Saturday, November 06, 2021


Tenue des baguettes
I've got 6 hours of driving to do a 90 minute gig today, gang, so I'm going to leave you with this:

I spend a good part of my life singing stickings in rhythm, for students. We're very lucky in the English-speaking world that we have nice one-syllable words for left and right, and for many of the other possible four-way stickings— bass, kick, hats, hands, feet, both. Others— Spanish-speaking people, for example— are not so lucky. To tell someone the sticking for a paradiddle, you have to say: 

derecha izquierda derecha derecha
izquierda derecha izquierda izquierda

It's only possible to do it at baby speed, with a giant space in between words. Derecha. [Whack]. 

Italian is almost as bad, they shaved off a syllable:

destra sinistra destra destra
sinistra destra sinistra sinistra

If you say it fast you have a Bulgarian rhythm.

German is acceptable, with rechts (or rechte?) and links. French droite and gauche are a mouthful, but sound cool, especially the word gauche has a good sound for percussion, like a Pinstripe on a snare drum. Goosh. Drummers speaking most other languages are burdened with extra syllables. I don't know what they do, call stickings by their letter name? Assuming the letters themselves are only one syllable?

Sidebar, step into my office: Where the hell did the Danish get venstre for left? It's similar to das Fenster in German, meaning window. We can only speculate on that etymology, remembering that usually words meaning left are derived from weird, dirty, evil, weak, clumsy, suspect. The left hand is out the window, like the rotten herring seems the likely word source.  


Fellow drumming blogger Ted Warren suggested you could have a whole new rudiment if you played a note for all the syllables in that Spanish version. We have the choice of keeping the beat the same, or keeping the rate of notes the same: 

That first one will give you a little left hand workout. I imagine in a parallel Star Trek universe where I speak Spanish, I say izquierda in a lesson, and the student says so I hit it four times, IZ-QUI-ER-DA? [whack whack whack whack] and I say NO! It's quite simple! etc endlessly.

Lots to think about.   


Unknown said...

The Czech drummers among us get to deal with two syllables per hand, making everything sound as if it were meant to be eight-note based.
I never realised the English speaking players had a certain advantage in this regard, but what I am really envious of is your ability to count subdivisions in such an organized manner as one-e-and-a. While it's obvious for you, it's nothing short of genius for us.
On the other hand, we hardly get to drive six hours to a gig and still stay at the same continent, so I guess we're even.

Todd Bishop said...

I didn't even make it out of Oregon! But it was only 3 hours each way.

It's no joke-- I've been trying to figure out a one-syllable way to say right hand/right foot, like a sticking. I need it all the time, and it's a real pain not having it.

I agree about #e&a-- it makes it really easy to count and understand complex rhythms.

I'm looking forward to coming back to Czechia soon-- favorite restaurant: Pivovarsky Klub, Florenc.

m said...

"It's no joke-- I've been trying to figure out a one-syllable way to say right hand/right foot, like a sticking. I need it all the time, and it's a real pain not having it."
I've been thinking about this, too, and haven't found a perfect way.
For R+L you can use "Hands" and "Feet", but I don't see a better way for R+R than something stupid like "Bide" (Bass+Ride). "Snat" or "Hare" for L+L. But this will turn into a really weird gibberish if you expand it to include stuff like Bass+Ride+Snare...

Todd Bishop said...

Believe me, m, I'm working on it-- inventing bastard words and everything. Post on that is forthcoming-- I just can't pile on too much pure nerd shit on the site all at once!

Adam Osmianski said...

The Brazilians use D's and E's: Direito = Right, Esquerda = Left; and usually just say D for right, and E for left.