Sunday, March 31, 2024

Guy's cowbell beats

A page for a student, age 12, who bought a cowbell, and didn't know what to do with it. Basically two kinds of beats— basic rock beats, and a kind of Latin-rock beat with a cinquillo rhythm on the bell. We covered a number of these verbally in the lesson— several of them were his idea— this develops them further. 

Get the pdf, then get the vibe by listening to some Def Leppard: 

And Deep Purple:  

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Embellished filler with RH lead triplets - 01

I'm pretty sure I've written something like this before, but navigating my voluminous archives is no easier for me than it is for you. This is a sketch of some ideas in an upcoming[??? -tb] book release I'm working on. It's part of a larger system, but for now you can work on them as individual patterns:

RH on cymbal / LH on snare unless otherwise indicated. The repetitive format here is for practice purposes, in real music you would mostly do these one time only as part of a larger swing or 12/8 texture. Move them around the drums however you like.  

Try them with this loop or this loop. For example of the type of playing I have in mind, see Jack Dejohnette playing on a couple of slow tunes on John Scofield's album Time On My Hands. 

Get the pdf

Friday, March 22, 2024

Mozambique inversions

Library item that occurred to me while writing that last post. That Mozambique bell rhythm seems significant beyond just using it to play a Latin beat, hence this page, running it through its inversions. Half of them. You want to be psycho about it you can get the remainder of them by playing the second measure first.  

On line 1 you can easily see how the rhythm is constructed: a single note plus a double, then a single plus three doubles, like: 

⦾  ⦿⦿  ⦾  ⦿⦿  ⦿⦿  ⦿⦿

The actual Mozambique rhythm, which is on line 3, is an inversion of that. As is another common rhythm associated with Guaguanco, on line 6:

I have of course shared endless other ways of applying these type so rhythms to the drum set.  

Also see this roundup page with a lot more of this type of thing— up to January '23, at least— especially the tresillo/cinquillo inversion pages, and partido alto inversion pages.  

Get the pdf

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Elvinized Mozambique

An item I was working out with a student— making an Elvin Jones-like Latin groove/texture out of a Mozambique rhythm, for medium tempos, with swing 8th notes. It's an entry, just the first, most obvious things I could think of for taking the groove that direction. 

Swing the 8ths on everything here. At the top of the page is a Mozambique bell rhythm written Syncopation-style, then some basic left hand variations, which you can move around the drums however you like.

Then there is the bell rhythm written out as RH lead triplets— RH plays the complete cymbal part, LH plays the complete snare part. Which you can play as a fill at the end of the groove— note the circled bass drum notes on patterns 6-9, play them with those notes, and without them. As illustrated, you can end the fill with a cymbal/BD accent on 1, or on the end of beat 4.  

With item 10, as it says, play the hand parts with one, some, or all of the written bass drum notes. Try some combinations. We'll explore that more fully in another installment. 

Monday, March 11, 2024

Building a hybrid Reed interpretation

A short item— that's all I have time for lately: some hybrid Syncopation-based systems are brewing, where we do one basic thing, and alter it one step further, creating some connections between ideas, and opening things up, so it's not pure formula. It also creates some problems in devising a consistent system, and with interpreting it on the fly, when reading the full page exercises. 

Here we'll use a bebop-type system based on 5-stroke rolls ending in a stick shot— similar to this one. Everywhere you see an 8th note followed by a quarter note, play a 5-stroke roll (starting with the RH) ending with a stick shot (R stick hitting L stick, which is pressed into the drum head). Play the remaining notes as taps, mostly alternating sticking— starting with the LH, after the stick shots.

So the first two lines of page 38 in Syncopation would be played like this: 

That leaves a lot of open single notes, which we can fill in in a different way— like with the stupidly-named paradiddle inversion stickings we did recently: RLLR/LRRL/RLLRLR/LRRLRL. Pick the appropriate-length pattern for the space you're filling. Add more alternating singles at the end of the pattern if you run into some longer spaces between notes. 

Here's how you could handle some single line exercises from p. 34 in Reed: 

Note that the 16ths can connect directly with the roll, but you don't go directly into the 16ths from the stick shot. Also, we have to plan ahead for what hand to start the 16ths with, so you end on the right hand, to make the roll. 

This is probably strictly a system for practicing one measure licks, using pp. 34-37 in Reed. If you try playing one of the full page exercises, you'll notice that a) it's pretty hard to interpret on the fly, and b) it's hard to know which hand to start the 16ths with. You would have to figure out which hand to start with, and mark it on the page. 

Listen to some Roy Haynes soloing, and have fun. 

Saturday, March 09, 2024

Very occasional quote of the day: no such thing as better

“We have only to fight as well as the men who stayed and fought at Shiloh. It is not necessary that we should fight better. There can be no such thing as better.”

- Ernest Hemingway, Men At War

That book was compiled and edited by Hemingway during WWII, and was widely read by people serving the US military then. I found the quote in my father's copy, a 1952 paperback edition, which I believe he was reading when he was in the Korean war. It was directed at people who were actually having to do that stuff. 

In drummer terms, you could say we have only to play as well as Art Blakey on Somethin' Else, or Jack Dejohnette on Live Evil. Harvey Mason on Breezin', Billy Higgins on Rejoicing, you pick.  

You're thinking oh, really, is that all?, but it is done all the time. Like the thing Hemingway is talking about, in situations less famous than the one he mentions. The rest of us get to play as good as them sometimes. We may not get as many equivalent playing opportunities, and there are other things that go into making a player, a playing career, and historical profile, but we can handle our available situations as well as they would. 

We don't get to play better than them. You're not going to outplay Blakey by doing harder stuff, by having faster singles, or by executing better. Your favorite awesome drummer isn't going to outplay him. There may be other reasons for working on those things, but to be a better artist than him is not one of them.  

Monday, March 04, 2024

Daily best music in the world: four by Steve Gadd

Taking a moment to dispel a totally absurd impression of Steve Gadd that has somehow formed in recent years: that he is some kind of conservative “groove” player, which... He's extremely influential on the way drums are played now, and the epitome of what a modern player should be, actually— a great jazz drummer, and pop, funk, and fusion drummer, with an incredibly deep groove sense, and musical taste and creativity through the full range of expression possible on the drums. An incredible reader in the sense of handling arrangements creatively and excitingly, and sounding like pure foundation while doing that. 

I don't like getting into superlatives. Just understand, he's the s***. As big a deal as anyone else you can name. It's our job to listen a lot, and figure out why. 

Night Sprite, from Chick Corea's album Leprechaun, is the reason half the drum sets sold today include a 10" tom tom— it inspired a whole generation of fusion players to use them. Or Gadd generally did, and this is the track of his that features it most spectacularly. 

It's also an essay on why the RLLR-LRRL paradiddle inversion is awesome. 

...I don't mention those mundane things because they're the main things that are great about the record. I mention them because they're the only things you can say. The music itself is the explanation of how great it is, there's nothing you can say about it that isn't banal technical point. 

Three Quartets is another huge Chick Corea record— basically a jazz record, but they've brought in some fusion elements, and we've become unused to hearing this deep, fat, fusion-like drum sound in a straight jazz setting. Note that we hear lots of cymbal/bass drum unisons throughout this— all the right hand lead stuff we do leads into this kind of thing. All of that Reed stuff.

There's a lot with both hands in unison as well, on the snare drum and cymbal. And he does some exciting things with the cymbals alone, unsupported by the snare or bass— how he begins the piano solo, for example, after 1:10:

Slamming here, with an extended drum/percussion feature, playing live with saxophonist Tom Scott. It's easy to think of all of modern studio funk/fusion playing— that universal anonymous style— as basically people doing Steve Gadd, but through all of this listening we can hear different things happening, that the generations of influencees did not pick up on. The unisons between the snare drum and bass drum, for example.  

Another mundane technical note, this track has been famous with me for a long time for having the pataflafla-ed 6 stroke rolls— pataflaflas with doubles in the middle. At about 6:35. 

Silly Putty, the first thing in the video below, is not so well known now, but it's one of those era-defining tracks, like Herbie Hancock's Chameleon, or Palm Grease. There was a thing of inventing creative linear funk grooves on the drums at that time. I don't know if Gadd started it, but he certainly led it— you're aware of his famous 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover groove. 

Cool instrumentation there, a quartet (guitar, keyboards) doing the playing, plus nine horns hitting the arranged stuff. Note to self, hire the extra guys. If you listen to that record all the way through, that's Lenny White on the third tune, the rest of it is Gadd. 

Those are all pretty showy recordings, he is of course on a thousand other records. Maybe literally. You can look up more stuff from the 70s/early 80s especially. Do. 

Friday, March 01, 2024

Stewart Copeland interview

New interview with Rick Beato talking to Stewart Copeland, that is quite entertaining— he's an entertaining guy talking about things he knows about, like his own career. Here he mostly talks about how making all the Police records went down, and it's fairly illuminating. 

As much as these things ever are— most people can't tell you anything about what you liked about something they did. Usually making something involves a different set of concerns from just enjoying it, even enjoying as someone who makes music, and knows about music. Not everything is intentional, or under one person's conscious control. The illuminating part is finding out what he thinks he did.

It sounds like a large part of the story of The Police was in the conflict between Sting, having fully formed pop songs in mind, including the drumming, vs. Copeland fighting to have the percussion featured as a distinct voice.  

It's not surprising that in recording the first records he only got a few passes on each track. It's somewhat surprising how unformed the songs were at that point in the process— or how little information he had about them. I think that accounts for a good part of the unusual playing decisions on the records— there are things people might not play if they knew everything that was going on.  

It's also not surprising that he approached them like a player, playing each take differently, and not as a songwriter or producer, who would be more concerned with crafting a perfect “part”... which would take you to a product more like Nirvana's Nevermind, with every note of the drumming performance worked out in advance. A drummer working everything out for percussive effect might lead you to something more like a Rush record. Whatever those Rush records are, they're a clear picture of what Neil Peart would do on purpose on that piece of music. On the Police records it seems that every percussion effect is not something Copeland created himself deliberately— or did deliberately while he was playing it. As he says, they did a lot of editing and overdubbing. 

We're in kind of a funny position, as people who like the drumming on those records— it's our job to do things like that as informed playing decisions, even as the original guy actually may not have.    

Anyway, interesting interview, it is worth listening to the full hour of it, despite Copeland's flippancy, at times.