Mastering odd number phrases can give your playing the kind of originality and unpredictability that will set you apart from the rest. Below is an 11 note phrase that’s definitely for the more advanced players out there. The phrase can be played as triplets (for slower tempos) or 8th notes (for faster tempos). It took me a number of practice sessions to get comfortable with these 11 note groupings and I found playing the left foot hi-hat on 2 & 4 helped me keep my place in the bar. The phrase begins with a 6 stroke roll, followed by a 5 note phrase of RLL KK. So:
Try playing the phrase continuously and remember to keep the left foot hi-hat on 2 & 4. Start very slowly, as an 11 note phrase will throw up lots of unusual accents. 4 bars of 8th note triplets consists of 48 notes. Our 11 note phrase will fit into these 4 bars 4 times (44), so we’ll need to add 4 extra notes on the end – RLLK. The whole thing will look like this:
Below are 5 different orchestrations of this sticking followed by the same phrases, but using a swung 8th note sub-division. Play 4 bars of time followed by exercise 1 then do the same for all 10 exercises. Good luck!
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.
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).
For musicians nowadays, the internet has become an indispensable educational tool and the opportunity to see as well as hear so many great players can provide plenty of inspiration for study. On a recent journey into the depths of YouTube I was drawn to the playing of the great Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts and especially his performances with Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis & Kenny Garrett. Playing in videos such as the one below sees Watts in characteristically adventurous mood:
Below is a phrase that, although not a direct transcription of his playing, I think captures a characteristic of the ‘Tain’ phrasing. It’s a variation of the triplet paradiddle-diddle played as a 3 beat phrase with rolling triplets that move over the bar line.
- Firstly, work through the phrase slowly, until it feels comfortable in your hands. Try and ‘ghost’ the snare and kick, with the the ride cymbal as the most prominent voice.
- Next, play the phrase as a 4 bar loop between the ride cymbal and snare drum and repeat.
- Now work through the different orchestrations of the phrase: Numbers 1 through 5.