Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Double time feel / half time feel

Hm, maybe being extraordinarily busy will force me to finally do some things that are actually accessible to people. Here's another easy thing, illustrating half time feel and double time feel using basic rock beats. Playing a double time or half time feel in this case means halving or doubling the feel rhythmically within the original tempo-- instead of playing the snare drum backbeats on beats 2 and 4, you play them on beat 3, or on the &s of every beat. A true double time or half time involves an actual change in tempo, and would be written the same as the original beat-- the first two measures of each line-- with a written notation telling you to play half (or twice) as fast.

Play each section with repeats and without, then play the entire page without stopping.

Get the pdf

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Other people write things

OK, clearly this light patch is going to continue for a bit, so let's see what my blogging compatriots are up to:

Let's lead with pianist George Colligan, who has a few words on practicing:

It should be tedious if it's really worthwhile. Much of practicing is not fun. It takes discipline. I personally don't have a problem with people practicing while they watch TV! If you are doing maintenance exercises, or warm ups, or something like that, I think that watching TV might make the "medicine easier to swallow, " if you know what I mean.


What is really important to you? Is it more important to go to the coast on the weekend and hang out with your friends? Or is spending some time on your instrument more important? Maybe you could do both. Still, you might find that spending quality time on your instrument means there are other things. 

Continued after the break:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Expanding on The Kenny Note

What we have here are some very basic comping ideas based on the so-called (by me only, I'm sure) "Kenny" note-- a snare drum punctuation on the & of 1 or the & of 3. A student is having some difficulties bringing his comping practice into his actual playing, and we had some success starting with this approach of starting with one note, and adding things to it:

You could also call this "jazz comping survival chops"; a bare minimum of stuff that will sound like a lot more than the sum of its parts, if applied musically. Memorize the patterns as you practice them, then throw the page away and improvise with them while playing along with a recording or singing a tune. In general you don't want to play them repetitively in actual music; mix them up, and put in more space (where you just play time) between ideas. Listen to recordings of Kenny Clarke or Connie Kay to get an idea of the level of density to shoot for at first.

Get the pdf

Monday, July 23, 2012

Delecluse revoiced for the drumset

This is a piece a lot of you current or former percussion majors should be familiar with-- Etude 4 from Methode de Caisse-Claire by Jacques Delecluse. I've made a three limb drumset study out of it:

I looks like a lot of stuff, but I was trying to address one basically one thing-- singles with the hands interacting with the bass drum; mostly with the BD at the end of the motif. It's fairly challenging but doable at the original marked tempo of quarter note = 100-- I suspect 80 BPM will be a more realistic goal for most people. Do your best to make the written dynamics. I didn't want to clutter up the page with the stickings, but a little later I'll scan and post my marked up copy. Try to keep it pretty strictly alternating, with no doubles or drags. You'll find that a lot of phrases start with the left hand. I'll record it for you when and if I have the time to get it to a satisfactory state. And it's subject to revision as I work through it and find things I like better musically.

Get the pdf

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Playing today...

Off to play at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival under the St. Johns bridge in Portland this afternoon, with Andrew Durkin's Proto-Human group. If you're in Portland, come on down-- we hit at 3:45.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Groove o' the day: Dry Cleaner from Des Moines

Extremely light posting again this week, obviously-- there's just a whole lot going on right now; so until Monday at least you'll have to amuse yourself by making another pass through our copious archives, or you can work up Peter Erskine's groove from Dry Cleaner From Des Moines, on Joni Mitchell's Mingus:

It's played with brushes on the snare drum. The toms are not played strongly-- it takes a close listen to even hear that he's playing them. The 16ths are lightly swinging.

YouTube audio after the break:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DBMITW: freight train

Several clips of Tony Williams during his early 70's "freight train from hell" phase:

With Stan Getz, along with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke:


Continued after the break:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Survival chops: accented 8ths

This is never too far from my mind anyway, but playing a salsa gig this weekend it occurred to me how little advanced chops are required in most musical situations. What is usually required is bonehead familiarity with really obvious stuff, because a) when playing unfamiliar music with a band who doesn't know you, it's best to keep it simple, and b) usually it's the best thing musically anyway. Your artistry in this case comes from all of the elements of musical development other than playing more complicated crap; like playing functional but musically powerful parts with great timing, feel and sound, and getting the maximum effect with your dynamics and orchestration of the drumset, to name a few.

So what I'll be attempting to do with this series is identify and present as concisely as possible some key stuff needed for playing regular gigs. We'll start with a simple page of accented 8th notes, played in cut time:

Get the pdf

Practice suggestions after the break:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Groove o' the day: more Mike Clark

Wow, I think that's the longest we've gone without posting since I "revived this sucker somewhat" back in January, 2011. It's been a very busy week with tour junk, car shopping, and brushing up on my salsa drumming for an out of town gig this weekend, among other things. So the biggest thing I can manage right now is another Mike Clark groove, this time from Herbie Hancock's Death Wish soundtrack:

The hot drummer-on-bidness action is going to continue through the weekend, but hopefully we'll be back on regular posting on Monday or so...

YouTube audio after the break:

Monday, July 09, 2012

Groove o' the day: Palm Grease

Here's another hugely famous piece of drumming-- one of the best-known of the 70's-- by Mike Clarke on the tune Palm Grease from the Herbie Hancock album Thrust:

YouTube audio after the break:

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Kenny Note

As I was listening to the Kenny Clarke record Detroit Jazzmen it jumped out at me that Clarke really favors comping with the snare drum on the & of 1 and/or 3:

Get the pdf

Now, this is such a universal thing that giving "credit" to one drummer for it seems completely ridiculous; the & of 1/& of 3 punctuation certainly pre-dates Kenny Clarke. It would be just as easy to make a case for calling it the Papa Jo note or the Big Sid note. Then again, there was really no such thing as modern left hand independence before Clarke. From his 1984 Modern Drummer interview with Ed Thigpen:

...Joe Garland, a tenor player with Edgar Hayes, would write things for me. He'd write out a trumpet part, and he'd leave it up to me to play whatever I felt would be most effective. I'd play the figures over the regular beat. That's how I first got the idea to play that way. Then I developed the idea further with Roy [Eldridge]. Most of the guys who'd played with Roy didn't do anything with their left hands. Almost everybody was just copying Jo with that hi-hat thing. 

For that matter, it would not be at all out of line to call the standard jazz ride cymbal pattern The Kenny Beat or whatever, since he did in fact invent it. So maybe if we think of this comping thing narrowly in a bebop context played along with the ride cymbal it won't be quite so absurd as it initially seems. 

YouTube audio of the tune after the break:

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Transcription: Blue Seven

UPDATE: PDF link working now!

I can't believe I've never transcribed this one before. This is a very famous drum solo by Max Roach, on the tune Blue Seven from the album Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.

The tune is a blues, which is a twelve bar form, composed of three four-measure phrases. The drum solo starts four measures into the form; Max completes that first chorus and plays six more. It's very hands-oriented playing, maintaining quarter notes on the bass drum, lightly, and the 2 and 4 on the hihat all the way through. When he plays the cymbal, it doesn't vary from the usual ride pattern, except to make an accent or set up the next thing. There's a passage in the middle where he pretty clearly uses paradiddle and double paradiddle stickings; I'll let you figure out stickings that work for you on the last chorus. You can find similar solo ideas in Joe Cusatis's Roach-influenced book Rudimental Patterns.  Note that the execution can be a little rough-- the left hand does not always sync precisely with the other limbs, for example.

Get the pdf

YouTube audio after the break:

Friday, July 06, 2012

What records I'm listening to

My original bleak assessment of the future of this feature has mostly played out-- I still just listen to the same batch of records over and over for days or weeks at a time. But a few more things have worked their way to the front of the pile this week, so here we are:

Gary Burton Quintet - Dreams So Real / Music of Carla Bley ECM
Side I: Dreams So Real - Ictus/Syndrome - Wrong Key Donkey - Jesus Maria
Drums by Bob Moses

Gary Burton - Turn of the Century (compilation) Atlantic
Side One: Vibrafinger - Moonchild/In Your Quiet Place - Fortune Smiles
Drums by Bernard Purdie and Bill Goodwin

Roy Haynes - Out of the Afternoon Impulse!
Side Two: Snap Crackle - If I Should Lose You - Long Wharf - Some Other Spring
Drums by Roy Haynes

Grachan Moncur III - Evolution Blue Note
Side One: Air Raid - Evolution
Drums by Tony Williams

A few YouTube selections from these records after the break:

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

VOQOTD: George Marsh on playing odd meters

"[Y]ou don't have to play the first beat of an odd meter loudly. You have to know where it is, and the musical phrases should flow through the downbeat. Usually that takes playing the downbeat for a while, then experimenting with phrases that don't necessarily have the downbeat on every bar. Maybe with two bar phrases so that you'll hear this rhythm not hitting the downbeat which will be a surprise, but you'll get it after the second bar. Sooner or later it will turn into a melodic flow that has to do with the tensions and releases of 5/4 and the particular pattern that you're in. The way to become fluid is to study the time signatures, play them a lot and log the hours like you would log flying time. There's no other way, you just do it."
- George Marsh

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Groove o' the day: T & T, too

While you're feverishly working on yesterday's GOTD by Ed Blackwell, allow me to throw at you a similar version of the same groove from later in the tune, which again is T & T by Ornette Coleman, from the record Ornette. Here the busier part is played on the high tom instead of the snare, and the SD has the snares turned off. Instead of playing half notes on the bass drum, he plays a funkier New Orleans/BaiĆ£o type of pattern on the 1, 4, and 3 of the second measure:

Here it is again with the hands separated, without the bass drum:

Then with the bass added back in:

You know, I remember hearing a radio feature years ago about a French cat who had been studying with Blackwell for years, and who apparently knows his method as well as anyone living. I've been hoping he would come out with a book at some point. If I could remember his name I would hit him up to do that.

See the last post for the audio.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Groove o' the Day: Ed Blackwell - T & T

Here's another Ed Blackwell groove, from the intro to Ornette Coleman's T & T, off the album Ornette:

For clarity, here is the same groove written as separate rhythms, without the bass drum:

We'll be seeing a lot more of these in the near future as I finally after all these years try to get inside these famous drum grooves of Blackwell's. 

YouTube audio after the break:

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Rock in 5/4: Water by PJ Harvey

Here's a song I was working on with one of my students which happens to be timely since it's in 5/4-- Water, by PJ Harvey, with a great pop drumming performance by Robert Ellis. What I've done is sketch out the parts and give the roadmap of the song-- it will be up to you to piece it together and learn the song.

Get the pdf

YouTube audio after the break: