Saturday, July 24, 2021

Two-handed Mambo Bell Patterns

This was shown to me by an excellent percussionist here in London by the name of Tristan Butler.  It's a great way to vary the orchestration of some common salsa rhythms.

Probably the most common "ride" pattern when orchestrating salsa music on the drumset is cascara:


This would traditionally be played on the shell of a timbale.  A drumset player would use the ride cymbal, or the shell of a floor tom.

The left hand often then plays clave on a rim click, or would emulate the congas with a combination of rim sounds and toms.

This is a very common, functional, and effective orchestration.  But at the same time it leaves our hands pretty busy, and doesn't leave us much capacity to play other parts of traditional salsa arrangements, such other bell patterns.

But if we leave out the conga pattern or clave, the cascara still carries the groove and a hand is freed up a to play another pattern.  Tristan tells me this is a common orchestration, as the bongo player is often the first person to be cut when the ensemble needs to be smaller.

So now, let's move the cascara pattern to our left hand, and use our right hand to play some of the mambo bell patterns that the bongo player would have played.  This can be a real roast if you spent years playing cascara in your right hand.  But it's a great sound, and a fun challenge.


My personal favorite sound is with two bells: cascara on a smaller bell, and the mambo pattern on a larger mambo bell.  However, if you only have one, or even no cowbells your can put the cascara pattern on your hi-hat with your left hand, and play the mambo pattern on your lone bell, or even the ride cymbal.

The examples above are common combinations, but I believe you can play pretty much any of the first bars and follow them up with any of the second bars for variety.

As you work on this, bear in mind that both the cascara pattern and the mambo bells patterns are directional, just like the clave.  The sheet above is written in 2-3, so if you want to play 3-2 just start with the second bar of any of the patterns and follow it with the first bar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Three Camps in flam accents, flam taps, and pataflaflas

Here's a fun arrangement of The Three Camps that I came up with a few weeks back.

The five stroke rolls from the original become flam accents, and the eleven stroke rolls become flam taps.  When you get to the second and third camps with the pickup notes we're still going to play flam taps where the long roll would be, but in order to turn it around we'll cut it short by an 8th note and make the turnaround a pataflafla.  Doing this puts us on the opposite hand on the repeats which is an added bonus.

The whole thing follows the exact structure of the original with the exception of the final bar which I wrote just to make it a little more interesting.

Have fun.  Drop me an e-mail if you'd like a PDF.



Friday, May 28, 2021

Another "Puh-Duh-Duh" exercise

As promised, here's some more pad business to enjoy outside.

We did one of these "puh-duh-duh" exercises awhile back.  I like this sticking.  It rolls off the hands nicely and makes for a relaxed warm-up.

This time though, we're going to add some paradiddles into the fold, making it more difficult on a few levels.  Not only do we have to deal with the gear change between triplets and 16th notes in general, but often we're moving swiftly between double strokes at the triplet rate and 16th note rate.


Play the whole thing as written, with no accents.  Then for a few variations, try keeping everything low, but accenting the single notes of the puh-duh-duh's, like so:


And also, with an accent on every beat, regardless of the sticking, like so:

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Stick Control Diddle System

We're coming into that time of year where I spend a lot more time out on the back porch with a pad in front of me just working the hands, writing exercises, and playing along to music.  So is here a system for Stick Control that is simple concept, but quickly becomes quite the workout both in terms of chops and brain power.

Awhile back we applied flams to Stick Control.  This is a similar concept that applys double strokes.  The basic system is below, with all the 16th notes played as double strokes:


From here simply add the stickings from the first few pages of Stick Control.  So, for example, number one will look like this:


Once we get past the single strokes we end up getting three and four strokes on one hand.  Number three (which is paradiddles), for example, will look like this:


After number 13, when the patterns become four beats long instead of just two, is when the real mental game comes in.  Here's what number 14 will look like, for example:


This will work all the way through number 72, so that should keep you busy for awhile.  More nerdy pad stuff coming this week.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Samba Invertido, aka "A batida do 'Tamanduá'" ("The 'Tamanduá' beat")

This is a very cool groove that I've been enjoying for many years and have been meaning to write about for almost as long.  I'm pretty sure it was developed by Hamilton de Holanda.

I first heard it in 2007 when I went to Brazil and picked up the first album by de Holanda's now famous quintet.  The album is called Brasilianos, and the groove came up in the song "Pra Sempre".  It only appears for a few bars at a time at the end of the first A section.  You'll find it  in the melody at 0:16 and 0:58, and many more times throughout the solos and out head.  Marcio Bahia is on drums.



Two years later, in 2009, de Holanda's quintet released a new album, called Brasilianos 2, and the same rhythm was on a very beautiful, and very funky tune called "Tamanduá".  Within the first few bars I recognized it as "that cool groove from 'Pra Sempre'".  Except this time an entire piece had been composed around it.  Again, Marcio Bahia is on drums, and he includes a few different variations on the groove.





Bahia orchestrates it a few different ways in this live version as well.


So what's going on here?  The answer is actually right in front of us, though cleverly hidden.  It didn't jump out to me until I saw Hamilton de Holanda's own chart for "Tamanduá".  Beneath the title the style marking said "Samba Invertido", which translates "inverted samba", and it smacked me in the face.


If you keep up with my regular postings on samba and Brazilian music, you might already know that a common telecoteco rhythm looks like this:


This rhythm is directional, meaning that depending on the composition it could be played as you see it above, or the two bars can be swapped so the cycle starts on beat one of the second bar.

But, if we start on beat two of the second bar (or "invert" it), we end up with this:


Which just so happens to be exactly what is being played in the examples above.  "Tamanduá" adds an additional layer of disorientation by starting on a pick up note, like so:


Edu Ribeiro has played this groove a few times as well, putting his own subtle spin on it.  The first was in 2011 when, Jota P., a sax/flute player from Hermeto Pascoal's band released a self-titled solo album.  The track "Que Fase!" features the groove.




And finally, in 2019, Hamilton de Holanda released a record with a new quartet featuring guitarist Daniel Santiago from his quintet, Thiago Espírito Santo on bass (son of Arismar do Espírito Santo, and occasional sub in the HH quintet), and Edu Ribeiro on drums.  The album, Harmonize, is one of de Holanda's finest in my opinion, and features a new rendition of "Tamanduá".




This groove is quite a specific thing, so I wouldn't recommend dropping it willy-nilly into your next bossa gig.  But it presents it's own challenges that are a lot of fun to work though and might give you some new creative ideas.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises in Four-Note Groupings ala Bill Stewart

Last week I received more e-mails requesting PDFs than I have in a long time.  It seems many of you really enjoyed the various Elvin inspired exercises.  I've been enjoying them too, so I kept going with them.

This time around I've taken the quarter note triplet exercises, and experimented with playing groupings of four notes.  Because there are only three notes in the bar, the four note phrases will roll over the barline, and resolves tidily after four bars.

Starting on the beat looks like this:





While starting on the second note looks like this:





Bill Stewart does this quite often to great effect.  You can see one example of it here on the blog in the transcription of "Metamorphosis".

Adding this variable to the mix means that the possibilities are pretty much endless in terms of voicings, but I came up with three simple ideas to get you started.

2&2
Pick any two voices, and play two of each: SSBB; HHSS; BBHH, etc.



AABA
Pick any two voices and treat one as A and one as B: BBSB; SSBS; HHSH, etc.



ABAC
Use all three voices and treat one as A, one as B, and one as C: BSBH; SHSB; HBHS, etc.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises

If you've listened to any Elvin at all you'll almost surely know that, in addition to the sounds we explored in the last two posts, quarter note triplets are a big part of Elvin's sound.

Because we'll still be playing three notes for every two beats, we can use all the same voicing options we did on the two inner triplet exercises.  If we start on the beat, then there's really only one note different in the whole thing: the first non-ride cymbal note will be on the downbeat, rather than the second partial of the triplet.


I've written it out again, however, with both the two and three voice versions on one page because A) it's easier to visualize if you're new to this, and B) to emphasize the placement of these notes, as it's far too common that this: 

Gets played like this: 


And for a whole other set of options we can leave the ride cymbal alone, but shift all of the comping notes an 8th note later.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Elvin Jones' Inner Triplet Exercise, part 2

Continuing on with the Elvin exercise we looked at on Monday, we can also play just two voices per cycle through the ride cymbal pattern.  Remember, we're simply using our left hand and both feet to fill in the triplets not being played on the ride.  By using only two voices each time we're left with doubles on each voice.

I don't feel this is necessarily any more difficult or any easier than the three-voice interpretation, but rather is just a different sound, and certainly gives us a lot more variations to experiment with.



Monday, May 03, 2021

Elvin Jones' Inner Triplets Exercise

I've been re-visiting a lot of Elvin lately as I have a student who is just beginning his deep dive into the material.

In gathering some material to send over to him I was reminded of this excellent post by Canadian drummer, Jon McCaslin on his long-running "Four on the Floor" blog.  The whole thing is definitely worth a read, but today I want to focus on one exercise in particular that Jon saw Elvin demonstrate at a clinic in the late '90s.

The concept is fairly simple.  You'll play a stock ride cymbal pattern in your right hand, and fill in the remaining triplets on another voice.


Each time through the two-beat ride cymbal pattern we have three notes to play and three limbs to play them with, so start by playing each limb once.  That gives us six different combinations to work with.


This wasn't mentioned in the original post, but by playing a double stroke on the snare drum we end up with further Elvin-esque ideas.


Drop me an e-mail if you'd like of PDF of this worksheet, and be sure to check out "Four on the Floor".  There is a ton of great stuff over there.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Flam Accent/Swiss Army Triplet/Single Flammed Mill Study

How's that for a nice, concise name?

I've been working these three rudiments on the set with a student of mine.  Some came easier than others and flowing between them was one of the rough spots.

When this happens either with my students or myself I'm a big fan of creating simple exercises that can be played on the pad or even just on your lap.  If you've checked out any of the other studies I've posted here before, then you'll know that I also like to make them naturally flip to be practiced off both hands.

So I quickly jotted down this little study that incorporates all three and naturally switches hands.  Try repeating it with drags added as well.



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Bira Presidente Trademark Language

I recently came upon this video on pandeiro legend, Bira Presidente, talking about his playing style.  At the 1:15 mark Bira demonstrates the same trademark sounds that we looked at awhile back in the transcription of him playing "Vai Lá, Vai Lá" with Fundo de Quintal.

Here's the original post of the transcription, and notation of the phrases in the video below.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Latin Bell Patterns with Syncopation

Allison Miller has been posting some great practice ideas over on her Instagram page, and this one popped up the other day.  Play any common Latin Jazz rhythm with your feet and left hand, like so....
 

...and then read page 38 of Syncopation with your right hand on the ride cymbal.  As Allison points out, this really helps to free up your right hand and allow you to break away from common patterns.

This is the same general concept as the Kiko Freitas samba ideas we looked at recently where the feet and left hand play common samba rhythms and the right hand improvises in a telecoteco style.  Both of these are a really nice way to break out of the habit of thinking about ostinatos in your right hand and improvising with the left.

If page 38 is going by to quickly for you, don't forget that pages 34-37 are great to give yourself a little more time and repetition to get used to this, or any, concept.  I often do this myself and recommend it to my students as well.

As you get more comfortable, experiment with different sounds on the ride.  Play the bell, shoulder it a bit, etc.  Or, if you prefer a bit more structure in the practice room, try this....

Play everything on the bell.  But whenever there are two or more 8th notes in a row, start on the bow, and only play the last note of the group on the bell.  So the first two lines become this...


And if you have checked out Allison Miller yet, definitely do so.  Allison is a fellow WVU grad, though she finished a few years before I got there.  I've been to a few of her masterclasses, and her educational style and ideas are just as bad ass as her playing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Transcription - Charlie Smith, "Hot House"

This is one I've been meaning to do for a long time.  Years, really.  I remember the first time I saw this video in college, and was struck by a few things.  For one, I don't know that I had seen a left-handed jazz drummer before then.  Also, the band seemed like an unlikely bunch.  For one, I was surprised not to see Max Roach on drums, and two the bassist, who is named Sandy Block, seemed kind of old for that crew.  And the pianist is Dick Hyman, who was also a host of the television show that this performance was on.

The drummer is Charlie Smith.  His name isn't thrown around as often as the likes of Kenny Clarke or Max Roack, but he had an enviable career working for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, and more.

I love Charlie's feel on this tune, and the minimal set up with the jumbo bass drum.





Friday, February 19, 2021

Dig This - Chick Corea and early Return to Forever, Live

Despite being supremely bummed out about it, I didn't post anything last week when Chick Corea passed.  There wasn't much I could say that hadn't been said already.

The only good thing to come out of the loss has been the past week being absolutely filled with people posting Chick's music everywhere.  A particular one that jumped out at me was this live video of a very early incarnation of Return to Forever.  It's basically the first version of the band with Chick, Stanley Clarke, Joe Farrell, and Airto.  Flora Purim is missing, though, and Bill Tragesser is on percussion behind a young Airto that we get to see on kit rather than his usual percussion setup.  Those first two albums are my favorite version of the band, and some of my favorite Chick material period.

Friday, February 12, 2021

More tips on the Kiko Freitas-style samba

Edu Ribeiro has been doing a very enjoyable series of live-streamed interviews with some fantastic drummers over the past few months.  Back in December Kiko Freitas joined him, and they ended up spending quite a bit of time talking about Kiko's unique way of playing samba, and he brought up some points that I thought were worth sharing.  Two in particular really stood out to me, both of which regarding the left hand playing "1ea".

1. Don't be afraid of rebound.  We're often fed the idea that we should be able to stroke out everything on a feather pillow.  That's all very well and good, but that doesn't mean that we always should stroke everything out.  The "syncopa" rhythm that Kiko plays in his left hand is imitating a few different instruments of the bateria, but mostly the repinique.  Kiko points out that stylistically the repique is played with a group of three notes that come out of one motion, or throw of the stick.  It's this rebound that actually creates that distinctive swing.  So don't try to chop out each individual note.  Throw the stick and let it do a lot of the work for you.  Which brings me to my next point....

2.  Don't think of the downbeat as your starting point.  Initiate the motion on the last 16th note of the rhythm.  So, rather than thinking "1ea, 2ea", think "a1e, a2e".  Again, this will strengthen that characteristic swing feel.

Keep these points in mind while you give it a try with this sheet.

Here is the whole interview.  They had some technical difficulties, but it's worth sticking it out as they share some great information.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Marcio Bahia RLL sticking

One of my favorite Brazilian drummers, Marcio Bahia, recently posted a few videos to YouTube in which he plays a three-note sticking of RLL as a way to come up with some creative orchestrations over common Brazilian grooves.

It's pretty much the same principal as my 3-5-7 exercise, in which you play odd groupings over duple meter.  But as I said back then, resist the urge to think of this as 3/16 or 3/8 over 4/4 or 2/4.  Just think in whatever meter the groove is in and play 16th notes with a RLL sticking in your hands.

Marcio takes this concept a step further by incorporating accents. Once you're comfortable with placing accents on each part of the sticking you can play some common rhythms that accompany the foot parts.  The RLL sticking will give you some interesting orchestrations of those rhythms if you leave your right hand on the hi-hat or ride, and your left hand on the snare and/or toms.  From there you can/should improvise with both the accent placements and the voicings around the kit.



Wednesday, February 03, 2021

You Be the Drummer - Christian McBride, "Fingerpainting"

This one somehow slipped past me.  Released in 1997 I only discovered in a few weeks ago.

Here, Christian McBride, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and guitarist Mark Whitfield play an album comprised entirely of Herbie Hancock repertoire.  Bass, trumpet and guitar is a really nice combo that you don't hear very often, and makes for a great drummer-less recording.

The straight ahead stuff is really swingin' (like there was any doubt), and there's a nice variety of tempos and styles as well.  Check it out.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Solo Transcription - Gaylord Birch, "Yes We Can Can" live

Following on from the first Gaylord Birch post the other day, here is a live version of the same tune where he gets more of a feature.  This is my kind of drum solo.  Just a kick-ass groove that everyone can still dance to with some bells and whistles thrown in for pizzazz.  I love the way that old kit shakes as he plays the living crap out of it, and that backhanded crash at 3:22 gets me every time.


Solo starts around 3:02, but you should just listen to the whole thing

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Transcription - Gaylord Birch, "Yes We Can Can"

This one has been in the drafts folder for a loooong time.

I remember the girl across the street from me growing up and her parents were big fans of the Pointer Sisters.  Then a few years ago I was reminded of them when this tune came on the radio very late one night as I was driving home from a gig.  I checked out the record the next day, read up on the drummer, Gaylord Birch, who I wasn't really familiar with, and made a note to transcribe that cool breakdown.

Fast forward a few years and my buddy from college, Steve Bidwell, posted about Gaylord on his blog, which reminded my that I had never finished this post.  Long story short, here we are.  Gaylord is killer, there's a cool transcription below, and you should also check out Steve's blog.

Transcription starts around 3:38

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Broken air conditioner snare drum solo

Well, folks, this is what it's come to.  Levels of boredom and frustration so high that when someone posts a video on YouTube entitled "Broken air con that plays a jazz drum solo!!" you think to yourself, "Hey, maybe I'll transcribe that!"....and then you actually do it.  So, for your Saturday evening pleasure, I give you, Snare Conditioner.