Saturday, February 25, 2017

Transcription: Roy Haynes - Bad News Blues

Just a quick little Roy Haynes transcription, from Bad News Blues, from Haynes's album Cracklin'. It's short— they play the 12-bar head once before heading into the bass solo— but there are some things to be learned about playing a blues in a modern way here.

From the drummer's perspective, the tune is basically a two-measure riff played six times over blues chords (it's actually four measures long melodically, but the repeating rhythmic figure is two measures) :

Roy hits the 1 and 4 the first four times, than catches the accents on the & of 4/& of 1 the last two times— on the turnaround, the last four measures of the form. Listen to it a few times through, first focusing on how the drums interact with the horn notes on 2/3, and then focusing on the interaction with the horn accents on the &s. Mostly what you'll notice is that he doesn't accent in unison with the horn until the end of the tune. You can do with that information what you will— file it away for future reference.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Keith Copeland lesson plan

This is the type of thing I like to share on the blog— a little piece of oral history posted someplace obscure, that could easily be lost, or extremely difficult to find again. This was posted in response to a question on the Cymbalholics forum, which, after a hiatus, is operational again. Someone wanted to hear from people who had studied with Keith Copeland, and someone else responded with all the things he had worked on with Copeland. It's the most concise description I've seen for what you have to do to become a jazz drummer— coming from the Alan Dawson sphere of influence, anyway.

1. The Ritual by Alan Dawson [see John Ramsay's book The Drummer's Complete Vocabulary]. With a metronome on the floor tom. Played soft enough so you can hear the click, with the bossa nova pattern in your feet. 
2. Creative Coordination [Copeland's book, highly recommended] played with a metronome. 
3. Wilcoxon Book with bass drum feathered quarter notes, HH two and four. 
4. Play appropriate exercises in his book with Miles Davis Quintet— Coltrane, Red Garland, Philly Joe, Paul Chambers. 
5. Play with that album and play all the comps that Red Garland played with your left hand. 
6. He made me sing Oleo while playing time then I had to solo over it and keep the form. Had to do that with a bunch of tunes. If I didn't cut it he was like “hey man you gotta learn those tunes.” He was sweetheart but came down on me in a nice way like... this is the shit and all the good players do it... 

8. He loved the Philly Joe Jones brush book and he made photo copies and we used that as well.

Thanks to Tom Killian for sharing this.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A funk sticking in context: RLL

This is the first of several easy pages of exercises for developing kind of an essential thing in funk and fusion drumming, which is not quite a fill and not quite a groove— it's more a way of building intensity. It's good for playing with soloists, for outros, for any place where a tension-building cross rhythm and a lot of cymbals is called for. This first entry deals with a basic three-16th note sticking, RLL, with the right hand on a cymbal, together with the bass drum, and the left hand on the snare drum:

Learn the base pattern in 3/4— use a metronome; also try counting out loud— then play the exercises. Feel free to move your right hand around to different cymbals, and play unaccented snare drum notes very softly. I make extensive use of sampled practice loops, so find one of mine that works, or make your own. This page is designed to be played fast.

Get the pdf

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Clyde died

Clyde Stubblefield 
Writing appreciations of the recently deceased is not what we are about here, but we can't really let great drummers pass without notice, either.

When I was in school, in the late 80s, it was easy to be a drummer and not hear of Clyde Stubblefield. His gig with James Brown was 20 years earlier, he wasn't getting a lot of press, and his way of playing was not really current. I was around serious drummers and serious drumming students all the time, and nobody talked about him. But I was lucky to have a friend who went off to Berklee, and brought back some tapes, and let me know that's who everybody was listening to. To hear him is to become a fan of him, and I felt pretty hip to be aware of him and incorporating his thing into my playing.

A couple of years later, every hiphop artist in the world was sampling Stubblefield's grooves, and his playing in the late 60s became a major influence on drumming in the 90s, and on the way funk is played to this day— the sound of the instrument and everything.

An important part of his story is that he did not get paid for these God-knows how many sampled album appearances and untold millions of albums sold— a messed-up situation I am not going to recount here.

Here are links to notices in/at the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard, NPR, Slate, Vice, and AV Club.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Reed method: fast rock - advanced

I hope you— students and teachers— are using my Reed method for playing rock beats. I think it's one of the better things I've come up with— it's just a more musical way of learning that basic vocabulary, and easy for players of all level to get, when you explain it the right way. We should be having a print or e-book available covering that, fairly soon...

But here's an add-on to that basic method, this time using the “Syncopation” section of the book Syncopation— the part with the jazz-style notation. The reading is harder, and there are some things about the exercises that require a little bit of creative interpretation. What you end up with is a very modern, melodic, improvisatory way of playing a rock feel, with a lot of displacements, which reminds me of Joey Baron's playing on the Bill Frisell tune Child At Heart.

To quickly review the basic rock method, using pp. 10-11 of Reed: reading the stems-up, melody part from the book, re-voice the part as follows: play the 2 and 4 on the snare drum; play everything else on the bass drum; add 8th notes on the hihat or ride. That's it— see the link above if you need more explanation.

From here on out, use the 1-line exercises starting on p.33, and the long exercises starting on p. 37 (38 of the new edition). To start, just play the exercise with the usual rock method— play the 2 and 4 on the snare, everything else on the bass drum; if there is nothing sounding on the 2 or 4 of the melody rhythm (either it's a rest, or there's another note holding through the downbeat of 2 or 4), add a snare drum hit on that beat. So you'll have a steady backbeat on the snare drum all the way through the exercise. Here are the first three lines of the famous Syncopation Exercise 1:

Next you can work up the exercises using only the notes given in the exercise (plus hihat)— no added snare drum hits. This will be a little more broken up, and you'll have some creative decisions to make: there are plenty of measures without a 2 or 4 sounding, but we don't want to lose the snare drum. So we'll displace it, playing the snare on the closest written note to 2/4— usually either the & of 1/3, or the & of 2/4. Often both are available, so you can decide to favor one or the other. Here are the same three lines of Exercise 1 putting the displaced snare drum hits on the & of 1/3:

And again, with the displaced hits on the & of 2/4:

It may be difficult to get all the reading (Syncopation Exercises 1-8) perfectly together each of those ways, and it may not be necessary— this is just to show you the available options while playing down the exercises. You'll probably end up favoring one over the other. I like the & of 1/3 way because you end up doing a samba/bossa nova-type rhythm in the bass drum quite often. In fact, by altering your touch, you could use this exercise to open up your bossa/samba— to wean yourself from the repetitive bass drum rhythm, for more modern playing.

You can do this at any normal rock tempo, I think it works better faster— quarter note = 150-200. If that's too fast for you, try 130 as your training tempo, or your first goal tempo. For a different musical effect, and to save your chops at the faster end of the tempo range, you can instead play quarter notes on the hihat (closed or open), or the ride cymbal:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Han Bennink practice tips

Not a lot of action on the other drumming blogs these days, but Ted Warren of Trap'd has this amazing thing for us, courtesy of Jon McCaslin of Four On The Floor, courtesy of some guy who saw Han Bennink do a workshop, and wrote it down. I figure the more people reblog this kind of thing, the more it becomes a set part of the literature of drumming.

These are Bennink's suggestions for practicing the drums:

“Play as fast as you can for 5 minutes without repeating yourself.

Same thing goes for slow, loud, soft and any combination of them.

Play one piece of your drumkit for 5 minutes and try to keep it interesting, do this untill you have played all pieces.

Repeat the same beat for 5 minutes and try to keep it interesting.

Play a crescendo lasting 5 minutes ending as loud as possible.

Play solid time for 5 minutes, check with metrone before and after, repeat untill your time is really solid.

Play completely free for 5 minutes, no time is allowed.

When you think you have become good at these exercises extend them by 5 minutes each. etc. These exercises should last you a lifetime.”

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Double paradiddle-adiddle

Look, it's not my fault. I never told you I was going to have cool names for the things I make up. Direct your derision at the founding fathers of drumming who put us on this path. To this day I honestly still feel like a jackass telling some little kid there's a thing called a paradiddle— all thanks to them.


NEVERTHELESS: this modification of a double paradiddle plays easily as a three-beat triplet pattern, and gets quite weird when you play it as 16th notes in 4. Here are some exercises for learning how to play it, and also some derivative phrases that are interesting in their own right:

You know what to do. These translate easily into bebop solo ideas. The space at the end of some of the patterns would be an excellent place to add some bass drum. See also my page on a Philly Joe Jones three-beat triplet lick— it's kind of related.

Get the pdf

Monday, February 06, 2017

Transcription: Terry Bozzio / Dancin' Fool - the cool parts

This is one of the cooler things in drumming to come out of the late 70s— Terry Bozzio's fills on Frank Zappa's Dancin' Fool, from the album Sheik Yerbouti. I must've listened to this 500 times when I was in the 9th grade. I've written out the little opening instrumental thing, the same break when it happens in the middle of the song, and also the drums on the “yowza” interlude before the last chorus:

I've notated this for five tom toms; I think he has at least six— he's playing his Rototom set here. The fills don't look very pretty on the page, but they should all work. As he moves around the drums, he seems to often have his right hand on a lower tom and his left on a higher one. Do whatever you have to to make them playable. It sounds like he might be using two bass drums to do those doubles at the beginning of the yowza section— you can easily do them with one. I did a Reed interpretation awhile back that happened to develop that exact lick.

Bozzio had one of the great hihat sounds in rock & roll on this record— he played them half-open much of the time, and when he hit big accents on them, they had a really obnoxious, piercing thing happening which really puts a lot of energy into the music. I think they must have been Paiste 602 Extra Heavy, or Heavy, or maybe Sound Creation., probably 15"?

Get the pdf

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Holy Grail

At a recent gig: on the left is
the 17", on the right is the 20"
UPDATE: Since this was posted I became a C&G dealer myself; visit to see what I have in stock. There are videos of every individual cymbal for sale, and everything on the site was personally selected by me for sound and playability. 

I've been paying some visits to the Portland company Cymbal & Gong recently, and needing to write a full-fledged profile of the company. Until I get that done, here are brief reviews of a couple of cymbals I bought— it's very hard to be around C&G's products without buying them. The company is run by Portland drummer Tim Ennis; working with a Turkish cymbalsmith, he has K-type and A-type cymbals manufactured to his specifications, and he applies a variety of patinas to them. Full details on his products coming soon.

17" Holy Grail Crash - 1067 grams
Holy Grail is the name of this line, and aptly so. I never thought I could get so excited by a 17" crash. 1067 grams puts this in the thin category, with traditional, uneven lathing as you might see on an old A or K Zildjian. Patina is a very rich antique bronze— again, like an old K— with some green accents. And the cymbal plays like an old K. Have you ever played a 50-60 year old cymbal that has seen thousands of gigs? That's the way this cymbal feels; by itself it seems slightly dead, with a slight funny twang. Played on the drumset with a band it sounds incredible; it's a very responsive, fast crash, but it's also a shockingly good ride cymbal, with great definition and no riding up. And it has a great bell sound.

Jazz drummers today seem to feel anything smaller than 22" is a joke, but this is a true bebop cymbal— the sound from all those 50s albums. Best cymbal I've ever owned.

Cymbal & Gong seems to really excel at these crash cymbals, because we played a number of them at their headquarters (Tim's house), and a number of them sounded great.

20" Custom Ride - 2023 grams
Custom is not a line of product, it's a catch-all name for short runs or one-offs to a variety of specifications. I would categorize mine as a light medium ride, which is lathed like an Istanbul Sultan or Bosphorus Antique— unlathed bell, unlathed band in the playing area, fully-lathed bottom. And it has a similar sound to those cymbals, which is difficult for me to define. The upshot is that it is a great-sounding K-type cymbal, which plenty of definition, that crashes beautifully, and has a really nice bell sound. This one has a beautiful hand-oiled finish that gives it a very deep bronze color; he had another similar 20" with a matte green patina, which was rougher, more aggressive-sounding, and a beautiful honey-colored 19" that was a little higher-sounding, very tight, and slightly more refined.

Here's my friend Stephen Pancerev playing those cymbals. The 19" is on the left, and my cymbal is on the right:

Tantalizing tidbit: Ennis has just returned from a trip to Turkey, and I did show him one of my 22" Paiste Sound Creation Dark Rides before he went. We'll see if it captivated his (and his smith's) interest enough to order up a few copies...

New e-book: 5 Tony Williams Transcriptions

Another new e-book— not new to my long time readers, because most of the contents have been shared here before. Like the title says, it's 5 Tony Williams transcriptions, re-proofed and reformatted for tablets and Kindle.

It includes:

Fall - Complete track from Miles Davis / Nefertiti. Slow tune, coloristic drumming, with metric modulation.

Seven Steps To Heaven - head and trumpet solo, from Miles Davis / Four & More. How to play fast, Tony-style.

Hat And Beard - Head in and out, from Eric Dolphy / Out To Lunch. Famous oddball tune I hear getting played more and more.

Lopsy Lu - Complete track in 12/8 with drum solo from Stanley Clarke's first album as leader. A complete essay on playing a slamming 12/8.

Once Upon A Time - Drum solo in 3/4, from Don Pullen / New Beginnings. Not previously posted on the site.

Instant download for $4.95