Topic: Progress!!!  (Read 1960 times)

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Offline Larry Rankine

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« on: March 10, 2010, 11:02 AM »
While I'm sure this may seem very basic to a lot of you it's been a milestone for me personally and I wanted to share this with my friends here at the cafe as only other drummers can probably appreciate this.  I've been working on improving (as we all are) and have been using a variety of resources.  One of those resources has been Steve Smiths technique DVD.  In one of those chapters he demonstrates a few exercises he uses as a foundation for his "swing pulse."  The first one is a 3 over two polyrhythm where the left hand does a half triplet thing (sorry for my phraseology) while the other limbs are doing a straight swing 4/4 beat.  Well last night I finally got it going.  This is something I once thought totally out of reach for me (all things considered) and I'm happy to report I've proven myself wrong!   :D
TAMA Starclassic Bubinga and Bubinga/Birch teamed up with Zildjian!!.......and now Sabian too!

Better than this?!?!

Offline David Stanoch

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Re: Progress!!!
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2010, 10:17 PM »
Hi Larry,

Thank you for posting this update here! I think I can safely speak for everyone here in congratulating you on stepping above a plateau you had reached and passing another milestone in your development as a player.

You are right to be excited about this and I am happy for you as well! It is the moments liked the one you described that refuel our reserves and give us the motivation and inspiration to forge ahead through the next challenge.

Steve's DVD is an excellent resource. His motivation is insatiable and he has the type of talent and professional experience that most players (of any instrument) can only dream of. He is an excellent educator and stand up guy to boot. I'm glad you found inspiration in that chapter of the DVD. His perspective is an important one for all drummers to consider.

I was intrigued by reading how you felt this type of accomplishment was "totally out of reach" for you. Perhaps you were being humble which is admirable but, while there's no substitute for the hard work that leads to accomplishment, there are some perspectives that should help make your process easier and faster to assimilate.

I'm not sure where your challenges were here exactly. If they were related to the coordination of combining the syncopated quarter-note triplet polyrhythm to the ride cymbal pattern then a pointer for you to consider in moving forward would be the application of a concept I was introduced to many years ago through the teaching of Roy Burns.

It was something he called "one-surface learning" where you could take a coordinated sticking that would be played on two voices of the kit, like Steve's example, and broken down to one surface. From there, just spell out the sticking like you would for a rudiment.

In the case of Steve's example, the combined sticking of the jazz ride rhythm and syncopated quarter-note triplet rhythm would break down to:

 R L -   B - B   R L -  B - B
(1 T L   2 T L   3 T L  4 T L)

(R = Right Hand, L = Left Hand, B = Both Hands in Unison, - = 8th rest)

Steve actually does this on his leg in the DVD before playing it on the drumset but he doesn't emphasize the sticking - which is the key to making the one surface learning concept work effectively:  You get the sticking down in a very simple fashion and then break it up on the drums to produce a polyphonic sound and add the nuances for the proper feel from there.

If you're not hip to that, check it out - it can really streamline the learning process!

For further development of the idea, check out pg. 100 of my book, Mastering the Tables of Time (which I know you have a copy of ;) ). You can see all of the syncopated and standard triplet subdivisions coordinated in a jazz timekeeping context and see how they are related to their respective duple subdivisions as well.  

Another tip for application of the combination you've learned is to be sure to develop the coordination of those same combined rhythms so that you can play the quarter-note triplet rhythm with your feet both on the BD & HH. This is a bit more advanced but is a staple of any jazz drummer's arsenal.

With this ability you can employ antiphony (call & response) in alternating the rhythm between any two voices and you have the chops to alternate between voices on the drumset and break up the rhythm with an even more polyphonic voicing.

If that seems like a lot of work to achieve then first just try increasing the polyphonic voicing with the sticking combination you've mastered. When you're playing that syncopated quarter-note triplet rhythm with your left hand along with the jazz ride cymbal beat, break the LH rhythm up around your drumset.

You can create even deeper polyrhythmic illusions just by using a simple two-voice motive alternating between your snare drum (or cross-stick) and a mounted tom (something the great Ed Blackwell used a lot with the same type of combination). It really serves to enhance the African roots of the cross-rhythms and simulates a tribal sound suggesting more than one drummer playing.

Art Blakey had a favorite combination for this as well that went: cross-stick, rack tom, cross-stick, floor tom. If you apply that four-note voicing to the tripet rhythm combined with your jazz ride, four-on-the-floor with your BD, and 2 & 4 on your HH, you'll be in a syncopated polyrhythmic, polyphonic gumbo of swinging 4-Way coordination that will blow your mind, believe me!

Doing a lot of listening as well will not only inspire you but also give you direction for application of this concept to the music you are playing as well.

Some of the more traditional African rhythm-influenced jazz drummers chronologically are: Art Blakey, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Ed Blackwell, Jack DeJohnette, Idris Muhhamad, Al Foster & Billy Martin. The are many more but that will get you in the ballpark at the top of the heap right out out of the gate.

Soak it all in. Before long you'll find that things that once seemed out of reach will come to you easier and faster than ever before. Enjoy!

"You are only in competition with yourself" ~ Max Roach

Offline Larry Rankine

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Re: Progress!!!
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 01:04 PM »
Thank you so much for continuing to provide me (and the rest of the Cafe) this type of feedback, guidance and encouragement!  You hit the nail on the head with your assessment of where my challenge was with this.  Taking the pattern from my knees (like SS demonstrated) to the kit was causing me fits.  I could get my feet and either hand going fine.  But getting my two hands working together, each on a different time signature, just seemed like it would never happen.  It was something I kept coming back to sporadically but never "committed" to conquering.  At a recent lesson I had with my local teacher he suggested we start working on the swing/jazz genre as all my previous experience (decades ago as a teenager) was almost strictly in the 4/4 world of a "garage" rock band (it wasn't until I got back into drumming this past year that I even heard the term "polyrhythm" let alone understood what it meant).  This prompted me to focus on/commit to conquering this particular "drumming demon" of mine. 

The concept of "one-surface learning" was a revelation to me and I can certainly see how that will be extremely helpful going forward as I continue my journey.  Thanks again for all you do!

All The Best,

TAMA Starclassic Bubinga and Bubinga/Birch teamed up with Zildjian!!.......and now Sabian too!

Better than this?!?!


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