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Drum Hum

Continuing his theme of co..er..like..ordination, Geoff Nicholls gets rhythmic.


The percussionist's art of letting the left hand know what the right hand is thumping. Geoff Nicholls continues his discourse on co-ordination with a few natty exercises.

WE LEFT co-ordination last month at the point of playing both hands together in perfect (well, close) unison. Have you tried playing various different rhythms like this? Putting in accents (>) helps to weld the hands together:

COUNT: 1 2 3 4
> > > > >
R. HAND R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R
L. HAND L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L
> > > > >


Keep the tempo steady, though. This is a valid way to play shuffles, and strengthens the left (or weaker) wrist and fingers:

COUNT: 1 AND- A 2 AND- A 3 AND- A 4 AND- A
> > > > > > > >
R R R R R R R R R R R R
L L L L L L L L L L L L
> > > > > > > >


The stronger accent is on the backbeat two and four snare beat. Needless to say, I'm sure this is wonderful for the feet too if you can buckle down to it. Indeed we musn't leave the feet out. The original point was that it's harder than you think to get the feet and hands to coincide exactly, without the teensiest flam. It's equally exasperating getting them to work apart in beautifully co-ordinated fashion.

If that seems rather obvious, I'm referring to this sort of thing:

HAND: L L L L
FOOT: R R R R and so on...


Just single strokes; but there are many ways to play single strokes:

HAND: L L R R
FOOT: R R etc, or L L etc.


or reversed:

HAND: R R L L
FOOT: L L etc, and R R etc.


All these are useful. And what about triplets? Here goes:

>
COUNT: 1 & A 2 & A 3 & A 4 & A
CYMBAL/HH: R R R R R R R R
SNARE: L L L L L L
BASS DR: R R R R R R


Add the right hand on ride cymbal or hi-hat in unison with the right foot, accent the two and four, and you get a nice boogie rhythm:

COUNT: 1 & A 2 & A 3 & A 4 & A
SNARE DR: L L L L L L
BASS DR: R R R R R R


Experiment with this, perhaps missing out some of the bass drum beats — it works very well.

Now, try turning things the other way around. Lead with the left hand, and this time try a boogie/shuffle with the right hand:

COUNT: 1 & A 2 & A 3 & A 4 & A
RIDE/HH: R R R R R R
SNARE: L L L L L L
BASS DR: R R R R R R


Miss out a ride beat and you get the familiar jazz (wash my mouth out) ride cymbal pattern. Go for the four limbs and add the left foot closing the hi-hat on two and four. Gulp:

COUNT: 1 & A 2 & A 3 & A 4 & A
RIDE: R R R R R R
SNARE: L L L L L L
BASS: R R R R R R
HH: L L


I hope this is getting as tricky for you as it is for me. I've got a record where Buddy Rich drops in a few bars of this type of thing very loud, very fast and not very 'umble. There are numerous variations of this idea, by the way: for example with different snare drum/bass drum triplets. And many are easier to get down than this one. Answers on a postcard.

Before you decide this is getting too jazzy, try this stripped-down version:

COUNT: 1 & A 2 & A 3 & A 4 & A
RIDE/HH: R R R R R R
SNARE: L L L L L L
BASS: R R R R


No use in rock? Well, if you play the left-hand as a snare rim cross-stick you've got the basis of the lick Stewart Copeland liked to use on live versions of 'Walking On The Moon'. Jazz and reggae meet up in rock!


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Technically Speaking

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Useless


Making Music - Copyright: Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

 

Making Music - Feb 1987

Feature by Geoff Nicholls

Previous article in this issue:

> Technically Speaking

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> Useless


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