Saturday, January 22, 2022

Subtractive patterns for feathering the bass drum

A collection of subtractive patterns for developing feathering the bass drum in jazz— for sketching it in, and making punctuations, anyway, since this will mostly not have you playing running quarter notes. Learning to support the time with the bass drum in a more free, nuanced, modern way. So we can still play all our other super important stuff.  

In practicing this, feather any bass drum notes falling on the beat, and accent any bass notes falling on the &s. Play a jazz rhythm on the cymbal, hihat on beats 2/4 with your foot. 

The patterns below represent a full measure of 8th notes, played on the (B)ass drum and (S)nare drum. Use them with Syncopation pp. 10-11, 30-32, 34-45, playing the top line rhythm from the book on the drum indicated for the corresponding note in these patterns. See my previous posts for a fuller explanation. 

Try these warm ups, with the bass drum on all the downbeats in the book rhythm, snare drum on any &s— leaving out any pattern notes not sounding in the book rhythm: 


And with the bass drum on all 1s/3s, and 2s/4s:


That will show you the terrain, so you can approach these combinations with some idea of which you'll want to spend the most time with:  

BSBS BSSS - bass drum on 1-2-3
BSBS SSBS - bass drum on 1-2-4
BSSS BSBS - bass drum on 1-3-4
SSBS BSBS - bass drum on 2-3-4

With that last set, play any BD doubles naturally. You don't have to play the & loud and the second note soft. 

Throughout all of this subtractive thing, it's not necessary to do everything exhaustively with all of the suggested pages. Since the book rhythms have a lot of gaps, a lot of what you play will be the same even using different patterns. Pages 30-32, 35, and 39— which have denser rhythms— will highlight the difference between patterns the best. Or look for one line exercises containing six or more notes per measure. Or you can just play everything, since you're supposed to be practicing this general thing a lot anyway. 

See also my page of practice rhythms for feathering the bass drum. Alan Dawson's long note/short note method, found in John Ramsay's book, is also good for this. Who knows, practicing those things you might find this subtractive business TOTALLY SUPERFLUOUS. 

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