Tuesday, December 25, 2012

VOQOTD: Dave Liebman on rhythm

Eighth notes are the main denomination of jazz time, much like the penny is to the American dollar. Although one may not play only eighth notes, they still serve as the underpinning of jazz time, similar to what the clave beat is in Afro Cuban music, meaning if not necessarily stated it is implied. A note here on terminology: what are called eighth notes in jazz may also be conceptualized as triplets with a space between the first and third part of the three part division, or it can be seen as a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth note. For the purposes here the distinctions are not important. In short, when a jazz musician sees eighth notes written on a page, (s)he immediately plays the rhythm either like a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth or the above described triplet.

Read more by Liebman here.

Read what I've written about swing.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More humor

This ear worm has seriously been plaguing me all day, and I see no reason why this should just be my problem:


Speaking of the record: being from the Pacific Northwest, I've never felt we projected any kind of cultural identity to the rest of the world. Even within the region all we ever had to latch onto were Prefontaine, Henry Weinhard's beer, Nirvana, and Drugstore Cowboy. Usually when I'd go overseas if people knew where Oregon was, all they would know about it is that “it's rainy.”

So I was kind of happy to actually be able to live up to a stereotype when we were performing in Europe in November. A friend of one of our Brussels musicians, who was familiar with Portlandia, heard where I was from, and was getting a kick out of quoting this to me all evening:

It took me a little while to remember my own merch:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

RLB sticking applied

This is that previous right/left/bass sticking applied to Exercise 9 from Ted Reeds's Syncopation (p. 45 in the old edition). The entire piece follows that sticking, except for a couple of spots. I've written in the stickings where the reading is more difficult, and at the couple of spots where we deviate from the pattern.

Feel free to learn this one line, or shorter phrase, at a time. The hand parts can be played on any drums; maybe start with the right on the high tom and the left on the snare.

Get the pdf

Friday, December 21, 2012

LPLB makes a best of 2012 list

Dan McClenaghan at All About Jazz has included my record Little Played Little Bird on his Best Releases of 2012 list. He had this to say:

“Drummer Todd Bishop is an underground treasure. He doesn't boast the highest of profiles, but he has put out two consecutive great CDs for the Origin Records label: 2009's 69 Annee Erotique and now, this nod to alto saxophonist/free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman.”

You can get either/both CDs via le sidbar, either in CD or download form... have I mentioned that purchasing my records is a great way to support the blog?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

RLB sticking warmups

Following up the “sticking experiment” from a few days ago, I've written some warmups for a more involved piece which will be coming in a few days. Here we're applying the very useful right/left/bass sticking across a variety of rhythms:

The idea is for these to develop into solo ideas for a jazz context, so swing the 8th notes. Don't swing beats containing both 8ths and 16ths, or 16th note triplets; play them straight, but legato. You can move the hand parts to any drums you want, but start with the right hand on the high tom and the left hand on the snare drum. You could also play the hihat with your foot in the place of the bass drum.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Books in hand

Oh, hey, I just received my own copies of my new book, 100 Grooves. Nine days from order to receipt of the books, with the cheapest shipping. As usual Lulu.com's print job is impeccable, and thanks to the magic of CMYK (which always makes printing in color an exercise in terror), the actual cover is a nice hot pink rather than the garish flaming fuschia that appears on the Lulu page.

Thanks to everyone who has ordered— you should be receiving your books soon. For everyone else, it's too late to order for Christmas, but don't you deserve to get yourself a little new year's present?

Oh, and be sure to check Lulu's coupon page before buying.

Syncopation, Lesson 4, in 5/4

This is really a library piece— I use pp. 10-11 from Syncopation (that's Lesson 4 in the new edition) so many different ways that I wanted to put it into 5/4. We'll be referring to this soon in some other posts, but right now it's just five pages of... potential?

Many of the interpretations we've done before will apply directly to these pages, and some will take some rejiggering. Coming soon...

Get the pdf

Pad practice caveat

As someone who comes from the land of the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, and the rest of that nightmare, it's kind of quaintly Canadian that he calls this a “rant”, but Ted Warren says something very important here, which I've been thinking about a lot since he posted it over a year ago:

Pure chops are experiencing a little bit of a golden age right now, and an increasing number of drummers seem to be viewing the act of playing as purely a matter of muscular training and physics, so it's good to remember that the first guiding principle for all musicians should be the sound you get out of your instrument. Forgetting that makes your practice something like, say, going fly fishing in a wading pool, or learning to bake using an inedible flour substitute. Pick your simile in which you learn a technique, sort of, but never actually do the thing that is supposed to be the whole point: making bread that tastes good, or hooking and boating a damn fish. I do think that using a practice pad is pretty much unavoidable, but it is important to remember, and compensate for, what you are not getting from it.

PS: Incidentally, Warren has a new piece up on the subject of sound, that is worth a read.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dotted-quarter cymbal in 5/4 — two measures

We seem to be having a little bit of an early Christmas/Saturnalia with all of these downloads, as I make up for a slow November. This is yet another extension of one of the Elvin series of posts (which has long since stopped being just about the so-called “Afro waltz”), using here a 3/4 dotted-quarter note cymbal pattern extended over two measures of 5/4. You'll want to have mastered these same patterns in plain old 3/4 before attempting this. Also see the page of one measure 5/4 patterns with this same cymbal pattern.

Here's a fresh link for the left hand tom moves I like to apply to these pages. If you can do these exercises with the moves, while counting out loud (just “1, 2, 3, 4, 5”), you should be well on your way to achieving a pretty unshakable 5/4.

Get the pdf

Monday, December 17, 2012

DBMITW: Milton Nascimento with George Duke

George Duke's Brazilian Love Affair, again. Ao Que Vai Nascer, by Milton Nascimento. I'm glad someone put this onto YouTube, and you will be, too, in a moment:

Transcription: Roy Haynes — Played Twice

I'm always listening to great drummers, but Roy Haynes just sweeps in and blows everyone away here. I love the way he plays this head. This is Thelonious Monk's Played Twice, from The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy:

Get the pdf

Audio after the break:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A sticking experiment

I don't know where I'm going with this idea, but what the hell, if a blog isn't the place to throw up whatever half-baked junk you happen to be fiddling with at the moment...

Here I've applied a basic three-part sticking of R-L-B (B = both hands) to a few rhythms from Syncopation:

My initial idea was that this could be another variety of Reed interpretation, to be applied on the fly, but that seems pointlessly difficult, and not really anything to do with a needed real-world musical skill. Probably a better use for the idea is to use it to generate some materials which would be completely written out, like the second line of each pair above. The goal would be to run some essential coordination idea through some rhythmic permutations in perhaps a more interesting way than the familiar “tables of time” approach. There seems to be a lot of potential in the idea when you include the four limbs, and the combinations of limbs, in the stickings. We'll see.

Get the pdf, if for some reason you want it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Transcription: Milton Banana — O Samba Da Minha Terra

Another Milton Banana transcription, this time the batucada-style intro to O Samba Da Minha Terra, from the same Sambas De Bossa album as last time. We'll probably be seeing more of these, because I really like listening to Banana's playing, and transcribing really makes you listen closely.

I've isolated the main groove at the bottom of the page, with my best guess at a sticking for it. It's a little awkward, with the three lefts in a row around beat 2, but it seems to be the most practical option given the accents— at one point or another there are snare drum accents everywhere but on the second or third notes of the three lefts. It's possible (likely?) he's doing something else, maybe a non-obvious sticking that facilitates the feel, and/or possibly using a unique sticking for each of the three or four different things that happen here. An easy solution to all of this would be to eliminate the left hand on beat 2, and do the entire pattern with an alternating sticking— that's the most common way of making this feel.

This would be a good time to revisit my posts on samba feel— I'd direct you to someone more authoritative, but none of those people seem to be writing about this on the Internet— while giving this a close listen. Here Banana plays a moderately swingy “tripteenth” feel (which basically squishes the four 16th notes into the space of the first and last notes of the triplet); the triplet pull is not extremely strong, but  he's obviously not playing even 16ths, either.

Get the pdf

Audio after the break:

DBMITW: trove o' Burton

I've been listening to a lot of Gary Burton lately— like the past five months or so— but haven't been sharing much because there's a shortage of his recorded stuff on YouTube, except for this series of bootleg live recordings. A series which I just noticed is ridiculously huge— there are dozens of videos, many of which include complete concerts dating from 1968-2011:

Vienna 1975 with Pat Metheny, Mick Goodrick, Steve Swallow, and Bob Moses:

There are several more after the break, including one with Roy Haynes— or you can visit the Burton bootlegs YouTube channel:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Several ideas in 5/4

Nothing particularly ground-breaking here, but this came up today while I was working on Mevlevia, an ECM-type tune in a moderate 5. I've taken some basic patterns in 5/8, and applied them to a usable range of rhythms in 5/4. The base patterns should be familiar to anyone who has worked through Gary Chaffee's books, or Even in the Odds, or just fooled around with five-note patterns a little bit.

Alternate the singles on the first pattern, or apply whatever sticking you like. Patterns 2-4 can also be played on the drums as a sticking, accenting the right hand: RLRLL, RLRLR, and RLLRL, respectively. Move all of the patterns around the drums, especially the first one.

Get the pdf.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New CSD! book: 100 Grooves

OK, here it is, just in time for Christmas— our new book, 100 Grooves - vol. 1, is now available for purchase.

It contains over 100 transcribed drum grooves by people like Elvin Jones, Ed Blackwell, Airto, Billy Cobham, Zigaboo Modeliste, James Gadson, Clyde Stubblefield, Art Blakey, Mike Clark, Billy Higgins, and, as they say, many, many more. Explanatory text is by yours truly, Todd Bishop.

Some of the entries have been featured on the blog as past “grooves o' the day”, but approximately 70% of them have never been published anywhere before. Contains a whole lot of funk, Latin jazz, fusion, soul, odd meters, and the Afro 6/8 grooves I'm so fond of.

I've found that the printer, Lulu, is surprisingly fast— my past orders have made it to Portland in seven business days or less using the cheapest shipping option— but order ASAP to receive your book(s) in time to make Christmas gifts out of them.

By the way, you can still get the 2011 transcriptions book at a 10% discount— the per-note value is still the best on the Internet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Brian Blade transcription

Drummer/blogger Sam Nadel of London has given us a nice, heavy transcription of Brian Blade's solo on Jazz Crimes, along with a whole lot of other good stuff.

Give a listen to the audio after the break, then go download the complete transcription:

Dave Brubeck 1920-2012

On the occasion of pianist Dave Brubeck's passing at age 91, it might be nice to set aside the time to watch his appearance on Jazz Casual with Ralph J. Gleason:

Here's a notice from the Chicago Tribune (h/t to Balloon Juice).

And a photo series from Talking Points Memo.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Cascara coordination — 01

OK, I am seriously in need of a break from working on the book— finishing the damn thing is always the hardest. So here's a page of exercises for developing coordination with the cascara, a common Afro-Cuban/salsa feel, with clave in the left foot. The method of the Elvin Jones Afro waltz series is working well for me in my own practice, so we'll use it again here. The left hand parts are  written purely based on a logic of physical coordination, and are not “correct” to the style at all. Working on Dahlgren & Fine and Ralph Humphrey's materials I've found that drilling wrong things actually helps the right things sit better.

The patterns are based on basic coordination with the singles and doubles in the right hand part, and filling the gaps in the right hand part. It should be easier to get these when you understand what's going on, but the logic can be a little obscure just looking at the page, so I've given a summary of each exercise. The right hand is normally played on the shell or rim of the floor tom, and the left hand on the snare drum as a rim click, but you can also play the right on a cymbal or cowbell— or anything else that works for you— and we'll be doing the tom moves I've outlined previously with the left.

I've written the patterns using 2:3 son clave; you should also play them with the measures reversed to make 3:2 clave. You may find some of the patterns easier at first if you start them on beat 2, or on the & of 4 of the second bar. It's certainly worth doing these patterns with hands alone, too.

Get the pdf

Monday, December 03, 2012

Groove o' the day: “They called him Craw.”

This new grooves book is almost done, believe it or not— the 20% discount on the transcriptions book should be good for just a couple of more days. The last new thing I put in the new book is this 12/8 groove by Jimmy Crawford, played on the snare drum first with brushes, then with sticks:

The sticking is mine, and the groove may be a composite because there is at least one other uncredited drummer playing along with him, and it's difficult to say who's doing what. Here's the audio:

After the break: the meaning of that headline.