Monday, May 29, 2023

5/8 flam accents

Page of rudimental patterns in 5/8, based on a flam accent #1. We've just extended it a couple of notes. You could connect some of these with a whole lot of rudiments: flam drags, pataflaflas, flamadiddles, flamacues. Do these along with my 5/8 control pages from last year. 

Pretty straightforward. If you use a metronome, put it on the 1, or the 1 every two bars, or on the 1/3 or 1/4 of the 5/8, or set it for quarter notes in 5/4, resolving with the 1s in unison every two bars. I guess if you should be doing that, you don't need me to tell you...

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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Reed singles drill

Simple system for working on singles, that I worked up with a student who plays a lot of Metal. I don't know anything about Metal drumming, so we have to work together to come up with something that's going to be relevant to his major idiom. 

It's a variation on a collection of stuff I file under harmonic coordination— so-called because it's derived from the section of the same name in the book Four-Way Coordination. Not everything I do with it involves much “harmonic” coordination however. 

Do this with the accent pages in Syncopation; accents are played on a cymbal, plus bass drum in unison; the unaccented notes are played on the snare drum... with the modifications below. 

I'll illustrate it with line 1 on p. 47 of Reed: 

You can do this with any of the 8th note, triplet, or 16th note accent patterns you want. Here's how it's structured so you know how to do that: 

1. Play it with both hands in unison— two different cymbals and two different drums (or left-handed flam on the snare drum— rL)

2. Then double the rate of the notes, alternating sticking, with the accents spaced the same:


3. Play the written pattern alternating in double time: 

Then do the whole mess altogether, pyramid-style, playing things 1-2-3-2, 1 to 4 times each, and repeat the entire phrase: 

Slash marks on the quarter notes are abbreviations for 8th notes
and 16th notes— play exactly like the examples above.

On repeating back around to the 8th note part, hit the cymbal with the right hand only the first time.

Here's how you would handle line 11. Both hands in unison: 

Same accent spacing, doubled rhythm:

Double time:

Complete practice phrase:

You won't need to do many of these— the point is to do it, this is just a framework. For longer runs of singles unbroken by cymbal hits, use the 16th note accent pages, pp. 60-63. It would be an excellent idea to plot and drill some moves around the drums with the singles. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Paul Motian documentary

It took me awhile to get around to watching the Paul Motian documentary Motian In Motion— it's great, here it is if you haven't seen it: 

I liked this comment from Steve Swallow about his technique, compared to other drummers: “Paul just kinda picked up a stick and hit something.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

That last Reed tweak: one further

Going one further with that last Reed tweak in 3/4, in which we played alternating triplets, beginning every measure with the right hand. Normally with alternating triplets, every second measure would start with the left hand, so to make that work we had to do some different things on beat 3 of each measure. 

Quick summary of the larger method: reading from my book Syncopation in 3/4, play alternating triplets, accenting according to the rhythm in the book, swing interpretation. Play those accents on a cymbal with bass drum in unison, and the rest of the rhythm on the snare drum. It's an ordinary thing. See the last post for how we made each measure start with the R hand. 

With this tweak of the first tweak, we're going to use an idea from another alternating triplet item, where we omitted any of the cymbal notes falling on the left hand— while continuing to play the bass drum there. 

Best to just illustrate it. Here are the first two lines of the full page Syncopation Exercise 1 from Syncopation in 3/4: 

Here's how you would play it with the original tweak (one way of doing that, there are other options for how to handle the third beat of each measure):  

Here's how to do it omitting the lefts on cymbals: 

The situation in measures 3 and 6 is a little funny to me,  but everything doesn't have to work perfectly. 

A good application for this is to play a repeating rhythm in 3/4, in 4/4. For example, the first measure from the above example, played over two measures of 4/4: 

Or four measures of 4/4:

Small typo: add bd/crash one 1 of the first measure only, every time you play the whole phrase.

There you go. I'm looking to develop living textures, not pure licks, so I do any part of this part of the time. I don't overwork it, I change it up.  

Monday, May 22, 2023

Transcription: Roy Haynes - Bad News Blues - 02

Part 2 of Roy Haynes playing Bad News Blues on his record Cracklin'. This is Ron Matthews's piano solo, starting at 1:51— four choruses, 48 bars. 

Things like this are a little bit of an archeology project. We're not just looking for comping ideas, we're looking at when he plays in the phrase, and what for— is he supporting the groove, is outlining a phrase, is he conversing with the soloist, what. And to some extent how— what's the logic for how he's executing it physically. As I said last time, Roy is often real economical with how he coordinates things— very linear, with lots of unisons. So I look carefully we he layers things in a more independent/complicated way, like how did that come about? 

The cymbal rhythm is pushing towards a dotted 8th/16th interpretation here. The swing 8ths generally are not perfectly squared off triplets. He plays light backbeats much of the time. If we're checking where he's accenting with his comping, he plays a lot of &s of 4, relatively fewer &s of 3, not much on the & of 2 or 1, except as a continuation of something he was doing in the previous measure. 

It's telling how he plays the 16th note comping in bars 6 and 16— he plays the full beat of 16ths, RLRL, ghosting that second R on the cymbal. Clearly something that evolved naturally, where most of us are sitting down with Chapin and working out our 16th note timing impeccably vs. the straight cymbal rhythm. 

There are a couple of spots where he apparently plays the open hihat with his left hand, which involve some quick moves from the snare drum. Possibly he's splashing it with his foot, and I'm just hearing the attack from the ride cymbal, which he plays through that. Or maybe he's really quick getting his left hand to the hihat, and it's something he doesn't. It fully doesn't really matter. 

That lick in the last two bars of the transcription is one that's worth learning on its own.  

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Saturday, May 20, 2023

Transcription: Roy Haynes - Bad News Blues - 01

Roy Haynes playing Bad News Blues, from his album Cracklin'. We'll be seeing more of this one, there's a lot of interest in this recording. Playing a tune like this some people might simplify and slam out the groove. A bandleader calling something like this might ask for a shuffle— which Roy is decidedly not playing. He sketches out a shuffle at times; generally he's playing very loose and modern, and he absolutely swings.

...we saw something like this with Idris Muhammad awhile back— a groove situation where he was playing with a lot of freedom. We have more freedom than we may think, so long as the groove is there. 

I've just transcribed the head in and out— the tune is just a two bar riff over a 12 bar blues form. 

The important accents there are the & of 4 / & of 1, which Roy only hits a couple of times. When he does play them, he sets up the & of 4 with a little fill. But mostly he hits the 1 and the 4 in the first measure— often the accent on 4 is held through the 1 of the second measure. The last two beats of the phrase are usually some kind of fill.  

The transcription: 

Play that 16th triplet lick as singles.

I think of Roy generally as an economical drummer, in the sense of being “non-independent.” I'm accustomed to seeing lots of unisons, lots of linear things, not a lot of layered independence. That's mostly the case here, but there are a couple of spots where things layer in an unusual way— see the end of bar 8, and bar 11. 

In measure 19 there's something happening with the left hand that probably falls pretty naturally with traditional grip; matched grip you'd have to contrive some kind of push pull thing to play that. Which would be stupid, because it's really nothing. The important thing there is the accents. 

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Friday, May 19, 2023

Know your tempos: Workin' / Steamin' / Cookin' / Relaxin'

You can buy them 
all in one collection now.
Hey, we haven't done one of these in a while. All the tempos from four very famous Miles Davis records, with his very famous quintet from the 50s, with Philly Joe Jones on drums— core literature. 

It Never Entered My Mind - 58
Four - 207
In Your Own Sweet Way - 114
The Theme (take 1) - 137
Trane's Blues - 164
Ahmad's Blues - 114
Half Nelson - 257
The Theme (take 2) - 132

My Funny Valentine - 67
Blues By Five - 177
Airegin - 292
Tune Up - 315
When Lights Are Low - 123

Surrey With The Fringe On Top - 128
Salt Peanuts - 350
Something I Dreamed Last Night - 56
Diane - 143
Well, You Needn't - 230
When I Fall In Love - 67

If I Were A Bell - 184
You're My Everything - 57
I Could Write A Book - 227
Oleo - 258
It Could Happen To You - 188
Woody'n You - 256

All of them, again, in ascending order:
Something I Dreamed Last Night - 56
You're My Everything - 57
It Never Entered My Mind - 58
My Funny Valentine - 67
When I Fall In Love - 67
Ahmad's Blues - 114
In Your Own Sweet Way - 114
When Lights Are Low - 123
Surrey With The Fringe On Top - 128
The Theme (take 2) - 132
The Theme (take 1) - 137
Diane - 143
Trane's Blues - 164
Blues By Five - 177
If I Were A Bell - 184
It Could Happen To You - 188
Four - 207
I Could Write A Book - 227
Well, You Needn't - 230
Woody'n You - 256
Half Nelson - 257
Oleo - 258
Airegin - 292
Tune Up - 315
Salt Peanuts - 350

It's good to attach a number to these things, and know that Miles ballads, in this period at least, gravitated around 57 and 67 bpm. Those showy numbers like Half Nelson and Woody'n You are around 257. Those slow medium items @ 114, and two different types of bright swingers around ~185 and ~230. 

And here— for my own peculiar interest— are all of them doubled or halved to put them in the familiar ~100-200 range— the medium to top end of standard metronome range. Useful and helpful as a practical thing dealing with time. There's got to be some kind of useful information in Miles putting a lot of tunes in tempos that equalize to the low to mid teens, or high 120s to mid 130s.

Four - 103
Something I Dreamed Last Night - 112
You're My Everything - 114
Ahmad's Blues - 114
In Your Own Sweet Way - 114
I Could Write A Book - 114
Well, You Needn't - 115
It Never Entered My Mind - 116
When Lights Are Low - 123
Surrey With The Fringe On Top - 128
Woody'n You - 128
Half Nelson - 129
Oleo - 129
The Theme (take 2) - 132
My Funny Valentine - 134
When I Fall In Love - 134
The Theme (take 1) - 137
Diane - 143
Airegin - 146
Tune Up - 157
Trane's Blues - 164
Salt Peanuts - 175
Blues By Five - 177
If I Were A Bell - 184
It Could Happen To You - 188

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Groove o' the day: Ed Blackwell - Love

Here's a fast 6/4 Afro type of groove from Ed Blackwell, on the track Love, from a duo record with Wadada Leo Smith, The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer. There's no tune, it's just free blowing over a groove. People should do that more. These are some variations from about the first 90 seconds of the track. 

We're in kind of a compound 6/4 here— the dotted half note gets the beat, at about 86 bpm. Or if you're counting quarter notes, ~260. 

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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Daily best music in the world: early Weather Report

I have a lot of writing projects going right now, and seem to be unable to finish any of them, so let's listen. Here's Alphonse Mouzon playing on the first Weather Report album, doing what people now call an ECM feel. 

I'm working on a transcription of it, which I may or may not be able to complete: 

And the same tune from a concert in Germany— at least it's been given the same title, I'm not hearing any composed material in common between the two versions:

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Very occasional quote of the day: artificial excitement

“I think there's a tendency to overplay with most young drummers. Rushing is common in trying to force things to swing by playing on top a little bit. If things weren't swinging by forcing it a little bit, it might seem that by playing a little bit on top, it at least makes it seem more exciting. But, it also makes it feel a little more uncomfortable. I think that might be a common failing of younger drummers. To maybe artificially create excitement.”

Bassist Jack Six, , Modern Drummer, July 1981, piece by Scott K. Fish

Friday, May 12, 2023

Finessing Reed funk phrases

A baseline thing to do with Reed funk methods is to practice in two measure phrases. For example: one measure cut time funk* / one measure RH lead**.

* - CUT TIME FUNK: Reading from Syncopation, play melody rhythm on bass drum, except play the 3 on the snare drum— adding it to the written rhythm if necessary—add quarters/8ths on cymbal. 

** - RH LEAD: Play melody rhythm on cymbal with RH, plus bass drum in unison. Fill in gaps in rhythm with LH on SD to make a full measure of 8th notes. 
Here's how you would play that phrase reading line 1 on p. 34 of Syncopation— look it up, the rhythm is 1& &3 4:  

As you get deeper into practicing that, especially when running the full-page exercises, that formula creates some rather artificial connections between the two measures— the resulting thing is not how I would play. Or maybe there are some hipper possibilities, that move more naturally. We'll look at some examples of that from Exercise 1 on p. 38 of Syncopation. 

You could play the page straight through, or isolate any two measures and repeat them. Let's isolate measures 2-3 of line 2:

Played strictly first measure: cut time funk / second measure: RH lead: 

It's kind of weird to just start a measure with a ghost note. You could accent that note instead, or just start the RH lead portion earlier, on beat 4: 

With measures 3-4, also on line 2: 

Played like this with the straight formula: 

On the repeat, we're hitting the cym/bd on the & of 4, and cym only on 1. I'm more inclined to put an accent on that & of 4— let's do it on an open hihat, closing it on 1. 

I'll also start the RH lead part early, as on the last example:  

The first two measures of line 3: 

By the formula: 

Like with the first example, I would start the LH filler early. And if I wanted to play a crash on 1 at the beginning of the phrase, I would not hit the cymbal along with the bass drum on the & of 4 at the end. The 4 at the end of the phrase would be a natural place to accent the snare drum, as well:  

Some ideas to think about. This covers most situations you'll encounter practicing from Syncopation. Maybe there will be spots where you'll want to figure your own thing out. Always feel free to make your own alterations. These types of practice systems are neither perfect nor sacrosanct. In a sense the point of practicing is to learn new stuff, but it's also to learn it in a way that connects to what you already know how to do. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023


5/26 UPDATE: OK gang, the special is OVER, but, happily, the cymbals are still a tremendous bargain considering that a) they're great, b) you'll use them forever, c) they're not that expensive to begin with! 

By the way:
I also have two more of the super-cool thin 22" Extra Special Janavars in stock! 

CYMBALISTIC: It has occurred to me I've had several 20s hanging around for too long— since last year, anyway— and I'd like to move some out.

So let's do a minor special. For 20" cymbals: 

Free shipping within the United States
$50 credit on overseas shipping
$50 credit for people buying in person here in Portland 

Offer ends whenever I feel like it, either when I've moved a few cymbals out, or I decide nobody's interested. A week or two? 

About the cymbals:
 Everybody needs a 20" Cymbal & Gong jazz cymbal. These are mostly in the range I think of as “jazz medium”— between 1800-1900 grams— that can act as a main cymbal, or as a “left side” cymbal, paired with something bigger. I selected them all personally, all will be decently complex, with good stick definition, and will ride and crash beautifully.

They're great instruments, any of these you could use for the rest of your career. 

Here's what I have available, all from Cymbal & Gong:  

20" Extra Special Janavar - “Spock”, “McCoy” [Spock is now sold]
The first round of a custom item I ordered last summer, that have become a very hot item— Janavar series with K-style hammering and lathing. I got to see them get lathed when I visited Istanbul last summer. One has a heavy patina, one has rivets. 

20" Holy Grail Jazz Ride - A-type - “Mayfield”, “Booker”

C&G's most popular cymbal, with a “trans stamp” style squarish bell. Somewhat more aggressive sound than the K-type HGs. These two make me think of Art Blakey. 

20" Holy Grail Jazz Ride - K-type - “Lashonda” [sold]

Quintessential jazz cymbal. What else is there to say? 

20" Mersey Beat - “Kenny”
At 2250g this is heavier than the others, but it doesn't really act like it. All purpose cymbal for people who want a brighter sound. Not the sexiest item, but they're very popular— I keep getting great feedback from active jazz professionals about them. People who know cymbals think they're great. 

Visit Cymbalistic to check out the videos and pick yours out.  

Transcription: Max fours

I am not screwing around people, this is now an ALL Max Roach site. Here he is trading fours on Minor Meeting, from the record Sonny Clark Trio, from 1960— there's another record by that title from 1957 with Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. This would be a good jury or recital project for somebody— it's very clean look at some classic solo stuff. 

The chorus of trading begins at 2:07, the tempo is a bright quarter note = 262— compare that with some other well known up tempo tracks.

Apparently there's no tom tom present, as Max plays the whole thing on snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. I've offered some likely stickings. There seem to be a lot of six stroke rolls happening.

The beginning of most of these breaks is phrased in 3/4 time within 4/4— lines 1-2, 4-5, and 7. On line 3 he plays a 4/4 idea twice, then displaces it. On line 6 he also plays a 4/4 idea twice, then does the meter within meter thing in the third-fourth measures, with a simple running 3/8 pattern. 

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Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Reed tweak: alternating triplets in 3

This came up while I was practicing out of my book, Syncopation in 3. An extremely ordinary practice system used with Syncopation is to a) swing the top line rhythm, b) fill in the remaining triplets softly, and c) play the whole thing with an alternating sticking. For example: 

a) Book rhythm: 

b) That rhythm swung: 

c) Triplets filled in, played with alternating sticking: 

Using this on the drumset, there's some value to being able to consistently land with the right hand on 1— it takes a little extra attention to land on the left. With alternating triplets, your right hand lands on a downbeat every two beats— your hands are telling you you're playing in 2.    

So, following are some ways of always landing with the right hand on 1, some of which I've been doing for years, without thinking about it— it only just now occurred to me to write it down. We get into some cool Elvin-like stuff here. 

Playing book rhythms that have a quarter note on the third beat, like the one above, there are a number of interesting options— I'll write it out for drum set, playing the accents on the cymbals, with bass drum in unison: 

Typo alert: I left off the accents on some of the cymbal hits on 3. Accent all the cymbal notes, or don't.

Some of those work better than others, depending on what's happening on the 1 when you repeat, or in the next measure, if you're reading the full page syncopation exercises. 

If the book rhythm ends with an 8th note on the & of 3, it's simpler— just don't hit the cymbal on that note, but do play the bass drum. So these two rhythms: 

Would be played: 

And you can take that a little further with some Elvin type things: 

You have to take a loose attitude about all of this stuff— the goal is not always to do a pristine rendering of the system, it's to make something musical out of it that is personal to you.

Monday, May 08, 2023

WSRHWL addendum!

A couple of pages to go with my wild, sprawling, scattershot world's shortest Roy Haynes waltz lesson. That contains a lot of raw concepts for someone who is listening to a lot of Roy Haynes to come up with their own version of his kind of thing, in 3/4 time. Or a 3/4 feel in 4/4 time. 

Here I've given some sticking patterns, put them on a cymbal and snare drum, and then changed them a little bit: 

Like a lot of my stuff, the point is to work through a lot of basically equally-difficult things in one session. See the original WSRHWL for suggestions on where to take these. Briefly: 

•  Add stock rhythms with the feet: BD on 1, HH on 2, or 2 and 3
•  Add BD along with some or all of the cymbal notes. 

There are some more advanced options involving the left foot:

• Play the LF in unison with the LH, or replacing the LH, or replacing the LH on some notes. 
• Along with whatever you do with the LF, add BD along with some or all of the cymbal notes.   

Some things to try. Listen to a lot of Roy and play them your own way, and don't stop for mistakes.    

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Sunday, May 07, 2023

Transcription: Max soloing

On this second of two days of major acts of white supremacist violence here in this paradise we call “the USA”, let's retreat into art, with part 2 of the thing from the other day: Max Roach's drum solo on A Little Sweet, from his record The Many Sides of Max.  

That's what music is for. It's our job to do it with dedication in the face of a world gone totally insane. 

Max's drum solo begins at 1:49 in the track. 

Much of this consists of something I called “Max's rubadub”, because of its similarity to Mel Lewis's thing. The bass drum, cymbal, and snare drum are doing a kind of rolling, integrated, New Orleans type of thing. It's worth your time to learn some two and four bar excerpts from this, and some single measures. 

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Saturday, May 06, 2023

Three camps: four variations

Four alternative ways of playing the rudimental piece Three Camps, that I'm practicing this week, accented 5 stroke rolls, flam accents, flam drags, and flammed 5s.  

Learn each measure individually, then play them in the form given at the top of the page. Chop out. 

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Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Transcription: Max comping

That's the theme of the week now: jazz comping. Here's Max Roach playing on the horn solos on A Little Sweet, from his record The Many Sides of Max. Each solo is 24 bars long, and the soloists are George Coleman, Booker Little, and Julian Priester. The transcription begins at 0:36, tempo is about 230. 

There's an element of sounding composed with Max— everything sounds like a deliberate statement. I noticed when transcribing Freedom Suite by Sonny Rollins that he often repeats whole phrases. It's very unusual— all drummers repeat stuff, with Max there's something non-organic about it. Like measures 19-20 and 31-32— there's no reason to for that specific sequence of things to repeat. I don't know how he arrived at that. It could be unconscious, or totally deliberate. 

The cymbal rhythm is mostly consistent, and he plays the bass drum all the way through, pretty loudly. There are some accents on it, probably more than I've indicated— I feel like I'm hearing him leaning on beat 4 often. I really didn't pay attention to the hihat— it's not loud on the recording. Maybe he dropped it out occasionally and I missed it, it's not consequential. 

There are a number of phrases that are worth practicing on their own— probably any two or four measures. A few that stood out are bars 11-12, 43-44, 49-52, 65-66, and 71-72. 

Also bars 1-4, or 2-3, or 3-4. He's doing a New Orleans kind of thing between the snare drum and bass drum, that I associate with Billy Higgins later on.

And bars 21-28, or 21-23, or 25-28, eliminating the SD on 1 of bar 25. 

Also noting that some of his longer ideas, where he's phrasing in 3/4 within the 4/4 of the tune, he begins them at the end of one soloist, through the beginning of the next soloist. That happens in measures 21-28— the double bar in the middle of that passage is where the soloists change. Also in bars 44-52. To me that's very unusual. 

Finally, analyzing it from the perspective of that comping formula we learned about the other day: you're not going to see anything like that— &s of 1/3 on the body of the phrase / & of 4 at the end of a phrase. What we see is that they will alternate: & of 3 will be followed by an & of 2, and vice versa. See measures 17-18, 33-34, 53-54. More often his ideas will be phrased in 3/4 time outright— see several of the suggested phrase above. 

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Monday, May 01, 2023

Groove o' the day: Billy Higgins - Mystery Song

Let's gooo, this is now a full-time Billy Higgins site. Here he is playing a New Orleans/Poinciana/Vernel Fournier kind of groove, on the Duke Ellington tune The Mystery Song, on Steve Lacy's record Evidence:

Swing the 8th notes, use a mallet on the toms. Pretty straightforward. 

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