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:

- Use alternating sticking, starting with either hand.
- Play as even 8th notes in 4/4, or 2/2, or as 16th notes in 2/4 or 4/4.
- Play as swing 8th in a moderate to bright 4/4.
- Play unaccented notes as drags.
- Play accented notes on cymbal, along with the bass drum.
- Play on snare drum or closed hihats along with an ostinato with the feet (like swing w/"feathered" BD, samba, baiao, etc) or just the bass drum (on 1 and 3, or samba or baiao) or hihat (on 3, 2 and 4, 1 and 3, or on quarter notes).
- Vary dynamics; f accents/mp taps and mp accents/pp taps will be most useful, I think.
- Play at tempos ranging from half note = 80 to 150. You may want to practice them slower or faster, but that is a good practical range for most music.

As always, learning any one of those suggestions well is an accomplishment, so don't be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to do, and don't be in a hurry to move on to the next thing. Let your immediate musical needs by your guide when choosing a practice method.

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