Friday, October 28, 2022

CYMBALISTIC: New cymbal day Monday!

CYMBALISTIC: OK, the new shipment of Cymbal & Gong cymbals has finally arrived— including the Extra Special Janavar prototypes I had them make: three 20" Janavar crash-rides with K-type hammering and lathing. As you hear below, they're lovely as a jazz ride, or as a straight crash cymbal. Tim @ C&G says “YOUR PROTOTYPES SOUND AMAZING.”

There you go— they have not been claimed yet, so SOUND OFF ASAP if you want one.  

I'll be picking up cymbals on Monday— I usually get the first shot at the new shipments— so if you want me to find something for you, let me know! My stock of cymbals is pretty depleted, but I do have some great things on hand. And I should draw your attention to some 16" Holy Grail hihats, and 15" Janavar hihats that are DISCOUNTED ~25%— very rare on my site.  

Here's me playing those prototypes in Istanbul in July, minutes after they got their final lathing: 

Here they are being lathed— they asked me how heavy I wanted them, and then went to work: 

The plan is to give them a heavy patina, like this cymbal, that was the star of the Germany tour, but we'll see after I play them again on Monday. I will be getting more of these “regular” Special Janavars with the heavy patina, as well.  

So, yeah: CYMBALS MONDAY. Let me know if you want me to pick something out for you! Hit EMAIL TODD in the sidebar, or use the mailing list form on my Cymbalistic site

Yolanda Mero on practicing the piano

More from the book Piano Mastery by Harriette Brower, here is Yolanda Mero (1887-1963)— like everybody in this book, the type of language she uses is dated, and a little long winded, but everyone will recognize what she's talking about: 

“I do not love technic for its own sake, and therefore I now practice it but little. Of course, I must play scales sometimes not every day, however. You see I have no daily routine, as some pianists have; that is because I am not methodical, in the first place, and, secondly, because that kind of practice seems to me such a waste of time. 

When I am here in my home, between engagements, I practice; but even then I am not systematic about it. When the fever is on then I work with enthusiasm a whole day at a time; but I must be in the mood to work or I accomplish nothing. If I am not in the mood, I would rather keep away from the piano or play only a bit to amuse myself.

My preference is for music filled with ideas, with emotion, not for pieces whose technical display will astonish and dazzle. A work like the Paganini Variations of Brahms, for instance, is full of brilliant technical feats which seem to obscure the deeper meanings of the piece. I play these Variations, to be sure, but they do not greatly appeal to me. 

When there is such a wealth of instrumental music of all kinds, I feel it such a loss of time to spend so much of it on technic, pure and simple. Others may not agree with me however. There is Mme. Sophie Menter, for instance, who has a marvelous technic. She spends hours daily in five-finger technic work. This consists largely of repeating the same note with each finger in succession over and over again, now loud, now soft, with every conceivable variety of touch and tone. The principle she works on is equality. The theory is that as each finger plays the note, the ear must discriminate between the tones and strive to make each tone like all the others. If five fingers can be thus trained to play single notes with absolute evenness they will, it is claimed, preserve this equality in scales, arpeggios or whatever is played. For myself I could never follow such a regime, but she has achieved wonderful results from it.

When I take up a new work I play it through quite as a child would, carefully and slowly, from end to end. I do this over and over till the plan of the piece is in my mind and in my ear, till I can hear it. Then the real study of it begins; then I really work at it.

I do not say to myself: Now I shall add this piece to my repertoire, therefore I will begin at once to memorize it, first one hand and the other, then both together. No, I study the contents of the piece as a whole, then each in detail. The result is that, almost before I know it has happened, I know the notes from memory. This seems to me a better way than to start at once to memorize the notes. For, in the effort to do this, and to play without them, in the early stages, one may miss many signs and marks which would otherwise be observed, if the printed page were before one. 

There is so much technic to be found in pieces, and it is the sort of technic that is interesting, too. To take scales and play them to-ay at a certain speed and tomorrow a little better, or worse, that is not sufficiently absorbing to keep my mind on them; I fall to thinking of other things. But to study a difficult passage in a musical work, to see and hear it grow better and better with practice there is keen zest in that.

In regard to keeping up my technic to concert pitch, I can say that I do not now practice scales and technical forms outside of pieces. Of course in earlier days I had to do a great deal of pure technic study. But now I find all I need in the pieces themselves. 

A person with a beautiful voice, who spends two years or so with a good teacher, can sing in concerts and even go on tour. With perhaps thirty songs and a couple of arias, one is considered ready to come before the public. But to learn thirty songs would hardly match the labor bestowed on one Chopin etude. Then think of the repertoire a public pianist must have !

Very few of the extremely modern things make me feel I cannot rest without learning them, or that I must play them.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Afro 6 in 4

Purely exploring an idea that occurred to me during a lesson— this has nothing to do with anything. Except I'm writing a new book about developing the Afro 6 groove, so I'm thinking about the following ideas a lot. And I've noticed, in dealing with Latin rhythms and the 3:2 polyrhythm, that by doing some elementary things with them, even if they're purely mathematical, you often end up with an ordinary existing piece of drumming vocabulary. So I'll work through this and see what we get. 

Update: After having played through this, the results are nothing special playing-wise— we get a Latin-type rhythm in 4/4 with a dotted quarter rhythm happening. I found it difficult to perceive the Afro 6-ness of it. See just below for something interesting though. 

First, here's the Afro 6 bell pattern, written in its usual 6/8, and in 3/4:

Working on p. 38 in Syncopation with a student, I noticed there were two measures that were very similar to that 3/4 version, the second measure is just extended by two beats: 

 Apparently a common Brazilian rhythm, according to Ed Uribe. And notice that in the 6/8 rhythm the last beat is the same as the first beat— if we extended the 3/4 pattern that way, by adding the beginning notes at the end, we'd get this very familiar Latin rhythm: 

So what happens if play that over a dotted quarter note rhythm, like 6/8— to make it fit I have to write it in 16/8— two measures of 8/8. It's that 6/8 rhythm above exactly, plus some extra stuff at the end: 

Play this pattern to get a feel for that type of phrasing. Count it in 4, and also count it with the beats I've marked in— 1&a 2&a 3&a 4&a 5e&a:  

Here's that 16/8 rhythm written in 4/4, as a drum pattern:   

Adding hihat— on beats 2 and 4, and suggesting a waltz type phrasing— 3/4+3/4+2/4: 

Here we'll play the rhythm with the right on a cymbal, and fill in the remaining 8th notes with the left hand on the snare. Here's that, hands only, and with bass drum added, and with hihat added:

It's also instructive to look at the filled-in original Afro groove as 5/8+7/8— alternating sticking, with each part starting with the right hand: RLRLR-RLRLRLR

With our thing that would have to be 5/8+11/8— RLRLR-RLRLRLRLRLR. You could count it the way I've indicated: 

Adding bass drum on all the Rs except the last one, and on the first and last Rs only:  

Here are those written in 4/4, with hihat added on the second one:  

Back to the original 6/8 rhythm— adding a drum corresponding to all the Rs above but the last one gives us the Rumba clave rhythm: 

Here's the same thing in our 16/8 pattern— the left hand part is the “clave” of the made-up item we're looking at today: 

Absent the dotted quarter groove it's similar to a partido alto rhythm. I won't get into it here, but it's how these things work. Things tend to connect with each other. I won't be shocked if I stumble on, or if someone else informs me of, existing music similar to any of this stuff. 

Get the pdf if you want to play through all of this. There are a few page o' coordination style practice patterns there as well. 

A lot of learn about rhythm here, and meter, and about how things are orchestrated on the drum set. When you're operating essentially within a western music system, this is the level you have to get into with rhythm— consciously or not— to not just be boxed in by its structure. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Transcription: Max Roach solo - I'll Remember April

A Max Roach epic here, a chorus of fours and two solo choruses on I'll Remember April— not a short tune. This will probably go in an e-book sometime, so get it free while you can. Chuck a few $$$ in where it says DONATE in the sidebar if you feel like it.  

It's from Charles Mingus's live recording The Charles Mingus Quintet & Max Roach— Max is sitting in on this tune, the drummer on the rest of the record is Willie Jones. I'll Remember April is a 48 bar tune— ABA, each section is 16 bars. Often the A sections are played 8 bars Latin / 8 bars swing, swing on the bridge. The transcription ends 8 bars before the end of the second chorus— on the last 8 they play a rhythm vamp, and then vamp for 16 more bars before the horn comes in with the head out.  

The fours start at 7:24. Tempo is about 180— it picks up some during the solo, and settles back to 180 on the head out. FYI the tune starts around 180, and settles to around 175 through the horn and piano solos. 

He plays a lot of 16th note singles, so mind the abbreviation— a quarter note with two slashes on it isn't a roll, it's 16ths. Jones's drum set evidently has just one tom tom, a floor tom. There's also a cowbell. He plays a triplet figure repeatedly— you see it in bar 49— the unaccented notes are probably a double. 

There are some quintuplets in bar 69-70— I don't know if he's playing them deliberately. I would look for some kind of doubles to be involved on that whole passage, bars 65-71. And rudimental stickings generally— there are a couple of spots where he's obviously playing paradiddles. I think all of the 16th notes on one drum are singles. 

Get the pdf

Friday, October 21, 2022

Practice phrase for Chapin

A very small item here, for making your time practicing single measures of independence patterns a little more productive. Try it when practicing Chapin— that Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer— or for any other single-voice independence practice— left hand or bass drum independence along with a repeating cymbal rhythm. Art of Bop Drumming. 

Using this exercise from the book for the example: 

Play it as a two measure phrase, first measure with the independent part on snare drum, second measure with it on bass drum. Practice that some more, switching drums one note earlier. Continue until you've cycled through the whole pattern: 

Alternatively you could do this in single measures— start on the snare drum, put the last note on the bass drum; then the last two notes, three notes, and so on. Then start on the bass drum, end on the snare drum. Basically repeating every single measure in the above example. 

This accomplishes a few things: it tricks you into practicing the thing longer, which... there are only eleven patterns in that part of the book, and they're extremely standard vocabulary, you can take a little time with them. And you learn to play the rhythm melodically in an elementary way. And it gets you away from always switching things on the 1. 

It's an idea to throw into that mix, a way of doing an ordinary thing they may help you use it creatively. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Very occasional quote of the day: simpler ways of playing

“You have to see the truth in the simpler ways of playing. That was a real challenge to me. I realized that technique doesn't mean a s* if you can't play a back beat in a place that fits, and lock it in. 
I had never thought about that before, mainly because I didn't grow up playing rock. I grew up playing bop. I heard kids who didn't have my technique but they could lay down a back beat that would kick ass. I started practicing playing uncomplicated things and solid time. 
To play as simply and as unnoticed as I could became as challenging as playing at a high energy level. They're still both equally challenging to me.”

- Steve Gadd, 1978 Modern Drummer interview with Aran Wald

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

16th note exercise for brushes - solo

Continuing this thing— playing the the 16th note pages from Reed with brushes, with accents and bass drum additions hastily scribbled in while practicing. Here's the 20 bar solo on p. 23.  

> = accent / circled note = add bass drum

Monday, October 17, 2022

Elvin's march

“I did go through [Harr's snare drum book] as a matter of fact. I went to public school in Pontiac, Michigan, so I didn't do anything extra. [...] I didn't have that advantage of being able to take private lessons, so I had to get everything that I had, at least up to that point, for myself. [...] So I got that book and that night I went home and sat over it and pored over it and read it from cover to cover, trying to make some sense out of it. Finally, all of a sudden I understood what it was. I knew exactly what it meant, what all of it (meant) from page one to the back cover. I pondered over that the next day, and so I learned how to do it. In two days, I mastered that book, and the rudiments.”

- Elvin Jones, Percussive Notes interview

UPDATE: See this post where I transcribed the way he actually plays this, usually. 

A little piece of Elvin Jones musical lore here today. Elvin has a march beat he plays, maybe most famously on Zoltan, from Larry Young's album Unity— I got this record in 1987:

Here he is playing it with his trio, I don't know this tune— maybe he wrote it?  

[Update: It's Keiko's Birthday March— thanks Ed Pierce! -t]

[Update again: It's also The Long 2/4 by Donald Bird! Same tune, released on Pepper Adams's 10 To 4 At The Five Spot in 1958— I don't know what happened there, but thanks Paul Wells! ]

I'm sure there are other recordings— he also played it at a clinic I attended in the early oughts.

It basically comes straight out of Haskell Harr, book 2— page 80 in my edition. He plays this almost verbatim on both records:  

He's playing bass drum on some of the accents. He plays longer rolls in the middle of the second line, after the repeat sign— 13 stroke rolls with an extra bass drum note at the end. He also hits the cymbals there. On the live thing he ends it with his own kind of roll off— it starts normally, and ends with a big Elvin style fill. 

On the live video he plays the full thing with repeats at the top, and after his solo. On Zoltan he switches to the Latin groove in the fourth measure of the repeat of the B section— the organ march vamp starts at the top of the repeat of the first part, then the horns come in with their fanfare thing in the fifth bar, and then the organ starts the Latin vamp in the fourth bar of the repeat of the B section. The fanfare section is 15 bars of 2/4 total. I wrote out the Latin groove from this tune in 2016. 

There you go— I've been listening to him play this for about 35 years, and just thought to look it up in Haskell Harr today. 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Three Camps in 3 - jazz waltz -02

Another set of Three Camps-form exercises in 3/4, for the drum set. The first two have alternating triplets between the snare and bass, the last two are based on a dotted quarter rhythm, with an extra note in there. 

Still digging this format— it makes you practice one thing for as long as you're supposed to, with minor variations. Good alternative to practicing out of Reed and having to deal with a lot of reading. 

Check out the forms carefully— the circled bass drum notes are added or swapped for the snare drum on some of them. Learn each two measure phrase, then put them in the form to make the complete exercise.  

Get the pdf

Friday, October 14, 2022

Paradiddle inversion control - 02

We've been doing a lot with the highly useful RLLR-LRRL paradiddle inversion lately. This is a page I wrote for myself as I'm developing some other Reed methods for it— sometimes you need to see these things written out. Here the right hand is on the cymbal the whole time. 

I usually put the “control” moniker on something when I intend to combine patterns, I don't suggest bothering with that here. Suggested tempo is between 100-150 bpm.   

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Brute force freedom

Not Mickey Roker, never will be
In the Josef Hoffman piano technique post I said: 

We read this now and put an emphasis on the freedom part, but he's talking about freedom through massive technical abilities— the music he's playing, and the setting in which he performs it, demands that. And there are definitely drummers active now who agree with it, e.g. Mike Mangini. 

It occurred to me that most people now probably agree with that— you simply dedicate your life acquiring a massive amount of skill, and you'll then be free to play whatever you want. It's popular among segments of the drumming community invested in drumming being as difficult as possible— possibly to explain why they're never able to do it very well. 

But if that's how FREEDOM works, why does Mike Mangini always sound like Mike Mangini? Why does he never sound like Max Roach, or Elvin Jones, or Roy Haynes, or Stewart Copeland? Like, even a little bit? Why can't any of the hyper technically able people sound like Mickey Roker? 

Answer: They can't, and don't, because it's a false concept of freedom. 

There's a video of Jim Keltner hanging out with Terry Bozzio and Vinnie Colaiuta and some other seriously able players, and he talks about his place among players like that. Paraphrasing, he said I can't do what they do, but they can't do what I do. We're so worshipful of ability that it sounds like false comfort, but it's absolutely true— they cannot do what he does, and they don't get called to try to do what he does. 

The acquisition and the non-acquisition of massive technique both shape what you do in ways you have no control over. Both your playing and your career. The massive technique people usually have no desire or inclination to be great in the way the non-massive technique people* are great. None of them are trying to be Connie Kay or Al Jackson Jr. Most of the time, judging from what I hear on recordings, the massive technique people aren't even learning how to use their instrument more effectively, or in a more personal way. 

* - “Non-massive technique people” = most drummers, great and not great, for all time. Massive technique is a historically exceptional weird pursuit

And the reality is that we've got one timeline to work with. One person can really only do one thing at a time, and the path you commit to takes you that way. Mike Mangini is a career prog guy and technical superstar guy, and that's it. He will never be a any kind of rock musician, jazz musician, studio musician, whatever other category you would think he'd be able to fulfill given his abilities. The name Mangini = massive chops, and no one is going to ask him to do those things in any kind of meaningful way. So where's the freedom?   

High art to me doesn't just include concert pianists and massively technical prog drummers. It includes Delta Blues musicians, some rock & rollers, night club musicians, pygmy musicians. A lot of people who don't necessarily dedicate their entire lives to the acquisition of technique. And you can't do what they do just by acquisition of massive technique. 

When you have great music that is impossible to duplicate being made by average non-professional humans, all bets are off. Anyone can create great art— art that was worth more than the time and attention it took from you. How much that is in an individual's control is the question. 

I think freedom is more of an attitude than a technical achievement. The artist Jasper Johns said: 

Sometime during the mid-50s I said, 'I am an artist.' Before that, for many years, I had said, 'I'm going to be an artist.'

He didn't say as soon as I reach X Y and Z technical goalposts I'll be an artist. He's saying what I do is the art. It may be up to others to decide if it's good or bad art, and if it's worth money, but what I do is what it is. It's not on its way to being what it is. 

Where gaining abilities becomes an issue for us drummers, is when we want to become professionals— then there are certain realities where we want to be able to play a lot of different kinds of jobs, and have a lot of knowledge so we're able to teach. That overlaps with the thing of learning the instrument, and music, for its own sake, as a lifestyle. That describes what I do pretty well, and a lot of my peers. I don't know if “freedom” is the goal— I think the motivation is way more complex than that— but developing as players is what we do. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Daily best music in the world: hey, my brother's in Downbeat this month

Here's my brother, John Bishop, playing with Hal Galper and Jeff Johnson at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. Tune is Ascendant, from one of the great records ever, The Ultimate Elvin Jones.

I've seen him play many, many times in the last 50 years, and recognize a lot of this as familiar material, but I've never been able to analyze what he does. I can figure out what a lot of people are doing, really not him. So I've got an interesting thing happening where the drummer I know best is essentially doing magic, so that's the way I think music is supposed to be made. Despite all the analytic stuff I do here— that's all a late novelty for me, most of my musical life has just amounted to going for it, attacking the performance.

Downbeat is running a feature on him I believe in the October issue, on the occasion of his label Origin Records releasing its 500th album. Consider participating in the jazz economy and subscribing

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Ari Hoenig show and jam session

There was a wild night last night— Ari Hoenig played at Portland's 1905 Club, followed by a jam session, led by Ron Steen— a great drummer and long time jazz community leader in Portland. Several of the best, most active drummers in town were there: Alan Jones, Michael Raynor, Chris Brown, the young Domo Branch, several other younger guys I didn't know. We all played and had a nice time. One unfortunate younger guy had to play right after Hoenig sat in— and played very well despite being nervous. 

I posted some thoughts about Hoenig's playing after seeing him with Kenny Werner's trio in 2014, and I guess those comments hold up as well as they ever did. Here are some more notes— they're kind of rough, I keep polishing them...   

They played the standards Shiny Stockings and My Ideal, and Deluge by Wayne Shorter, a couple of Hoenig's tunes— including a Balkan style blazing 7/8 (I think if averaged out to that?), which I guess all the New York guys are doing now?— and this tune, called Scoville, which is either a John Scofield tune, or an homage to a Scofield tune: 

He's kind of a rhythm cubist. There's some next level stuff happening with rhythm, which... I'm damned if I can follow a lot of it. I guess it's a philosophical thing about music whether time should be followable or not— and another question how much we as drummers should be able to handle that stuff ourselves. Either way, the energy and creativity carry the show, as did the big resolutions— where the time seems to have completely shifted, and then resolves on the 1, or on a key hit in the arrangement. I feel like there's a game element to it. 

There is that very advanced rhythm thing, but the major thing happening is that he's a jazz drummer , and is playing the tune. There's the time, the harmonic rhythm, and the melody of the tune, and the space around the melody, and any other arrangement elements— rhythm figures. And he knows the idiom extremely well, and knows a huge amount of drumming content. He has a lot of ideas for how to express those things on the drums— stating a melody, setting it up, guiding the group from section to section— and what he's doing is a couple of levels beyond what's obvious much of the time. Or sometimes it'll be very obvious— he's using the entire range.     

You can't help but notice his technique. He uses a very ugly German matched grip, even on the cymbal, back fingers off the stick half the time, striking the snare drum at a funny high angle. I wouldn't call it a beautiful sound— rendering an impeccable beautiful sounding performance is not the idea. Plays largely heel up with the feet. At times he was hitting a pulse with the heels of both feet in unison. I wouldn't call it a chops-heavy performance, though you can see in the video there was plenty of that at times.

There's a sort of vaudeville/show drumming element happening— I'm thinking Jo Jones— to degrees among some of the other players present, too. Lots of drumistic announcements being made— I am doing this, this is about to happen. It is part of the craft and tradition. Doing it very actively requires good judgment— done badly, listening to someone go Now this! Now this! Now do this! Now do this! all night can wear you out. We're helping the other players out with that, but we're also giving orders and asking for attention. 

It was a great, exciting, inspiring evening of music. I do find myself differentiating between music like this, which feels geared towards blowing away a festival audience, and regular music I listen to, and play as a job, and do as art.   

We were lucky to have Ron play a couple of tunes at the beginning of the jam session, to reset things from blow-your-mind mode to regular nightclub mode. Watching all that, your head kind of empties out. What do I do? What do I play? Your own thing kind of goes away. I used to be bad about worrying about I don't do what they do. But I can play the drums. You start and your ears engage and your hands do their thing. I like where my playing is— I don't try, I just engage, and things I like happen.  

About these overwhelming performances: there's room for everything— simple music played simply as well as complicated music played complicatedly, and everything in between. Everybody has the same problem of figuring out how to make it worth the time it took to listen to it. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

Carl Friedberg on touch and technique on the piano

More from Piano Mastery by Harriette Brower— some words on sound and technique at the piano from Carl Friedberg (1872-1955). He was the principal piano instructor at Juilliard in the mid 20th century— Nina Simone was one of his students. 

I've edited it slightly. There's plenty here that everyone will recognize from our day to day experience: 

I believe the legato touch is of the most importance in piano playing. I am aware that some modern players do not agree with this: they think everything should be played with the arm. I must differ from those who hold to this idea, for I emphatically believe and can prove there is a legato on the piano. It is the foundation of beautiful tone.

The tone an artist draws from his instrument should be round, full and expressive, capable of being shaded and varied, just as is the bel canto of the singer. We should learn to sing with our fingers.

I endeavor to give my piano tone the quality of the singing voice.

I first require a correct position: sitting on a chair which would be the right height to keep the level of the arm and wrist, not allowing the elbow to hang below the keyboard. The knees are to be close together; the heels planted on the floor, with the soles of the feet resting on the pedals, but not depressing them. The arms fall easily at the side, but not pressed against it. Now the hand is placed on five keys, in a vaulted position. I will now hold my hand in this position, and depress one key with the middle finger.

As you see, the condition of arm is quite loose and relaxed. You can move my arm back and forth, or in any direction you choose, but it will be impossible for you to dislodge my finger from the key, for it remains there with full relaxed arm weight.

In regard to equalizing the fingers, some players struggle to make all fingers equally strong; yet with all their effort the fourth finger can never be made as vigorous as the thumb. And why should all the fingers be equal one just the same as the others? It is not necessary. Just those slight inequalities of touch give variety and expressiveness to the playing. There are times when it is better to use weaker fingers than strong ones.

For all this technical drill I use hundreds of exercises of my own, which have never been printed. I do not adhere strictly to one set of these, but invent new ones constantly, perhaps changing them every week. 

I believe in making everything musical, in always making the tone beautiful, even in technical exercises and scales.

The piano is more than a thing of metal and wood; it can speak, and the true artist will draw from it wonderful tones. It should be part of his constant study to create beautiful tone. I believe a single tone can be made expressive.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

16th note exercise for brushes

Another cut and paste item. I don't practice brushes nearly enough, so yesterday I was hitting that a little bit. Poking around for things I needed to work on, I settled on these pages from Syncopation, with a few markings scribbled in: 

Like is says, the accent means hit an accent, the circled notes mean add bass drum. Half the time I was probably substituting bass drum for the brush hit— it doesn't matter. Nothing matters, we're just trying to play some singles with the brushes, with a little extra something to make a realistic thing out of it. You could try hitting a cymbal on those BD-added notes part of the time. Find your own way to play it. 

Do it at a bright medium tempo— I was playing it along with this McCoy Tyner loop

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Three Camps in 3 - jazz waltz - 01

Continuing the thing from the other day, here are some drum set variations on Three Camps, in 3/4 time, in a jazz waltz feel. I practice this same type of thing using my book Syncopation in 3, which you should own, but it's nice to have a clean, structured shot at some simple variations on one idea. And the Three Camps format makes you practice it for about as long as you should practice it. 

Practice each measure by itself, then put them together in the form given at the top of the page. Add hihat on beat 2, or beats 2 and 3, pencil it in on the a partial on 1, and on beat 3, Elvin-style. Anything. Scratch out that middle bass drum note on the D part of the dotted quarter version if you want— it doesn't fit the pattern, exactly. 

Practice it with my loop of All Blues

Get the pdf

Friday, October 07, 2022

Daily best music in the world: Wilby Fletcher with McCoy

Here's what I was talking about the other day, about Wilby Fletcher. At some point plays the cymbal rhythm I discussed. It doesn't matter, the whole thing is incredibly powerful.  

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Three Camps in 3

A few practice items coming up. Here's the traditional rudimental item Three Camps converted into 3/4 time, two different ways— accenting the quarter notes, or accenting the swing dotted half notes. That latter is harder than I expected.  

Something about doing it in 3 encourages you do it faster— I like Three Camps for working on fast singles. And the piece is 50% longer, so it will help your endurance. 

Learn each phrase by itself, then put the phrases together according to the form description to make the complete piece. Play as accented triplets as written, and as rolls, doubling all the unaccented notes. 

Wednesday, October 05, 2022


This one occurred to me thinking about Wilby Fletcher playing with McCoy Tyner...

The cinquillo rhythm— I'm calling it that now for ease of reference— is a very useful one measure Latin rhythm, and a common velocity cymbal rhythm, that can be played, with left hand accompaniment, as a paradiddle inversion: RLRR-LRRL.

So here are a few patterns for playing it on practice pad, with some RH flams added to develop left hand “independence”— the RH rhythm doesn't change. 

And since we did it for the cinquillo, we may as well do it for tresillo. That works, too: RLLR-LLRL. The RH is sparser on that one, so I've added some LH flams to create some variations for the RH part.

The accents are a starting place, you can accent however you want. I suggest starting with any single left hand notes. I'm practicing these with drum set in mind, with the RH on a cymbal, so I'm not too worried about perfect snare drumistic form and dynamics on the flams or accents.  

Get the pdf

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Daily(?) best music in the world: Elvin Jones Trio LIVE

Awesome live recording by one of the greatest trios ever, the Elvin Jones trio with Joe Farrell and Jimmy Garrison. Here they're playing in Berlin in 1968. Nothing to do here but listen: 

Monday, October 03, 2022

Counting compound meters

Recently I've begun teaching that way of counting 16th notes in compound meters that I mentioned before. It's going good. I never had a good way of counting those rhythms, so they were always a little mysterious. You miss the step of vocalizing them, which I think is important for understanding rhythm. 

Basically, in any compound meter— 6/8, 12/8, 3/8, 9/8, 15/8— when 16th notes are involved, count 1e&a&a, instead of the 1&a we (I) use with 8th notes

Here, count through some basic rhythms that way, and see how it goes:   

It works. It's easy to say it fast, and that repeated syllable gives each beat of 16th notes a little waltz feel. The only part that doesn't flow easily is the 1e a& rhythm— in isolation the a& part requires a little extra articulation with your voice. 

Sidebar for quibblers: Yes, the partial, when we're counting 8th notes, becomes a second when there are any 16ths involved. It's different! Not only is that, we've added two more as on the last two off-side 16th notes!

What can I say, the world's an imperfect place. I'm prioritizing ease of speaking over consistent or unique syllables with this one. The only reason you need unique syllables is so you can refer to parts of a rhythm easily, e.g. your timing is off on the a of 2 there. So now you say your timing is off on the second of 2 there instead.     

It has been extremely helpful for odd meters, too. The difference between having a good system and a weak system, or no system, is huge. Here are some basic rhythms in 5/8, counted as a lopsided 2: 

I like it. Before, if I needed to count out this type of rhythm for a student, I had to do it very laboriously in the top number of the time signature— counting in 6 or 12 or whatever— 1&2&3&4&5&6&— which is hard to do at tempo, and is also just not how we count these time signatures. More often I would sing the rhythm, which is OK, but the numbers and other syllables give us a little more to hold onto.