Monday, June 25, 2018

How to shift/displace the metronome

YouTube and other drumming blogs are awash with posts recommending that we try to displace the metronome - i.e. make the click feel as though it is on a part of the beat other than the downbeat - as a way of strengthening our awareness of musical time.  I’m totally for this idea, but the one thing usually left out of these posts is exactly how one goes about doing that.

To feel the metronome on the downbeat is quite natural.  Most people, musician or otherwise, can feel a beat and tap their foot along with it.  Even feeling the metronome on the upbeats isn’t too terribly difficult for most.  I’ve been able to have pretty young students feel the metronome as “&” simply by having them click their sticks or clap their hands on what they initially feel as the upbeat and then start counting “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR” out loud on those beats.  But from there things get significantly more difficult.  Even when I was already a somewhat decent player, probably in music college sometime, I tried this idea by attempting to feel the metronome as “e”, and found it difficult at first.  I had to teach myself how to feel the metronome there.

If you’re simply struggling to get started but can then keep your ear tuned in on the metronome as “e”, the easiest approach is to simply listen to a few clicks of the metronome to find the tempo, turn the metronome off, start counting “one, e, &, a….” at that tempo and then hit start on the “e”.  Chances are your ears will grab it right away.

But if this concept is completely new to you it may be significantly more difficult to get going.  If you find yourself in this boat, give this a try:

1. Turn your metronome on at a reasonably slow tempo, maybe in the 60 bpm range, and simply feel it wherever you naturally feel it, which will probably be the downbeat.  In these examples the arrow will represent the metronome clicks.

2.  Start playing steady 16th notes with no articulation.  Start with your weaker hand which is more likely to play on the “e” under normal circumstances.

3.  Next, start counting out loud starting on “e”:  “e, &, a, 1, e, &, a, 1”.  Even if your mind's ear is still feeling it is “1, e, &, a” that’s OK.  Just keep pressing on with “e, &, a, 1”

4.  Now, play accents with the metronome click while still counting “e, &, a 1” out loud.  Again, this should be your weak hand.

5.  Then, accent the note where you are saying “One”.

6.  This is where the mental switch happens for many people.  So, hopefully by this point you are now feeling it like this:

...which is identical to the previous example, but hopefully your mind’s ear has flipped it over so that the metronome now feels like “e” instead of you just saying it.

7.  If this concept is new to you it might be difficult to continue playing accents on “1” with the metronome on “e”.  If this is the case play it for one bar and then switch to accents on “e” for a bar which is a little bit easier to stick with.

This, of course, is only the beginning; a way to get started.  Some other suggestions to try with the metronome on "e", or any other less common placement of the metronome:

*play the accents on each of the various 16th notes with the metronome still on "e".
*different 16th note stickings (i.e. the first page of Stick Control), and various accent patterns (i.e. Accents and Rebounds)
*different rhythms utilizing quarter, 8th, 16th, 32nd notes
*reading snare solos
*playing drum set grooves

If you'd like all of the examples above on a single sheet, please e-mail me for a PDF.

Friday, June 08, 2018

A rare Friday Weekly Wisdom for/from Anthony Bourdain

Celebrity culture is such a funny thing.  It's strange that people who we've never met can have such an impact on our lives.  But they can, and they do.  I've written before about musicians we've lost who have had an impact on me.  Anthony Bourdain, though not a musician (that I know of), has had a similar impact on me.

I discovered Bourdain sometime around 2008 when I really started traveling a lot, and he quickly became my go to guy.  His show got me excited for trips, gave me ideas for where I was going, and the inspiration to visit other places.  I remember reading some of his books, both fiction and non-fiction, and watching episodes of his shows while on said travels, and I've had some truly wonderful meals and memorable days out based on his recommendations.  Pretty much any time I go somewhere new I tend to Google "Anthony Bourdain (insert city here)"

One Bourdain quote sticks out to me clear as day.  I remember watching the episode and hearing this epilogue as the credits rolled and relating to it so much.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” 

Anthony Bourdain was one of those guys I had always hoped to sit down and have a beer with.  I hope that whatever it was that he was struggling with isn't weighing on him any longer and that his family are holding up.

If you ever have the opportunity to travel anywhere (through music or otherwise) I hope you jump at the chance.  And if you're looking for something to do, or somewhere to eat, simply search for the place you're in and follow it with Anthony Bourdain.

Friday, May 25, 2018

TDB featured on

Rachael Sprague at Tutorful, has put together a nice collection of drumming reference material ranging from YouTube channels, books, apps, forums and *ding* blogs.  It appears that there are people out there who enjoy what I do here at That Drum Blog, and Rachael was kind enough to include the blog in her editorial.

Do follow the link and check out the article.  There's a lot of great stuff, some of which I wasn't yet familiar with and am looking forward to checking out.

Many thanks to Rachael for her efforts and for including my little slice of the internet, and to all of you who read the blog.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Dig This - Curb Your Enthusiasm with drums

Drummer David Dockery has been gaining quite a following on YouTube with his incredibly clever videos in which he writes rhythmic parts to clips from his favorite movies and shows.  And just the other day he posted a new one with a great scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm:

David is very creative in the way he find groove and rhythm in speech.  Another one of my favorites is a clip from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:

Head over to YouTube and check out his channel.  In the meantime here are a couple of other particularly good ones:

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Linear Samba Funk

Here's a fun samba funk groove that I derived from some Marcio Bahia ideas.  Marcio tends to play a groove very similar to this but with a busier left hand.  As I was playing through some of the different variations today I noticed that it can be simplified down to a linear pattern that still grooves hard and is fun to play.

I'm going to go into more detail on samba funk in a future post, but simply put samba funk has pretty much all of the same characteristics as a "regular" samba groove but with a backbeat on beat one of the second bar (if you're counting in 2/4).

Marcio's funk pattern very cleverly has what you might notice as the bossa nova pattern (also known as the Mocidade caixa pattern) in the right hand on the hi-hat, and a common third surdo pattern on the bass drum.  As I mentioned, Marcio gets a little bit sexier with the *left hand, but if we just fill in the gaps between the hi-hat accents and bass drum part with some ghosted snare notes it becomes a cool linear groove.  Just remember to accent the snare on beat one of every other measure.

*most people's left, but Marcio's right.  He's a lefty.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

That Triplet Drill

Here's a little triplet sticking thing I was fooling around with today when a student didn't show.  Back in my drum corps days the kids used to call these "pub-duh-duh's".  Regardless of what they're called, they feel nice to play and make a good warm-up.

E-mail me for a PDF

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

John "Jabo" Starks

It appears as though the drumming community has lost another one of it's greats.

According to his Facebook page, John "Jabo" Starks has passed away.

Spin a little James Brown or B.B. King today and play some grooves to thank Jabo for all the great music.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dave Tough's Advanced Paradiddle Exercises

Here's a great book that I stumbled upon a few years back and use quite often.  I generally don't give away stuff that isn't mine to give, but Dave Tough is no longer with us and this book has been out of print for quite some time.  So I figure the only people getting ripped off by not sharing it are other drummers.

If you know your jazz history and remember the Austin High Gang, who are credited with playing a big role in the formulation of the the Chicago style of jazz, Dave Tough was one of them.  His bio over at Drummerworld describes him as "a subtle and versatile drummer who hated to solo".  Truly my spirit animal.

The book is nothing but different combinations of single, double and triple paradiddles.  But you never realized how many different ways you could play these damn things until you spend some time with this book.  Tough, himself, says of the book in the foreword:

"I have designed this book for the advanced student who has a knowledge of the rudiments of drumming.  The book deals with the three forms of paradiddles - single, double and triple, each form represented and mixed in each of the two hundred exercises.This will assure him of improved coordination, technical development and fluency of sticking in his practical day to day playing.  It will be invaluable to the individual, while practising these exercises, to play two or four foot beats to the bar.To my knowledge, this is the only book published that is devoted entirely to varied paradiddle exercises.In conclusion, I have found that too little time is devoted to the practising of varied combinations of paradiddles, and it is my sincere hope that this book will prove to be an aid in acquiring a well-rounded system of drumming."

You can download the book here.  That link redirects to Mark Feldman's Bang The Drum School blog.  If that link is no longer working by the time you discover this post just drop me an e-mail and I'll happily send you a copy.