Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Kenny Washington Inverted Roll

Here's a quick little phrase that I've been playing for years, but for some reason never thought to share with you wonderful people.  It's an idea I got from Kenny Washington that is built on an inverted roll.

An inverted roll is simply a roll in which the first note of each double stroke is on the "&", rather than the downbeat.  So, instead of: RRLL RRLL....  you'd play RLLR RLLR

Kenny, however, leaves off that single note on the downbeat and simply starts straight in with the double strokes on the & of 1, which gives the whole thing a nice kick.  It's worth trying it in different parts of the bar, as well as different parts of the phrase, though it works particularly well on the & of 1, and the & of 2.

I'm toying with the idea of tying the blog into YouTube a little bit more, so there is a video down below demonstrating this idea.



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

3, 5, 7 Applied to Triplet Systems for Syncopation

That sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but we are simply combining two different ideas we've previously looked at on this blog.

A few years ago we explored a concept implying 3/8, 5/8 and 7/8 over 4/4 to play longer, more fluid phrases that extend over the barline.  At the time we were using this idea in the context of comping.  If you haven't yet read that post, you can check it out here.  Today we're going to take that same concept and apply it to our soloing practice.  

Here, again, are the various phrases written out.  We're now going to use them with the triplet systems from the previous post, which you can check out here.  Apply all four systems from the last post to each of the examples below.  As I mentioned the first time around, resist the urge to actually count in 3, 5, or 7.  We are just using these numbers as a means to create new ideas in 4/4.


Another interpretation that we looked at last time is to add a "skip" note.  In each grouping of 3 play the first two notes instead of just the first note.  Again, try all four systems from the previous post with these ideas.


As this is a soloing concept a great place to start is by trading fours with yourself.  Each of the examples above natural resolve after an odd number of bars, so create multiple different phrases by starting on different bars and repeating back to the top.  For example:

In the 3 note grouping play measures:
  • 1, 2, 3, 1
  • 2, 3, 1, 2
  • 3, 1, 2, 3

In the 5 note grouping play measures:
  • 1, 2, 3, 4
  • 2, 3, 4, 5
  • 3, 4, 5, 1
  • 4, 5, 1, 2
  • 5, 1, 2, 3
In the 7 note grouping play measures:
  • 1, 2, 3, 4
  • 2, 3, 4, 5
  • 3, 4, 5, 6
  • 4, 5, 6, 7
  • 5, 6, 7, 1
  • 6, 7, 1, 2
  • 7, 1, 2, 3

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Triplet Systems for Syncopation

Let's look at a few classic interpretations of Ted Reed's Syncopation.  These are great on the pad as a general stick control method, and once you orchestrate them on the kit they are great for developing soloing ideas.

Most people head straight to page 37 or 38 (depending on the version of the book you have), which works perfectly fine.  It offers plenty of variety and is great for developing sight reading skills.  However, when these concepts are new to a student, I prefer to start them on page 33 or 34 (again, depending on your version) as each line is contains only a one bar rhythm that is repeated four times.

Here I've just grabbed a few examples at random for the purpose of demonstration, but you should try it from page 33 all the way through to "Exercise 8" on page 45.

For each system we're going to play triplets, and read the rhythms on the page as accents.  Notes on the downbeats are obviously accented on the downbeat, and notes on the upbeat are accented on the third partial of the triplet.  You'll never play the second partial of the triplet in any of these examples.

The first system is to simply play with alternating sticking.  Do it off the left as well as the right.



In some of the later examples you'll find three or more unaccented notes following an accent.  In this case it's fun to add in a paradiddle starting on the accent.



Next, we'll play the unaccented parts of the triplet as double strokes (RLL, RRL, LRR, LLR).  Sometimes this will cause the sticking to naturally flip to the opposite hand in each bar and sometimes it will stay on the same hand.  When it stays the same be sure to play it off the other side as well.  If you find a beat of the bar with no accents in it just play alternating sticking, as in the third example below.




Final, we'll go back to alternating sticking, but add rolls on the notes that are not accented.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Transcription - Milton Banana, "Doralice"

A little while back when we looked at the Milton Banana transcription of "Cidade Vazia" I mentioned that some of the jazz influenced Brazilian drummers of the 1960s didn't always follow a specific rhythmic direction, and I hypothesized that part of this may have simply ignorance on their part.  While that could potentially be true for some drummers, it's clearly not the case with Milton Banana.  On the album Getz/Gilberto Banana puts on a clinic on how to properly improvise within the confines of rhythmic direction.  And he's doing it on nothing more than a hi-hat.  We've seen João Gilberto using minimal percussion to great effect before when we looked at Sonny Carr.

If you look at the first and third bar of each line you'll notice that with only two exceptions Banana always starts the phrase with two 8th notes.  In the second and fourth bars of each line there is no instance where he plays a note on the downbeat.  Of course telecoteco goes deeper than just being on the beat one bar, then off the beat the next, but this simply highlights the fact that Banana is staying true to that rhythmic direction.

Also note how subtle Banana is with his improvisation.  He's improvising quite a bit.  On very few occasions does he play the same phrase twice in a row.  But he's never more than a note or two away from a stock telecoteco pattern; an 8th note turned into two 16th notes here, a note omitted there.

The transcription below shows only the accent pattern, but this is filled in with 16th notes through the entire song.  As with the other transcriptions of this style that we've done try orchestrating in different ways around the kit, and with different patterns in your other limbs.  A few ideas to get you started:


  • With brushes, play the transcription with the 16th notes filled in in your right hand, and sweep with your left hand
  • Play 16th notes on the hi-hat and read the transcription on a rim click
  • Play 16th notes on the hi-hat and read the transcription with both hand, sometimes playing a rim click, and sometimes playing an accent on the hi-hat.  This works particularly well when playing the bass drum just on beat two.  We saw Cuca Teixeira do this in one of the first ever posts on this blog
  • Read the transcription on the ride cymbal, and:



Thursday, July 02, 2020

Pandeiro Transcription - Bira Presidente, "Vai Lá, Vai Lá"

The last two pandeiro transcription posts owe a whole lot to the guy in today's transcription, Bira Presidente.  Bira is their pandeiro player, and one of the founding members, of Fundo de Quintal, which is generally considered to be the first pagode group.  

Fundo de Quintal pioneered the use of the tantan and repique de mão in samba, and groups have been modeling themselves on Quintal since the 80s.  Bira's style of pandeiro playing was also incredibly new and unique when Quintal first hit the scene in the late 70s.  Much of the partido alto style of playing pandeiro (which is not the same as the partido alto rhythm that most drumset players learn) can be traced back to Bira, including the last two transcriptions on this blog.  Let's look at a few of the Bira trademarks before moving on to the entire transcription.

This first groove is a Bira trademark.  In today's transcription he plays it as the main material throughout the tune.  There is a second pandeiro on this recording, though, that is playing consistent 16th notes throughout.  In the last two transcriptions the players played 16th notes in the verses, and this Bira groove in the chorus.

It's commonly played like this:





Or with a small variation, like this:






Although we won't see it in today's transcription, I should mention this other groove which can also be played a couple of different ways:









This groove is often called "partido alto" (again, not the same as the partido alto rhythm) and will often serve as an intro to a tune.  It's not uncommon to hear this groove being played in the verses, and Bira's groove above being played in the chorus; or you may hear both of these played at the same time with each pandeiro panned hard to opposite sides of the mix which creates a very cool chatter.

Finally, there are two variations that Bira is credited with that can be dropped in either of the above grooves.  Look for both of these in the transcription below.













Thursday, June 25, 2020

Tony Williams-Style Flam Drags

Calling these "Tony Williams-Style Flam Drags" is potentially a bit unfair.  After all, Tony isn't the first or only person to play flam drags on the kit.  Actually, the ideas below seems to be quite in vogue at the moment. But Tony probably is one of the earlier players to split them around the kit in this fashion.  I have some students digging deep into Tony at the moment, and I've also been working on some transcriptions for a scholarly article being written at the University of Oregon, and have seen these flam drags pop up quite a few times.

Your basic flam drag, if you aren't already familiar, is a three-note phrase.  A flam, followed by a double stroke, and then a tap with alternating sticking, which we can group as triplets, or 8th/16th notes.

Another common way to play flam drags is to keep the rhythm the same, but change the sticking to that of a Swiss Army Triple.  RRL or LLR.  Even though the rhythm is exactly the same, the sticking gives it a different character.  This one, in particular, sits very nicely on the kit and is a lot of fun to play.

And if we change the sticking one more time, as well as the accent pattern, we get another interesting phrase that I've heard Tony do quite a bit.  This one is also quite common in the drum corp scene, and I believe they gave it one of those goofy names, but I don't recall what it is off the top of my head.

As always, these are just the stock versions of this rudiment and it's sticking variations.  Get creative and spend some time voicing it around the kit and in different parts of the bar.


Friday, June 12, 2020

Pandeiro transcription - Paulinho Félix, "Procura-se Um Amor"

As you might have guessed from my recent posting I've been playing a lot of pandeiro lately, specifically nylon pandeiro, which is a beast in it's own right compared to playing hide pandeiro.

This time around we're looking at the playing of Paulinho Félix.  In this tune Paulinho employs a lot of material pioneered by pandeiro legend Bira Presidente, who we'll look at in the next post.  However, he's taken Bira's language and expanded/modernized it which, again, we'll chat about soon.

If you followed along with the last pandeiro post, you should notice a lot of similarities in the shape of the tune: constant 16th notes in the verses, broken partido alto style playing in the choruses, hemiola used to create tension, and the almost obligatory triplet phrase.

Thiago Viégas, however, kept things a little bit tamer for the sake of demonstration where as Félix gets a little busier.  There's some fun stuff in here and the tempo is a little brighter, so it should be a little bit more of a workout if you're playing along at home.





Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Mel Lewis Latin Groove

Here is a latin groove I've heard Mel Lewis play a few times.  This is very much a jazz-latin groove as it doesn't really stick to deep rooted practices of any particular rhythmic tradition.  And that's OK.  I love to nerd out on said rules and find one what makes various types of music tick, but that doesn't mean grooves like the one below are any less valid.  If anything, it's more true to the jazz tradition.  Jazz has always been a music of fusions; melding elements from various cultures to create something new.

Here Mel is playing your standard ride cymbal and hi-hat pattern with straight 8th notes.  The rim and tom voicings remind of an agogo pattern that you'd hear in old Brazilian recordings of singers like Carmen Miranda.  Whatever it is, or isn't, it's a cool and versatile groove worth checking out.