There’s been much speculation about Mr. Colaiuta’s gear since his short-lived association with Ludwig Drums. The drum geeks of the world were looking to see what Vinnie would be playing when he went on the road with Sting this year. The wait is over. The answer is Heuer.
You can read about Chris Heuer’s drums at his website: www.heuersdrumlab.com
Although this may come as a bit of a surprise to many, Chris has gained a reputation for doing top-notch restoration, customization and repair work for many of Los Angeles’ top drummers for a while now. Apparently, he builds custom drums too. Good ones. Really good ones.
A quick look at Vinnie’s website shows that the empty grey space next to the Paiste logo on the “links” page has been replaced with the Heuer logo. Check it: www.vinniecolaiuta.com/home/links
In addition, check out the photo, above, of VC playing Heuers on the Sting tour.
It looks like Heuer’s business is about to take off.
I recently posted some exercises called “Funk Comping 1″ on my personal drumming website. For a different twist on those ideas, I substituted the clave rhythm with the cymbal hand for the more traditional eighth note pulse.
Playing clave with your cymbal hand is a bit of a brain twister at first, but as with any independence idea in drumming, muscle memory will allow it to happen easily with enough practice. There are many exercises on this site that explore clave independence with your cymbal hand (just check out the “Clave” category), but this exercise is one that explores what it would be like if you could play VERY freely and improvise while maintaining Clave with your right hand.
Difficult. Challenging. Rewarding? If you wish to have this capability, then, the answer is “yes.”
Here’s the PDF: clave funk comping 1
Here’s one that I like. And because it is a 7 note idea, it moves around the bar in an interesting way.
The worksheet has two examples. Number one is the half measure version and number two is the whole measure version. Both examples have grooves included just for fun, but the grooves are just window dressing.
Here’s the PDF: Nasty Lick 54
Have you noticed that a lot of prominent players are moving away from traditional grip? Recently I’ve read interviews where Dave Weckl and Steve Smith each mention they are using matched grip more than they used to. Thomas Lang has gone so far as to say that Traditional Grip is “a curse.”
Much of what I’ve read indicates that the main issue these players have is one of power.
More specifically, the awkwardness of the grip when powerful backbeats are needed can cause injury.
And I agree. This is my complaint with the grip. You simply can not gracefully get the same power on the drum kit with Traditional Grip.
But I still continue to use Traditional Grip in a significant amount of my playing because I’ve developed so much facility that way. But I understand why Lang feels the way he does. The reason the grip has continued to be used is part and parcel in the name itself. Tradition has created a lineage that gets followed despite the needs of modern playing.
And the history, which is the primary reason that Traditional Grip persists, does not account for the change in style of music and the greater need for power that the prevalence of rock and pop drumming requires.
To explain this, let me tell you about how and why I made decisions on hand grips up until now. When I first started playing drums, my primary drumming role models were John Bonham, Neil Peart and Peter Criss.
They all played Matched Grip and so I learned by imitating. For many years I played only Matched Grip.
Later, I discovered the virtuosic playing of Gadd, Colaiuta, Weckl, Williams and Rich. I became obsessed with acquiring more technique. I asked myself, “If all of the greatest drummer technicians play Traditional Grip, shouldn’t I?”
The answer was a resounding “yes.” In fact, it was a no brainer. I did not need to know anything other than the fact that Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Tony Williams and Buddy Rich all primarily used that grip. No knowledgeable drummer would argue about these being among the greatest hand technicians in the history of the instrument.
Now, let’s explore some more drumming history. In all likelihood, the drummers named above chose their grip preferences for the very same reasons that I did! Their drumming idols used Traditional Grip and they were just mimicking them. But most of their idols were jazz drummers. That has been documented in many interviews with these giants.
What makes all of this somewhat ludicrous is that the only reason Traditional Grip even exists—and now we’re going back even earlier in history—has to do with drummers marching in the military.
When the earliest marching snare drummers played, they created Traditional Grip. Like many new ideas, necessity became the mother of invention. The way the snare drum hung off of the marching drummer’s body resulted in a downward slanting playing surface. Matched Grip would simply not be practical in this situation. Hence, the birth of Traditional Grip.
And that invention had been passed down through a long lineage of drummers, including myself and many of you, simply because a significant number of prominent drummers became incredibly good at using that grip.
That doesn’t mean that the grip always makes sense in today’s musical environment.
In the new millennium, a versatile drummer will sometimes require power to play appropriately for a particular genre.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a long love affair with Traditional Grip, and some of my chops are superior using that method. But it makes sense to me to have one method that can do it all, and I believe that Matched Grip may ultimately be that way.
The journey is never ending.
Food for thought.
I’ve been digging into Matt Cameron’s playing with Soundgarden recently, and the result is this sheet of great sounding fills. There is something very Bonham-ish about some of Matt’s playing. In fact, of these fills, #4 is something I’ve definitely heard Bonham play. The phrasing of fills is often the key to making them sound interesting; in the case of these examples, I particularly like the phrasing of fills #’s 1 through 3.
Check these out. Very modern sounding and very useful.
Here’s the PDF: 7 Matt Cameron Inspired Fills
I’ve become obsessed with “The Icarus Deception,” by Seth Godin.
Let me tell you why.
Like “The War of Art” or “Effortless Mastery,” Godin’s book is inspirational and it addresses the creation of art. There is often a battle inside us that prevents us from creating. You know that little voice that tells us we’re a fraud or that we’re not good enough? Godin calls that voice the “Lizard Brain.” We all have it.
But we should all be making art. Creating something unique in any context is art. You don’t have to paint, write, play music or sculpt to be an artist. Entrepreneurs can be artists too. Being an artist means taking the risk of doing something different, regardless of the venue. It also means putting your art out into the world.
“The Icarus Deception” may inspire you to do something different, to create art of some sort, to live up to your potential.
Godin points out that we have been trained by the world, our parents, our friends, and the old industrial economy to settle for less. We’ve been told to be “good,” go to college, and look for a steady job that will allow us to retire and be safe. But guess what?
In the new world that we live in, the post-internet landscape, which Godin aptly refers to as the “connected economy,” what was once safe is actually risky. Staying in a job for twenty years in the hope of the pension and safety is no longer safe. The connection economy creates an environment where great ideas can spread more easily, thus creating great opportunity.
Is it easy? Nope. But is it possible? Yes.
“The Icarus Deception” refers to Greek mythology. The story follows Icarus, the son of famed Athenian craftsman Daedalus. The two were imprisoned on the island of Crete. Daedalus makes wings out of feathers and wax, so that they can fly off of the island and escape.
However, before sending his son on his test flight, Daedalus warns Icarus not to fly too high. If he does, he’ll get too close to the sun and the wax will melt, causing the wings to fall apart.
Of course, Icarus, full of hubris, flies too close to the sun, melting the wax, and winds up plummeting into the ocean to his death.
“The Icarus Deception” is the fallacy that you should heed this tale. Why settle? Why shouldn’t you go after your dreams? The mistake many are making now is to heed this myth and fly too low, settling for a life of corporate drudgery in the hope of being safe. In the connected economy, Godin points out, avoiding the heights of great ambition is a mistake.
In this new world, doing what your parents told you was safe IS NO LONGER SAFE. The safety zone has moved.
This is big news, but many of us have been trained during the entire course of our lives to believe the safety myth. Don’t be fooled. Visualize the life you want and make art if you wish. There is no better time than now.
Very inspiring stuff. There is much more to the book that what I’ve described. Read it.
Don’t fly too low. Big mistake.
Dawud “D-Mile” Aasiya-Bey of Lake Elsinore,CA defeated Jonathan Burks of Little Rock, Arkansas, Shariq Tucker from the Bronx, Hilario Bell from Miami and Josiah Maddox of Chicago to be crowned the champion of Guitar Center’s 2013 Drum Off.
The battle began in September of 2013 when over 5,000 drummers competed at the store level across the nation. The five finalists met this past Sunday, January 18th, 2014 at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, CA.
On the way to the finals, Dawud had to play four times: in the prelims, store finals, quarter finals and semi finals. Below is his semi-final winning solo. Check it out.
And….Here is his winning solo from Sunday.
Here is the second of a bunch of ideas I used in this year’s Drum Off competition at Guitar Center. The transcription shows exactly what I played during the four bar solo I took using this concept. “Idea Two” is closely related to “Idea One” which you can check out here: Drum Off Idea 1
Make sure to ghost all of the unaccented snare drum notes, and look to get this in the neighborhood of 100 to 120 bpm. The idea comes from something I heard Zach Danziger do in a solo with Eddie Gomez’s band over twenty years ago. The lick is a killer.
Here is the PDF: Drum Off Idea 2
WHY?The idea for this came from playing a lot of blues recently. For a drummer, playing a lot of blues means playing a lot of shuffles and a lot of 6/8. Shuffles are deceptively difficult. It takes a lot of time to make them groove. There are also a million ways to play them. I finally figured out what my “go-to” shuffle is. It’s #1 on the attached worksheet. It grooves like crazy.
The thing is, as great as that shuffle sounds, when I was backing a soloist, I felt stuck. I wanted to do something more to lift things up and propel the music forward. But I didn’t want to play a lot of fills or disturb the groove in order to get that “lift.”
I started to think that it would sound great if I could vary the ride cymbal pattern just like you do in Jazz, but while maintaining the left hand pattern and bass drum as the foundation.
But I couldn’t do it.
HOW!Hence, these 7 exercises to develop the necessary independence.
Here’ the PDF: shuffle cymbal independence part one
I’m going to start working on these…
Every drum student who asks “how long will it take until I’m good?” needs to read this quote from Ira Glass. The bottom line truth is that it takes a long time and a lot of really hard work to get there. Most people don’t make it there because they don’t have the patience and the work ethic to stick with it.
I came across this quote in Seth Godin’s excellent book, “The Icarus Deception.”
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap.
For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.
And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.