|Do we have to? Because|
I'd really rather not.
What I'm doing here is looking at the more demanding areas of drumming literature, and giving you my opinion on whether they are worth the effort.
These thumbnail reviews are totally biased. I like the things that have worked for me, and I don't like the things that haven't. I don't like things I never practiced enough to get what I'm supposed to get from them. The authors get at least 50% of the blame for that— it's their job to design materials that want to be practiced. If a guy like me can't get somebody's book to stay on my music stand, there's something wrong with it.
The New Breed
I've never actually used this book in any serious way. It had it's moment of being the stuff in the late 80s and early 90s, and it's still the primary method for learning funk and fusion timekeeping in the post-Dave Weckl mode. It is somewhat similar to the Reed-based method, in that it involves reading a melodic part— except New Breed is mostly about adding a single drumset voice to increasingly complex ostinatos; using Reed involves learning increasingly complex interpretations. It's clearly an effective method, because it has helped a lot of people sound very good— and Chester as a teacher produced a lot of excellent players— but there also seems to be a certain sameness in players who have used it a lot.
There's also some philosophical stuff in the book I don't agree with at all— mainly, some of the instrument setup things and the emphasis on “open-handed” playing.
I've talked before about my journey with this book. I have major reservations about it, and a third of it is useless to me— and I practice out of it all the time. Our page o' coordination series is inspired by the jazz portion of 4WC. There are ways to use the book productively, but it's best reserved for people who are already fairly advanced players and who practice a lot. It takes some knowledge to be able to derive anything musical from it, and usually it's best to learn independence/coordination through practicing actual usable content.
In his Patterns series, and a few other volumes, Chaffee has written major systems for developing:
- 16th note timekeeping and independence
- triplet timekeeping and independence
- linear drumming
- advanced rhythm
The 16th note timekeeping (“fatback”) section is effective, and somewhat brutal. It simply presents all possible 16th note bass drum rhythms in 2/4 with the snare drum on beat 2, to be combined with a variety of cymbal rhythms. It works, and if you're listening to music and forming your own ideas about what you want to play, you should be able to figure out something musical to do with it. If you don't have any feel for musicality, you won't come away from it having acquired any. To me it feels like a pretty cold abstract exercise, and I don't enjoy practicing it. I like my Reed-based funk method better.
The triplet independence portion is based on one-beat fragments, and is even more extreme and unusable than the worst parts of Dahlgren & Fine. Much of it is so dense that the useful tempo range for it is extremely limited. As a jazz method it fairly misses the point of jazz drumming, which is not supposed to be primarily about unending triplets, and not about difficult coordination patterns.
The sticking and linear drumming systems (found in Patterns vol. 2 and 3, and Odd Time Stickings) are very playable and useful, and have been much exploited by generations of fusion drummers, as well as the Gospel Chops school. The major point of each system is that they involve easy 3-8 note patterns, which are combined mathematically into practice phrases equalling a certain number of measures of a certain rhythm in a certain meter. See my many pages of my own linear practice phrases to get an idea of what I'm describing. Chaffee's method of assembling phrases by adding up their numbers of notes has never worked for me, but that's not a problem; in practicing them you figure out your own way of using them.
The rhythm books (vol. 1 and to some extent vol. 2 of Patterns) are invaluable for anyone looking to develop very advanced, Zappa-like odd tuplet rhythms. I practiced those books a lot, and I've found very little need or use for those types of rhythms in actual playing. Most often they sound like mistakes when used in normal playing situations, and they induce other players to make mistakes “correcting” them.
Garibaldi has written a number of books that have become funk drumming canon— most notably Future Sounds. I've been familiar with his ideas since getting my hands on some of his lessons materials and reading his Modern Drummer articles in the 80s, and while they're fun to practice, they never ended up being things I could work with very effectively in my actual playing. You can sound very slick in a somewhat generic busy drummer way if you simply practice the materials a lot, and aren't shy about repeating them in your playing. Clearly a lot of players have done that. But I always come away feeling it's primarily a method for sounding like David Garibaldi— or more likely, like one of many thousands of other drummers who use his books.
But there is good information in them and you should own them. The Garibaldi title I would recommend the most is The Funky Beat.
MORE after the break: