Tuesday, January 04, 2022

More notes on Dahlgren & Fine

I've continued working on the harmonic portion of Dahlgren & Fine's Four Way Coordination— the basic exercises in 4/4, on pp. 15-18— since it's so bloody difficult, I'm writing about it a lot. Around here, extra difficult things demand extra justification. I think this whole area is best for people who can already play, but who want to clean some stuff up, do some foundation work. Regular students, use your judgment.  

I've been drilling the full measure exercises on those pages, at quarter note = 128 (I use a loop from the John Zorn tune Beeroth)— about half the ridiculous half note = 120 that's written in the book. I want to work it up into ~ quarter note = 160s range. See my November post for the easiest, fastest path to being able to play them.  

I orchestrate the patterns on the drum set this way:  

Either hand + bass drum  =  hit a cymbal
Either hand + hihat  =  hit the snare drum 

Adding that movement makes the exercises harder, but more musically logical... which makes them easier. I'm normally oriented around finding the easiest way to do things; this whole area is about practicing hard, inconvenient ways of doing things. Which frees up our mobility when improvising, and builds a stronger framework the other stuff we play. The hyperactive left foot seems to be setting us up for playing uptempo jazz.   

I'm beginning to look for ways of developing Dahlgren & Fine's system further, beginning with the first two numbered systems from page 15— the simplest patterns on these pages, which have either RH/RF together all the time, or LH/RF together all the time.   

Here's the first measure of the first system written in normal notation: 

First two easy things: play all snare drum notes as flams. This is similar to a rock drill I wrote about in 2019. Play left handed flams when the right hand is on the cymbal.  

And right handed flams when the left hand is on the cymbal:

You could also play all the cymbal notes with both hands, with the snare drum played as written: 

An easy thing to do would be to play a 16h note double with the hands on the last note before alternating to the other hand: 

At slower tempos you could do make that double with the feet as well.  

Or fill in a 16th note anticipating an alternating stroke— with the LH when alternating from R to L, or with the BD when switching from L to R: 

This would get pretty complicated on the paradiddle inversion patterns:


That way deserves some more examples— there are some other possibilities that I like a lot. Developing that would be easier if you start with the four note patterns— half a measure. 

Another way, which is similar to what Joe Morello does with Stick Control, in his own Master Studies books, you can fill in all the spaces with the opposite hand or foot, to make 16th notes. Again, I fill with the left hand and right foot only: 

Or Morello's way— he doesn't fill between alternating strokes: 

Just some ideas. Obviously it becomes much more complex after the first two systems on p. 15, where you may have either hand playing in unison with either foot within a single pattern. 

The idea with thinking about these variations is not to create more things to practice, but just to be aware of some natural directions the original patterns can go in actual playing. I might mostly practice the book patterns, and momentarily try these out while doing that, to be able to make that direction change; and to see which make sense to practice on their own.

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