Apologies for the lack of posts of late. A bout of sinusitis immediately followed by the flu put me out of action for a couple of weeks, but I’m back in the game now and have plenty of new ideas to share with you all. Today we’re working on a classic Alan Dawson right hand lead technique. I was reminded of this useful approach by the excellent Justin Varnes who spotted Antonio Sanchez using it in a live video. The basic premise is that you play 8th note phrases with your right hand, and fill in the triplets with your left hand.
Each of the exercises below have a recognisable tune so try and keep this in mind as you play. Play 4 bars of time followed by exercise 1. Repeat for all 10 exercises as in the video below:
Exercises 8,9 & 10 use a technique known as rhythmic transposition which is when a phrase is stretched or squashed in order to make the time sound like it is being slowed down or sped up. Keeping in mind an emphasis on melody, sing your own simple phrases, then apply them using the right hand lead technique.
Here are three more examples of converting page 38 of Stick Control into 5/4. We can then apply Alan Dawson’s 8 triplet ways to the new phrase.
Today we move onto an exercise that I consider THE quintessential method for any aspiring jazz drummer: Alan Dawson’s 8 triplet ways. After spending many fruitful months on this method I was keen to adapt it into 5/4 with the aim of further expanding my odd time playing. I should firstly say that it’s essential to work through Dawson’s original method fully (along with page 38 of Ted Reed’s Syncopation) before moving on, so I urge you to buy his book and get started. Once you’re comfortable with the original, we can use a simple set of rules to convert each bar of page 38 into 5/4:
If there’s a long note on beat 4, add a short note on the & of beat 5
If there’s a short note on the & of 4, add a long note on beat 5
If there’s a rest on beat 4, add two short notes on beat 5 and the & of beat 5
Here are the original bars 1 – 4:
And here’s how they look in 5/4:
Now try applying the 8 triplet ways to this 4 bar phrase. There’s some tricky 4 limb coordination required once you start adding a 5/4 swing pattern (from triplet way 4 onwards) but this is all extremely worthwhile vocabulary that will come in handy next time someone calls a tune in 5 on the gig.
Once you’re comfortable with bars 1-4, do the same for the rest of Pages 38-39.
Here’s an exercise inspired by Andrew Hare from the The Melodic Drummer blog (or perhaps Todd Bishop). By adapting the Alan Dawson esq. Single Stroke Roll Exercise from last week into 5/4 we can simultaneously develop our odd time playing whilst building the speed of our singles. Hare/Bishop’s concept was to add an extra beat (played RL or LR) onto bar 1, page 5 of Stick Control. Play this new 5/4 bar twice followed by fast 16th note singles as in last week’s exercise. Repeat with each exercise of page 5. Just to make things a little more complicated (and co-ordinated) i’ve added an ostinato with the feet. This is a highly portable exercise as the tricky co-ordination required can be practiced with hands on thighs (a method that’s been particularly useful on my current 5 week tour).