Monday, October 04, 2021

Subtractive method overview

Here's a broad overview of this subtractive thing I've been working with. It's a new approach, but not unprecedented, and I think it's worth exploring. The idea starts with a Stone-type 8th note sticking pattern, and applying it to rhythms from Syncopation, leaving out any notes of the pattern that are not in the rhythm. 

It's simply the natural sticking concept applied to more complex patterns. Natural sticking, remember, means sticking a rhythm based on which hand would have played that note if you had been playing alternating singles.

The running 16ths represent the underlying pattern, the bottom part represents that sticking applied to a rhythm: 

We're just applying it to some other stickings, or voicing patterns. For example, if you did the above same rhythm with a paradiddle sticking, you'd get the following:  

The only other critical difference is that we're doing this on drum set, with a snare drum / bass drum pattern instead of a right hand / left hand pattern. I believe it's easier to do this on the drum set, using two different sounds, fulfilling a role in a particular style. Simply doing it on a practice pad with Rs and Ls is too abstract. We'll also be doing the entire system with 8th note patterns and 8th note-based rhythms, counted in 4/4 or 2/2.  

We've essentially done this already with my cut time funk drill— where the 3 is played on the snare drum, and everything else on the bass drum, implying an underlying pattern of:


There's another funk interpretation (see step 2. in the link) where we play the first half of the measure on the bass drum, second half on the snare drum, which implies this pattern: 


My rock method, with snare drum on 2 and 4, and everything else on the bass drum, basically implies this:


To those we would add a cymbal rhythm played with the right hand. In fact those actual practice methods were a little different— if the snare notes were missing from the book rhythm, we would add them, or displace them to match the book rhythm exactly. But the basic principle is similar. 

And it's the same as John Riley's idea we called “that with interruptions”— his phrase— where he would play a SSBB 8th note pattern with a jazz cymbal rhythm, dropping out some notes of the pattern. It's the exact same thing, except now we're arriving at it by reading rhythms from a book, and voicing them according to whatever SB pattern we choose. 

This is a learnable system— personally I've been drilling the original pattern BSSB-SBBS in a funk style, and have had no problem applying it to all the pages listed below. I'm also working on it with the Mozambique bell pattern, which is much more difficult. I can do all the one line exercises, but the long exercises— even with just quarter note rhythms— are progressing much slower. I'll run some of the simpler jazz systems and report back.  

You could do this using all of the stickings from the beginning of Stone, or with my page of funk stickings, playing the Rs on the bass drum and Ls on the snare drum, in any number of styles. But the system is difficult enough that you should be selective about it. 

First patterns for jazz:


Funk patterns:

The BBBB-SSSS pattern above is probably the best place to start with the funk patterns; that gives the broad outline of all of the funk patterns, which are generally oriented around bass drum in the first part, and around snare drum in the second part.

Add any additional parts you want; jazz cymbal rhythm and hihat for the jazz patterns, quarter notes, 8th notes, or another rhythm for funk. If you want to tackle the Mozambique rhythm, I suggest starting with the rhythm for the first measure only, repeating, and then do the complete rhythm. 

Use those patterns to voice the top line rhythms for the following pages in Syncopation: 
4-5, 10-11, 30-32, 34-45. 

Warm up with the complete pattern, the complete bass drum part by itself, the complete snare drum part by itself, and then the pattern applied to some simple rhythms, as illustrated in the first post on this topic

We'll see where this goes. I'm very encouraged by what I've done so far with the BSSB-SBBS pattern, which has the practical effect of developing a lot of fluency with a tresillo bass drum rhythm— you end up playing a lot of the rhythm itself, and parts of it, and variations on it, with simple added parts on the snare drum. Some applied rhythms create some “hip” inverted/displaced beats; it's nice to arrive at that stuff not by sitting down and contriving something hip, but just by playing normal syncopated rhythms following a normal drumming pattern. More to come on this topic. 

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