Wednesday, December 27, 2023

CYMBALISTIC: new cymbals are in / SPECIAL

2024 UPDATE: All right, the special is obviously OVER, but, hey, Cymbal & Gong are such special cymbals that even if you have to pay the shipping they're a bargain. Career instruments for players, just waiting for you to grab them. 

UPDATE: Time is running out on the special, gang— expires with the new year's eve countdown! 

CYMBALISTIC: OK, new cymbal videos are up! Run check them out, and get back to me fast, because for the rest of December I'll be offering: 

•••  FREE SHIPPING within the United States
•••  $60 SHIPPING CREDIT PER CYMBAL internationally— up to the full cost of shipping 

Offer expires at 12:00 AM PST, January 1, 2024. Tick tock, people! 

There are also two cymbals I left in Germany that you can get with no shipping at all— you just have to get yourself to Berlin (or maybe Dresden) to pick them up. Go to Cymbalistic and look for the ones that say GET IT IN GERMANY

There is a pretty good selection of cymbals up right now— more than one of the most popular models: Extra Special Janavars (both heavy patina and lighter Holy Grail patina), Special Janavars, A-type Holy Grails. As always, if you're looking for something not listed, let me know and I may be able to go to Cymbal & Gong HQ and pick one out for you. 

And it's a good chance to compare the heavy patina Extra Special Janavars with the lighter-patina versions— I have two 22s that are almost exactly the same weight— 2425 and 2426 grams. 

Heavy patina, “Donna” [UPDATE: this one has been sold!]

Light patina, “Khan”:  

Both great cymbals, I won't impose my personal tastes any more than I already do by selecting which cymbals I sell. I believe you could use all of them your whole life— some are obvious star cymbals, others may make you adjust your ear or touch slightly, or be best featured for their role in your set up. 

Anyway: the sale clock is ticking, get in touch via the EMAIL TODD link in the sidebar here, or through the form on Cymbalistic, and let me know what you want!

Playing charisma

Charisma: Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.  

- some dictionary

In becoming better drummers and musicians— and in being lovers of music, and of percussion in music— I think, finally, we're looking for charisma. In the music itself— not stage presence, bravura, or manner in performing. Whatever our abilities, whether we're playing busy, simple, whatever. It's an energetic thing, an immediate sense that this is a thing. A feeling of real substance, personality, presence, and likability. A sense that you're hearing a living event, even on a decades old recording. 

It's Brad Pitt vs. Ben Affleck. You know it when you see it, or hear it. Think John Bonham playing Black Dog, vs. whatever recording with Carmine Appice you may have checked out and immediately forgotten (sorry Carmine!). 

Non-charisma feels flat, colorless, lacking in impact— even when it's loud and busy. It's hard to stay interested in it, and hard to remember it. It may feel generic, over-correct, unsurprising, non-specific. Whatever emotion it inspires is non-durable. Like daytime television.

I don't want to get into “rating” famous drummers; that is not what this is about— but let's look at some familiar examples illustrating the quality, and its relative presence— I think if you know these players, you know what I'm talking about. I'm not judging anyone's artistry or greatness at their job, I'm talking only about what gives me joy, what attracts me to percussion.

Roy Haynes and Brian Blade are both hugely charismatic— very flamboyant, dramatic. Charli Persip, Dannie Richmond and Pete La Roca had some of that same very bright edge. 

Philly Joe Jones, Jeff Watts, Al Foster, Vernel Fournier, Ed Blackwell, all have a feeling of massive substance, they sound grounded. And Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, Greg Errico. Mickey Roker is seemingly a workhorse kind of persona, but he sounds substantive. Grady Tate also. 

Billy Higgins is quietly charismatic, musical, strikingly unpretentious. Paul Motian is different— he's often not quiet— but similar. Mel Lewis is maybe the ultimate pure working musician, but he doesn't make the strong impression Higgins does— on me. 

Elvin Jones and Ed Blackwell have such substance they seem to be speaking for history, speaking for Africa. People write about them that way. You have to remind yourself that they're just individual guys with the same amount of time on the planet as the rest of us, who played a lot, hung around with musicians, listened to Max Roach records, practiced their Haskell Harr, and did a lot of gigs.  

Tony Williams in the 60s had massive playing charisma, that was later replaced by pure power, and some not very nice drum sounds. His cymbal beat that everyone loved was replaced by a quarter note pulse that was like getting a refrigerator dropped on your head. Terry Bozzio in the 70s was in a similar bag, but is much more likable— hear him on the Brecker Brothers' Heavy Metal Bebop. 

Buddy Rich is a titanic presence; he demands to be perceived as charismatic, but I don't find his playing attractive or likable. He's like watching a Tom Cruise performance— you feel like you're being assaulted. He does have a very big presence.  

Steve Gadd is massively charismatic. Vinnie Colaiuta is the Lamborghini version of Steve Gadd, but Gadd has much greater charisma. Same with Dave Weckl— that is graphically illustrated if you watch their famous three-way drum battle video. Everyone makes the same comment about it:

It seems to be hard for supercar-type drummers to make a big impression beyond their obvious titanic technical abilities. Overwhelming in the moment, but ultimately not a real deep experience. Still, Colaiuta and Weckl are both on some recordings that are very attractive in the way I'm talking about. 

Of the famous rock players, Ringo Starr's playing with the Beatles was charismatic; Charlie Watts, God rest him, never made a huge impression on me. Keith Moon: very charismatic for pure energy, despite having kind of a weak sound.

Mitch Mitchell played a lot of notes, but doesn't make a big impression. Bill Ward attempted to be a John Bonham-like presence with Black Sabbath, but he sounds smaller, less interesting. Ginger Baker was the prototype for that role, but compared to Bonham he sounds boxy, abrasive, uninteresting. Later on we have that clown Stewart Copeland, whose playing was very charismatic back when he worked for Sting— people are still trying, and failing, to duplicate his snare sound. They never get the same energy. 

Neil Peart is a giant nerd, but his playing has inspired near religious devotion in millions of fans. Whatever you think about his audience's level of sophistication, they have real musical interest— they're attracted to the way the percussion is featured in the music. He must have done a really great job with those worked-out parts. What other drummer has inspired that level of attention?  

Dave Grohl is a charismatic person, but on the Nirvana records he was not a charismatic drummer. He's loud, but his sound is unpleasant, and whatever playing personality he has is buried under those rigidly composed parts. Paul Rudd and Rick Allen were also heavily produced, but are much more likable on those recordings— maybe that's Mutt Lange's doing. 

I think people who know these players know what I'm talking about. It's not a worked out theory. It may not even be a purely desirable quality, professionally: there are a lot of musicians who are great, very successful players who are relatively uncharismatic in the way I'm talking about. You'll see them play and feel, oh, he's just a guy. They'll sound like a record, like, finished, perfect; but you don't come away from the experience with a creative feeling, excited about percussion. Maybe they excel at making other people's job easier— see Mel Lewis— another subject worth thinking about. 

In fact this entire level of thought isn't really anything we can address directly in our playing life— doing our real job you can't be thinking in grand aesthetic/critical terms, there are more pressing concerns: playing good time and dynamics, playing the arrangement correctly, making everyone happy.  

So on the one hand it's a topic for fans and critics, on the other... I think as an artist you have to keep a basic naive enthusiasm for the pure thing itself, and have an idea of what actually moves you apart from the pure job of it. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Jazz coordination - feet in unison

This page is for one of my students— his jazz playing has a nice feel with just his hands, but with the feet involved it gets a little uncentered. So we're going to experiment with remedying that by playing the feet in unison. Probably it wouldn't hurt for others to do a little bit of that. 

We'll be working through these at slow to moderate tempos, ~60-110 bpm. 

Monday, December 25, 2023

Daily best music in the world: Happy holidays

Here's some nice Christmas morning listening, which I've certainly shared before— Before We Were Born, by Bill Frisell. This was my first exposure to Joey Baron's drumming, around 1990-91. I used to play these gigs in Bend, Oregon, which is on the other side of the Cascade mountains from Eugene, where I lived, and I would put this on on the drive home— about 2 1/2 hours through heavy mountains and forest, leaving around midnight. 

I also made a practice loop from the tune The Lone Ranger— it's not stated real clearly, but it is in 3/4 time, tempo is 79 bpm: 

Friday, December 22, 2023

More on New Breed

Since that last piece about the book The New Breed, by Gary Chester, I've been working with that book fairly seriously— I can already play the drums, it won't kill me to spend some time trying out somebody else's hard thing. writing persona apparently seems opinionated to some people, but I'm very suggestible. If somebody I trust tells me what to do, I'll go with it. I may not care if a lot of open handed drumming enthusiasts are into this book, but when some former Chester students, professionals doing demanding jobs— e.g. Broadway shows, Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil— advocate for it, I'll take it seriously. So despite some reservations I have about some aspects of the method, it's proof of usefulness and effectiveness for some people who are doing real work. 

So, having spent more time with the book, I have some more thoughts on it: 

Broadly, The New Breed is a framework for practicing multiple ways of counting or singing over some drum set ostinatos, while reading an independent melody part, a la Syncopation— though more 16th note oriented.

As I noted last time, as an independence concept, it's rather simplified— not simple to do, it's often extremely difficult— and similar to the massive second volume of Chapin's Advanced Techniques book, which deals with layering unrelated rhythms in different limbs. Possibly New Breed is the highest practical form of that “pure” independence concept. 

There are some other second order things, that are more particular to Chester, that have not been universally adopted by any stretch— the open handed angle, the unusual set up he recommends. Not agreeing with those things and not wanting to do thatm are part of the reason I never used the book much. But on those players' recommendations I'll play the exercises, adapted for a normal drum set, even as I don't plan to develop the open handed thing in my actual playing. 

All of that together it amounts to a method for developing some deep time and coordination superstructure. Dave Weckl is an example of what I mean by that word— hearing him play, you're hearing a lot of superstructure

[h/t to David Crigger for the video]

Clearly multiple layers of stuff happening there— not just in what he's actually playing. You don't just learn to do that on the job, you can't just try to cop it. I don't regularly listen to a lot of players like that. For comparison, you could listen to Billy Hart, who would be a more natural, organically developed player. 

That counting/singing imperative, combined with the hard independence problems, is the main thing— developing a heavy duty internal time/coordination matrix. Working on it has often felt similar learning some Bach on the piano— i.e., slow and painstaking— which is for me the interesting part of it.  

As a grand method of drumming, what I'm missing with this book is a simple core concept. For example, on this site, the major doctrine is that what we do on the drums should be fundamentally simple in concept, for ease of execution, and for improvising. It's based on one rhythm, that is the rhythm you sing, read, and play. We might elaborate on it or orchestrate it on the drums in some complicated ways, but it's fundamentally about one rhythm. With New Breed is the core concept is the mass of work that went into doing it.  

I'm also missing fundamental bodies of vocabulary. It's not a complete what-you-play book. The Reed systems, Gary Chaffee's sticking and linear systems, etc are all bodies of vocabulary— the substance of what you actually play on the drums. New Breed is certainly very thorough on the subject of groove creation, but that doesn't cover everything you actually play. 

So: it's not a complete drumming method. I think its real purpose is as a finishing system for professionally-bound players. Normally, drummers learn a whole ton of stuff fast, between about age 12-21; New Breed seems to be about disciplining that and correcting a lot of detail, ironing things out, justifying everything into a nice professional package.     

About the open handed angle: Part of the reason Chester suggests riding with the left is that it's funkier, he says; because it's controlled by the right side of the brain, which is said to be more creative. That is now a discredited theory, and I would suggest that it's because the left hand is less conditioned for that role, and will remain so, despite the work we're doing on it with the book. I consider the work on it here to be independence practice, not a total drumming orientation. 

I'll be writing more on this as I figure out as I figure it out— what the benefits are, how to incorporate it with my normal practice/teaching methods, how to approach it without being a full blown devotee, etc. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Hemiola inverted and combined

An easy page of rhythm exploration here, inverting a polyrhythm, combining inversions, and then inverting that. I've been encouraged to write these things after noticing that, starting with a simple 3:2 polyrhythm (or hemiola), running some simple mathematical permutations, and/or putting them into 2/4 or 4/4 time, we get some very common rhythms in north American and Latin music. 

There's no grand goal here, except to know rhythm a little better. Most people can play it in one or two practice sessions, then leave it. 

I encourage you to count the combined rhythm of each exercise, and think of them as sticking— variations on B RLR (B for both hands in unison). As we get into the inversions there are some RLRLR and RLB. Play first with hands only, then add the bass drum at the beginning of the pattern.

You can move your left hand between drums, and add some more bass drum. Try some things, it won't be difficult to make some interesting Afro-type grooves with this.   

Get the pdf

Sunday, December 10, 2023

CYMBALISTIC: December special

CYMBALISTIC: More news, a new batch of Cymbal & Gong cymbals is coming next week. And, I will be offering a rare SPECIAL for the remainder of the month of December:

Free shipping on US orders / $60 international shipping credit per cymbal (up to the total cost of shipping). 

I have a heavy week coming up, so videos of the new cymbals won't be coming until the end of the week. I do have a small selection of excellent cymbals available now, however. 

Just a heads up... stay tuned... 

Friday, December 08, 2023

Daily best music in the world: Freddie Hubbard

I'm hard at work writing this new book that you will want to BUY BUY BUY, so enjoy this Freddie Hubbard record Keep Your Soul Together, with Ralph Penland on drums. I've been playing this on a loop for about a week. 

I got to see Ralph play with Hubbard, and with Joe Henderson when I was in school in Los Angeles. He was never a very famous, but he was a great drummer, and worked with a lot, with some great people. 

The new book should be coming a little before Christmas. 

Monday, December 04, 2023

Chop busters: flammed 16ths

Another small item, while I power through writing my new book: a page of 16th notes with flams, designed to be rather technically challenging, in the manner of Ron Fink's book Chop Busters

Alternating sticking unless otherwise indicated. The first two reverse hands on the repeat, the others repeat on the same hand. 

Get the pdf

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Looking at The New Breed

Let's talk about the book with the funny looking Ludwig drums with the Silver Dot heads on the cover— and all the ugly Paiste ColorSound cymbals, and Simmons SDS-5 hexagonal drum pads. 

Yes, I'm talking about The New Breed, by Gary Chester. It's one of the big hard books the drumming community likes to talk about. While it hasn't been universally adopted— lot's of people, like me, don't use it, have never used it— it has been very influential in developments in drumming since the 90s. It's a coherent grand system for playing the drums created in a time when there weren't a lot of coherent grand systems for that.  

The book became a thing coinciding with Dave Weckl— who studied with Chester— becoming an extremely hot drumming item in the mid 1980s.  

“Every time I'd walk into a lesson, he'd come up with a different system, and I'd feel r___ded. Then I'd go home, practice it, and get it down to where it was cooking. When I'd go back, he'd tell me something else to do with it, and I'd feel r___ded all over again. It was great though; his lessons are such a challenge.”
- Dave Weckl on studying with Chester 
Visit Scott K. Fish's site to read the entire interview

After Weckl, there were a series of smaller drumming sensations— e.g. Joel Rosenblatt— who came out of Chester's studio, that cemented this as a thing to do. In more recent years the open handed drumming thing has really taken off, and this is one of the first books that advocated that in a serious way.  

So let's look closely at what's in it. If you don't own it, you can certainly find pirated pdfs online to look at while you read this. But buy it. It's $18, nothing. 

In the Concepts part of the book, pp. 4-7, Chester lays out his doctrine: 
  • Learn everything on the drum set both right hand and left hand lead. 
  • Use a funny set up, with hihats, ride cymbals, and floor toms on both sides. 
  • Each hand stays on “its” side of the drum set. 
  • Singing and counting— do it, sing each of the parts while playing. 

Everything that follows is in aid of those first three points, as the best vehicle for creative reading and groove making on the drums. If you agree with those priorities, you can commence working your way through the book in order. If not, you might want to be more selective in how you use it.

There are 39 systems— combinations of repeating rhythms for three limbs— to be played while reading an independent melody part played with the fourth limb. The reading is not unlike what is in Syncopation, first with 8th note based rhythms, then 16th notes. The advanced reading pages are built on repeating two measure phrases.  

The systems mostly follow standard pop timekeeping conventions of backbeats on the snare drum / ride rhythm on a cymbal. All systems have a right hand lead form, and a left hand lead form— 50% of the materials are dedicated to learning to play time “open handed.”

Here is what is generally happening with them: 
  • System 1: A warm up, with the hands playing unison 16ths on the hihats. 
  • Systems 2-13: Conventional forms of timekeeping, combinations of simple cymbal and left foot rhythms, bass drum plays melody.   
  • Systems 14-15 and 18-19: One hand covers the cymbal and snare drum with the bass drum playing the melody, then the other hand playing the melody. 
  • Systems 16-17: Hands play alternating 8th notes between a floor tom and cymbal, with the bass drum playing the melody. 
  • Systems 20-25: Simple, unusual, coordination problems. 
  • Systems 26-29: Advanced, but conventional, timekeeping combinations.
  • Systems 30-39: Conventional timekeeping combinations with the left foot independent. 

Summarizing which limbs handle the independent parts— mostly bass drum, a lot of left foot, a little bit with each hand. 
  • Systems 1-17 and 22-29: bass drum
  • Systems 18-21: a hand on a floor tom
  • Systems 30-39: left foot 

Getting into the advanced systems starting on p. 24: 
  • Systems 1-4: bass drum independence vs. particular, unusual linear pattern in the hands. 
  • Systems 5-6: bass drum independence vs. a basic fusion cymbal rhythm with backbeats. 
  • Systems 7-8: hand independence vs. basic fusion cymbal rhythm plus alternating 8ths in the feet. 
  • Systems 9-10: bass drum independence vs. the linear pattern above, played with an alternating sticking. 

That linear pattern, which is used on several systems, is a little strange, I don't understand the logic for for having that be the one thing of its type: 

Things get vastly more complicated with the composite systems starting on p. 38. There you basically extract one measure from all the playing you did in the first part of the book, and replace one of the system parts— playing all the reading pages with that part. 

That's an order of magnitude more difficult than anything done so far, and virtually endless. This is the spot in the book I would like to see much more fully developed, finding a middle state between the simple (but very demanding and time consuming) first part, and the vast, extremely difficult second part. Suggest some more practical rhythms for the new complex part of the ostinato.

Which we kind of get here, with a standard pop or bossa rhythm in the bass drum, that is only slightly more complex than everything in the basic systems: 

 After that the composite system examples are kind of random. Personally, I would want to pick and choose the new part for practicality, and would like to have seen that reflected in the book.  

My brief experience with it: 
After writing most of this post I decided to sit down and actually play some of it, so I went through the first five systems— including the “open handed” ones— with all eight pages of reading, counting quarter notes out loud. I've never worked on learning to play open handed, but it was basically easy after doing the harmonic coordination stuff from Dahlgren & Fine, and my own related system. It became kind of an endurance exercise. As after doing any kind of serious endurance exercise... things move a lot easier when you're done, even things not covered in the exercise. It was cool. 

It had that result for me, I think, because I've been playing for a long time, and have a lot of real playing content under my belt, and a developed musical ear. This is not an ideas book; if you don't have any ideas in your ear, it won't provide them. 

I also ran all eight pages of reading for left hand independence in a songo feel, and I do like the reading pages for that, and for the intended purpose running Chester's systems. They're well constructed to be progressive in difficulty and challenging, but not ridiculous— the ridiculous part is in how they combine with the systems.  

The playing theory here is actually rather primitive, dealing with “pure” independence, based on layering unrelated rhythms, rather than interdependence, with the parts connected and based on each other. Certainly that will be learned in some form while learning the systems, but it's not addressed directly in the method itself. 

The singing element seems to be a key part of this method, and you can actually do that with anything you practice— sing quarter notes, then offbeat 8th notes, then each of the parts of the pattern. Certainly that's possible with all the Syncopation systems

Making any kind of serious effort with this book would be a big deal. Certainly there will be hidden benefits beyond just learning the resulting patterns as vocabulary, as I observed above. Your concentration will certainly be improved— Chester mentions that, and Dave Weckl in his interview. I've noticed the same thing with other hard materials. It would be a massive journey, and there will be results you don't expect. 

Some perspective: 
I suggest reading Scott K. Fish's 1983 interview with Gary Chester. At that time, as this book was being written, Chester's studio career had ended about ten years earlier, and he had been teaching drums about six years— a very compressed timeline for developing this method. He's a forceful communicator and talks very intensely about his 20+ year studio career, and it's clear that that is his main orientation as a musician and a teacher. He states that his motivation with the book is for players to be able to do the impossible when it's asked of them on a recording date, or other demanding professional situations. 

It's also clear that he wasn't teaching it to all levels* of drummers— his students were highly ambitious, motivated players. He mentions firing students who weren't performing the way he wanted, who he felt would not represent him well as a teacher. 

[* - Update: Or was he? checking out some videos from his former students, a couple of them started with him when they were kids, and actually doing a very simplified form of the method here— the same principles, anyway— applied to Haskell Harr.]

So, I think the book serves a narrower purpose than is often assigned to it today, as it's a popular item with enthusiasts, who are fascinated with ambidexterity, and have fixated on it as a manual for reinventing the drum set. To me it looks like less of a grand theory of drumming, or a system for initially acquiring vocabulary, and more like a very large, brutal— and somewhat arbitrary— conditioning regimen for professionally-bound drummers. 

You don't start by crawling up Everest. The way most drummers develop is, they learn a lot in a few years. I started playing when I was 12, and played my first paying gig when I was 18, and I was a slow starter. You learn a lot very fast, and then spend the next ten years cleaning up after yourself, which I think is what this brutal slog of a book is for. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Very occasional quote of the day: you call it swing

“You call it swing, but what I’m saying is it’s a rhythmic sophistication that causes a euphoric reaction, and on a folk level that reaction can go anywhere from sensual feelings, to partying, to dancing, to actual meditation… That positive feeling can actually cause healing. 

I sincerely believe that’s one of the main purposes for rhythm, if not for music period, to cause that kind of healing effect.”  

- Billy Hart, Billy Higgins memorial roundtable, by Ted Panken

[h/t to @thenuge at DFO for the link]

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Wrong stickings game

I'm hard at work on a new book right now, and the only way I'll finish it is if I write the whole thing at once, so here is an absolute throwaway item to keep you amused in the mean time.

My harmonic coordination series— based on Dahgren & Fine— involves basically doing something normal in a way that makes no sense. Perhaps with the idea that it will set up something different to happen, and make it easier for us to make unplanned moves. 

I thought, for fun, let's try that the most bonehead normal thing there is, a rock beat:

The top letter on the stickings = hihat, the bottom letter = snare drum. Add bass drum however you like. 

It's not really a game, it's just something to screw with for a minute. The way I practice, and play, doing something stupid for no reason generates ideas, it sets up something different to happen. I used to never be able to make it through a page of stuff because I'd spend the whole practice session developing the first couple of things. Try it out, play a couple of these and let them go somewhere. Print it out, try it once, toss it.   

Get the pdf

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Practice loop: slow shuffle

Here's a loop that be real useful to a lot of people, sampled from Soulful Brothers, from Kenny Burrell's record Blues - The Common Ground. The drummer is Grady Tate, and he's playing a shuffle in the manner we previously saw with the tune Midnight Special, as played by Tate, and by Donald Bailey, with Jimmy Smith, with the hihat on all the swing &s. 

The form is 12 bar blues, the tempo is about 72 beats a minute. Practice all your swing stuff with this, not just the shuffles. It's supposed to groove that hard no matter what you play. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Cheap jazz cymbals

During that Washington residency one of the students asked me for a recommendation on an inexpensive jazz cymbal. It's not really a budget category of cymbals, and I didn't have a great answer for him. 

First, for “jazz cymbals”, we're normally looking for lighter weight cymbals, that can act as both a ride and a crash, with some complexity, and a warmer, darker sound. Usually that means Turkish or Turkish-style hand-hammered cymbals.

Buying new is generally not the best value. The cheapest cymbal might be the one you only have to buy once, and everybody thinks whichever latest hot item is going to be that cymbal, and often it is not. They don't work out as well as the buzz surrounding them promised. The Zildjian company, for example, has gotten really good at hyping its new products. So people end up married to cymbals that don't work well for them, just because they spent so much on them. 

Sidebar: Cymbal & Gong is, I believe, an exception to that equation— any truly good cymbal is, when you find one. In selling them, many times I have seen jazz professionals, after playing them— against their natural bargain-seeking nature— enthusiastically buying them new and happily using them for years. To me that's a special situation. I believe they're very special instruments.  

But generally, to get into jazz cymbals for the cheapest initial price tag, you have to shop used.

For students, the first move from lousy student cymbals is to get the cheapest available professional cymbals: dirty old A. Zildjians or Sabian AAs. That's still a good move; those are good, all-purpose cymbals. My very old how to get real cymbals when you're poor post still is mostly true. 60s-80s A. Zildjians and 70s-80s Sabian AAs can be gotten very cheaply. They're not considered “jazz cymbals” now, but they have certainly been used on many jazz gigs and recordings. 

For actual jazz-seeming hand hammered cymbals, in the last decade there have been some tantalizing  options, notably Dream and Agop Xist... each of which quickly got more expensive with the buzz surrounding them. Dreams are highly variable in quality, and it would be easy to get stuck with a pretty crummy sounding cymbal. Xists are better, but are not much cheaper than some real pro cymbals we'll talk about in a moment. They're good if they're a bargain, they're not good if they're more expensive than the cymbals I'll mention next. 

I think students should look for: 1980s American K. Zildjian ride or Sabian HH medium ride. Any random one will likely be a decent, versatile cymbal, that you can use for some years as your taste and ear for cymbals develops. The medium rides will be a safer random purchase than the jazz rides, and will be more versatile cymbals for students. 

That's the easiest move: get the dirtiest, funkiest example you can find of either of those. “Flea bites” on the edges and keyholing are acceptable, cracks and “repairs” are not acceptable.

If you want to shop a little bit, perhaps take a bigger risk, here are some general guidelines:  

The product lines in currently manufactured “hand hammered” type cymbals have expanded enough that we can distinguish between ordinary and top of the line, and recently, boutique— I'll comment on all of them, based on the premise of buying a lifetime cymbal once. Maybe also antique.  

Ordinary: Regular lines of the major companies. Zildjian and Sabian will be safest, cheapest, and most plentiful of these.  
K. Zildjian (American) ride, jazz ride; Sabian HH ride, light ride, Traditional series by Agop, Bosphorus, and Mehmet.   
TOTL:  Ambitious/innovative designs trying to be the ultimate in something, with a dedicated elite-seeming marketing angle, stylized appearance. More expensive, with more weird/specialty/exotic cymbals. 
Kerope, Constantinople, various K Custom, various Sabian HHX series, many Agop, Bosphorus and Mehmet series. 
Boutique: Enthusiast artisan individuals, usually one-off designs. It's good that people are doing this, and they should be supported, but purely in terms of value in getting a usable instrument, this is an expensive, rather risky category. These cymbals should really be chosen in person, by someone who knows what they want, and knows how to judge a cymbal.  
Bettis and Funch are perhaps most popular right now.  

Antique: Old cymbals with a lot of caché. Most expensive option, and a big gamble that you will get something you like— many individual cymbals in this category are not good. Or, from a player's perspective, not better than newer, much less expensive options. Can be very expensive, in the weight range we want.   

K. Zildjian, 50s or earlier A. Zildjian, Spizzichino.  


Note: Cymbal & Gong probably falls under the TOTL category, though the ones I carry I would categorize as great ordinary cymbals— the designs and sound are traditional. They're very safe to purchase— I select each cymbal I sell, and I only sell cymbals I would want to play. C&G is a very small company, but the cymbals are produced by a professional shop, with established designs and exceptional consistency, so I wouldn't call them boutique.   

There are a number of other smaller Turkish brands that you may be able to find some used bargains with them— lesser known brands will depreciate more, and be cheaper to begin with. Again, traditionally lathed cymbals will be safest. “Sultan”-type designs (with unlathed bell and a wide unlathed band in the riding area) are also reasonably safe.

For a student getting a set, the safest and most economical strategy might be to get one of the 20" K or HH rides above, with an A. Zildjian or Sabian AA 16-18"crash (thin) and 14" hihats (New Beat, medium, regular, light).   

Shopping for jazz cymbals, the ideal range of gram weights would generally be: 

18" - 1325-1425g
20" - 1650-1950g - Note that the recommended 20" K/HH rides will be heavier than that.
22" - 2050-2350g
14" hihats -  less than 1000g top / 1200g bottom

Within those weights, lighter = getting rather splashy,  heavier = trending towards a medium.

Good luck! Please feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Reed tweak: RH lead with LH drags

Reedtweakapalooza continues! I really need to round these up in a book. 

This is yet another thing to do with the straight 8th right hand lead Reed system. Refreshing your memory on that: reading from Syncopation by Ted Reed, pp. 30-45, RH plays the rhythm in the book, LH fills in the spaces in the rhythm to make a full measure of 8th notes. Hit the link above to see an example of that. 

Here we'll play all the single LH notes as doubles, in a 16th note rhythm. Where there are two or more LH notes, play alternating 16ths, starting with two Ls: LLRL, LLRLRL, etc. You could use our other favored sticking, LRRL, LRRLRL, but this way is more consistent with what we're doing with the single notes: all the filler starts with LL. 

Here's how you would play the third line of Exercise One on p. 38 of Syncopation: 

For visual clarity I've omitted the sticking on the repeated RH cymbal hits, and on the repeated LLRs in the last two measures. 

This is really developing into a kind of Grand Exercise, to borrow a term from piano literature. Run one of my sampled loops, and blow through the full list of stuff with the p. 38 (37 in the old edition) exercise. Have fun with it. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Teaching in Washington

The drive home— the wilds of central Washington.
I was out for a couple of days teaching some kids in the tri-cities area in central Washington state. The people who run the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra did three days of jazz clinics with the area middle and high schools, and a concert Tuesday night, and brought me in as a part of that. 

From Portland the tri-cities seems like a group of pretty small towns, but the metro area has about 300,000 people. There were a lot of great things happening there. First, there were a lot of kids into playing instruments. There were multiple jazz bands in each of the middle schools and high school. And they were good, doing good tunes, with lots of kids taking solos, improvising. The drummers were good, mostly well ahead of where most of us were at the same age, when I was in school— and I went to schools with strong music programs. The band directors are doing an excellent job— seemingly not overwhelmed by the overwhelming task of getting a lot of teenagers to play jazz. They've created a cohesive scene while not dominating it.  

It was interesting getting a sense of the texture of the students' playing, and relationships with music. They seemed more tune oriented than artist oriented— they had ideas about what tunes to play, but they didn't know some obvious names of players. Which was surprising, since even Art Blakey and Elvin Jones get exploited by the youtube clickerbaiters... suggesting the students are not overly online, which is a very good thing. I didn't detect a lot of concerns with the usual obsessions of online drummers. The drummer in the first high school group and the band director (also a drummer) were aware of me, and of this site. 

Really, everything was great—they're all learning to play, they had good attitudes about music, and about each other, and will have great opportunities to continue their musical growth all the way through school. All of them were taking lessons, several were using Syncopation. A couple were learning to comp by vibe, most had practice materials for working on that. They generally weren't afraid to hit the drums. They'll work out what they need to work out.

One small issue for me, from an educating drummers POV, was that selection of tunes was heavy on shuffles— it was great that they were doing a lot of 12-bar blues, but the shuffles are very limiting for drummers, with that particular technical problem of hitting the backbeat quickly after a soft note. Having a full range of dynamic control with that and having it groove is hard for students at that level. All the drummers but one were attempting to feather the bass drum, which gave them another coordination element to struggle with— whatever the merits of doing it, it doesn't make it easy for young players to put their focus on the primary things driving the time. 

Several of the drummers were generally not helped by their hihat and bass drum technique— lots of heel up playing, staying up on the toes the whole time. The best foot technique of the younger players was from an unassuming kid who didn't play real loud, but did really nail the arrangement he played.  

There was also a Mambo, a Tito Puente tune, with which they generally did a really good job, but again there's that technically complicated groove. The main problem there, for the drummer, was coordinating the feet. I would have preferred that they were learning to play strong time with fewer elements— cymbal and hihat on the jazz tunes, while learning to comp sparingly and accurately with the snare drum and bass drum; hands only on the Latin groove, then adding hihat, and then adding the bass drum sparingly. 

Generally the drummers were too strong when accenting the bass drum, with several prone to hitting more overpowering SD/BD unison accents than you would want. One would really hit them hard at times— which, we consider that to be not in good taste, but to me that's the emotional center of being a drummer, being into the sound of the drums when you play them loud, and liking the feeling of it. He was in the 8th grade, so he has plenty of time to figure out how to do it with some musicality. 

And that's why the situation is great, everyone is getting to play, and everyone seems to be oriented in a good direction, where they'll have time to work through things, without a band director trying to stop them from ever trying to generate some energy. Drums do need to be forceful at times, and you can't learn to do that without messing some things up. 

I tried to impress upon everyone the need to listen, to start getting into players and records— that seemed to be one missing element. Once they start getting excited about that, things will really take off. 

The senior drummer in the first high school band was excellent. Talking to him and asking him to do things in a master class with the drummers, there were the usual gaps you would expect, for that age. You don't expect high school kids to know about every great drummer who ever lived, and they usually will not be able to do every single easy-seeming thing right away. That's normal.   

But then he played the arrangements in a perfectly professional way— he had them memorized, and was able to play without reading. I might have played them differently than him, I don't think I would have played them better from the audience perspective, as an ensemble performance. Excellent taste and dynamics all the way through, really bringing some stuff when it was called for. He had some drummer chops available, but was very judicious in how he used them. Excellent musicianship there, and drummership, if we can make that a thing...

So, congratulations everyone, band directors and students at Libby Middle School and Richland High School (and any other school they might have snuck in on me) on running and participating in an excellent program! 

Shout out to whoever got my latest copy of Syncopation, which I think I left at the middle school. 

Extra special shoutout to the saxophonist who approached me after the jam session to get the correct spelling of McCoy Tyner's name— he'll do well.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Art Blakey: Jazz Messenger

Just came across this, quite an amazing documentary about Art Blakey, where they talk to Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, many others. I haven't gotten all the way through it yet. I saw him play in Eugene, Oregon, about this time, with this same band. Same heavy Zildjian ride cymbal that we was wailing on. You could see his front bass drum head moving the whole time, it looked like he was playing it pretty strongly. 

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Reed tweak: RH lead triplets - five stroke rolls

This is where my thinking is going lately, towards breaking up some Reed practice systems so they're not pure formula. Which I have always done anyway, just not very systematically. We want to make our practice systems non-systematic systematically... skip it.   

This tweak is pretty specific, for the extremely useful right hand lead triplet system, played at medium tempos, putting a five-stroke roll at the end of the longer runs of filler. If you review the basics of that method, the right hand plays the rhythm in the book, and the left hand fills in the triplets, with the right hand helping break up longer multiple notes of filler, to aid in playing it at faster tempos.  

This requires a slightly different sticking system— most of the multiple-note filler will simply alternate, with doubles on the last two notes. With the most common situation, illustrated in reading example 1, the sticking is the same for the original system and for this tweak, LLRL.  

Play the warm ups, analyze the reading examples, and you're ready to run this reading out of Syncopation, pp. 30-45, assuming you could do that in the first place.  

Get the pdf

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

EZ tom ruff phrases

Here are some more practice phrase ideas for the tom ruffs. This is an underrated item, it should be a lot of fun. Rock out. 

As the stickings on patterns 1 and 2 indicate, when there are two cymbal hits in a row, you can play them with alternating hands, on different cymbals. I've put in a Keith Moon-like thing with both hands in unison on the tom toms, with bass drum, on some of these— you can play those notes also just as solo bass drum.  

Get the pdf

Monday, November 06, 2023

Transcription: Billy Hart - Don Is - 01

I've been listening to this record a lot in the last several months— Enjoy The View, by Bobby Hutcherson, with Billy Hart on drums, plus Joey de Francesco and David Sanborn. The tune is Don Is, and it's a blues, 12 bars long, played twice on the head in, which is what the transcription covers:

This will be useful mostly as a listening guide, so you can check out how Billy Hart handles this rhythmic tune. It's very interesting, I want to write more about it when I understand it. In the mean time we can just listen. See what's going on with those triplet fills. 

Get the pdf

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Very occasional quote of the day: electronics

“A kid who doesn't have to whack the drums to me is kind of missing something. He is going to buy a bunch of pads and not even know what it is like to lay into a bass drum. It's like piano and synth. I couldn't imagine getting chops on a synthesizer unless you know how to play piano. There is a direct physical link between a human and the drums that, as far as I'm concerned, you just can't get with the machines. And the beauty of it is not hitting it the same volume every time and not in the same spot. It's the little nuances that makes the difference. 

When you hit a pad, it triggers a pick-up that creates voltage. Maybe it does it faster than a drum head vibrates— and the electronic drum brain is a great alternative for sounds— but you just can't recreate that physical interaction you get with acoustic drums. I don't think the electronic drum brain can translate two small notes played on a drum. It measures it and spits it out exactly, whereas on a drum it was not mean to be exactly the same. 

The microprocessor turns voltage into sensitivity. Wonderful. But it's no the same as hearing a cymbal encompass your whole body, or hearing a bass drum, or if you stand in front of a giant gong and you feel those waves go through your body. Sure, with electric you can feel the PA speakers through the floor, but you don't need that to get it from a gong or drum set. It's just different.” 

- Vinnie Colaiuta, interview in Percussioner International, 1987 

Friday, November 03, 2023

Songo brushup

I have some dates coming up where I need to use a Songo-type groove (the chart says “samba”, but it's really not)— which I don't have to play that often, so I'm brushing up on it a bit, playing through a bunch of stuff: 

After learning the three complete grooves at the top of the page, start playing through the other possible combinations of cymbal rhythms, bass drum variations, left hand parts, and linear patterns. My recent rhythm page is good for this as well. 

Use the “subtractive” patterns at the bottom of the page to revoice rhythms from the book Syncopation to fit this style, playing the notes in the book on the snare drum or bass drum, corresponding with those patterns. I've settled on a kind of hybrid system for that— I play the complete bass drum rhythm whether it's sounding in the book rhythm or not. It's a little harder to read, but it works well. 

I'm doing all this with a couple of mp3 loops sampled from Eddie Palmieri, playing a Mozambique rhythm, on the tunes Bamboleate and Azucar Para Te. 

Get the pdf

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

How not to hit a drum

Hey, it's been awhile since I've watched a drumming video, and rendered the tidal wave of complaints and irritations that come with it, so here are some comments I wrote when someone made me watch the following video. You'll fully get the point for everything that follows by about the four minute mark.  

We'll take this item by item, as long as my patience holds out: 

1. Hypnotic is not a desirable quality. There's no love in that. It's a very low form of manipulation. The only place I've ever experienced music trying to be hypnotic was in playing a contemporary church gig, where the music was as banal as it was despicable. Maybe it was just a poorly chosen word, but part of our job as communicators is to have better words. 

2. The premise of changing the groove by adding a single ghost note is ridiculous. It's like me leaving the room, doing up one additional button, coming back in and saying don't recognize me, do you? Does this form please you? 

Guys, I'm thinking about trying a different groove on this song. [adds one ghost note] 

No. The whole video is one groove, with some minor variations, and some barely-significant embellishments.  

Don't move your hands like that when you're playing the drums. Play the notes you're playing, don't play the air. He's coming within a couple of mm from doing some accidental rim shots at times. It looks amateurish, and practicing always moving your hands in unison 8th notes impedes gets in the way of doing other things.  

A large part of why YouTube is BS is the overemphasis on technique, and techniques. Exhibit A: the finger technique on those ghost notes here is ridiculous. Nobody but youtubers and people who watch too much youtube do that. Take the stick and hit the drum. 

Stop that.

There is a point in every enthusiasm-driven movement— Heavy Metal music, hoppy beer, the mullet hairstyle, wide leg jeans, YouTube drumming videos— where it becomes insular, losing the thread of what was originally cool, good, or useful to people, and becoming entirely about taking some superficial aspect of it “further”, whereupon it loses all connection with non-enthusiast reality. That's what we're experiencing with the technique displayed here.

The whole premise is false. If we're going to talk about musical intentionality and control, it's got to be much wider reaching than this, mainly about handling musical events within a piece. Making variations on a groove. Developing a groove musically. Something. Having the will power to play a repeating drum groove for a long time is not a feat of control. It could actually be a feat of not knowing anything else to play, or of being afraid to play anything else.

This does come up as a psychological problem for ambitious drummers, who are disposed to try to make a piece of music better by playing more stuff. It can't be addressed by just playing along with a milquetoast looping track, you have to be playing a real job with a real piece of music you really want to make good. See Andy Newmark's Modern Drummer interview for somebody talking about that in a serious way.   

As with a lot of these videos, I think somebody had an idea for some “content”, and the educational reasoning for it came after the fact, purely to sell the video, which is why it's so unconvincing. 

Conclusion: a negative post, but some are amused by my ranting and raving. And there's some serious stuff in there. For YouTubers, any engagement whatsoever = success, and controversy = $$$, so the video maker should be completely fulfilled by this. Everybody wins. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Rhythm cycles

Here's a page to print out and staplegun to the wall by your drums: a summary of some major practice rhythms, and their inversions. Sometimes you don't need a readable page, you just need a quick reference to glance at. I should probably expand this and make a poster out of it. I'll certainly be updating it. 

Includes a couple of simple rhythms that don't have a name, and the Charleston rhythm, tresillo, cinquillo, three different rhythms in 3/4, played across the barline in 4/4. 

Play these as independent rhythms along with an ostinato, or in a Reed-style interpretation, or as ensemble rhythms/kicks— at the bottom are some practice phrases for that. Phrases 1 and 3 are good for a kick-type phrase, phrase 2 suggests a rhythm section figure, a la the tune Equinox. Plug in whichever practice rhythm you want in place of the example rhythm, of course. 

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Rock fills with Reed - 01

Bringing these recent right hand lead Reed tweaks into some basic day to day rock vocabulary. I'll illustrate these using the tom ruffs we looked at recently— try them with any of the other things we've done recently with filling in the larger spaces, or whatever else you can fit in there. My student Jack (age 12) is tearing these up right now. 

Here we'll play a two measure phrase, selected from the full page exercises in Syncopation, playing the rhythm as a rock beat in the first measure, then filling in any large spaces— of two or three 8th notes—in the rhythm in the second measure. We can treat some of the surrounding written notes as ensemble accents, and catch them on a crash cymbal, with the bass drum in unison. 

Many of the phrases are straightforward. Here's the book rhythm, and that rhythm interpreted as a rock beat, and then with the fill in the second measure, and then with some cymbal accents: 

Others may require some creativity to make them work out naturally— especially when the phrase starts with a rest in the book rhythm.  

Here are some two measure phrases from p. 38 of Syncopation that are good for this: 

You could play through the full page exercise this way, I find that the two measure phrase is better, more similar to actual rock playing, and gives us some space to think about how to orchestrate the fill and cymbal accents. There are several more examples in the pdf. We'll look at some more complex examples, and other possibilities, in part two. 

Get the pdf

Wednesday, October 25, 2023


“Hello. Good evening. Hope I'm Funny.”

-Richard Pryor, That N___'s Crazy

“So who’s that big dumb ass out there on the hill?”

“That’s Steve Carlton. He’s maybe the greatest left-hander in the history of the game. He’s got heat and also maybe the nastiest slider ever.”  

S**t, I'll stick him.

- Lenny Dykstra, Moneyball

I'll be honest, the following is how I feel about playing music at times— from Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut:

He had just been elected President, and it was necessary that he speak. He was scared stiff, thought a ghastly mistake had been made. All those prosperous, solid men out there would discover now that they had elected a ludicrous waif. They would hear his reedy voice, the one he’d had in the war. He swallowed, knew that all he had for a voice box was a little whistle cut from a willow switch. Worse—he had nothing to say. The crowd quieted down. Everybody was pink and beaming.

Billy opened his mouth, and out came a deep, resonant tone. His voice was a gorgeous instrument. It told jokes which brought down the house. It grew serious, told jokes again, and ended on a note of humility. The explanation of the miracle was this: Billy had taken a course in public speaking.

...not when I'm playing routine gigs, or playing with my own group, but when I'm feeling some kind of pressure to perform: if the music is harder than normal, or I feel that the other musicians are at a higher level than me, or there's someone in the room I badly want to impress. In advance I have no idea what I'm going to play, or if I can play at all— often I'm pretty sure I can't really play, and something is going to come up that will expose that, horrifically. Once we start playing, a completely different sound from what I expect comes out, and everything typically works fine. It's ridiculous, I'm a good musician, I just don't know it in advance. As much as I've played and practiced, I don't know where the notes come from.  

I also really feel this part of the book Moneyball, the baseball book by Michael Lewis. It's about a very successful relief pitcher, Chad Bradford:  

For his entire career hardly anyone has believed in him and now that they do, he can’t quite believe in himself. “It’s my greatest weakness,” he said. “I have zero self-confidence. The only way I can explain it is that I’m not the guy who throws ninety-five miles an hour. The guy who throws ninety-five can always see his talent. But I don’t have that. My stuff depends on deception. For it to work, there’s so much that has to go right.

That's an extremely high-pressure job for a person to have that mindset, and still be functional. 

Moneyball is largely about Oakland As general manager Billy Beane, who, as a major league draftee had been a phenomenally gifted prospect, which he failed to fulfil as a player because he was totally wrong for the game mentally and emotionally. Comparing himself with Lenny Dykstra, who was basically empty headed, reflexively self-confident: 

Billy sensed fundamental differences between himself and Lenny. Physically, Lenny didn’t belong in the same league with him. He was half Billy’s size, and had a fraction of Billy’s promise — which is why the Mets hadn’t drafted him until the thirteenth round. Mentally, Lenny was superior, which was odd considering Lenny wasn’t what you'd call a student of the game.

The point about Lenny, at least to Billy, was clear: Lenny didn’t let his mind screw him up. The physical gifts required to play pro ball were, in some ways, less extraordinary than the mental ones. Only a psychological freak could approach a 100-mph fastball aimed not all that far from his head with total confidence. “Lenny was so perfectly designed, emotionally, to play the game of baseball,” said Billy. “He was able to instantly forget any failure and draw strength from every success. He had no concept of failure. And he had no idea of where he was. And I was the opposite.”

Of course Bradford above didn't have that level of confidence either, so there's a range of gifts and weaknesses people can have and still do a thing on a national stage. Though we're also talking about different levels of player there, as well— one a great team player, the other a baseball legend. But if you look at that first quote from Richard Pryor— basically the Charlie Parker of standup, saying that at the beginning of a record that is a comedy masterpiece— and he doesn't know how it's going to go. He could bomb. 

Bombing is an inevitable part of live in that business. Comedians expose themselves on stage in a very personal way, with no idea if they're going to connect with any particular audience, every time they go to work. Musicians don't usually have to face that prospect of failing obviously and totally, while still having to stand on stage alone and keep talking into the mic.    

There is a difference between playing confidently and feeling confident generally, when you're not playing. It's harder to be confident when you're not playing. You have to face these questions without being able to act on them: Would I be able to play X? Why can't/don't I play what X other player plays? What if I have to do X that I know I'm not very good at? What about X horrible playing demand that Y drummer told me he had put upon him, how would I handle that? 

Real burnout pros don't sweat any of this stuff, it's all too familiar. Playing more straightens it all out— creating a comfort zone. You learn that you can actually play, and you learn to fake what you can't play, which is the same as playing. You learn what to expect, and you learn what is reasonable for others to expect when they ask you to do something unexpected. And you're exposed to more players, and you figure out that most people have relative strengths and weaknesses, and don't do everything equally well. You see what those people's attitudes are about things they're not that good at.  

Still, it's a lifelong thing, apparently, for a lot of people— we'll talk more about it. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Solo ideas in 3/4

We'll be seeing more with this format— solo and fill ideas for a certain amount of space between cymbal/bass drum accents. It's the normal frame for fills, but I don't see fill studies written that way often.  

This page has some three beat ideas for soloing in 4/4— they aren't necessarily meant to be played in a 3/4 environment. See the 4/4 phrase at the bottom of the page to see how that works. It's a common thing. 

The ideas themselves are not difficult, the main practice concern will be to get fluent moving them around the drums, and speed, maybe. 

Note that 10 and 11 use a “Bishopdiddle” type sticking, with the diddle up front. Number 8 is sort of a special one— the sticking isn't easy; playing it a lot will be good conditioning. 

Get the pdf

Monday, October 23, 2023

Half time funk shuffle - 01

Here's a page for my students, working through the basics of a half time funk shuffle groove. It gets mentioned a lot more online than it comes up in real life, but it's a thing.

There are a number of ways to write it; I've put it in 6/8 and 12/8. In real life I might expect it to come up most often as a sixtuplet feel in 4/4.  

Pay careful attention to the dynamics on the snare drum; play the accent strongly and ghost the other notes. I also accent the downbeats of the cymbal rhythm, you can do that if you choose. 

Get the pdf

Sunday, October 22, 2023

CYMBALISTIC: Germany tour wrap up

CYMBALISTIC: Hey, I'm back home and recovering from a very successful Germany excursion, and about to resume regular posting!

I'm never sure how things are going to go, but I ended up selling almost all of the 14 cymbals I took— I left two behind (which are available to purchase in Germany) and brought home a little 14" China. As always it was a good scene hanging out with a bunch of great drummers. A high point was the drummer who bought two 22s and promptly moved to sell his workhorse Agop and an expensive boutique cymbal he just bought. 

And, as it has been going recently, there was the most buzz about the Extra Special Janavars, and Special Janavars*. 

* - Special Janavars just have a heavy patina; Extra Special Janavars have K-type lathing and hammering, and a heavy patina, often three rivets.  

Here's a little video I got mainly from the Berlin meet— the main event of the tour, there was nothing to show from Frankfurt, a few of us just gathered in my funky hotel room like we were trading Cold War secrets... 

If you visit my cymbal site Cymbalistic, you'll see the pickings are rather slim— I'll be getting more cymbals this week.  

If you're in Germany and want to get one of the cymbals I left behind— a 20" A-type Holy Grail and a 17" Special Janavar— contact me and I can let you know how to play them and purchase them. I also left a hard cymbal case, if anyone needs one. Everyone was acting like I will be coming back in April '24, so if you want to participate then, let me know!  

THANK YOU to Michael, Jakob, Guido, Hasan, Bernd, Conrad, Achim, Felix, Heinrich, and anyone I'm momentarily forgetting in my haze of jetlag! 

And actually, a double extra special thanks to Michael and Jakob, for putting me up, and driving me around, and putting the word out, and generally making this whole thing possible! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023


CYMBALISTIC: OK everyone, I'm heading to Germany today, with a case of wonderful Cymbal & Gong cymbals for your approval, enjoyment, and merriment. 

The deets: 

I will show cymbals in Frankfurt on Wednesday, Berlin on Friday, Munich* on Sunday. You'll need to contact me for exactly where and when. 

* - See details below! 

The best ways to reach me, Todd Bishop, in Germany are:
SMS: +1 503 380 9259
Email: todd6ishop[at]

Cymbals I will bring:

•  20 and 22" Extra Special Janavars - which people have been loving!
•  17 and 22" Special Janavars - which people also love.
•  16, 19, 20, and 22" Holy Grails - Cymbal & Gong's flagship line, people love them!
•  14 and 16" Wide Chinas - fun little Chinese cymbals people will definitely love.

Go to Cymbalistic to hear them! The ones that say GET IT IN GERMANY are the ones I'm bringing. All cymbals are the same price in $/€, no extra fees.  

For Berlin meet you can also reach Michael Griener:
Phone: 0163/5913357

The meets:

Wednesday, Oct. 11th – 5-9pm

Wirtshaus zum Schützenhof - Kelsterbach

Appointment only! A few people are coming to play cymbals at my hotel, and anyone who wants can join me at the wirsthaus for food and drinks. Text me at +1 503 380 9259 to let me know you're coming. 

=== BERLIN ===
Friday, Oct. 13th – noon-4pm

At Michael Griener's studio space, right next to the southern subway exit Bernauer Str. (U8). Contact me or Michael for the location. 

I will be in Berlin, staying in Moabit, from the 12th-14th, if you want to play the cymbals another time.

Text me @ +1 503 380 9259 or Michael at 0163/5913357 to meet. 

=== MUNICH ===

IMPORTANT: If you're in Munich and want a cymbal, you need to pre-purchase it, and I will meet you to give it to you. Go to Cymbalistic and see what cymbals I will bring to Germany, reserve the one you want, and contact me for payment info. Otherwise, all cymbals will remain in Berlin, or in the hands of other drummers! 

Sunday, Oct. 15th – afternoon-evening

1. HAUPTBAHNHOF - I can meet you at the train station in the afternoon to hand you your pre-purchased cymbal.

2. UNTERFAHRT - Einsteinstraße 42, 81675 / - I'm going to the jam session-- No guarantee, but I might have a couple of cymbals. Either way, come hang out! Session begins at 20:30.

That's it, gang— visit me on Facebook for photos from the road. I will resume normal blogging on or after the 19th.