Monday, November 05, 2018

Harmonic coordination whatsis

Hey, we're kicking around a lot of half-baked stuff on the blog these days, but I... look... if you want to see someone disappearing down the practice materials rabbit hole, visit my friend the saxophonist Dave Valdez. What he's into practicing-wise is totally bananas.

This is an idea in development, related to the “harmonic” coordination pages of Dahlgren & Fine. Those pages were constructed by layering different Stick Control-type patterns between the hands and feet— the hands do one pattern, the feet do another. When you orchestrate them normally on the drum set, what you are doing musically is: various rhythms on the bass drum and cymbal, with various stickings... while filling in on the drums with various stickings, with the hihat in unison. The way the patterns are presented obscures that, but that's what's happening: BD/cym plays a rhythm, SD/hihat fills in, various stickings for everything.

I see the value in it now— it's not “complete independence” as advertised on the cover. I'm never going to play paradiddles with my feet while doing paradiddle inversions with my hands. That's not a thing. I see it more as conditioning for moving around the drums in non-normal ways, and helping you improvise.

The way the book is written makes it harder than it needs to be. I would like to be able to do the same thing following a more musical logic, starting with a single rhythm.

Let's illustrate what I'm talking about with a basic syncopated rhythm in 3:

Play it on the cymbals, with the bass drum in unison, with all of the indicated stickings:

Those are 1) all right hand, 2) all left hand, 3) natural sticking, 4) alternating sticking. You could use any other sticking from Stick Control if you felt the need.

While playing each of those stickings, fill in on the snare drum, with these stickings:

That's 1) all right, 2) all left, 3) alternating, 4) alternating starting with the left. You'll have to work out the combined sticking of the cymbal part + the snare part as you go.

You can also do flams or double stops on the fill notes:

Or play 16th notes— as doubles, or alternating starting with the same hand as the following cymbal note.

If you want to go full Dahlgren & Fine, add the hihat to the filler notes:

That's the fundamental concept. You could do the same thing, hey, with any of the one-line rhythms from Syncopation, using whatever stickings that make sense for the rhythm. The end result is very similar to Dahlgren & Fine, but grounded in normal reading.

We'll see if this turns into a regular method, or if it's just a one-time exercise to help practice Dahlgren & Fine a little easier.

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