Tuesday, July 06, 2021

EZ set ups and partial filler

I'm working through this with a student. It's an easy reading item for the drum set, with a narrow set of parameters, using my tresillo inversions page (lines 1-8 only), my tresillo inversion combinations page, and one of my full page reading pages— the one comprised of all notes at two- and three-8th note intervals.

The idea is to become familiar with some basic ways a drummer fills out a rhythm, adding set ups to the syncopated hits, and adding a little more filler to create a rhythmic flow, almost in a rubadub style. In this same unit of stuff I'm also having the student fill out the complete 8th note grid, which we don't need to talk about here. 

Start by printing out the pages above, and playing through them, with the entire rhythm part played with your right hand on a cymbal, plus the bass drum in unison. Ignore the stems-down “bass drum” part. Then add the left hand the following ways: 

Adding set ups
A set up is something a drummer plays to help the band catch a syncopated ensemble hit or figure. For example, if the horns play an isolate accent on an &, the drummer may set it up by hit a single note on the down beat before it.  

So anytime a note on an & comes up on these pages, set it up with the left hand on the snare drum on the downbeat before it: 

If there are two or more closely-spaced &s in a row, set up only the first one: 

So this line from the full page exercise above: 

With set ups added, would be played like this: 


More filler
You'll notice that on all of these pages, the notes are spaced at two- and three-8th notes intervals. The parts are 100% quarter notes or dotted-quarter notes— or their equivalents using ties and rests. To develop a more flowing texture, we'll add a left hand note at the end of every dotted quarter note or equivalently-spaced note. So the plain tresillo rhythm, which starts with two dotted quarters, would be played like this: 

Play this equivalent rhythm the same way: 

So, reading these exercises you have to be able to distinguish between a quarter note spacing and a three-8th note spacing: 

With the extra filler, play that line like this:

Another line with the three-8th intervals indicated: 

And how you would play it: 

Here's how you would play that same line, playing only the set ups, according to the rules above: 

Play this entire method with the right hand on the cymbal, left hand on snare drum. You could reverse the hands if you choose. I would also play it entirely with the right hand, and entirely with the left hand— and possibly with both hands in unison, playing two different cymbals, and unisons on two different drums, or flams on the same drum.  

This is not really a natural reading situation, of course— I narrowed the parameters to just those two rhythm intervals for the sake of overall simplicity, and for establishing a flow. This has been partly a reading/interpretation exercise, illustrating the way you might actually interpret rhythms on a chart or lead sheet; and partly a way of generating a certain type of improvised rhythmic flow. 

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