A few months ago I was lucky enough to have a lesson with the great Ernesto Simpson. Ernesto has mastered the intricacies of odd number groupings and manages to insert them effortlessly into his playing so, rather than sounding like technical trickery, they become another facet to his melodicism. Not an easy task! In the short time we had together he showed me some simple 5 and 7 note stickings played as triplets. The exercise below is based around a 5 note RL RLL sticking played over triplets. Play four bars of time, followed by exercise 1. Repeat for all 6 exercises. In the video below I play through the exercises, followed by an improvisation at 200bpm based around the RL RLL sticking. This one’s tricky so remember to start slow!
Delve into the playing of Latin and Afro-Cuban drummers and you’ll find a huge resource of material for improving your co-ordination and polyrhythms. I regularly use this vocabulary in Jazz but, even if you never find a use for this material on a gig, it will still prove amazingly useful as a practice tool. These rhythms are simply the best way to develop your multi-limb coordination.
Below is a transcription from an Antonio Sanchez LP YouTube video. I decided to transcribe it after hearing the Afro-Cuban style groove mid-way through (from around 4:09). It has an infectious lilt that I thought would sound great as an Elvin Jones style outro vamp groove. The B section is a demostration of using the 2/3 Rhumba Clave on a left-foot cowbell. This will certainly test your co-ordination and, although you may never use it on a gig, will certainly help to develop your 4 limb independence.
Below are 22 bars of pure melodic phrasing, surely the ultimate aim for any soloist. In the video below, Sanchez demonstrates the power of the drum ‘hook’ – a phrase chosen for its melodic and compositional appeal rather than for any technical reasons. The solo is from a Chick Corea Trio live video on YouTube. Antonio is trading choruses with Chick so will be using Chick’s solo as inspiration for his own.
I was turned onto this video by the prolific Justin Varnes who posted a video lesson on it recently. Varnes focuses on the phrasing mid-way through the first chorus which use a right hand leading/left hand filling in the gaps method ala Alan Dawson. The second chorus makes use of some great double handed phrases which are so melodic you can sing along to them; a compliment any drummer should be proud of!
The first solo starts at :40
Having spent much of the last few months on tour, practice time behind a kit has been rare and short. When I have had access to a kit I’ve been keen to work on exercises that will help improve multiple areas of my drumming at once. Here’s an exercise for full kit based on a paradiddle lesson from last August.
By moving the accents to cymbals and kick you’ll be improving your co-ordination and independence as well as working on your flams, paraddidles and general movement. All on one page!
Using the system from part 1 of this series, we’re going to continue working on our movement around the drum set, this time focusing on triplets.
Play 4 bars of time followed by exercise 1 from the page below. The exercise should be read as rolling single-stroke 8th note triplets. Now continue like this for the remaining exercises and remember, when you see an arrow, delay the movement to the next drum by one 8th note triplet. These exercises will help build your muscle memory for improved movement around the set.
In the video I play the exercises at three tempos: 200bpm, 220bpm & 250bpm.
For the 4 bars of time I’m playing a latin songo style pattern: