drumming

Groove Essentials 10th Anniversary Video Competition

Hello!

About slightly more than a week ago, I entered the Groove Essentials 10th Anniversary video competition for the fun of it. International voting is now open to determine the finalists and the finalists’ videos will be judged by Tommy Igoe himself, the author of the Groove Essentials drumming instructional system.

If any of you would like to vote:

Look out for this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBJ4g-VD-E8#t=162

on this page:

http://www.grooveessentials.com/contestant-gallery/

and vote on the same page.

PS: Only one vote per day.

Thanks alot! Not sure if I’ll get anything but it was fun.I’m however hoping to get a Skype lesson with the man himself!

Shout out to Howard Lee for generously helping me with the recording and video.

Please feel free to share this post .

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Introduction To Big Band Drumming Article By Stockton Helbing

http://www.stocktonhelbing.com/introduction_to_big_band_drumming.htm

As I’ve just stepped into the big band world with the City Swing Big Band (Singapore), I feel I have now entered the Doctorate level of musicianship.

I wouldn’t say that I’m passionate about Big Band Jazz, but I strongly desire to be able to groove like those cats, as well as read and articulate charts like those cats with the precision and drive that they have. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and all thanks go to a musician friend who recommended me to the band’s musical director.

In addition to checking out videos and recordings of famous Big Bands including Maynard Ferguson’s Big Band, The Buddy Rich Big Band, The Duke Ellington Orchestra,  and The Benny Goodman Big Band, to name a few, I searched online for articles about the subject of Big Band drumming. I then came across Stockton Helbing’s article linked to his website about a week ago and found his thoughts on the life of a Big Band drummer very illuminating. If you’re curious about this type of drumming and music, please give the article (link included above) a read, and then go check out the music.

Cheers!

Drumming Technique Simplified

Hi all,

I decided to write this post after a very interesting lesson with a student. It was one of those lessons that seemed frustrating at first because the student was not really getting it, but one and a half hours later, he made a discovery. What was it?

DRUMMING TECHNIQUE SIMPLIFIED.

What is this and how is it done?

First, let us look at 3 steps to making a stroke on the drum:

1) Your stick is parallel to the drum surface about at least an inch above the drum with your wrist angled flat. Alternatively, if you prefer to hold your sticks with your thumbs up, then the thumb is on top of the stick parallel to the surface of the drum, again at least an inch above the drum. This can be called the REST POSITION.

2) From the Rest Position, you raise your stick to a desired height to execute the stroke.

3) The stick strikes the drum and you now have the option to stop the stick at the REST POSITION or allow it to rebound up.

With point no.3, why do you have these two options? It is because of the next note you are going to play. Is it a soft note or a loud one? If it is a soft note, you just have to stop the stick at the Rest Position and lightly tap the drum from there. You immediately achieve a stroke with the right sound and texture for a soft note. If this note is instead a loud one, you must then allow the stick to rebound immediately after the previous stroke and then you thrust the stick down again to achieve the right sound and texture for a loud note. Am I making sense?

TIMING OF YOUR STROKE:

The timing of your stroke will depend on two things:

1) Your ability to hear where the stroke should land in relation to the time

2) HOW you prepare for that stroke such that it lands correctly in time.

Point No.1 is extremely crucial. You are a musician and your ears are your greatest weapons. Train your ears to hear the time accurately and it will go miles for your development. Thus, when you make a stroke, you want to know where the stroke should be in the bar and if you can hear it in your mind? This is where practising with a metronome comes in. Verbalizing the stroke aloud with or without actually playing the stroke will also help you determine the accuracy of your timing.

Point No. 2 is the “make-it-or-break-it” in the success of your execution. Once you are able to hear the stroke accurately in your mind, you then want to PREPARE for the stroke in an efficient and relaxed manner, so that the stroke lands right on the money and you physically feel great doing so. Pay attention to how your hands and feet FLOW with the time. Drumming is like a dance – alot of the activity of drumming takes place above the surfaces of the instrument (The late great Freddie Gruber would teach this too). Therefore, if your motions flow well with the time at whichever tempo, you are relaxed, and you are NOT THINKING TOO MUCH BUT RATHER FEELING THAT FLOW THROUGH YOUR BODY, you will always achieve accuracy and consistency in your playing.

In summary, having a GOOD FLOW in your physical motions on the drumset is highly essential to playing well.

To find out more, book a lesson or a couple of lessons with me. Contact me at jason@pulseofmusic.com for more information!

I hope this article opens up your awareness to the actual simplicity of drumming technique.

 

The Genius of Stewart Copeland Part 1: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

When I first started listening to Rock music, it was Grand Funk Railroad with drummer Don Brewer, Rare Earth with drummer/lead singer Peter Rivera, Cream with drummer Ginger Baker, Deep Purple with drummer Ian Paice, Led Zeppelin with drummer John Bonham, Jimi Hendrix with drummers Mitch Mitchell and Buddy Miles, the Allman Brothers Band with drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johansson, Ringo Starr from The Beatles, and Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones. All these drummers had one thing in common being contemporaries of each other: they all knew how to SWING. They knew that swinging the beat gives the music a more human and timeless feel. Till today, even as I’ve become used to working with a click track and programmed sequences, I’ve never lost my love for this piece of rhythmic philosophy.

Now I was born in 1983…I know what you’re thinking..but hey, the music of these bands gripped me and I couldn’t let go. Growing up and now in the midst of my journey as a musician, I’ve been absolutely happy to return constantly to their works for inspiration and a much needed reminder that in this age of over-produced, heavily edited/processed stuff (I nearly wanted to use the C word) that passes off for contemporary music today, I should just keep it REAL and HONEST, and produce music FROM THE HEART.

On the eve of Christmas in 1998, as my family and I were getting ready to go for midnight church service, I experienced a musical revelation that would make me approach my chosen instrument in a different way. We had the radio on in the house and it was tuned to Class 95FM. My ears, strangely enough, were more attentive to the music played on the radio that night then ever. It was like as if I knew I was going to hear a kickass song I’ve never heard before. After a bunch of  run-of-the-mill 80’s synth pop tunes, a song came on that was like…how should I describe it….a Carribean-flavoured pop-rock tune with really cool (jazzy) chords, a very pretty appregiated piano part, all tied together with punk energy. It’s perhaps not the best way to describe it, but that’s the best I can do for now..I’m a big fan of musical hybrids and this tune had everything that’s so attractive and sexy about those types of music.

The lead singer on the track sounded very much like Sting (you can’t miss his voice at all), multitracked, and I do recall that he was in a mega 3-piece rock band like Cream or Grand Funk before he carved a out a successful solo career for himself.  Could it be that band playing this song that I heard on the radio? The verses were played in a sort of straightened out half-time reggae groove with the singer lamenting rather ironically over a happy-sounding chord progression about how he tried hard to woo this girl and tell her of his true feelings for her but he just can’t get himself to do it – a cliche storyline but it was so expertly written with strong imagery that only a songwriter of Sting’s calibre could pull off. Then the chorus came in, double time and rocking, with the lyrics, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” I was blown away.

The music on Class 95FM that night was pre-programmed as I remember, so there was no DJ to announce what the song was or who the band was after the track concluded. Thus, I figured that the “Every Little Thing She Does” line must be the song title since it was repeated alot in the chorus. To cut the long story short, I eventually found out about half a year later that the song title was indeed, “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” and The Police were the culprits for this tune. To add, their notoriously frisky and athletic drummer, Stewart Copeland, was the culprit responsible for changing my style of drumming, especially in the Rock context, forever…for the better…

I couldn’t get this tune out of my head for the next year or so until I had enough money saved up to puchase my first two CDs, “Phil Collins Greatest Hits” and The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” compilation. Apart from the brilliant production, the thick yet clean instrumentation, there was one thing that really jumped out at me in the face – the drumming (duh..). The drum sound got me first – really tight, sharp, and CRACKING along with a full, punchy kick drum sound. Kickass…The snare sound reminded me so much of that of Mitch Mitchell’s on the Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings, which I absolutely adore, and that of David Garibaldi’s with Tower of Power. It has since become my default snare sound.

Then the drumming got me – it was treading on familiar Rock drumming territory but there were some neat little twists. In the verses, Stewart phrased the otherwise regular 8th note hi-hat part with some very uniquely placed (and pretty funky) accents accompanied by kick drum and a popping rim click on beat 3. This is part of his signature style, and man, do his hi-hats sound as crisp as Ruffles Potato chips…

When the first chorus kicks in, it’s drumming heaven. There’s so much positivity and great feel exuding from Stewart’s drumming that it’s impossible to think that one would not be moved by that. Stewart shifts the stuff he played on the hi-hats in the verses to the Ride cymbal for this section. The way he attacks at the Ride Cymbal and phrases so freely between the bow and the bell of it, would become a major influence on my drumming style. Some musicians I’ve worked with told me that I’m one of the few local drummers they’ve heard that like to do a lot of stuff on the bell of the Ride Cymbal. I would then reply without hesitation, “That’s Stewart Copeland’s fault.”

I would  like to highlight here some of the great licks he peppers his drum part with on this tune that hopefully you, the reader, would dig too:

1) at 01:34: That hi-hat lick sounds simple right? Yes, of course it is. But the point is how so damn catchy it is!! Man, I can’t begin to recount how many thousands of times I’ve used that lick over and over. Subtlety and Simplicity is a killer combination.

2) at 02:57: I love this fill to death!! Again, I’ve used this fill verbatim and did variations with it countless of times. It also sounds very basic right? Yes of course it is! But that’s not the point. It’s the way he played that fill. It’s about the cleanliness of the 16th notes on the snare played purely as rim shots (note that he uses a traditional grip), the phrasing of the fill, and the raging punk attitude with which he execute the fill. He also pushes the time a little during that fill which helps raise the song to another level of excitement. At 01:50, you can actually hear a foreshadow of the fill in the hi-hat part at the line “long before my tongue has tripped me..” Whether it was deliberate or not, it’s hard to tell. Stewart by his own admission in interviews said that all his drum parts on those classic Police songs were “glibly arrived at.” Even so, this is evidence of a master musician at work – being completely in the moment and allowing the song itself to dictate what he/she contributes to it. Sure, Copeland plays some of his obvious patented licks, for example, the drags on the hi-hat, throughout this track, or the numerous flams on the snare, but it’s where he places them in the song to make it work.

3) The fade out section beginning at 03:47 and what Stewart does with his hi-hat: Stewart demonstrates some other very unique ways to phrase the hi-hat using the open-closed technique. No other drummer in Rock was playing the hi-hat that way until he came along.

With that, I thank you for reading my first in the series of “Genius of Stewart Copeland” articles. Watch this blog space for more updates!

Ok…enough of my ramblings, now enjoy the track:

Cheers!

JC.