Saturday, August 13, 2022

It's suspect: nothing but singles, doubles, and flams

New recurring (maybe) feature, inspired by Modern Drummer's It's Questionable column. I'll call it It's Suspect, and say a few words about an annoyingly wrong but persistent drumming myth. 

This question was asked on a forum: 

There is a common sentiment I have heard when it comes to rudiments: "Everything you play is either a single stroke, double stroke, flam, or a combination of the three". What does it mean though? Does it literally mean that I should spend hours simply drilling each of these rudiments?


It's true-ish— I guess— all single strokes are not created equal. And they left out multiple bounce strokes. And I guess rim shots, stick shots, rim clicks, dead strokes, and brush technique generally don't merit inclusion in this equation. Why? I couldn't say. I also cannot say why we've limited our purview to hand technique only; we also have feet, and use them. 

Whatever. It's totally misleading. Let's listen to this record: 

Now, if you say well, Jack Dejohnette is simply playing single strokes, double strokes, and flams, that would be a totally useless analysis. What we want to know is: what is he doing to make it be that, and what do we practice?  

Like, OK, they're singles, doubles, and flams, but they're used in a playing framework. The frameworks are the whole point, that's what you practice. Which are all the normal things you were just about to practice when the guy showed up wasting your time with did you know all of drumming is simply single strokes, double strokes, and flams? 

Maybe this is the product of a snare drummer mentality? You'd have to be a single surface, single instrument, single literature player to think that way. And I don't know what constructive purpose it serves, since it begs the question:

So if I spend hours simply drilling each of these rudiments I'll be fine then?

The answer to which is obviously:

No, it's actually about the ways you practice them, which are specific and myriad and are really the whole point of all this, and do not even particularly rely on your ability to play quality singles/doubles/flams in the abstract. So it could be said that the singles/doubles/flams are really incidental to the framework in which you play them, and focusing on them this way has been a diversion and a waste of all of our time, sorry.


Monday, August 08, 2022

Transcription: Jack Dejohnette - Gentle Rain

This tune shows you one way of opening up a Bossa Nova groove, in a modern jazz setting. It's Jack Dejohnette playing on Gentle Rain, from George Benson's album Beyond The Blue Horizon. I'm listening to a lot of CTI records lately. I like the cymbals sounds, and the music. 

This is the first part of George Benson's solo, starting at 1:38. He mostly stays in the original 8th note bossa groove, taking it in a rather funky direction at times. This is largely about cymbal and bass drum. Early on he plays some isolated 16th, later he gets denser— on this part he doesn't fully double time it, on the next part he goes into a more double time post-bop feel. The organ keeps the bass line in the original groove. 

The bass drum here is a rather high and dry sound, so it's nimble enough to do all the stuff he's doing by just touching it. Note that he plays a tresillo-type rhythm on the bass drum sometimes— to my ear that's suggested by what the organ is doing. The written accents are subtle— just a suggestion that the groove has some dynamic shape within itself you might not expect. He's using a narrow range of sounds here— one cymbal, rim clicks on the snare drum (sparsely), and bass drum. If he's playing the hihat, it's mostly inaudible. 

Things get busy in part two, I'll post that whenever I get around to doing it. 

Get the pdf

Friday, August 05, 2022

Cymbalistic: new Reverb store!

CYMBALISTIC: I finally got around to setting up a Reverb store for Cymbalistic, my cymbal site, for those who wish to buy that way. 

It's functional now; I'll be adding the remaining cymbals I have in stock, and upgrading the photos in coming days.

If you've visited the Cymbalistic site, you'll notice the prices on Reverb are higher— to cover the “free” shipping. It just simplifies things; your final cost will be close to the same buying either way. 

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Reed tweak: filler options

Some filler options for a basic, very common right hand lead method used with the book Syncopation— the top line book rhythm is played with the RH/RF on a cymbal and bass drum in unison, left hand fills in remaining 8th notes. So this rhythm in the book: 

Would be played like this: 

You've seen elsewhere recently that there are some other things we can do with those filled in notes. Here are some other possibilities for how to play any single 8th note worth of filler: 

Other than the single left hand 8th note, these all follow a similar basic motion— they have a RL sticking, maybe with one or both notes doubled, sometimes with bass drum added at the end. The only other exception to that is the 32nd notes played RLRL. They all involve a lot of right hand movement, so the tempo range for any of these ideas will be kind of limited. 

Here's how the above example would be played with each of those filler rhythms: 

Many of the rhythms in Syncopation have more than one 8th note of filler in a row— which opens up some possibilities for combining filler ideas, but we'll deal with that another time. 

Oh, I left one out, but I'm not opening up Finale to revise the post. Do this one: 

—but put that second 16th note on the bass drum. You can do it with or without the flam.