Here’s a new spin on independence. The idea is to develop the same type of facility against a steady eighth note cymbal pattern that a jazz drummer has playing with the ride cymbal’s jazz pattern. Jazz drummers create conversations between their left hand and feet while playing the “classic” jazz cymbal pattern. I want to be able to do the same thing in a pop and rock context (ie eighth notes).
It’s a modern take on independence. The classic books on modern pop and rock independence, even the revered classic “The New Breed,” all focus on the left hand playing backbeats. In today’s ever progressing world of music, it’s my feeling that backbeats are not enough. Sure, you must have the ability to play them with freedom while you layer various bass drum ideas below or around them, but the freedom to create more complex ideas while maintaining eighth notes with the cymbal hand will give you even more possibilities for expression.
I’ve been pondering this a lot and experimenting with it. This worksheet begins the foundation of interplay between the hands and feet in the context of 16th notes.
These should start to grease the wheels and give you some facility in this area.
Some thought on practicing: try the eighth note pattern with 1) no accents, 2) accents on the downbeats and 3) accents on the upbeats.
Think of these like a jazz drummer would; there’s no need to crush the snare drum notes. Playing the snare drum softly and smoothly will help you stay loose.
If you feel like it, experiment with double bass drums. I have found that playing two notes in a row using double bass allows me to go much faster and achieve a very even sound on each of the two bass drum notes.
This is the beginning of a new era in independence and I’m excited to delve into it further. I hope you’ll join me.
Here’s the PDF of the worksheet for you to take into the practice room: The New Indpendence Sixteenths hand foot combos part one
The rhythm created by playing every third sixteenth note is one of my favorites. I’ve used it a lot in fills and soloing vocabulary. I think that I initially got the idea for applying this to a cymbal pattern in grooves from something (surprise!) I heard Vinnie Colaiuta play. I know, shocking.
The only way to get something like this together is to create some exercises, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. So, here it is, the beginning of a series that will seek to give us freedom with this idea as it is applied to grooves. I have not, by any means, mastered these exercises as of this writing, but early indications are that this is going to sound amazing.
The first step is to take the simplest eighth note rock beats–the first beats we all learned–and try to layer this new cymbal pattern on top.
In 4/4 time, the dotted eighth note pattern will resolve after three measures, so the exercises are all three measures long and repeat. Although these are the most basic of all rock beats, you may find that the layer of dotted eighths on top will give these beats a new life. There is a brand new texture on top which I think, as I work through these, is going to sound very cool.
As a summary and to build some real control, the final exercise (6) includes a four measure bass drum and snare pattern that repeats until the cymbal pattern on top resolves. The underlying four measure snare/bass drum phrase is similar to the type of rock beat you might encounter in a real playing situation. But, to gain real freedom playing these ideas while maintaining our new cymbal idea, you need to be able to play it while rotating through the entire system of the cymbal pattern. Tricky and fun.
Here is the PDF: dotted eighth independence one
Very different. Lots of fun. Have at it.
Just published and transcribed by Joerg Eckel, this book of Philly Joe Jones solos is certain to be very accurate.
On matters such as these, there is no one I trust more than John Riley, who, several years ago, told me about a student of his who had transcribed a large number of Philly Joe solos and was working to publish them.
At long last, the book is available. To get a copy, go to:
–Steve Maxwell’s in NYC
–Columbus Percussion in Ohio
–247 Drums in Boston
Have a look at the book cover:
So when I saw this gleaming and super modern looking piece of equipment at Sam Ash, I got excited.
First, let me explain in more detail the “problem” that this piece of equipment was created to solve.
The classic problem here? The crossing of one’s hands. And yes, I know that the “best” solution is actually to play open-handed, but let’s assume that you don’t have enough time to re-learn all of your groove playing in that manner.
I had a student who moved his hi hat away from his body and then uncrossed his hands that way. That is the concept; moving the hi hats forward and to the right of their “normal” position allows you to uncross your hands.
But, your left foot has to move too. The resulting position is decidedly awkward.
Here’s how the product is explained on the Gibraltar website:
“Gibraltar’s Ultra Adjust hi hat stand allows the player to position the stand in a comfortable leg playing position and independently position the hi hat cymbals for best playing placement. Gibraltar accomplished this utilizing the patented Ultra Adjust system. These two gearless positioning points give up to eight inches displacement for the upper stand section of the hi hat.”
The Gibraltar Ultra Adjust did allow me to position the hi hats in a great spot so that I could uncross my hands. It also allowed me to keep my left foot where I wanted.
BUT, more importantly, the motion of the hi hat stand is very sluggish. That is the Achilles heel of the product. Frankly, it’s a deal breaker for me. The first thing that has to work well for me is the actual function that the hi hat is supposed to serve. And that is action and response. I want to use the hats for “chik” sounds, splashes, and the standard open and close sounds.
Yes, I can do all those things, but not with ease. Making the hi hat open and close is laborious. I need to exert more physical energy to move the hi hat up and down than I would with a standard pedal. It’s slower; the response is sluggish.
Unfortunately, this means that the Ultra Adjust is a failure. It just doesn’t feel right at all.
A great idea….but the execution is not there.
Too bad. I really wanted it to work.
I STILL resist the notion that I should go into the shed and learn to play all of my grooves open handed.
I will continue to look for solutions.
This latest Nasty Lick, which happens to be number 56, was inspired by one of my all time favorite drummers, Zach Danziger. I heard him do something like this on the Wayne Krantz album, “Long To Be Loose.”
The phrasing of Zach’s version was a bit different, but the essence of it is very similar.
It’s a killer.
Here is the pdf: Nasty Lick 56
“Indian Time Zones” appears on Warren Cuccurullo’s 1996 album, “Thanks To Frank.” The tune is in 5/4 and Vinnie Colaiuta takes an eight bar drum solo on the track. My favorite part of the solo is the 2nd half. A transcription of those last four bars is presented here.
The 2nd half of the solo is where Vinnie really blasts off–machine gunning us with a bunch of mostly 32nd note ideas.
I’ve included a one beat pick up (the last quarter note of the fourth bar) on the transcription to maintain the flow of ideas. Where the sticking is difficult, I’ve included my suggested sticking.
Here is the PDF: Indian Time Zones 2nd Half
Some gigs will be no brainers. But if you find yourself not sure if a particular gig is for you or not, try using the following as a framework to evaluate.
These are not necessarily in order of importance. You have to decide how to weight each factor. That being said, ignore numbers 3 and 4 at your own risk.
1) Time/Opportunity Cost
1) Time/Opportunity Cost
If James Taylor was right and “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time,” then you need to think about how much time you have available to you.
Do you have the time to take this new gig and still enjoy yourself?
Opportunity cost means you may have to give up something else you want to do by spending your time on this new project. Consider what the new gig might prevent you from doing that’s important.
There’s not much to explain here. Is there money or not? If there is, how much? Money can make music you don’t love sound a lot better.
Do you like the people on the gig? You may have to spend a lot of time with them. If they are annoying, mean, unpleasant, drug addicts, etc, just factor that into your thinking. If not and you like them, good!
Remember why you started playing in the first place? Right. Because you love music. Do you like the songs? Do you like this style of music? What is the level of musicianship? Better than average or amateur hour? If you are struggling to keep up because the musicianship is very high, that could be a positive; you’ll grow as a player. On the other hand, if you are the best player in the band, perhaps you should think again.
What are the networking opportunities? Where will you play? Is there a big producer attached to the project? Is there a more experienced musician who might recommend you for other gigs?
You get the picture.
Thinking about this stuff should help you make better decisions.
Here’s to your success.
One such page is the first set of eighth note rock independence exercises in the late Charles Dowd’s book “The Funky Primer.” I use the book often with beginners who are interested in playing pop and rock.
It’s a great way to begin that journey because developing independence with your bass drum foot against eighth notes on the cymbal and backbeats on the snare drum is crucial to functioning in rock music.
The point of these exercises is mastery. Rushing through the page will not develop mastery. In fact, hurrying through the 18 exercises on that particular page (or any) will get you nothing. Nada. Rien. Zip. Bupkes.
I tell students who are rushing through that I wish all drum books were written with only one exercise per page. Perhaps then, it would be easier to focus on JUST THAT ONE PATTERN.
It’s that kind of thinking and focus that will help you. One at a time. Over and over and over again. Until it’s easy, and thoughtless. Until you don’t have to look at the page anymore. Until you can play the pattern with ease. Until you can actually think about something else while playing the pattern. If you’re daydreaming and still playing the material perfectly, you’re really in the zone you want to be in.
You want to play the exercise until it gets into your muscle memory. Once you have the exercise down, move on. But not until you do.
NOW you are on your way to mastery.
Kenny Werner, in his book, “Effortless Mastery,” suggests that one of the components of mastery is “the ability to play the material perfectly every time without thought.”
Don’t let the implied psychology of a page with 20 examples suck you in and make you rush. Pretend that the pattern you’re working on right now is the only thing on that entire page. One at a time, slow and steady.
That’s how you get good.
Here are some great soloing and fill ideas that use the double stroke roll. The idea is to play a double stroke roll and put little flourishes of hand/foot combinations within it. The result, after some practice, is some blazingly fast and incredible sounding licks.
There are four related examples, and the grooves that precede them are fun and different too.
Have at it. I am still shedding these.
Here is the PDF for you to take into the practice room: Blazing Double Stroke Roll Licks 1