Groove Deception 1

I have a love/hate relationship with beat displacement and “rhythmic illusions.” For those of you who are not familiar with these ideas, they are methods of presenting grooves that make the listener believe that what they are hearing is either slower or faster than the original groove, or in a different time signature, or even just temporarily making it sound as if beat “1” is in a different place than it really is.
groove deception 1 illustration The reason for my ambivalence about these ideas is that I like my soloing ideas to groove. But I also like to keep things interesting. So, if your “deception” can still groove on it’s own, I can live with that.

That’s why I like this idea. It makes the listener believe you are playing a half time shuffle, which most drummers will agree, when executed well, is a pretty groovin’ and tasty beat. I also believe that this works because the deception is based on 16th notes.

Using 16th notes for this trick works because the original groove is rooted in 16ths already. Using the same rhythms to deceive the listener makes a smoother and groovier sound. If one chooses a groove deception based on triplets when the original beat is based on 16ths, the effect can be very jarring and that is less to my liking.

Here is the PDF so you can try it: Groove Deception #1 PDF

Shred 32nd Notes on Your Drum Kit

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With Nasty Lick #66, we return to ways to blaze 32nd notes. Try this one out. Here is the PDF of the idea for you to download: Nasty Lick 66 PDF.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you may recall a slight obsession of mine with six stroke rolls and “reverse” six stroke rolls. I have found the six stroke roll (rllrrl) and it’s reverse (lrrllr) to be very useful on the drum kit. Understanding that I use these patterns a lot in my playing will help you understand the mental progression of how I came to “Nasty Lick 66.” Ultimately I want you to explore this way of thinking so you can more easily come up with your own licks. A tiny change to an existing idea can lead to powerful new ideas.

In this case, I simply added two bass drums notes right before the last note of a reverse six stroke roll (so, lrrllr became lrrllffr) and came up with a way to orchestrate the pattern that I liked. Pretty simple, but you have to commit to the process of digging into and playing around with ideas that you like. Simply trust that you’ll most likely come up with good stuff if you do so.

That’s all for now. Hope this stimulates some new ideas for you…..or simply take this lick and blaze it!

Drummers as Leaders

The-Thinking-DrummerThink about the best drummers. They lead the band. Their confidence and skill makes everyone else in the band sound better. That’s the job. Ever see a band with a bad drummer? It kills everything. An otherwise great band is crushed into a pulp of horrible mediocrity.

But a band with a great drummer! Everything glides along with apparent ease. The feel is grooving! The transitions between different sections of the song are seamless, and every fill is in the perfect place and delivered with the right touch and feel. A good drummer makes everyone in the band comfortable and gives the other musicians in the band a nice cushion over which to do their thing. Sometimes, part of the drummer’s job is to count the band off at the right tempo. It is always the drummer’s job to set up the transitions of the song with appropriate fills. My favorite analogy for this part of a drummer’s job is that he or she is like a tour guide.

Say you went to a foreign country and didn’t know how to get around or where to go. You might hire a tour guide to help you. The drummer is the band’s tour guide, leading the way so the other musicians can maneuver through the songs more easily. This is particularly important when there is a new band member who doesn’t know the material that well.

Much of the drummer’s role as described above translates to a sort of musical leadership.

In addition to the musical leadership role a drummer plays, many of the greatest drummers are also leaders in a more literal way. Many of them—greats from past and present– started and led their own bands.

Here’s a list of some of the drummers who led (or lead) their own bands:
—Buddy Rich
—Tony Williams
—Dave Weckl
—Elvin Jones
—Max Roach
—Steve Gadd
—Simon Phillips
—Philly Joe Jones
—Marco Djordjevic
—Brian Blade
—CIndy Blackman
—Bill Bruford
—Mark Guilana
—Ringo Starr
—Jojo Mayer
—Steve Smith
—Marco Minnemann
—Zach Danziger
—Levon Helm
—Shelly Manne
—Billy Cobham
—Bill Stewart

Do you see the correlation between great drummers and leadership?

Drummers of this level have something to say, and a true need to express themselves. In fact, I would argue that the need for expression drives them. The need might even be described as so intense that it is actually a compulsion; something that can not be controlled.

Pair this compulsion for expression with the fact that the art form of music requires a group of musicians to interact with and you might find that you have an interesting problem: what if you are not being asked to play in the kind of musical situations that allow you to express yourself in a way that satisfies you?

Perhaps the band that would satisfy your musical desires doesn’t even exist.

The solution is to become a leader.

Nothing can stop you from getting your art out into the world if you take it upon yourself to create a vehicle to do so.

If you’re finding that you are not able to play the things you hear in your head because you don’t have an appropriate musical situation in which to do so, the answer is simple. Create that musical situation yourself.

You’re already a drummer. Now, why not step it up and become a true leader?

Another Double Stroke Roll Soloing Idea

Nasty-Lick-65-IllustrationHere we go again! As you know, I loves me my double stroke rolls. Lately I’ve been fiddling around with new ways to break them up around the drums, trying to add accents and bass drum combinations to change the flavor. Here’s what I came up with today–“Nasty Lick 65.”

See if you like how this sounds. Try to get it to flow at around 100 bpm. The doubles should be nice and quiet with the accented snare, floor tom and bass drum notes significantly louder.

You can download the PDF here: Nasty Lick 65

Tony Williams’ Fill from “Joy Filled Summer”

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For “Nasty Lick #24,” we go back to 1976, the year that The New Tony Williams Lifetime released the album “Million Dollar Legs.” The album was not well received by fans, and it is not the music one would have expected from this band of killer musicians (Allan Holdsworth -gtr, Alan Pasqua -kys, Tony Newton -bs)

The album definitely reeks of record company suits meddling with the creative process and the result is pseudo-disco rather than fusion.

That did not stop the great Tony Williams from throwing in nuggets of drumming greatness, and this fill is a prime example. It’s on the track “Joy Filled Summer” and you’ll hear it at about 1:16 into the track.

It’s a killer two measure 16th note fill that is new and exciting sounding even in the present day. Tony is playing the snare and hi tom only and the result is magical because of the way he places the accents and orchestrates them between the two voices. Just two drums and he constructs a masterpiece of a fill.

Here’s the PDF for you to look at/practice/download: Nasty Lick 24 PDF

In addition to this fabulous drumming nugget, “Million Dollar Legs” can teach us a lesson: don’t dull down your creativity for the promise of commercial success. That seems to be what happened on this album.