Monday, January 30, 2017


This may already be a “hybrid” rudiment, but I wouldn't know, because that is not my bag. I've posted a few modified paradiddle things in the past (like my “3.5-adiddle”), and this is a new one I've been screwing around with, a seven-note pattern: RLRRLRR-LRLLRLL. Sort of a paradiddle... adiddle.

You can see that's the basic pattern, along with a few exercises for learning to play it repetitively, and learning to play it in duple meters. As indicated on the page, the accents in parentheses are optional— play them, don't play them, or play them lightly. For practical purposes, your initial goal should be to play them at quarter note = 120, and your eventual goal should be around 150+. They can be played faster, but then you're getting into “flurry of shit” mode.

Get the pdf

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Art Blakey in '85

Here's video of Art Blakey playing in 1985. I saw him in Eugene, Oregon during this same tour, when I was a senior in high school. He played impressively loud— he had this heavy ride cymbal, same one in this video, that was very metallic sounding, and he really laid into it. All these years I thought it was a Paiste heavy, but I'm certain it's the same cymbal as in this video. Also noted that his bass drum was wide open— no muffling at all, but when he played it it just sounded big. Also noted that the front head was moving all the time— he was clearly playing it as part of his time feel, sometimes obviously pretty strongly.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Site news

Just a quick update: I know little is happening on the surface this week, but I'm in the midst of a lot of work on better monetizing the blog. You'll notice we've added some Amazon ads here and there— I get a small commission when you click on them and buy things, so I encourage you to do that. I'm also going to be releasing more things in e-book format— you saw the Elvin Jones transcriptions e-book, I'm also a few days away from a similar Tony Williams release, followed by Zigaboo Modeliste, and a few other things in rapid succession. Mainly I'm doing this to get some things on the Amazon system, and also to work towards offering some premium paid content for blog readers.

As always, if you like what we do here, and want to help us continue, you can support us by:

  • Making cash donations.
  • Buying my print and e-books, and CDs.
  • Hiring me for private lessons via Skype— or in person, if you live in Portland.
  • Buying things through the Amazon links. Like these ones:  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New e-book: 5 Elvin Jones Transcriptions

Here's what I've been doing all weekend instead of writing blog posts: writing a new e-book of some transcriptions previously available on the blog, all re-proofed and edited: Summertime (drum solo), Lonnie's Lament, Big Nick (complete), Soul Eyes, and Tunji (complete). It actually forms a pretty manageable introduction to Elvin's playing— tempos are moderate, and the pieces are progressive in difficulty.

These were featured on the blog, so you may already have them in their original pdf or Book of the Blog form, but the revisions are significant enough that serious Elvin students (which I hope is everybody!) will want to snag this.

35 pages — price is $4.95

Get 5 Elvin Jones Transcriptions instantly from Amazon.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Death march life advice

“I made a decision to set goals for myself. I've got to make it to that herd of caribou. When I got to that herd of caribou I would establish another goal for myself. I never established long term goals that were impossible to reach, I never established a goal that said 'Oh, I want to get home.' That was not one of my goals. My goals were short-range, only to keep me walking and keep me alive. Because I knew that if I fell down, I'm dead.”

— Bataan death march surviver on how to survive when you've been captured by the Empire of Japan and are being forced, in 110 degree heat without food or water, to march or die. Also how to learn to play the drums.

Friday, January 20, 2017

2016 Book of the Blog NOW AVAILABLE for purchase!

OK, gang, the 2016 Book of the Blog is now available for purchase!

It's 119 pages of pure drum-practicing goodness: all of the downloadable exercises posted on the site last year, plus all of the Reed/Stone practice methods which didn't have an actual pdf download, all handsomely bound in this practice room-ready volume.


— BIG unit on funk! Hit these materials quick to get ready for the release of FUNK CONTROL later in '17.

— Lots of odd meter exercises.

— Transcriptions of Vinnie Colaiuta, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Jeff Porcaro, Airto, Ndugu Leon Chancler, James Black, John Guerin, Joe Chambers, more!

— Practice systems for all levels of players: linear funk with Dahlgren & Fine, New Orleans street beat developers, several EZ funk/rock methods, fluency in 12/8, EZ Tony Williams-like method, uptempo jazz Stone method.

— More Afro 6/8 and 12/8 pages o' coordination, which you've come to know and love. I want my readers to be able to smoke everyone in the world on this extremely fun and rewarding area of drumming.

BONUS: All of our previous book releases will be 15% off until whatever old time I feel like bumping them back up to the regular price. If there are any gaps in your CSD! library, now's the time to buy!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Know your tempos: Beatles

It happens often enough: some other players are discussing a tempo for a tune, and they look at me like I can pull it out of the air just from a number. It's actually extremely simple to do that accurately, if you just memorize the BPM of some things you've heard a few thousand times in your life. You already know the tempo— you just don't know the number. Hence this Know Your Tempos series of posts, and today's list of tempos of well known Beatles songs.

What I suggest doing is getting out your metronome, and before turning it on, hear the song in your head— recall it like a mental photograph of the recording— and tap or clap the tempo. Then turn on the metronome and see how you did. Note the ones you missed— you probably won't be able to rely on your recall of them later. For the ones you nailed, memorize the BPM number, then dazzle your friends with your perfect tempo recall.

62 - You've Got To Hid Your Love Away
74 - Let It Be
84 - Come Together
86 - I Am The Walrus
92 - Strawberry Fields
92 - Octopus's Garden
95 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
95 - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
102 - All You Need Is Love
111 - Yellow Submarine
113 - With A Little Help From My Friends
114 - Penny Lane
119 - Good Day Sunshine
122 - Nowhere Man
123 - Drive My Car
124 - Getting Better
126 - Ticket To Ride
127 - Get Back
129 - Here Comes The Sun
138 - Taxman
139 - Got To Get You Into My Life
140 - Eight Days A Week
141 - Eleanor Rigby
143 - A Hard Day's Night
165 - Rock & Roll Music
166 - Magical Mystery Tour
181 - I'm A Loser
195 - Help!

Cymbals for sale

A few cymbals for sale. They're all nice, and I hate to part with them, but I've just got too many medium-heavy 20" rides around, and for whatever reason these haven't found their way into my regular rotation. Hit the email Todd link in the sidebar to contact me about them.

18" Paiste 602 (black label) Flat Ride - SOLD

20" Paiste Sound Creation New Dimension Dark Ride - $240 shipped
I've written quite a bit about my interest in the Paiste Sound Creation line in the past few years, and I've acquired a few of them. I've had students play this cymbal and love it, I just already have a 22" SCND Dark, and a 22" 602 Dark, and I'm just not that likely to take this one to a gig over either of those. It's medium-heavy, with a rather aggressive sound, and a small, high-pitched bell. Everybody wants the 22" version, and they're priced accordingly— the 20" still sounds great, and is a good entry into the SCDR experience. I want to keep it just because I've seen video of Famoudou Don Moye, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Sonship playing this model, but I have to let it go.

Stick marks on top from the previous owner, but can be cleaned up easily, logos are strong.

20" Paiste 602 (blue label) Heavy - $240 shipped
This would be the prettiest-sounding pop or rock ride in the world. It says “heavy”, but it's about the weight of a Zildjian Ping Ride, with more overtones, and much nicer to play all around. Semi-crashable at higher volumes. With rivets it could be a decent Billy Higgins-type cymbal— passable until you can spring for the ~$500 to get that 22" 602 Medium Ride.

In played condition, finish is bright, logos strong on bottom, moderate wear on top.

20" Sabian Jack Dejohnette Series (original, not Encore) Ride - $200 shipped
Great all around cymbal if you're looking for a very percussive, dry Dejohnette or Joey Baron-like vibe. Good practice cymbal, because you can really hear your attacks. It's a very playable cymbal, very crashable in that very dry kind of way.

Doesn't really have that virgin showroom sheen any more, but it looks basically new.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New Year's Skype lesson offer

Hey, it just occurred to me: I should have more Skype students than I do. I have plenty of followers, plenty of daily visitors, plenty of book-purchasers, and a fair number of  donors at fund drive time— but for some reason not many contact me for lessons.

Perhaps there's an intimidation factor at work? I know my online persona is a little cranky, and we do post a lot of hard core stuff on the blog. But in person I'm actually a very affable, easy-going cat, and as a teacher I'm truly interested in working with players of all levels of ability and commitment. I like people other teachers consider to be problem students. I like figuring out what you need to advance your playing, and how to communicate it to you, especially when you're having big problems with it.

So, hey: If you're following the blog, you like what we do, but you're horrified at the thought of revealing yourself to be a totally hopeless case— I want to teach you because you're a hopeless case. GET IN TOUCH.

My normal rate is $50/hour for Skype lessons, so what I'll offer is:

1. First 1-hour lesson for $25

2. 25% discount on first month of lessons paid in full. Basically, one free lesson in the first month.

And I know half the country is broke. If you're hurting for lessons but don't have the money, get in touch anyway, plead your case, and we'll see if we can work something out that's within your budget.

Page o' coordination: Elvin's Afro-waltz - starting off the 1

Hearkening back to one of the very first pages o'..., in which we worked on developing an Elvin Jones-style waltz, the way he played it on John Coltrane's Your Lady. It's an interesting groove, with a linear 6/8 BD/HH/SD pattern underlying the waltz rhythm on the cymbal. But I noticed in performance I had to be pretty deliberate about coming in with it on the 1— I had to actually “work it in” to play it, which I do not like to do. I don't want to be playing licks I learned, I want these things to happen organically.

So this page should help that— we're learning to fall into the groove somewhere other than the first beat 1. And in leaving the beginning of the phrase open it disrupts things a bit, so we don't just fall into playing it from a habitual muscular thing.

This is jazz, so swing the 8th notes. When you can play all the patterns, your real practicing can begin: play the entire page without stopping, with two, four, or more repetitions of each pattern. Move your left hand around the drums freely, or according to these stock moves, moving after each note or double. Try eliminating the circled bass drum note.

Get the pdf

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Odd meter Harr: flamcues in 5/8

Another Haskell Harr etude transcribed into 5/8, this time one of the flamacue studies on p. 79 of book 2— I only use book 2:

As in the original, the number 5 or 7 next to a roll indicates the type of roll— 5-stroke (with a 16th note pulsation) or 7-stroke (with a 16th note triplet pulsation). Set your metronome to click 8th notes, or the first and third 8th note of each measure, or the 1 of each measure.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Page o' coordination: triplet pattern with cymbal variations - 01

A slight variation on our usual page o' coordination thing; here we're doing a set triplet pattern on the snare drum and bass drum, along with various cymbal parts— some are standard rhythms, and some are just for technical practice:

You could do the usual POC left hand tom moves, or just improvise the moves, and extend the workout by doing combinations of patterns, the way we did with the Funk Control series:

1-2, 1-3, 1-4... 2-3, 2-4, 2-5... 3-4, 3-5, 3-6... etc.  

Do each measure of the combinations one or two times. And you can play the page as written, with no hihat. or add the left foot on 2 and 4, or on all four beats.

Get the pdf

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Practice loop: Max in 5

In honor of what would be Max Roach's 92nd birthday, here's a practice loop sampled from As Long As You're Living, from his album Quiet As It's Kept. The tune is a blues in 5/4, and I've looped an entire time through the form— twelve bars, for you jazz novices. To get a clean loop I had to start with the turnaround— the last four bars of the form— so the fifth measure after the start of the loop is the top of the form. You'll hear it. The tempo is quarter note = 186.

Play any of my materials in 5 along with this.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Gadd on time

Another item from Rick Mattingly's 1983 Modern Drummer interview with Steve Gadd. It's encouraging that a lot of the very common fuzzy talk about time makes no more sense to the greatest studio drummer in the world than it does to me. He also makes a very important point in his first answer, about managing your energy and enthusiasm.

RM: Jim Chapin quoted you as saying that coming from a jazz background, you
tended to put an edge on the time, and you had to learn to lay back.

SG: Yeah, it had a lot to do with that energy level that I was talking about. It was just that feeling of aggression—that personal thing between me and the drums— and the way I projected that into the music. And then eventually I was able to channel that energy into an enthusiasm for the music, and sort of separate myself from the drums, personally. I was able to channel it and start playing less. You start realizing that when you put that much energy into it, you might be on the upper side of the time. You just have to think about the other way to do it.

RM: How did you eventually learn to lay back? Did you sit down with a metronome and work at it?

SG: It's not that complicated. It was just something I realized I was doing, and when I was aware of it—when I understood it— then I could see how it could be different. It's just an awareness of something you have to look at inside yourself, and all you have to do is listen to yourself. I did it by being in a situation where I was recording, and then when I heard things back, it was like, "It felt one way when I was playing it, but now it doesn't feel the same way." So you have to realize that as comfortable as it felt at the time, this is what it sounds like. I think the only way to find out about playing on top is to put a click on, and then play loud and soft with it. If you can understand that it's real natural to get on top when you're playing loud, then you can start to understand it.

Time is a funny subject. It really is. It's a little bit different every time. And it gets confusing when you start talking about "playing on top" and "laying back" because those phrases are used in so many different situations. One person can say it and mean one thing and another person could say the same thing and mean something else.

RM:  I remember the first time I heard one of those terms, years ago. I was playing with a group, and things were really feeling good that night. Afterwards, a guy came up and said, "I really like the way you lay back when you play." I was thinking, "Oh really? I lay back?"

SG:  But it felt natural when you were doing it?

RM:  Yeah.

SG:  That's what I'm saying. Someone came up and said, "It felt good because you were laying back," and you didn't even know what the hell he was talking about. That's how vague it is. So the thing is, when they tell you it was happening because you were laying back, it might make as little sense to you as when they ask you to lay back.

RM:  Judging by the letters we get, people are hearing these terms and getting confused about what they mean.

SG:  There are a lot of confusing things that don't need to be that confusing. I think it will finally make sense to them when they finally play with people who make sense musically. Then they'll understand.

Groove o' the day: Harvey Mason - Slop Jar Blues

Here are some fairly basic funk grooves, which I'm really only posting as an excuse to get you to listen to this track, and the way the drummer plays it. The tune is Slop Jar Blues, from the 1973 Donald Byrd album Black Byrd, with Harvey Mason on the drums.

A couple of minutes in he gets a little heavier with the bass drum. The hihat with the tenuto mark is slightly less open than the open note at the end of the measure:

This figure happens many times throughout the tune, and he plays it the same way every time, with a rather complicated sticking— try RRLB RLBR— B meaning 'both', with the right hand on the cymbal. Or whatever works for you.

But never mind that, just listen to the way he plays— between this and the Ndugu Leon Chancler transcription last month, this is everything you need to know about playing slow funk. At this tempo you have to be very deliberate in your rhythm, especially the fills. There's a certain uniformity of volume— everything's pretty big and solid, though he's not playing especially loud. He's not getting that slamming, hard sound a lot of drummers today somehow associate with being “funky”— none of that “crack” to the snare drum that is so cherished now. A drummer who really got into this school of playing would sound pretty unique today, and people would really be into playing with him or her.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Odd meter Harr: flamadiddle study in 5/8

I've said before, I practice out of Haskell Harr's Drum Method a lot. It's the stodgiest traditional rudimental snare drum book available this side of the Moeller book, but it uses accurate modern notation— many books of its era do not. It's a part of the drumming literature many, many great drummers have played through at one time or another— like Elvin Jones and Terry Bozzio— and most importantly, it really conditions my hands for real-world playing— better than any other book I've encountered. I don't know why— I don't use a whole lot of rudiments in my actual playing.

To continue: I also play out of Mitchell Peters's Odd Meter Rudimental Studies, which contains a number of fairly traditional but sophisticated pieces in a very Harr-like vein. It seems like a natural enough things to adapt the actual Harr etudes into odd meters, too. So here's the first major study in book 2 of Haskell Harr's method, a flamadiddle study, transcribed into 5/8:

It's an easy piece, with a nice little waltz-like lilt to it. Standard tempo for pieces like this is around quarter note = 100-120; you'll want to push it up to around 130. Harr makes a practice of defining his rolls— the little numeral 7 at the beginning indicates that it's a 7-stroke roll. You'll play that with a 16th note triplet pulsation. More of these coming!

Get the pdf

Friday, January 06, 2017

Stick Control in odd meters - 02

Continuing from the previous post on adapting roll exercises in Stick Control to odd meters— see that post for an explanation; I'll just give examples of a few more possibilities.

Like this rather advanced way of doing the p. 27 exercises:

Play the 8th notes as an 8th note triplet, and play the “10-tuplet” as 16th notes. That adds up to 7/8— we'll phrase it 2+2+3:

So the exercises are played like this:

Once again, you'll want a metronome that can click those accents— quarter note/quarter note/dotted quarter note, or 2+2+3. I use a free program called Open Metronome. These settings will get you that click:

With the p. 38 exercises, you can easily make a fast, simple 5/4:

Just ignore the tuplet indication over the quarter notes:

You can do these on the drumset by adding a bass drum note after each of the quarter notes.

You could also add a bass drum on every beat 1, along with a cymbal, played with whichever hand is indicated. I haven't written an example for that, but it's similar to what we did in the first post.

With exercises 9-12, you'll just get running 8th notes in 5/4:

There are many more possibilities, if you just ignore, add, or change tuplet indications, and figure out the resulting meter, as we've done here. Have fun!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Ghost notes developer

Ghost notes are currently an extremely hot topic in internet drumming land— it seems funny that there would be so much hoopla about an embellishment, but whatever. I use them all the time in my playing— though less than in the past— they sound cool when you're playing by yourself, and they're one avenue for developing your own sound within a funk style. Just keep them in their proper perspective: playing amplified funk with unmiked drums, nobody's going to hear them. You're better off focusing on the big notes, the notes that are going to project to your audience.

To get these together, follow the David Garibaldi rules: play the ghost notes (in parentheses) very softly— about 1" off the drum, and play the backbeats as rim shots, played in the center of the drum. It takes a little bit of practice totally focused on the dynamics. Play the following patterns at first with hands only, then add the basic bass drum part I've given, then vary your bass drum part to fit around whatever you're doing with your hands. You'll want to be able to do them in a fast James Brown-like groove, or an even-faster Drum & Bass type of thing, but you can also work them up in a slower, swingy-16ths, country/boogie/Rolling Stones-like feel.

So what are these ghost notes? They're soft texture notes filled in with your left hand in the course of playing a normal funk groove. We're reconciling two things— an alternating hand motion:

...with a regular funk groove, with an accent on the snare drum on beats  and 4:

If you put them together, you get this challenging pattern:

Let's eliminate the difficult notes around the 2 and 4— this is most basic, easy way of adding ghost notes without disrupting the overall groove:

More after the break:

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Very occasional quote of the day: Steve Gadd on reading

“Reading improves just from doing it. It wasn't easy for me, but thanks to the encouragement of my teacher, John Beck, I stuck with it and it has been very useful. The more you do something, the more familiar it becomes and the easier it gets.

When sight reading music, first look at the whole piece to figure out what the 'road map' is. See how many bars are in the intro, look for section letters, see how many bars are in each section, and look for repeat signs, D.S., D.C. and coda signs.

If you can keep your place, even if you are unable to make any of the figures, you are still ahead of the game. You can get the figures the next time, or after everyone else does. Keep your place and listen to the music; after you hear the run-down it will make a lot more sense. Don't try to see what it sounds like.

Listen while you look and soon you will be playing the figures the first time through. You will find that the same figure can be written out several different ways—some more complicated than others. Familiarize yourself with all the ways. You'll find that the simplest ways are more commonly used.”

— Steve Gadd, Modern Drummer interview by Rick Mattingly, July, 1983

Also see this early blog piece for Joey Baron's advice on sightreading.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Stick Control in odd meters - 01

One thing about practicing odd meters: they really force you to know what you're playing. You have to understand rhythm and you have to know exactly where you are all the time— unless humiliating trainwrecks are your “thing.” This carries over into your usual playing in 4 and in 3, and is a good thing for your overall solidity and awareness— it's good stuff to practice even if you're not doing a lot of odd meter playing in real life.

There are good books on the subject, like Even in the Odds, and Odd Meter Calistenics, but I also like doing odd meter mods based on standard books: Stick Control in 5, Dahlgren & Fine in 5, Dahlgren & Fine in 7. What we'll do today is use the “short rolls” section of Stick Control, roughly p. 24-45; by adding or ignoring tuplet indications you can create odd meter rhythms.

Like Exercise 1 from page 24 of Stick Control:

If you play those six 16th notes as two 16th note triplets (each of which are one 8th note long), that will give you a meter of 5/8, phrased 3+2:

So the exercise would look like this— you can play the accents or not; they may help you keep the time solid:

An advanced option is to play the book 8th notes as a triplet (which is two eight notes long), and play the three-8th-notes-worth of 16th notes as written. That would give you a meter of 5/8, phrased 2+3:

So the exercise would be played like this:

More after the break: