Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Transcription: Vinnie Colaiuta — Beat It With Your Fist

It is law that I must do an ultra-hairy Vinnie Coliauta transcription every time I do a fund raiser [Have you contributed yet? Please do. -tb], so here's Beat It With Your Fist, from Frank Zappa's album Return Of The Son Of Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar. It's one of the harder 29 measures of music I've attempted in a while:

The really big sketchball lick is in measures 15 and 16— which I've chosen to write out as a single measure of 8/4— otherwise the barline is in a really messed-up place. The lick is septuplets— seven 16th notes in the place of four— against even 8th notes in the left foot... and the septuplets begin on the & of each beat. I would play that lick as running doubles— a few of the doubles will be split between two drums. You can learn that lick like this:

Play the repeated measure many times as written, then improvise moving your hands around the drums. When you can do that, trick yourself into thinking the downbeats are the &s: say “&” where it's written in the example, and then play the written ending with the 16th note triplet and crash on “1”.

If it's any consolation, with all of this crazy stuff happening, there is a little bit of variance in the length of the measures— the time does stretch a little bit, as low as 65 bpm, and as high as 72, averaged over one measure. Vinnie Colaiuta is, apparently, a human being.

This is another pdf that will only be available for the duration of the fund raiser.

Get the pdf


  1. Paran1:53 PM

    Hey! Sterling work monsieur! I have a question - can you actually pPLAY this yourself? ;)

  2. Thanks, glad you like it. I do play all of the technical things on the site, but almost never play the transcriptions. It's not beyond me technically, and I could work up the individual licks in short order-- playing the thing all the way through, like an etude, is a ridiculous amount of work, and not what I do. I do have my own hard stuff that I play.

  3. Paran4:00 AM

    Thanks for the insight. In no way was I trying to insinuate anything with regard to your own level/abilities. I suppose it's more to do with what the transcriptions are for. They seem to be more of an analysis that can inform our playing rather than to be performed, as you say, as etudes etc.

  4. For me they're a listening exercise-- I always say I get more out of them than anyone else. I know some good teachers who think people should play them, but I think people should use them as a listening guide-- like, they should listen to the recording many times while following along on the page. They're also good for getting a realistic idea of what these famous players are actually doing-- what goes into a professional drumming performance, and what is he doing that I can also do, or that I can't do. And mundane stuff like how varied is the time feel? How often does he hit the crash cymbal? How often does he deviate from just playing snare, bass, and hihat? How many times does he hit the floor tom in the course of the tune?