about playing through a lot of patterns- my idea of a lot being a single page- so unless you're really struggling, try not to get bogged down in repetitions (or variations, if you're applying some creativity). Playing the entire page RH and LH lead at maybe two different tempos- moderate and bright- a few repetitions per exercise is plenty.

Get the pdf.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stanley's Page of Bossa Nova

Here is a page of basic Bossa Nova patterns, which I wrote up for a couple of my students. I've included the standard pattern that will be familiar to a lot of people, a Partido Alto-type pattern, some one-measure patterns, and several warm-ups.

Get the pdf.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Transcription: Jim Gordon - Apostrophé

Here's Jim Gordon's drum break from the title track of Apostrophé by Frank Zappa. The tune is a jam with Zappa and Cream bassist Jack Bruce. This is actually one of the first things I ever transcribed, if not the first, back in 1984 or so. Along with the rest of the record, it's one of the earlier pieces of music I actually noticed and liked, from when my brother was playing this around the house when it came out in 1973.

Get the pdf   | buy the LP (the only way to hear this one)

YouTube clip of the track after the break:

Two Stone applications by Alan Dawson

Here are a couple of Stick Control applications by Alan Dawson, from JohnW in Massachusetts, a knowledgeable forum contributor who studied with him in 1982-83.

For the hands:

Use Stick Control p. 5, ex. 1-12, starting ~1/2 note= 72 BPM. Play quarter notes on the bass drum, 2 and 4 on the hi-hat.

Play each exercise one time, followed by 4R 4L 4R 4L after each line.

After ex. 12, go back to the beginning and play ex. 1-12 one time,  followed 8R 8L 8R 8L.

Repeat process, following each line with 16R, 16L, 16R, 16L.

Repeat the process, following each line with a 16th note single stroke roll lasting as long as one exercise line- two measures of 2/2 or 4/4.  End on the downbeat of the next bar, then rest for the remainder of the measure. "The key is to start the single strokes with the OPPOSITE hand of the last note in the line preceding it."

"He also had a shortcut version, where you played lines 1-4 with each line followed by 4 Rights 4 Lefts, 4 Rights 4 Lefts, 5-8 followed by 8R 8L, 8R 8L, then 9-12 followed by 16R 16L, 16R 16L."

For drumset:


Sing "Take the A-Train", metronome at half note=72

Play 4 bars of jazz time: swing pattern on cymbal, hihat on 2 and 4, feather bass drum (or tap heel) on quarters, snare rim click on beat 4.

Follow with 4 bars of ex. 1, swinging the 8th notes, with jazz time continuing on cymbal and hihat.

Repeat process for ex. 2-4, which will take one full chorus of A-Train (A-A-B-A). Repeat the process for ex. 5-8 and 9-12.

After the break, John shares some of his memories of studying with Dawson:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The abyss

In this third installment of my events/swing band repertoire series (hopefully it's of some interest to the bandleaders/working drummers out there), we'll be confronting some of the things I've kept around strictly out of commercial necessity (the band would debate that, but never mind). Keep in mind this list represents but a tiny fraction of the godawful things I've been made to play in my life. And the most palatable fraction at that- many of these are not bad tunes at all- we've just played them so many times over the years we can't stand the sight of them. Yet in my book they remain...

As Time Goes By - Few things would give me greater pleasure than to purge this thing, but unfortunately it has become a standard father/daughter dance request at every single last bloody wedding in the world, and generally gets people dancing.

Begin the Beguine
- The long, annoying form is a little bit of a crutch- the guys can glaze over and just play this little game of Chutes & Ladders and forget what is happening to them. We do swing this all the way through, in 4; we don't play it as a Latin.

Blue Moon
- All-purpose "bluesy" 50's pop ballad. This song is to lounge pianists what Summertime is to girl singers in musical theater.

Cheek to Cheek
- The dancers love it. Like it. Sort of. What am I supposed to do?

More of this sort of thing after the break:

Transcription: Andy Newmark - Anticipation

This is kind of a remarkable track by Andy Newmark, Anticipation by Carly Simon, one of the first and biggest hits he played on. It's an easy thing to dismiss— if you're over about 40 years old you've heard it on way too many gas station AM radios, and then, ad nauseum, on a Heinz ketchup commercial— but it's a serious piece of drumming, and music. 

What's interesting about it- and what I'm noticing across the board as I get in and really study some of these 70's things— is the amount of shape and variety there is in the part. In fact “part” isn't the right word; it's a performance— it is obviously played very much in the moment, rather than crafted for the perfect choice of notes. [Update: that's contradicted by the interview below— he actually spent a lot of time thinking about the fills]. The drums track the dynamics of the tune very sensitively, not only in volume but in content— every single measure is different. Very different from the totally regular, completely worked-out thing expected now. 

Get the pdf 

The transcription presented some problems— the frequency of his cymbal is very close to the guitar's range, so it's sometimes difficult to tell which is which, and again, there is so much shape to his playing that at the lower end of the dynamic range things get lost. During the very soft second verse I had to just render the time as slash marks, and write in the fills- what is audible is too sketchy to make a usable transcription.

Much of the riding is done on the crash cymbal (it sounds like a 16")- during those sections he tends to play 8th notes on the hi-hat with his foot; I've mostly left that out except where it's integral to the part. Accents are for shape, rather than absolute volume— accents are just louder than the surrounding notes. The 2 and 4 on the snare are always pretty strong.

2023 update: John DeChristopher interviewed Andy Newmark about recording this song: 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Keeping the band happy.

More notes from revamping my book (my events band's performing repertoire, that is). Here I thought I would share some of the tunes I use to keep the band from going nuts over the more crass Moon River/Fascination/Makin' Whoopee-level of stuff we also perform.
A Sleepin' Bee, Look for the Silver Lining, There's a Small Hotel, This Can't Be Love, The Way You Look Tonight, Lullaby of the Leaves are good for establishing a mood before people are dancing, without wearing the band down with stuff like All of Me.

You Are Too Beautiful, Dedicated to You, I Loves You Porgy, Nancy with the Laughing Face, Stairway to the Stars are set-piece ballads that everyone loves- the band, listeners, slow dancers.

Beautiful Love, I Hear a Rhapsody, If I Should Lose You, You and the Night and the Music are regular blowing tunes for when you can get away with them. We try to get a couple of these in every night.  

More tunes after the break:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday morning bossa nova

Well, "it's Tuesday" and "here's some bossa nova", anyway- this isn't a regular feature or anything. Here's  a variety of poppy 60's stuff, starting with one of my favorite things from the vocal group Quarteto Em Cy:

Edu Lobo, Roberto Menescal, and Tamba Trio after the break:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Drummer/jazz musician interview archive

Here's something well worth spending a few hours with- the podcast archive of the Jake Feinberg Show. Includes interviews with drummers Mickey Roker, and Ndugu Leon Chancler, as well as LA studio percussionist Emil Richards, and author Pete Magadini. Also Richard Davis, Pat Martino, Ali Akbar Khan, Gary Bartz, George Cables, Ernie Watts and George Duke.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stick Control expander - Rhythm, part 1

One of the things I'm working on getting together is an array of stuff to do with Stick Control, that do not make more sense to do by the melody-interpreting Reed/Syncopation method. I know that may not make a hell of a lot of sense to people not deeply involved with both books, but I don't have time to go into it now.

Whatever- our first entry, then, is a series of rhythmic variations for the 4, 8, and 16-note sticking patterns at the front of the book, and for the 16th note flam section- what you do is apply the stickings from those exercises to the rhythms on this sheet. I've written in some sample stickings from p. 5, ex. 5 so you can see how it works.

The notes in parentheses do not get played the first time through the exercise- they complete the pattern on the repeats. Rest during those notes the first time, coming in on the first non-parentheses notes.

Get the pdf.

Updating my book

In preparation for a benefit gig this evening, I'm adding some new tunes my group's book, and more importantly clearing some of the ample dead wood. In case you're curious about the "thought" process that goes into such things, here are some of the things I'm pulling, and why.

Ain't Misbehavin' - I'm so sick to death of this song from playing it with singers, that I've never called it on a gig. Dead weight.

Autumn in New York - I like the tune, but I and the guys have played it behind one magician act too many. We used to play this a lot on the boats, until some staff thought it would be too traumatic for people to hear, because of 9/11. I didn't understand it, either.

Bernie's Tune - Something to keep the band from going nuts from playing too much Moon River and such, but I'm a little bored with it.

Blues in the Night
- Show number which we never play. Miserable theater-person blues.

Chelsea Bridge
- One of the greatest tunes ever, but too dark for this group, or rather, for the events we play.

Come Fly With Me
- Not that well suited to an instrumental rendition. I've been keeping it around for Sinatra requests that never come.

Confessin' That I Love You
- Good, small tune, but I call Look for the Silver Lining or There's a Small Hotel when I need something light like this.

The Continental - Chipper set-piece cha cha, with a little too-involved form for us to mess with. We'd rather just slog through Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White one more time than wade through this thing.

Cotton Tail -
Great tune, we just haven't found a place for it.

Cry Me A River
- Singer tune. Do you really want to hear this at your wedding? 

Don't Get Around Much Any More
- We play this a lot, but nobody I would hire should ever need a chart for this.

Many more after the break.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Transcription: Mocidade tamborims, 2009

Here's something I did for my own benefit, which may or may not be of interest to my regular readers. I picked up and have been fooling around with a Pearl bass drum-mounted tamborim (CSD! Product Review: rather crappy, but serviceable, and inexpensive), and so have started checking out tamborim lead lines more carefully. This one is maybe not so useful from a drum set perspective- the tempo is fast, and the part is a little simplified- but it gives a nice context for checking out what's going on in the complete bateria, and how the line interacts with the vocal part. And it's a fun clip. Mocidade is one of Rio's great samba schools, and has had a lot of influence on Portland samba musicians.
A style note: I've given the standard accents during the repinicado part- the 16ths that are the time feel- but not on the melodic figures, during which almost every note is accented. I just didn't feel like entering all those accents.

Get the pdf.

YouTube clip after the break.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Todd's methods: bongo beat

Here's an easy system I developed for playing a generic Latin feel very bright tempos:

A few notes there weren't room for on the pdf:
- Can be played very fast and very light.
- Also combine exercise measures to make two measure phrases.
- Pay attention to the sound of your rim clicks and rim shots.
- When applying the floor tom variation, play the FT on the & of two of the second measure.
- Also play right hand part on cymbal or bell.
- Improvise your own variations.

Get the pdf.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Go now

Yikes, another patch of light posting, as I've been busy with other projects. Until I can get something posted later in the day, get your rear over to Jon McCaslin's blog to watch and more importantly listen to a rare Kenny Clarke video. In case you're not familiar with him, Clarke is the guy who basically invented the modern usage of the cymbal, and modern drumming generally. Learn more about him from the Mel Lewis history of jazz drumming interviews (another h/t to Jon for linking to that originally), then get yourself copies of Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington and Miles Davis' Walkin', for starters.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Source tunes for Chapin

Thanks to my man Ed Pierce and the Sep. 1994 issue of Modern Drummer, here (well, after the break) are the source tunes for the long exercises in Jim Chapin's Advanced Techniques. As you'll see, a lot of them are pretty obscure, and probably haven't been played much since about Roy Eldridge's heyday in the late 30's-early 40's.

But no matter- playing the tune directly on the drums is fine (and necessary) but for me what's more useful as a player is the next step of seeing how anything at all interacts with any given tune. Playing through, say, the long exercises in Syncopation along with whatever tune I happen to be working on, it's a little weird how together they sound just by accident.  

Tune/exercise list after the break:

Friday, July 08, 2011

Todd Bishop's Pop Art 4 on KMHD (PDX) in 2009

Oh, I guess I should post my own stuff occasionally. Pop Art 4, my group from 2008-2010, is playing a Bastille Day event in Portland tomorrow, and the band sounded so good in rehearsal today I got excited and dug through my archives and made a few YouTube things out of our old radio broadcasts.

Here's Ballade de Melody Nelson, by Serge Gainsbourg, which we played on KMHD (89.1, not 97.1!) in 2009:

Visit to read more about the group and our exploits. Oh, and you can always hit the "Purchase my 2009 CD etc" link on the sidebar if you enjoy the music and want to support the blog.

Sixtuplet plus release

This is something that came up in my practicing yesterday, and I went ahead and scribbled out a page of it for you. These sound good fast, but it's also a good idea to ask "what would Andy Newmark do?" and play them at slower tempos, or in half time, focusing on getting them to sit nicely. You should also take it a few steps further and figure out your own rhythmic variations and bass drum parts.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Transcription: Ringo Starr - God

Here's a nice little catalog of compound meter fills by Ringo Starr, playing on the acoustic, Anthology version of God. Reading Andy Newmark's interview got me in the mood for some Jim Keltner, which I thought this was until I looked at the credit (the little "A Day In The Life" quote after the "I don't believe in Beatles" line would've been cute coming from him). It's really worth it to give this at least one close read-through along with the recording- Ringo is very sensitive in his dynamics throughout the piece, and swings the 16ths in a variety of ways- anywhere between a dotted-16th/32nd rhythm to even 16ths.

Download the pdf 

YouTube video of the track after the break:

1984 Modern Drummer interview: Andy Newmark

Here are some excerpts from another great Modern Drummer interview from my youth, this time with session drummer Andy Newmark, drummer on Sly Stone's Fresh, John Lennon's Double Fantasy, David Bowie's Young Americans, and much more. Here he discusses studio greats Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon- who he has worked with closely, his time with George Harrison and John Lennon, and the craft of drumming on records:

It's a feeling that makes other musicians, and producers, feel musically comfortable. They're able to play that real simple stuff with a conviction that makes it work. If you don't see the beauty in playing simple and get off on it, then when you do it, it won't come off like the person who loves to do it. When Russ Kunkel, Gordon or Keltner would just play those real simple beats, they got off on it. They liked that; they were into it, so it gave the notes validity.

Also, I noticed on the playback that all of the takes- not just the final one- sounded like real records. Whereas often, when I'd hear a playback of something I was doing, a lot of little things would make it feel, to me, like a demo. When I heard them play on something, it always seemed to be so smooth. They had a way of making everything settle and be relaxed. The hardest thing to get a studio drummer to do is make the record feel it's in the right place. Tempo has a lot to do with good records. Being slightly too fast or too slow might cause the whole song to miss the point. And I think producers rely on drummers to find that magical place, within a very small range of tempo. It's something that most people might not hear. There isn't a large difference in those tempos, but it's that one magical place that makes it feel like everything's breathing properly. I started picking up on an inner instinct from these guys that they knew where to put the tempo, and believed in it themselves. They weren't looking for direction- they were the direction; they were the core.

 Extended excerpts plus a couple more of Newmark's tracks after the break:

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Getting started soloing over a form

This is more a roughly-progressive series of guidelines than a step-by-step how-to; this is a much larger subject than can be fully addressed in one little blog post. Players spend years or decades developing a mature soloing style, hopefully continuing to grow over an entire career. I'll certainly be addressing each topic below in stand-alone posts in the near future.

Soloing does require you to make the leap into creative playing on your own- study materials and a pure intellectual approach will not get you there. We're assuming here that you're reasonably comfortable playing general solo stuff (even if very simple) in time and without losing your place in the measure. If you're not, see the tip at the end of the piece, and/or start getting comfortable improvising with very simple materials: quarter notes, quarter rests, 8th notes, and 8th rests.

Get comfortable with generic four and eight measure phrases. At first you should be able to just play for that many measures without getting lost, maybe with a crash at the beginning; soon you should be able to put a more musical ending on each section, and set up the next section. The goal is to make a coherent melodic phrase, with a conversational arc, just as if you were telling someone something interesting vocally for an equal length of time. If you experience problems keeping track, start with two-measure phrases. It will also help (and is good practice musically) to restrict yourself to one or maybe two ideas per phrase.

Much more after the break:

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th

I haven't listened to this in years- it's a pretty remarkable piece of music. I'm now off to try my hand at making a lemon meringue pie...

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Transcription: Roy Haynes - In Walked Bud

To make up for the exceptionally light posting this week, and to follow up the Roy Haynes transcription round-up, here's an extra special solo from In Walked Bud, on Thelonious Monk's Misterioso, which I first transcribed off of the LP in 1988 when I was in the jazz program at USC. It's a classic example, maybe the classic example of melodic drumming, with Haynes closely playing off the melody of the tune.

March '17 update: Complete transcription now available in e-book format for tablet and Kindle, along with four other Roy Haynes solo transcriptions! Get 5 Roy Haynes Solos now.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The stars are aligned

Or something. Looks like I'll be playing this tune with two different groups two weeks in a row, after never playing it in the 20+ years I've known it. A ton more Metheny/Haynes/Holland goodness after the break.