Monday, July 22, 2019

Harmonic coordination improved - triplets

Here's the triplet-based companion for the harmonic coordination improved warm-up. It's a less miserable and soul-destroying, more musically relatable way of playing exercises of the type found in the harmonic coordination section of Dahlgren & Fine's 4-Way Coordination. A famously painful book. Most of our practice methods are based on finding the easiest, most natural, most economical ways of doing things. This harmonic coordination thing is about practicing inconvenient ways of doing things. We're training our limbs to expect the unexpected. 

This is a rapidly developing body of stuff, and I'm still settling on the best way of presenting it. With triplets, the best way seems to be as follows. This method has two elements: 1) orchestrating a written snare drum pattern on the drum set, 2) playing the resulting drum set pattern using a variety of stickings.  Read the voluminous notes on this method here and here

I've been teaching this method using the triplet accent pages from Syncopation— pp. 53-57. There are a lot of patterns, and a lot of stickings to use with them, and if you just take them in order you'll never finish. You could start with patterns 1, 3, 11, 12, 17, 25, 26, 27, 29, 35, 61, 62.

The orchestration works as follows. Using this pattern from the book as an example:

Ignore the written bass drum part— the stems-down part. Play accented notes on the cymbal, with bass drum in unison. Play the unaccented notes on the snare drum, with hihat (played with the foot) in unison, like so:

You can also do this system without playing the hihat:

Play the accent patterns from the book applying the above orchestration, using the following stickings:
RH only
LH only
Four beats all RH / four beats all LH
Two beats all RH / two beats all LH  
RH plays cymbal notes, LH plays snare notes (I call this “natural orchestration”)
LH plays cymbal notes, RH plays snare notes 
Alternating, starting with RH
Alternating starting with LH  

These one-beat stickings will be a little more challenging:

 This method generates a lot of material to play through, so you have to use your head, and think about which starting patterns you're going to use. Many or most of the patterns from pp. 53-54 of Syncopation are functionally duplicates for the purposes of this method. Rather than worrying about completing the system, you should just try to do this method for a set amount of time, striving for moderate discomfort the entire time. You should be able to get through the exercises, but it should be hard enough that you have to concentrate. If you don't strongly feel like doing something else, maybe you should try some harder patterns. 

Using this Melvin Sparks practice loop will make this rather tedious method a lot more tolerable, and help demonstrate the musical purpose of what we're doing here.

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