Tuesday, July 25, 2017

EZ “harmonic” independence

Fairly EZ. EZ compared to the thing it's based on. This is something that came out of practicing the harmonic independence section of 4-Way Coordination by Dahlgren & Fine. Looking at that book makes you go crosseyed after the 8th or 9th hour, so this is a nice change of gears that should help acquire at least the easier patterns out of that book.

The essence of that part of 4-Way Coordination is to play Stick Control-like sticking patterns with your hands while playing different Stick Control-like patterns with your feet. It's kind of a goofy idea, so just think of the exercises as coordination conditioners, rather than as an actual way of playing.

We could try to create similar patterns just using Stick Control, but it would require way too much mental effort for my taste. It's easier if we use our old friend Syncopation by Ted Reed. If you're far enough along in your studies to be messing with Dahlgren & Fine, it will be easier to use Reed.

We'll use the Syncopation section of Reed to make a pattern for both feet: the right foot plays the written part (ignoring the stems-down part, usual), the left foot fills in the remaining 8th notes. You should start with the one-line exercises, but for the examples we'll use our usual excerpt from Reed.

So this:

Becomes this:

To that we'll add some simple sticking combinations with the hands, in unison with the feet. We'll do the same orchestration on the drums as with my last Dahlgren & Fine post on this subject: hand notes in unison with the bass drum are played on a cymbal, and hand notes in unison with the hihat are played on a drum— snare or tom tom.

Start with running 8th notes played all with the left hand or all with the right hand:

You can then do one full measure R only alternating with one full measure L only— there's no need for me to notate that. Next do two beats with the R and two beats with the L:

And then one beat of each, RRLL, or LLRR:

And then alternating, RLRL or LRLR— you may find this to be surprisingly challenging:

If you get this far, you may be able to try some other stickings:


Or maybe a few of the more complicated stickings:

RLRR LRLL (the big test)

Beyond that, you may as well go back to 4-Way Coordination. I don't want anyone having a stroke trying to keep track of this stuff. Doing things that demand focus = good, but let's be reasonable.

When you get really fed up, there's an easy derivative exercise making a funk groove out of it: play the feet as I've described, play 8th notes on the cymbal with the right hand, and play the 3 on the snare with the left. Or, what the hey, you could reverse the hands and do it “open-handed”— you already practiced doing the running 8ths with your left hand. We're working on independence here, so why not?

Now, let me be clear: I've been playing the drums a long time, and I've never felt the need to practice this kind of thing— sticking patterns between the feet. I don't see that as an end in itself. It's more a way of practicing some physical coordination you might not do with any other way. And since what we're doing with the hands and bass drum are fairly normal, we're maybe hoping to gain a little more independence with the left foot generally.

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