Continuing with the theme of odd time vocabulary development, here’s an exercise designed to help you get more comfortable in 7/4. It’s based on a John Riley comping exercise from his ‘Art of Bop Drumming’ book. Make sure the pattern at the top of the page swings comfortably before attempting the comping phrases.
- First, play the 8th note phrases on the snare. Then try moving the phrases on to the kick & left foot hi-hat.
- Next, play the phrase on the kick drum with continuous swung 8th notes ‘filling in the gaps’ on the snare.
- Now move on to the 8th note triplet phrases. As before, keep the right hand ride pattern swinging with the comping phrases in support of the ‘dominant’ ride pattern.
Justin Brown – Odd-Time Master
After listening Ambrose Akinmusire over the last few weeks, I’ve been inspired to continue developing my odd-time playing. Having posted numerous 5/4 exercises, I now want to start concentrating on 7/4.
Below is the triplet warm-up exercise from John Riley’s Beyond Bop Drumming book adapted into 7/4.
Using the 7/4 swing pattern at the top of the page, play the comping phrases underneath at a mezzo piano dynamic. Make sure to keep the right hand swinging.
As with other odd-time signatures, it’s helpful to divide bars of 7/4 into smaller chunks. A common division of 7/4 is the 4-3 division (counted as one bar of 4, one bar of 3). The swing pattern at the top of the page can be counted easily as a 4-3 division.
Here are more exercises to help you develop your 5/4 swing vocabulary. Apply the same process as the first instalment with the 5/4 phrases acting as comping material over a 5/4 swing pattern:
We can also take this further and start ‘filling in the gaps’ using the 8th note comping phrases:
- Play the phrase on the kick drum and ‘fill in’ the 8th notes on the snare drum. Bars 1-2 will look like this:
- Play the phrase on the left foot hi-hat and ‘fill in’ the 8th notes on the snare drum. Like this:
- Next, play the ‘short’ 8th notes from the phrase on the left foot hi-hat. Play the ‘long’ 1/4 notes on the kick. Bars 1-2:
Now apply these three methods for all 16 bars of the 8th note comping phrases.
Here’s a surprisingly tricky exercise to help you develop your independence in 5/4. It’s based on the very first exercise from John Riley’s ‘The Art of Bop Drumming’ book – essential reading for any drummer. I’ve adapted John’s original 4 beat phrases into 5′s.
John hosted the first drum clinic i ever attended, in Bath, back in 2003, and I was immediately attracted to his methodical style of tutoring. The methods from his three books and DVD have remained stalwarts of my practice regime ever since.
Start with the 5/4 swing pattern at the top of the page. Now play the two bar snare comping phrases underneath. Keep the left hand pattern soft and make sure it swings. After you’ve completed all 8 exercises, move the comping phrases to the kick, then afterwards the left foot hi-hat.
After you’ve mastered the 8th note comping phrases, start working through the triplet phrases below. These will be busier so start slowly and make sure you keep it swinging.