Friday, December 30, 2022

Practice loop: medium bossa

Probably my only post this week— we're having a wild end of 2022 around here, with my family experiencing an ongoing medical emergency, and I'm having to travel to Eugene a lot.  

So here's a nice easy loop for practicing bossa nova, samba and baiao rhythms at a slower tempo, about 110 bpm. Sampled from All Around, from Bebel Gilberto's great self titled album from 2004. 

My labels for Brazilian music related stuff are kind of a mess— most of the transcriptions and practice materials can be found under Bossa Nova and Brazil

Anyway happy 2023, in a couple of days— I'll be back with some new stuff next week. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Page o' coordination: Airto's afro

Page o' coordination based on Airto's unique afro 12/8 groove played on the intro of Casa Forte, from Flora Purim's album Stories To Tell.

It's a good introductory groove for this style— the hands are mostly in unison, and the rhythm is easy to follow. The bell rhythm is only different from the normal short bell rhythm by one note, but it seems like a whole different thing, and it should be much easier to work out the coordination.

As always, work out the patterns, then drill them by doing some moves with the left hand

Get the pdf

Friday, December 23, 2022

From the zone: left hand developer

 Here's a cool little exercise from a great drummer from Los Angeles, Sinclair Lott:  

You can see what's happening there— a table of time with a RLL sticking, with accents on the downbeats. Which makes your left hand do some stuff. Very elegant. 

Check out Sinclair's YouTube channel, which has some lovely playing, and cymbal demos. And get his latest record here. Buy people's records. 

Send in your FROM THE ZONE items— any of your handwritten stuff. It doesn't have to be finished, or good, or anything. I just like seeing what people scribble out in the wood shed because it wasn't in any of the books, and they needed it. Take a picture with your phone and send it.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Daily best music in the world: Roy Haynes with Charlie Parker LIVE

This is pretty amazing. Rough sounding live tape of Charlie Parker in 1951, with Roy Haynes on drums... sounding basically like any other subsequent time in his career. Incredibly modern playing for 1951. 

h/t to Mark Stryker of Jazz Times.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Transcription: Elvin Jones - Foolin' Myself - 03

We'll keep going with this. Part 3 of Elvin Jones playing on Foolin' Myself, from Lee Konitz's record Motion. This is the second chorus of Konitz's solo, starting at 1:57 in the track. 

The previous entries were pretty clean and straightforward, here there are a few unusual/organic things that don't resolve perfectly as something to practice. 

Like there are some 16th notes on the last beat of the fourth line— the 4e&a1 there. It didn't come out as intended, and there's no reason to practice it like it's deliberate vocabulary. And at the end of the 8th line there are four bass drum notes in a row, in a triplet rhythm— the first two are ghosted, the last two are played. It's an artifact of Elvin's technique, and of a certain physical momentum.  

Get the pdf

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Elvin's Biddy Oats

No, this is an ALL Elvin Jones site. I think we have to earn it if we're going to talk about him, put in some work, have some humility, don't be a leech. I imagine at D*umeo they refer to him as a “premium name”, with the monetary impact every time they use him all mapped out. Optimizing the Elvin Jones product to attract high-value consumers and suck off the most credibility and appearance of soul algorithmically.  

It's not cool, Elvin Jones is special. 

Anyway, following up on that post about that Haskell Harr march he played, I've transcribed exactly what he plays, more or less. There were some minor variations on the different recordings. The main difference from the original version is the added bass drum, the fp rolls at the beginning of the second half, and the roll off at the end:

The rolls are all multiple-bounce. The 5 an d 7 stroke markings are from the original piece, I didn't check to see if he did them that way. On the fp rolls he sometimes does that Elvin thing of putting putting in an extra bass drum note before the downbeat.  

A scholarly cat could dedicate some study to just how he handled the roll off solo break off on all the different recordings. He played it pretty loose. My scholarly instructions would be to vibe it, and don't be too exact about it. Make them come in on the 1 where you put it, not where it would be if there was a metronome running. 

In fact I think the study of Elvin Jones requires a serious commitment to figuring things out by vibe. It can't all be done analytically. Let's talk about that sometime. 

Get the pdf

Here it is on the new bootleg recording they just put out: 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Page o' coordination: hihat in the space

Here's a page based on this ongoing Elvin Jones transcription— I observed when he was playing time on the hihat, he would tend to close it before the beat. I also saw him doing that at a faster tempo, on Chasin' the Trane. And he often puts the hihat on the & of 1 in that Afro-waltz type feel. So let's work it out a little bit.    

Let's be clear that these are coordination patterns. Check out the transcriptions and recordings to see/hear how he actually does this— you don't want to go in and do this as an ongoing time feel. Though there's at least one kind of stock shuffle groove that does something like this

Swing the 8th notes, play the cymbal part on the hihat, observing the open sounds; also play it on the ride cymbal. Take care with articulating this distinctly from the normal hihat close on 2 and 4— doing it unthinkingly could mess with your time feel. 

Get the pdf

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Transcription: more medium tempo Elvin

Here's some more of Elvin Jones playing that same tune from yesterday, Foolin' Myself, from Lee Konitz's record Motion. This is the first chorus of Konitz's solo, starting at 0:58:

It's pretty straightforward if you want to learn what he's doing— take it 1, 2, or 4 measures at a time, ignoring the dynamic markings and articulations at first. Swing the 8th notes. 

Or just listen and follow along. You can approach it looking for “stuff to play”, but I listen now it just sounds like someone accomplishing time— I just hear attention to time. 

Get the pdf

Friday, December 09, 2022

Transcription: Elvin plays in 2

A little transcription of Elvin Jones playing in 2, on the hihat, on the head of Foolin' Myself from the Lee Konitz album Motion. In case you're short of comping ideas, or phrasing ideas when playing in 2. I've never played the tune, but it's a regular old 32 bar standard.  

That's open hihat all the way through, except + is a closed sound, and a staccato mark is half-open. He plays it softly with the foot in a few spots too. In fact much of the time he closes the hihat before the beat:  

This happened a lot on my titanic yet-unfinished transcription of Chasin' The Trane, too— his hihat landed before the 2 and 4. 

The rhythm is swung all the way through, but there are a few spots where I marked a dotted 8th and 16th note rhythm— where a comping note was very tight against the following beat. Those were ghosted, generally. 

Get the pdf

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Very occasional quote of the day: competition

“Music isn’t about competition, but about cooperation, doing s*t together and fitting in.”

—Miles Davis

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Cymbalistic: little cymbal day

CYMBALISTIC: Yesterday afternoon I went to Cymbal & Gong HQ to pick out a few things. I needed to pick out a 22" 11th Anniversary ride— an Elvin Jones tribute cymbal— for someone. They took the middle one. They others were excellent as well, and I can get them from C&G, until some other dealer buys them. All jazz weight, around 2250+ grams. 

Last chance to get those 2022 Schedule C deductions in, you know? And prices will be going up a bit after January 1st, hint hint... 

Here's a nice group of crashes I got, that will soon be for sale on my Cymbalistic site— all of them will be getting a heavy patina, which will funkify them substantially. Left to right they are: 18" A-style crash, 17" Janavar crash-ride, 16" A-style crash. I didn't get the gram weights, but they're all in the thin category, the Janavar might be a medium thin. 

I also got some 15" hihats, of which I'll post some video soon. [UPDATE: Forget it, they've sold... ] Lots of great cymbals in stock at Cymbal & Gong right now— I can pick something out for you if you don't see what you want on Cymbalistic. Just let me know! 

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Page o' coordination: Juju

I'm transcribing a little bit of Elvin Jones's playing on the Wayne Shorter tune Juju, which I originally did off the LP around 1988. It'll take some time to finish it, so here's a page developing the main groove from it— a version of the thing I've been calling an “Afro waltz.” Most people would probably say “Elvin waltz.”

Slightly different format from the usual POCs, exercises 1-10 build the particular groove Elvin played on the recording, and have specific drums assigned, including some changes to the bass drum rhythm. Exercises 11-18 have other left hand rhythms for basic fluency. 

Swing the 8th notes. Practice with and without the tie on the cymbal rhythm in the first measure. On exercises 11-18 you can do the stock left hand moves I use with these pages. 

Get the pdf

Here's the tune, it's a record you should know well:

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Best books: revisiting Rubank

The matte industrial looking horizon blue
cover has that depression era band room reek.
A fresh look at the very old, very turgid Rubank drum method books. Rubank, a series of method books for all band instruments, has been around since 1935, and is a core item in modern American school band literature. My only exposure to the book was in the 7th grade, when a teacher printed out a few pages for me. There are elementary, intermediate, and advanced volumes; here I'll mainly look at the elementary book, by Paul Yoger. 

Upshot: it's actually pretty good.  

I've never been completely happy with the available beginning snare drum books. Mitchell Peters's Elementary Snare Drum Studies is the best, but it's a little denser than it needs to be for average 5th-7th graders. 

All of these books have a few pages of fundamentals at the beginning, with a lot of verbiage, instructions on how to tuck a calf skin head, a picture of some jerk standing at a drum... all of which every kid in the world ignores completely. In Rubank there are just two pages of that, which are actually useful, covering grip, explanation of a roll (double stroke only), and a table of rhythm values and time signatures. 

The suggested right hand grip is interesting, a Moeller type grip with the fulcrum in back:

Then is the main body of the book, starting with four very useful pages of four measure rhythm studies, in 4/4, 2/2, 3/4, and 6/8 time. Then sections on 5, 7, and 9 stroke rolls, flams, and dotted notes, with more short studies— about 16 pages of those all together. All have stickings and counts marked in.  They're well graded and presented— better for younger students than Peters, or the Vic Firth and Roy Burns methods, which I have also used. 

It's a pretty quick introduction to the rhythms and time signatures they'll be playing in band class, with the more serious technical practice dedicated to rolls— that will be the hardest part for the target age group. The flam pages are good, and not over-technical.  

There's not a lot of verbiage, and what there is is pretty concise, even if it's not always phrased in a way that will be clear to students. But the point of that is not just for the student to read it and understand it immediately— it's more about giving the teacher the major points to re-explain to the student until they get it. 

There are pretty useless sections covering the bass drum, and some other band percussion instruments— cymbals, triangle, castanets, tom tom, woodblock, tambourine. And several pages of percussion parts for Rubank band pieces. 

There are eight OK pages outlining the 26 snare drum rudiments, and a few extra variants. Most are written in quarter notes, 8th notes, and 16th notes, and with roll notation, if there are rolls involved. The author wants us to play them slow to fast— all are marked with an accelerando— which I don't agree with. Acceptable, better than the usual single page list of rudiments.

The Intermediate book was written Robert Buggert, who has his own very old snare drum method book, that is pretty good, and long out of print. The intermediate Rubank book is all performance pieces for band percussion section— solo snare drum, snare and bass drum, full section. And a few band pieces. It's dated, and not real useful to me. There's also an advanced volume that I haven't seen yet. 

The elementary volume, even as it's pushing 90 years old, is still a pretty good first book for students in the 8-12 year old range. The roll section is a little out of balance for that age group, but rolls were important for that time and setting. Rudiments are covered but not over emphasized— it's not a hard core rudimental book a la Haskell Harr. It's a good overview of what a snare drummer, and band drummer, is. I'll probably use this with some younger students mainly for the rhythm portions.  

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Hey, you should get drum lessons with me

NOTE: I'm going to keep this pinned to the top of the blog for a little while. Scroll down for new stuff. 

You know what, I don't think I get as many students via this site as I should. Look me up, gang, I can help with what you're working on. Despite my occasionally prickly writing persona, I'm an easy, friendly, low pressure teacher, and am interested in students of all ages, levels, and ambitions. I like helping people with their drumming problems— especially big problems. 

I share so much stuff on this site you could think that's all you need— a lot of pages of stuff to practice. It's not. It's about how you do it. The notes on the page are just the beginning. In lessons you learn the processes for a) learning things quickly and b) in a form that is conducive to playing creatively, to a high musical standard.

Lessons are not information— when I was a student teachers could get away with just throwing some pages of stuff at you. Not-good teachers. Today things to practice are massively available, as are people broadcasting highly detailed advice on what to practice. 

What is not so available are instant answers about what you personally should be doing right now. What you need help with, what you are not getting, what's going to get you to your immediate goals the fastest. What parts of the online advice tsunami you can safely ignore right now, or forever. 

That's the point of all of it: what to do now, what's important now, and what isn't.

So don't be shy, look where it says EMAIL TODD in the sidebar, and shoot me a line, let's yak about it. Let me know what's hanging you up. 

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Marking up Reed for chart reading practice

Continuing the kicks/set-ups Reed tweak— in aid of that kind of practicing, let's mark up the full-page exercises in Syncopation some more. You may not want to look at these changes all the time, so print out those pages, or get a second copy.

Exercise 4  on p. 41 has the most of the kind of activity we're looking for, so I'll use that. 

In the last post I suggested penciling in housetop accents on any off-beat long notes after a long space— three 8th notes worth of space before them, or more:

You'll notice a couple of those are not actual long notes— they're 8th notes with a rest after them. In the second and sixth lines. For these purposes we can treat them the same. 

Syncopation has a shortage of long notes on the &s of beats 2 and 4. They happen a lot in real life, they're rare in Reed. So let's make some by adding ties/accents to 8th notes on the & of 2/4, after a long space: 

To make it easier to read, let's mark the spaces where the set ups go. I put a little line there, you could write FILL, or whatever:

Oops, I missed one in the third line.

You can do this with all eight of the regular syncopation exercises in Reed— some are better than others. Start with 1 and 4, exercise 2 is not great. There are also a couple of the syncopation exercises in Louis Bellson's Reading Text in 4/4 that are usable, as well— pp. 18, 21-22. And my book, Syncopation in 3/4

Also see my much simpler post from 2011, Kicks and set ups using Syncopation. And probably my Chart reading pyramid while we're at it. And my 2021 post with other suggestions for marking up Syncopation

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Reed tweaks: kicks and setups with RH lead triplets

An online student in Europe is working on his reading with me, in preparation for an audition, and we're talking about kicks and set ups. There's a minor tweak to a common Reed solo/fill method— right hand plays melody on drums/cymbals, left hand fills in triplets on snare— that will help with that. 

Part of that method is that any time RH notes are spaced greater than a quarter note, which would require multiple LH notes to fill the space, we break up those multiples by bringing the RH to the snare drum. I've written before about how we do that. Many of those spots are also places you would do a set up if you were reading an actual piece of music. 

Look at p. 38 in Syncopation, and pretend we're interpreting a big band chart, and find the syncopated hits that would require (or suggest) a set up from the drummer. We're looking for long notes on an &, with a long space before them. The second note, on the &, is the kick— you could pencil in housetop accents over each of those. Or print the page out and mark them.  

You can see most of them consist of a quarter note, an 8th rest, and then a quarter, dotted-quarter, or tied note. 

Here's how to play that, with 1) all the filler with the LH, 2) breaking up the filler with the RH, 3) playing that filler RH as an accent on the downbeat before the kick, 4) two note set up:

There are a couple of spots where there are two &s in a row— in the third and fifth lines. All through Syncopation they're just on the & of 1/3, in real life they'll often be on the & of 2/4. 

Again, how you would play that: 1) all filler with the LH, 2) filler broken up normally with the RH, 3) set up falling on the left hand, this time, 4) two note set up: 

Normally with this system the right hand is on the snare or toms, or cymbal + bass drum. To do this tweak, whatever you're hitting for the rest of the page, play the set ups on the drums, and the kicks on the cym + BD.  

Here's how you would play the second and third lines of p. 38, with the right hand playing the small tom for everything but the kicks: 

Or playing the two-note setups: 

There are other possibilities for what to do with the set ups, which we'll talk about later. The idea here is not just to play the thing, it's to read differently, to be able to identify the figures that need support from the drummer— syncopated hits after a long space. 

Next I'll have some suggestions for marking up Syncopation for this kind of practicing. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Stickings a la Funky Primer

This is part of why I write so much stuff— you never know what a particular student is going to need, and in what form. For whatever weird reason, somebody will do really well with one thing, so I want to take it further than the original material. 

Like one younger student responded really well to this obnoxious looking page of sticking patterns from A Funky Primer: 

Hence this, taking it a little further: 

In the lesson we did this with his lead hand on the cymbal, other hand on the snare drum, with bass drum added on some or all of the cymbal notes, and the 32nd notes played on the snare or toms. He plays left handed, and we did just the patterns starting with the left hand. 

I'll be playing through it in a right handed orientation all the way— RH on the cymbal on all patterns. You could also do it in a reversed "open-handed" orientation by playing the starting hand on the cymbal.

Get the pdf

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Syncopation exercise: downbeats and &s

A full page syncopation exercise with the notes spaced a quarter note a greater. Some practice systems only work well, or work well at faster tempos, when there are certain limitations in the reading material, which are not covered in Reed.  

This is similar to an exercise in Chuck Kerrigan's Syncopated Rhythms book— which is excellent, and out of print, and worth seeking out if you're practicing out of Ted Reed a lot. I'm contacting the publisher to see if they're willing to reprint it. We'll see how much pull I have in this business. 

Get the pdf [NOTE: I can't upload the pdf right now, you'll have to print this from the image above]

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Transcription: Al Harewood - Lil' Darlin'

Transcription of a slow tune, Lil' Darlin', as played by Al Harewood, with George Benson. This is a really great group of Benson's, with Mickey Tucker and George Duvivier, recorded on a Jazz Hour album called Witchcraft.  

Anyway, the tune was written by Neil Hefti, in the 50s, for Count Basie's band. On this recording there's a four bar intro, and then the tune is 32 bars long— a 16 bar AABA played twice. I've written out just the intro and head. We're just looking at how Harewood plays the tune. It's not that easy to play those syncopated kicks and maintain groove at this tempo, about 65 bpm. 

The 8th notes are swung, basically in a triplet feel, which is the basic groove of the tune— that very broad Basie groove. But he plays a wider dotted 8th/16th rhythm on the bass drum at times. In fact there's much more going on with rhythm than just a stereotyped Basie groove. If you listen through the whole recording you'll hear that the players are not always playing the same feel— rhythm might be playing a triplet feel while the soloist is double timing, or there may be different feels happening within the rhythm section. It's very open.   

The tied quarter notes in the first four lines are just brush texture, maybe with a light quarter note pulse. Untied quarter notes with the brushes are articulated, maybe with the left hand playing texture. The staccato open hihat accents in the third line are fast chokes with the foot, I simplified the notation there. 

Get the pdf

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Sticking patterns for drum set - basic

An item for one of my students— an adult student who is new to reading music: a page of sticking patterns, based on this 2018 post reorganizing the first pages of Stick Control. I could just circle the appropriate patterns in Stone, but I'm trying to be a nice guy and not make people flip around and go cross eyed looking at a page jammed with 500 sticking patterns when they're just starting to read.

These mostly start with the right hand, and are relatable to normal drum set stuff when played with one hand on a cymbal. See also my page of sticking patterns for jazz from a few days ago. 

Play with right hand on a cymbal, plus bass drum in unison / left hand on snare drum. Repeat many times.  Do it with music to stave off boredom. 

Get the pdf

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Practice loop: slow blues

Bringing this back to planet Earth, here's a nice 65 bpm blues to practice along with. Sampled from the tune After Hours on Roy Haynes's album We Three. 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

View from the outside of a swing feel

Another item from the outer limits of usefulness, for most people. Sorry. The main interesting thing about that misguided jazz quintuplets page is that it gets us pulling around a jazz rhythm a little bit, hopefully leading to some organic flexibility. It's like an actor trying different ways of saying a line. 

...which— there's a wrong way to do both things. My wife, a trained actress, likes pointing out bad line readings in movies— places where the actor clearly didn't know what he or she was saying, and sounds wrong for the context. And with the drums— there's a tradition. Good players expect you to sound connected to it somehow. There's a lot of freedom in jazz, but it's got to serve an expressive end.  

Having thus established pure intent, here are a few different patterns for exploring that. 

We'll do it by mutating this: 

None of what follows requires any kind of swing interpretation— play the notes exactly as written as best you can. So long as the quarter note pulse is steady, drum corps precision isn't necessary.  

Same notes, in some different 16th note rhythms: 

And in quintuplets— see the other page for a some supporting patterns to get the timing: 

“Tripteenths”— a way of playing 16th notes in Brazilian music, fitting four notes in the space of a triplet. The 1 and the a of the 16ths land on the first and last notes of the triplet. The timing is literally this: 

Here's a snare drum exercise for developing the timing of that— the accents should sound the same all the way through: 

Mid-beat subdivision change— at slow tempos, Elvin Jones will sometimes push the last note of a beat into a different subdivision than the beginning of the beat. The first two notes in a triplet timing, and the last note with a 16th note timing. Or the first two notes in a 16th timing, and the last note in a triplet timing. I've noticed him doing this in a single beat, at phrase endings, but he may do it more often— it's where part of the organic quality of his rhythm comes from.  

I'll illustrate the concept with this phrase:

We'll change the timing of the last note of each measure to match the rhythm of the measure after it: 

It's highly weird to write that in 4/4, it's not so bad in 2/2: 

It reflects something that I think is essential to swing— the last note of a beat treated not as the end of the beat, but as a pickup to the following beat. So rhythm is perceived not as: 

1& 2& 3& 4&
1&a 2&a 3&a 4&a
1e&a 2e&a 3e&a 4e&a

But as: 

&1 &2  &3  &4  &1
a1e& a2e& a3e& a4e& a1

So, a little view from the outside that will hopefully strengthen your fundamentals. Enjoy it, but not too much. In the field your job is still to swing. 

Get the pdf

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Quintuplet jazz?

I wrote the following when I was still loopy from shooting and editing cymbal videos all day, I take no responsibility for anything I do.

There was another forum question, about using quintuplets in jazz comping. I basically think it's a bad idea, a recipe for sounding disconnected from reality. But I'm in favor of playing around with things, and seeing what happens, so here: 

Play it if you must, just don't over practice it. You've got bigger fish to fry. Use judiciously in real life if at all. 

However if you're getting your 5/8 stuff together, you might run it along with those pages I wrote back in June

Get the pdf

BONUS: Here's me playing down this page: 

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

CYMBALISTIC: making videos today....

CYMBALISTIC: Making videos of the new cymbals— I think you guys are going to flip for them. There are the three new Extra Special Janavars, one with a heavy patina; 18/20/22" Special Janavars with a heavy patina, two 20" A-type Holy Grail rides, more! 

UPDATE: Videos are up! Go check them out and let me know if you want me to hold anything for you.  

Here's the 22" Special Janavar “Belinda”:

And the 20" EXTRA Special Janavar “Spock”:

Listening: Delfeayo's Dilemma

Responding to a forum question, referencing Delfeayo's Dilemma, a Wynton Marsalis tune, as recorded by Kenny Garrett on his record Triology, with Blade on drums.

How does one even beginning practicing playing time the way someone like Brian Blade does? There are some modern jazz drummers such as Brian Blade who almost never sound like they’re playing a groove or pattern. They’re constantly reacting to what’s happening around them.

So let's listen to that a bunch of times, and talk about it. 

First, what Brian Blade is doing is not primarily reacting, he's proactively playing the form. The main thing is the form. You and Brian Blade both have the same job playing this tune: keep up and play the form. That's what all the drum stuff is in aid of. 

In fact that's all let's talk about— the question is not how do I play that drum stuff, it's how do I have the same job as him. Once you know what your job is, you can play whatever you want— know the vibe you're after, and try to make it with whatever playing resources you have available.  

Here's a chart, which I found on some sleazebag pdf site. The first few listens through make sure you can follow the chart, and hear harmonic movement in the bass— look at the chords on the page, and listen to the changes in color from the bass. Count out loud if you have to.  

It goes down exactly like the chart— they play from the top of the page, take the first ending, play from the top of the page again, take the second ending, play the solo form however many times they play it, go back to the top of the chart, play to the coda sign, take the coda, and you're done. 

The form is 6 + 6  |  4 + 4  |  3 + 1 bar 3/4 + 4 (or 2 the second time, head only)We could call that ABC—  12 bars + 8 bars + 8* bars. 

* - Don't screw up the 3/4 bar!

And no, there is no good bloody reason to have the 3/4 bar— it has zero effect, it's just there to trap and punish people. Typical Marsalis BS. 

When you can keep up with the form, listen to the solo choruses. Here's the solo form helpfully color coded to make it easy to correspond what you hear Blade playing with where it falls in the phrase. Listen many times while following this, and notice where the activity is happening. Where do the big cymbal accents happen? Where do the big fills or big comping statements happen? Where do the big dynamic/density changes happen? How contained is he within the phrases?

This video has a transcription of Garrett's playing— you can follow along to hear how Blade's playing interacts with it, but don't hang too much on the interaction aspect. The form is what's important. 

So yeah, I suggest listening about 20 times. The solo begins at 0:47.

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Counting system overhaul - 01

This guy gets it.
Severely long two-part nerd item alert— the following post is an embarrassing mess that will be perhaps useful/entertaining for music teachers and others who think about this stuff all day every day. All others proceed with caution. 

Last year I was taken to task online by another drum teacher, for my late innovations in counting rhythm— I was told my ways are convoluted, inconsistent, confusing. “We have a working system in place, if it ain't broke don't fix it and we don't need to count things we can't already count anyway, and by what authority...”, etc etc. 

So let's look at the current excellent extremely consistent and non-confusing ain't-broke methods for counting rhythm, with some kind of official acceptance somewhere, and I'll say everything I think is wrong with them. Next post I'll round up the way I'm doing it, which I've already written about piecemeal.

8th notes:

Problems: fine

8th note triplets: 1 trip let 2 trip let1&a 2&a, 1 la li 2 la li

Problems: I prefer 1&a. Yes, the syllables duplicate a common 8th and two 16ths rhythm. We remedy that by teaching people the difference between the two. 

1 trip let
is ungainly to speak— too many consonant clusters from syllable to syllable. And, frankly, I'm not a child, I don't need to say the name of the rhythm I'm counting. And by baking the word triplet into it, we've made it useless for counting a common equivalent rhythm: compound 8th notes. 

1 la li—
part of the Eastman system— is just goofy, and had to have been cooked up by a vocalist. La is a syllable we make drummers/percussionists use to get them to play with a prettier tone, we don't use it to articulate rhythm. 

Compound 8th notes:
1 2 3 4 5 6 (maybe emphasizing the 1 and 4); 1&a 2&a, 1 la li 2 la li

Problems: With 1 2 3 etc we're counting a subdivision, not the main beat. We don't count 8th notes in 4/4, why do it in 12/8? I would rather use the trip let syllables, but that's a non-starter because compound 8ths are not triplets, though they are functionally the same rhythm

Sidebar: This is where pedantic individuals will make us have a long fight about the nature of a triplet, and of compound 8th notes. A three note subdivision of a beat is an ordinary kind of rhythm. It is native to 6/8 time, but foreign to 2/4 time, where it requires special notation— a numeral 3 printed above that beat. And it gets a special name: triplet. It's the same thing in either case: a single beat divided into thirds. There's no good reason to count it differently in different time signatures. 

16th notes:
1e&a 2e&a, 1 ti te ta 2 ti te ta

Problems: none, 1e&a is universally accepted, and easy to say, and is extremely useful for counting and understanding complex 16th note rhythms, let's do more with it. Exploit its familiarity.

I've never met anyone who uses the Eastman 1 ti te ta syllables, not even people who otherwise defend that system like it was handed down by Socrates from Mt. Vesuvius*.

* - ???  

Quintuplets: hippopotamus or other funny five syllable word, 1 quin tu pl et 2 quin tu pl et

Problems: Funny words are OK for getting the rate of rhythm in isolation, you don't use them in counting an actual piece. How are you going to refer to partials of a quintuplet, the mus of 1, the pot of 3? Not an everyday need, but if we're going to do this, let's do it right. 

1 quin tu pl et invents a pul syllable that isn't spoken in the word. And again, I don't need to pronounce or mispronounce the name of the rhythm to play it. And by saying QUIN TA PA LET we're sabotaging it for use with five note groups that are not quintuplets. Like, what are you going to say when you encounter a measure (or partial measure) phrased 5/16? 

Sixtuplets/16th note triplets:
nothing, 1 trip let & trip let, 1 ti ta & ti ta, 1 ta la ta li ta

Problems: None are easy to say fast. The consonant clusters in the trip let way really bog you down here.

The Eastman la li etc syllables are phrased wrong, like a subdivided 8th note triplet. Correctly, 16th triplets are a triplet subdivision of an 8th note. The distinction is important. To make those syllables work you could vocally accent the syllables WUNtala TAlita. Saying 1tala &tala— if we must use those syllables— would be better. 

Compound meter 16ths:
1&2&3& 4&5&6&, 1 ta la ta li ta 2 ta la ta li ta

Problems: Same problems as with compound 8ths, but worse. Try using those Eastman syllables to count a complex passage of 8th and 16th notes and rests.  

none, but take your pick of funny seven syllable words: aboriginality, absolute immunity, algorithmic randomness, cryptozoological, grammaticalization, hematochromatosis, impermeability, Kierkegaardianism, kleptoparasitism, monomorphological, ultramodularity, Zoroastrianism

Problems: are you kidding

32nd notes:

Problems: There aren't many cases where I would want to count 32nd notes, but it would be nice to have an option. 

CONCLUSION: The beauty of this well-lubricated* system is that no syllables conflict, except when syllables conflict. It may not be “broke”, but these methods are totally inadequate for anything other than 8ths and 16ths in */4 meters, and 8th notes in compound meters. People handle these limitations by basically never counting anything other than that... not very well. So big areas of rhythm are permanently not understood very well by a lot of people.

* - By which I mean how drunk would a man have to be to think this amalgamation of practices amounts to a system? 

Speaking rhythm = knowing rhythm. The implications of that go beyond just knowing how to read a rhythm correctly. Even if we don't use all of these applications often, it's still worth having a system for it. Next post I'll round up my solutions to this musical crapperware. Mostly restating things I've written before, in the screed format I've embraced here.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Stick control patterns for jazz

I posted something like this before, but here it is in a new form, for a different student— we're using some sticking patterns to simplify learning some basic jazz coordination. 

Swing the 8th notes. Play the sticking pattern on the snare drum, and then play the corresponding drum set rhythm by moving the right hand to the cymbal, and adding hihat played with the foot on beats 2 and 4. Practice along with your favorite record or an appropriate loop

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

CYMBALISTIC: Cymbal day!

UPDATE: Creating my order right now— I'll be picking up cymbals probably on Monday the 7th, with new listings with videos coming Monday or Tuesday. I'll be getting the Extra Special Janavars, some Special Janavars (with heavy patina, some with rivets), A-type Holy Grail rides, crashes, and hihats. 

CYMBALISTIC: I got a look at the new shipment of Cymbal & Gong cymbals yesterday— I played a whole lot of great cymbals, until my ears gave out. I'll be taking some into my own stock, and many will be going out to other dealers, so if you hear something you like, let me know the time it appears and its placement in the frame (right or left side), and I may be able to get it for you. Contact me through the email Todd link in the sidebar, or through the contact form at my Cymbalistic site

The new Extra Special Janavars sound great— a slightly darker take on that series. Like all Janavars, they're full crash-rides, with a great crash sound. One of them will be getting the full heavy patina, the other two have the regular Holy Grail patina.

Update: I've gotten to play the regular-patina Extra Special Janavars a bit, and compared them to other C&G cymbals of the same weight. They're similar to a K-type Holy Grail, but fuller— the K-types have a more compact sound in comparison. And the XS Janavars have a bigger bell sound. Regular Janavars have a brighter, less complex sound. Again impressed that despite how well they crash, and how full they sound, I never feel there's a danger of them washing out.    

There is also a new design of Chinese cymbal that are going to be part of the Second Line series— they have a small hard-cornered bell, with an aggressive, funky, rather fast decaying Chinese sound. The 20" especially I think will make a great swish knocker type cymbal. Chinese cymbals can sometimes be unruly, gong-like, and annoying— these new cymbals are aggressive, but never cross that line. And they have a kind of deep funk, with the 20 especially, that I don't hear in other Chinese-type cymbals. Sort of a 1920s sound. 

More comments at the bottom.... 

Here's what's played when— watch on YouTube to click around to the various cymbals
0:00 - Extra Special Janavars 20" - approx 1850 grams [one on hold]
0:57 - another Extra Special Janavar
1:33 - 19" and 20" Second Line Chinese [20" on hold]
2:50 - 16" Second Line Chinese
3:39 - 20" Holy Grail A-type ride
4:19 - 20" Holy Grail A-type
4:54 - 20" Holy Grail A-type
5:30 - 18" Holy Grail A-type
6:05 - 18" Janavar crash-ride
6:39 - 18" Janavar
7:15 - 18" Janavar
8:04 - 20" Janavar crash-ride - light, approx. 1650g
8:28 - 20" Janavar crash-ride - standard, approx. 1750g [one on left sold]
9:01 - 22" Janavar crash-ride - approx. 2250g
9:24 - 22" Janavar
10:26 - 18" Holy Grail crash - K-type [one on hold]

I played a number of A-type 20" Holy Grail rides— mostly around 1800 grams, possibly. These are some of my favorite C&G cymbals now. They have some substance, kind of a brawny quality . As I commented in the video, there was maybe 5% variance in quality among them— I say quality, but I mean best to my own taste. Different people would pick different ones; I could probably pick one at random and use it forever. 

The 18" A-type Holy Grails are pretty stout, and I didn't spend a lot of time with them. With rivets they would make good left side cymbals for a jazz drummer. They're quite a bit like an Alejian cymbal I talked about this summer. I may go back and compare them. 

The 18, 20, and 22" Janavars were all wonderful. Supposedly they're rock cymbals— inspired by the Paiste Giant Beat— but the weights are all squarely in jazz territory, and of course they're hand made out of B20 bronze. They're bright cymbals, but they're complex, and very musical. They have a very full sound, without washing out— your results might vary if you use heavier sticks. They may have the best crash sound I've heard anywhere in a long time. A couple of the ones I played will get heavy patinas to become Special Janavars. 

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.”