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:
Here’s another Mastering the Triplet video lesson. This time we’re using Ted Reed’s Syncopation as material to develop our triplet vocabulary. By dividing up the accents into long notes & short notes (explained below) we can open up a whole host of interesting rhythmic and orchestral possibilities. Below are the first 4 lines of page 38 of Syncopation (if you feel this exercise is useful in any way, please go out and buy the book).
- Firstly, reading syncopation as swung, we can play rolling hand-to-hand triplets with the syncopation phrase as accents. (0:47 in the video)
- We want to divide the syncopation phrases into ‘long‘ notes and ‘short‘ notes. Long notes are quarter notes or longer (including ties across the bar). Short notes are all of the eight note accents. (1:13 in the video)
- To orchestrate the phrase we move the right hand long notes onto the ride (with an added kick drum underneath). Keep all of the other notes on the snare (2:15 in the video).
- Now ‘trade 4′s’ with yourself. Play 4 bars of time, followed by 4 bars of rolling triplets with this new orchestration.
- Try your own orchestrations using this method including moving the same right hand long notes accents to the toms.
I’ve had a request in the comments from Ron Chords to write out the beginning of the phrase, so here are the first four bars from page 38 as rolling triplets (from 1:01 in the video).
Improving Movement Around the Drum Set
As Wimbledon mania reaches its annual climax i’ve been struck by the athletic mastery on display from Murray, Del Potro et al. In order to reach the dizzying levels of flexibility and athleticism required, they’ve had to condition their bodies to best accommodate the technique necessary for success.
As drummers, we find ourselves in a similar position. Although not required to reach the same levels of fitness as professional athletes, we still have to be aware of the natural hurdles our bodies will present us when trying to improve our craft. Understanding the ergonomics of playing the instrument, and utilising the most efficient way to get from A to B, is something all drummers should consider if they want to achieve great technique.
One of the biggest hurdles for me was finding a way to move freely around the kit with single stroke rolls. I often found my own body was hindering my ability to move freely around the kit and I could never achieve the same level of speed or fluidty as when playing on the snare drum or practice pad. I, therefore, started developing exercises that would help improve this, much the same as an athlete might work on a routine to improve their acceleration or reach.
Here’s one that has helped me a lot. Start with this phrase:
As shorthand we can also write it like this:
It’s much harder to move from right-to-left around the kit as our hands will overlap. To overcome this I stay on the previous drum for one more 16th note before changing. The arrow signifies the extra note:
Or in short hand:
Now try working through the exercises below:
Here’s a video of my attempt:
As part of an ongoing mission to develop my playing in 5/4, i’ve found a handy tip is to divide the bar into 2 parts; one consisting of 3 beats and the other of 2. Counting the bar aloud as two separate meters – either 1,2,3,1,2 or 1,2,1,2,3 can give you access to your normal 3/4 and 4/4 vocabulary even when you’re technically playing in odd time. Because 5/4 really only has two ways of being divided, it’s important to try and get comfortable in both configurations. Last week’s Stick Control exercise contained a foot ostinato using the 3-2 bar division. Here’s the same exercise with the feet playing a 2-3 division. Count 1,2,1,2,3 along while you’re playing. Next time in this ongoing series of 5/4 exercises we’ll start working through some jazz ostinatos divided into both 3-2 and 2-3 divisions.
Here’s an exercise that’s been part of my practice regime for the last year or so. I came up with this after misreading a singles exercise in The Drummer’s Complete Vocabulary. You play exercise 1, on page 5 of G.L. Stone‘s Stick Control followed by 2 bars of 16th note hand-to-hand singles. Now repeat the process starting with exercise 2. Play the whole of page 1 start to finish this way. Start at around 180bpm and gradually build the speed up to 230bpm or higher. I’ve also added a Tumbao pattern for the feet.
Over the weeks and months you should start to see real improvement in the speed and control of your singles. Next time we’ll explore how we can use a variation on this exercise to help develop our co-ordination in 5/4. Below is the first column of page 5 with the single strokes added to each line.