Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Heavy funk drill

Going from Ndugu-actual to Ndugu-esque. This is a 70s style funk drill that dovetails nicely with some other things we've been doing lately— see the other links in that linked post. I think jazz drummers tend to plant our right hand on the ride cymbal— I do, at least. This batch of methods are (partly) about getting the hands moving between the drums and cymbal confidently while maintaining a strong groove. The move we're doing here with the flams reminds me of things I've heard Ndugu Leon Chancler do with George Duke, or Greg Errico with Betty Davis, for example.

We'll use Syncopation by Ted Reed, as always. This is marginally more complicated than the easiest things we do with that book. For the examples I'll use the rhythm from line 20, p. 35:

Play the melody rhythm from the book on the bass drum, and fill in the gaps with flams on the snare drum (or unisons, if playing the hands on two different drums). I play all the flams left handed, with pretty strong grace notes.

Add cymbal, with the right hand, on the long notes— anything in the original rhythm longer than an untied 8th note:

That's it! Move the flams around the drums. Where there is a run of flams, you can play them all on one drum, or split them up. You could play the flams as double stops on two different drums; this drill is kind of a specific effect, so I mostly keep both hands on the same drum.

You could warm up by leaving out the snare drum filler:

Or by putting the cymbal on all the bass drum notes:

Or by not doing the flams, or whatever else. Those are all fine easy practice methods in their own right. When I play this I'm all over the place. The idea is to create a texture, not necessarily to do the thing endlessly. I can't tell you if you'll be a better drummer if you rigorously do the method exactly right in its entirety, or if you just get the basic idea and spend your time developing a musical texture with it.

Here is the first line of the well-known p. 38 exercise, with the complete interpretation. If you're wondering how to handle the longer runs of 8th notes, see the end of measure 3 into measure 4:

I like the practice rhythms with no more than two 8ths worth of notes/space in a row best— lines 1-3, 6-7, 11-12, 20, 24, 27, 30, 32, 35-36, 45-48 from pp. 34-37. I prefer this full page exercise to the ones in Reed for this purpose. Try this with the Betty Davis practice loop. It's a lot of fun.

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