Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dahlgren & Fine practice order

The “harmonic” coordination exercises from Dahlgren & Fine's 4-Way Coordination is one of the more daunting collections of junk in the drumming literature. For many years I resisted using the book at all, but I finally got my head around the possibility of it having some value, and here we are. So here's the pattern sequence I use and recommend for working on it. We're talking pages 15-18 and 20; I use it with the page 10 linear triplets, too. Here's how the patterns are presented in the book, with the letter names of the patterns:

Play each three- or four-note pattern by itself. I play the top staff followed by the bottom staff, so the letter sequence is out of order:

||: A :||     ||: C :||     ||: B :||     ||: D :||

Once you've worked through all of the patterns on the first page of exercises, you should be ready to begin combining patterns. Play all sequences of two patterns:

||: AC :||     ||: BD :||     ||: AB :||     

||: CD :||     ||: AD :||     ||: BC :||

Again, when you've covered all the two pattern combinations for the first page, you can begin playing all four patterns in sequence:

||: ACBD :||     ||: ABCD :||     ||: ADBC :||

If you are practicing many hours every day and want to get nutso about this, there may be some benefit to playing each pattern twice, on the multipattern phrases:

||: AB :||  becomes  ||: AABB :||

||: ABCD :||  becomes  ||: AABBCCDD :||

In the book each numbered system of two staves is four measures long, but I only take them one measure at a time, as above. At some point there may be some value in combining measures, doing the whole line at once, but I really don't want to make a career out of practicing this book. I don't know about you. I think when we've completed the system I've described above, we can consider ourselves to have covered it thoroughly. The purpose of the book is conditioning, after all— we're not trying to learn to play exactly like the book patterns.

Obviously, this makes a long process out of practicing these pages. I would expect to get through about a half page to one page every practice session. It's fine. There is no rush to get through it quickly.

Finally, the tempo marking will be meaningless for the foreseeable future. Cover all of the patterns at whatever tempo at which you can actually play them. About halfway through that process, you can consider upping the tempo part of the time.

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