One of my favorite drum videos is Dave Weckl’s “The Next Step.” For my money, the most useful part of the video is the section on soloing. In it, Weckl explains the basis of much of his triplet vocabulary, which I offer to you here as a PDF.
The vocabulary is simply combinations of different hand/foot patterns in triplets. Weckl offers 10 of them. Here is the PDF: Dave Weckl’s 10 Triplet Ideas
Next, he offers an exercise to work on putting these ideas together, which is possibly one of the most important methods of working on soloing that you will ever find. Seriously.
The exercise is to play continuous triplets incorporating the ideas on the PDF and filling in the rest of the time with your hands. You’re always playing triplets and you’re almost never stopping that flow except for an occasional pause in a phrase or a cymbal crash.
You can apply the same idea to 16th notes and 32nds by creating vocabulary and working on putting it together in a similar fashion.
Weckl explains that when he solos he is just combining the ideas from both the triplet and 16th/32nd notes exercises. That’s it.
Word on the street is that many drummers who are great soloists watched “The Next Step,” were inspired by this method, and used it to great effect in their practice and development.
By the way, the PDF does not contain any orchestrations; all of the notation is presented as snare drum and bass drum only. You’ll have to come up with your own orchestrations on the drum set.
Finally, pay attention to dynamics. Make sure that if you want to play some of the ideas more quietly, you decrease the volume of both your hands and feet appropriately. A common problem is that drummers are not able to decrease the foot volume properly and that results in a foot heavy mix which doesn’t sound right.
I happen to believe that this type of practice is crucial to getting one’s soloing together. It’s part of my current regimen.
Have at it and let me know what you think.