Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quick takes: MD's 25 timeless drum books list

Perhaps not the best superlative for a list of books on drumming, but we get the picture. Here I've given some brief opinions on the entries in Modern Drummer's list of 25 timeless drum books. I've bolded the titles I think everyone should own.

1. STICK CONTROL FOR THE SNARE DRUMMER by George Lawrence Stone (Alfred)
Every drummer should own this, that's all. You do have to play the whole thing, not just the first page.

2. MASTER STUDIES by Joe Morello (Modern Drummer Publications)
Expands on some ideas found in Stone's Stick Control and Accents & Rebounds (which was actually ghost-co-written by Morello). This is really a complete system for practicing and playing the snare drum, that is not rudimentally based. It's similar to the rudimental system, and overlaps with it, but it's different. There's also a Master Studies II— best to own both volumes.

3. THE NEW BREED by Gary Chester (Modern Drummer Publications)
The major book for post Dave Weckl-style fusion drumming, and all-around pan-genre studio funk— Lately I feel that that type of playing is a bit of a plague, and I rarely crack this book. And you know I'm not really down with the open-handed stuff. Whatever. It's a major book.

4. ADVANCED FUNK STUDIES by Rick Latham (Latham Publications)
More a collection of licks and ideas than a method book. That's not a bad thing, but I was never able to do much with them in the form they're presented here. It's probably a decent book for getting your fusion clich├ęs together.

5. REALISTIC ROCK by Carmine Appice (Alfred)
I really dislike the archaic notation system used here, so I have never used this book. Plus nobody I know ever used it that I'm aware of. I would need to see an updated edition with modern notation to really give it a fair shot.

6. GROOVE ALCHEMY by Stanton Moore (Hudson Music)
Great history book and style guide for certain areas of funk drumming. Moore's method for creating new grooves by combining elements of old ones, is not really for me. It's fine, I just don't think that way or play that way.

I have seen this book but don't own it; it looks like a solid player's history of R&B drumming.

8. FUTURE SOUNDS by David Garibaldi (Alfred)
Modern funk book a lot of people use. I learned a lot from Garibaldi's materials when I was in school, but the method here is just a little too abstract for me. If you work through this book and New Breed you'll definitely have your 80s-and-later fusion thing together.

9. THE DRUMSET MUSICIAN by Rod Morgenstein and Rick Mattingly (Hal Leonard)
I think this is the best all-around introduction to the drum set I've seen. Maybe best for mature beginning and intermediate players.

Another primary text for jazz drummers, that is showing its age now. I prefer using other books for this type of thing, but you do have to own this.

11. THE ART OF BOP DRUMMING by John Riley (Manhattan Music/Alfred)
Great introduction to jazz drumming. Contains a lot of information that students previously had to luck into— maybe you'd get exposed to that info, and maybe you wouldn't. You had to have a good teacher or be in a good scene.

2020 UPDATE: After writing this post, I wrote about some of my feelings about this book. Also someone online asked a question expressing similar sentiments, to which Riley responded directly.

12. MODERN RUDIMENTAL SWING SOLOS by Charley Wilcoxon (Ludwig Music)
This is a book many of your favorite jazz drummers worked through, so if you want to participate in that tradition, you probably should, too.

13. PATTERNS, VOLUME 1, 2, 3, 4 by Gary Chaffee (Alfred)
The major source for super advanced, Vinnie Colaiuta-style rhythm, as well as advanced fusion drumming. I spent a lot of time with these books, and am not sure 100% of it was well spent— I have never had to use the extremely advanced rhythms from vol 1 and 2 in actual music. When I use these books today, I ignore virtually all of the odd-tuplet related stuff. I use volume 3 (Time Functioning) extensively.

14. 4-WAY COORDINATION by Marvin Dahlgren and Elliot Fine (Alfred)
I've had my issues with this book in the past, but have come to terms with it. I developed my own version of the very difficult “harmonic” section, which I prefer to the original.

15. EVEN IN THE ODDS by Ralph Humphrey (C.L. Barnhouse)
This is a great drum method book. Not as sexily futuristic as Gary Chaffee's Patterns series, but for me it has been far more practical.

16. DRUMSET ESSENTIALS, VOLUME 1 by Peter Erskine (Alfred)
Never read or used this book, but Erskine is a great drum author and educator— I own several of his books, and all are extremely valuable.

17. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DOUBLE BASS DRUMMING by Bobby Rondinelli and Michael Lauren (Modern Drummer Publications)
Never used this book, never looked at it, probably never will.

18. BASS DRUM CONTROL by Colin Bailey (Hal Leonard)
Not bad, but I glance at it every few years and am never moved to practice from it. Similar linear patterns to those found in Gary Chaffee's Patterns books.

19. THE SOUND OF BRUSHES by Ed Thigpen (Alfred)
When it came out in the 80s, this was a big leap forward for books on brushes, but the notation system is still pretty obscure. There's a more recent Berklee book on brushes which I found a little more usable. All jazz drummers should own it, though— it's by Ed Thigpen.

This book really belongs at the top of the list. The one absolutely essential, indispensable drum book. You can do everything that matters with it— everything in 4, anyway.

2020 UPDATE: Here's a post I wrote going into a little more detail about why Syncopation is so great.

21. BUDDY RICH’S MODERN INTERPRETATION OF SNARE DRUM RUDIMENTS by Buddy Rich and Henry Adler (Music Sales Corporation)
I reckon this is the bible for rudimental, snare drum-oriented jazz drummers in the Buddy Rich camp. I've never used it.

22. PORTRAITS IN RHYTHM by Anthony J. Cirone (Alfred)
Advanced college-level book of snare drum etudes. Extremely challenging reading, and absolutely one of the modern classics of drumming literature. Most drummers will not know what to do with it.

23. MODERN READING TEXT IN 4/4 by Louie Bellson and Gil Breines (Alfred)
This is a standard book, but I've not used it a whole lot. Maybe it's balanced a little too much towards creating reading challenges, rather than just building basic familiarity with normal reading, as with Reed. Though it does fill some gaps in Reed, so it's worth having around.

24. AFRO-CUBAN RHYTHMS FOR DRUMSET by Frank Malabe and Bob Weiner (Alfred)
In the late 80s, this was the big modern Afro-Cuban/Salsa book. Today I prefer Ed Uribe's The Essence of Afro-Cuban Percussion and Drum Set. This book is more concise, but Uribe's book, though massively intimidating, has been better to practice from, and does a better job of demystifying this music.

25. WEST AFRICAN RHYTHMS FOR DRUMSET by Royal Hartigan (Alfred)
I've never looked at this, or used it. It's probably great. It's a little bit of a niche item for north American drummers, but if including it on the list got some people to investigate African music, it's a good thing.


David said...

Love your blog, even though I'm not a drummer. I get a lot of great, invaluable information from it as a guitarist and teacher.

So, what books do you feel are missing from the list? Personally, Drum Wisdom - Bob Moses and The Art of Modern Jazz Drumming - Jack DeJohnette/Charlie Perry seem like they would fit in. Personally, again, as a non-drummer, I've found them very valuable.

Thanks again for everything you post from a long time reader, first time commenter.

Todd Bishop said...

Thanks, man, I appreciate it! Those two books, definitely. Ed Uribe's Afro-Cuban and Brazilian books, too. I have my issues with Charles Dowd's Funky Primer, but I think it's definitely a better book than Realistic Rock. Steve Houghton's Studio & Big Band Drumming is another one that should be in there... there are a whole lot of other fairly obscure/weirdish books that have been really valuable to me, but would never make it to a list like this... need to get working on a couple of other book list posts, I think!

David said...

Thanks Todd. I'd love to hear about the less mainstream, weird books that you like. As for a guitar book that I think any creative musician should check out, dig Mick Goodrick's The Advancing Guitarist. Brilliant stuff that I think you'd enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Todd, I'm quite interested to hear your take in a little more detail about the 'Patterns' series. You said you went through it a lot...what parts did you focus on back then, or which book/books and why (which specifically) do you now only focus on certain parts?

Todd Bishop said...

Sure, yes— I worked very hard on the first three books for several years— vol. 4, on technique, didn't come out until later. The first book just deals with very advanced, Zappa-like, rhythm, mostly in standard meters. I had a very hard time finding a practical application for those rhythms— they weren't working with the music I was playing, and I've never used them or missed them since.

The stickings book, vol. 2, is more useful to me, but it's still largely dedicated to advanced rhythms that are useless to me. And I still can't really hang with the methodology, which involves learning 3-8 note pattern fragments, and then doing combinations of them to fit in the space you want to fill. There's a linear section in vol. 3 which uses the same principle— my recent linear pages in 5/4 are based on it. It's not a bad way to write exercises, but actually conceiving your playing in series of fragments that add up to the length of a musical phrase is not, to me, very musical.

The third book is the most practical, but I still can't do a whole lot with it. The linear section is the one I use the most. I've found the jazz section to be, I'm sorry to say, totally useless.

My favorite book of Chaffee's is actually his odd time stickings book— I think I wrote somewhere on the blog what I was doing with it and what I liked about it. I think the technique book is also pretty good, even though I haven't used it much.