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I love Gary Chaffee's drum books and use them from time to time to challenge myself and introduce new concepts and ideas. Not long ago, I came across a page in one of his books where he was talking about moving a rhythm "ahead" in a measure. There was an entire page of paradiddles written out, along with the corresponding 5 note pattern that moved the paradiddles "forward." As the exercise was written out to primarily illustrate the concept of moving a pattern forward, I found it easier to not focus on the actual exercise and instead think about the underlying concept and pattern involved. That pattern is this:
R L R R L R L L R L R R L R R L L
This is a 17 beat (!) phrase comprised of 3 paradiddles, followed by an inverted 5 stroke roll.
First, practice this pattern without a metronome and be sure to accent the first note of each group. As you get comfortable with the pattern, turn on your metronome to play a measure of 4/4 and be sure that there is an audible bell sound on beat 1 of each measure. If you don't have a metronome to do this with, you can easily create a drum loop to play with using Garageband or some other program. As you play this, the pattern will shift forward through the measure so that the beginning of each group will begin on the following beats:
1st time through - accents will fall on the down beats: beats 1 2 3 4
2nd time through - accents will fall on the "e" beats: beats 1e 2e 3e 4e
3rd time through - accents will fall on the "+" beats: beats 1+ 2+ 3+ 4+
4th time through - accents will fall on the "uh" beats : beats 1uh 2 uh 3uh 4uh
Now, in order to make the pattern resolve in 4 bars, you'll need to "jump" back to one at some point, and where I usually will do this is in the 4th time through, on the 2nd beat of the last group (LRRLL). It's on that 2nd beat where the "real" one (the bell on the metronome) is. So knowing that, you can prepare yourself on the 4th time through to resolve the pattern on that beat.
This is a fun exercise to challenge your sense of time keeping with, and to also try on the drumset (place your R on the cymbal and your L on the snare drum - additionally with each R be sure to play a kick drum).
I will be posting a video soon showing how to apply this to the snare drum and drumset. But for now, try out the pattern, get used to playing it with a steady tempo and let me know how it goes!
One of my favorite patterns to play on the drumset is the group of 3 notes I choose to call "The Ug-Guh-Duhs! I've also referred to them as "The Gadd Triplets," as they seem to be a pattern that he uses in many of his solos. But he's not the only one you'll hear play these - these can be traced all the way back to Elvin Jones and probably earlier than that.
I prefer to call them Ug-Guh-Duhs, because that's how they sound to me once you've applied them to the toms. You can count them as triplets, but because they also work great in a 16th note context I came up with another way to "count" them. Also, saying "Ug-Guh-Duh" out loud as you play, can really help you get the articulation down.
Some of my favorite uses are at the end of a song when you have a "trash can" ending - when the drummer is supposed to make a ton of noise. And I've also used them when I solo, inspired in part of my memories back in college of hearing Gary Novak use them when he soloed with the Maynard Ferguson band (I'm dating myself here). But a part from that, these make great coordination exercises and can really help build your foot and hand technique.
There are several variations and combinations of these, but today I'll introduce you to three of the ones I use. I prefer to put the kick drum at the end of the pattern, but you can also put it at the beginning or in the middle. The first pattern to become comfortable with is:
1. R L K R L K (repeat) Play your hands first on the snare at a slow tempo to get the combination down. Once you feel comfortable with the pattern, move your hands to the toms and cymbals and see what sound variations you can come up with.
The next step is to do the pattern starting with your Left Hand so that you end up with this combination:
2. L R K L R K (repeat) With this variation, practice it the same as you did the first one, starting slow on the snare and then moving your hands from the snare to the toms and cymbals.
Finally, this combination starts to really get fun when you combine the two sticking patterns above into this:
3. R L K L R K (repeat) This is a really difficult pattern to get used to, but sounds pretty amazing once you get it up to speed. One of the variations on this that I like to use is to put the kick drum in the middle of the 3 note group so that you end up with: R K R L K L R K R L K L
Typically you can think of these in a triplet pattern, but try these in a 16th note pattern and see how it goes. Just remember to keep each note steady and equal in relation (timing) with the other ones.
Today we’ll apply this same idea to groups of 3 and 4 notes.
Again the goal for these exercises is for them to help you develop your singles and doubles in a variety of combinations. My hope is that you’ll find these helpful as you continue to develop your technique on the snare drum and drum set.
Starting off we begin with RRR followed by LLL. Be sure to accent the first note of the group and to let the following notes bounce, so that all three notes happen with one wrist motion.
Next add your left hand between each R to stopping on the last right, to create a single stroke 5. By stopping on the last R, we are able to then begin with our L and doing the same - we add our right hand in between each L stopping on the last left, to create a single stroke 5 starting with our left hand.
And finally, we’ll now double each individual note (except for the last one) to create a 9 stroke roll starting with our R and then with our L.
It’s much easier to show you this via video and print (or in person!) so hopefully the accompanying image and videos below will help to make this idea more clear.
Starting off we begin with RRRR followed by LLLL. Be sure to accent the first note of the group and to let the following notes bounce, so that all four notes happen with one wrist motion.
Next add your left hand between each R to stopping on the last right, to create a single stroke 7. By stopping on the last R, we are able to then begin with our L and doing the same - we add our right hand inbetween each L stopping on the last left, to create a single stroke 7 starting with our left hand.
And finally, we’ll now double each individual note (except for the last one) to create a 13 stroke roll starting with our R and then with our L.
And though it might be useful to know that we are “creating” rudiments with these exercises, I prefer not to get hung up on what rudiment I’m doing and rather focus on the group of notes that I’m playing. So as you play, think about the groups - is it a combination of 3 notes, or 4 note? I find that by thinking in groups of 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s, I find that these exercises find their way into my playing more often than when I’m thinking of them only as specific rudiments.
A note about my term: “Functional Drumming” My approach to this series is to strip drumming technique down to the bare essentials, and build up from there. And so without having to know rudiments, or studying from a prescribed book (that will come later!), one can naturally discover simple combinations and patterns that will help develop basic technique with a natural logical flow.
With this next installment, I’m beginning a multi step warm-up exercise that will hopefully follow a logical progression with the intent to develop better articulation and speed when playing single and double strokes. As you play these, remember to use proper technique and stay relaxed w/ minimal tension (ideally none at all!) in your hands and arms.
Step 1: Ones (or “Singles”)
- First we begin with alternating our hands in a single stroke pattern - RLRLRLRLRL etc...
- Next we do a double stroke on just the right hand - so that the pattern becomes two 16ths (right hand) followed by an 8th single stroke (left hand).
- The final step is to begin with an 8th single stroke (right hand) followed by two 16ths in the left hand.
Step 2: Twos (or “Doubles”)
- First begin by playing two notes in each hand: RRLLRRLL etc…
- Next, add a single stroke between the doubles so that you end up with two 16th notes followed by an 8th. The sticking will be RLR and then LRL.
- Now let’s double each of the single strokes, so that you end up with four 32nd notes followed by an 8th. The sticking will be RRLLR and then LLRRL.
- Finally, we can use the same rhythm and substitute a different sticking pattern, let’s try: RLRRL and then LRLLR. Variations on this could be made by moving each sticking over by one note w/ the follow possibilities:
- LRRLR and then RLLRL
- RRLRL and then LLRLR
- RLRLR and then LRLRL
- LRLRR and then RLRLL
Of course further variations could be made by substituting a kick drum or hi-hat foot for one of the notes. But for the purposes of this exercise, let’s not worry about the variations for now, and just focus on the initial 3 steps outlined above. Below are some videos explaining the exercises above:
Lately with myself and my students, I've been using Tommy Igoe's Great Hands for a Lifetime warmup routine. It's challenging and fun, and it's nice to know I'm reinforcing my rudimental playing while doing the warmup. When using the audio tracks, it takes a while to make it through the entire warmup, but when I'm playing gigs I often don't have time to do the entire warmup. For those instances I tend to do my own sort of hybrid warmup mixing up various sections of "Stick Control" and assorted paradiddle combinations.
The other day I came across this guys's website and and found a video of him warming up before a show, and thought this could be super useful for when I don't have time to do the full Lifetime routine.
This video inspired me to try the paradiddle part of the warmup with some of my students. However I soon realized that not all of my students are ready for the difficulty of playing paradiddles with accents. So, I decided to take the concept and apply it to singles and doubles and then eventually paradiddles. Here is what I came up with:
There are also some great warmup exercises at PDX Drummer.
I hope you find these resources useful! Happy practicing!
Here is a worksheet you can use to develop steady 8th and 16th notes around the drums. I've structured the page so that you begin by warming each hand individually playing 8th notes (aka "8 on a Hand") and then you add your opposite hand for single stroke 16ths (ala "Chicken and a Roll").
Once you are able to play this rhythm with a steady beat on the snare drum, it's time to move the pattern around the set. First we do this with our "skeleton" 8th note rhythm, and then later add the 16ths like we did before on the snare.
Finally we put the exercises in the context of a drum beat that we play for 3 measures and on the 4th measure we play our "fill" - either the 8th note skeleton or the 16th note pattern. For your main drum beat, I suggest using drum beats from a book like Rod Morganstein's The Drumset Musician or Joel Rothman's Basic Rock Beats.
Suggested tempo is 60 - 80 bpm and focus on getting a nice and relaxed rebound stroke as you play these exercises.
Later tonight (Friday Sept 6th), I'm playing a show with Brett Harris at the Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh. In our rehearsals prepping for the show, I came up with this idea for a fun exercise.
The song "Unbroken" features a basic "train" beat throughout most of the song, and I thought it would be fun to try using different stickings to play this beat. What if we took a paradiddle and started it on the "and" of the beat (where the accent of the train beat is played normally)? Here is what it would look like:
This final exercise is one that began when I heard a student of mine play what she thought was a double stroke roll. She really enjoys playing this pattern, and even though it's not a double stroke roll, it is still useful in helping us with our double strokes.
This exercise works by isolating each hand but does so in a way that is different than the first exercise in this series. And because it works only just one "side" of the doubles, this exercise could've been the second one in the series, but I chose to put it at the end due to it's use of 16th note triplets. This rhythm can be tricky for beginning students to play and read too. Be sure to take it slow, and when you get to the triplets, you can say "evenly" or "trip-o-let" as you play the rhythm to help you with the timing.
As in our second exercise, the first measure has you play the "skeleton" of what you'll be playing in the second measure. Be sure to spend more time practicing your weak hand (for most of us that is our left hand), and though it will be frustrating, you'll find your technique WILL improve as you focus your attention there.
When playing the second measure, the two doubles followed by the one single note should sound like: "digga-duh digga-duh digga-duh digga-duh". Both doubles should sound clear and articulated.
For a PDF of this exercise, click here: Building Better Double Strokes part three
Today's exercise begins by having you play the "skeleton" 8th notes of your double stroke roll in the first measure. Be sure to pay attention to what your hands and wrists are doing in this measure. Stay relaxed, use your wrists and try to keep the same hand and wrist motion going as you play the second measure.
The double strokes in the second measure should be played evenly, with no accents and sound like "digga digga digga digga". Remember to keep a steady beat as you are playing and pay attention so that you don't slow down as you begin your double strokes.
For a PDF of this exercise, click here: Building Better Double Strokes (part 2 of 3)
With my beginning students we've been talking about how to strengthen and improve our double strokes, so that they are more articulated and "clean".
Often times the second note of the double is weaker than the first, the left hand has a harder time keeping up with the right hand as tempos get faster, and our arms and wrists tend to tighten up as we play.
To aid our playing in that regard, I wrote down some simple Double Stoke exercises that we can use daily in our practicing. I've split these exercises up over three days and so today, I present to you part one. When playing the doubles, keep in mind:
- Double Strokes should sound like "digga" w/ both strokes equally strong
- For beginners: at slower tempos be sure to use your wrists and try for a full range of motion
- Remember: stay relaxed, loose and have fun!
As far as tempo goes - start slow so that you can be aware of what you are doing. Analyze your playing and work to eliminate any points of stress or tightness. The goal is to stay relatively relaxed and loose.
Get the PDF here: Building Better Double Strokes part one
These exercises are intended to help you play beats that utilize ghost notes. The first exercise doesn't include a back beat pattern (no snare on two and four). The rest of the exercises have a back beat (on two and four) that should be accented (using a full stroke or rim shot). All of the ghost notes should be played softly (with tap strokes). There are other variations I could have included (half-time and double ghost notes), but I thought this would be a good place to begin. Also note that there are no kick drum rhythms written out. The reason for this is to provide you with the flexibility to use rhythms from books such as Ted Reed's Syncopation, Gary Chester's New Breed, (or your own rhythms) for the kick patterns.
For the PDF, click here click here
Continuing with my Halloween theme, here are two of my favorite ghost note drum beats: The FUNkey Monkey Beat, and the Paradiddle Beat (w/ Ghost Notes). It's important that you accent beat 2 and 4 on the snare (using full strokes, or rim shots), and that you play the ghost notes softly (using tap strokes). I hope you enjoy learning these beats and let me know if you have any questions!
For the PDF - click on this link.