Monday, May 16, 2022

Ballad Make Work Project (Brush Pattern)

 Okay, another brush post. I'm slowly trying to film myself playing every brush pattern I've created and there's quite a backlog. Explanation is in the video.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Layered Grooves

 Hey all,

These are some grooves inspired by some footage of Will Calhoun with Living Colour I saw recently. In his case, he was throwing in some quarter note triplet ideas in a rock groove with his LH while playing straight 8ths with his right. That led me to experimenting with playing one set of quarter note triplets plus a quarter note with my feet (which creates a pattern 3 beats long, so it goes over the barline nicely in 4/4) while my hands play a straight rock groove. I was thinking of the Zep tune "Ten Years Gone", both in tempo and general vibe. The following filmed examples show me working through this starting it with either foot, playing the "footings" (as opposed to stickings) in doubles and paradiddles, putting in splashed hi-hat, and reversing the hands and feet.

Now, you will notice that the execution in the quarter note triplets isn't perfect sometimes. I actually think this is okay because that rhythm wavering a bit can sound sort of cool, especially against the straight hand part. Remember, when you pit straight against swung in a beat there's always going to be a bit of a rub. These are not super-tight completely locked in type ideas. They are more of a loose flowing thing with the feet. Again, use these sparingly on gigs and with taste and good judgement. :) Have fun.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Kirk MacDonald Trio at the Black Bear Pub

One of the cool things about the "everything is recorded' era we're in now is that there is always fresh documentation of one's work. This was filmed about a month ago. I was playing with long time associates Kirk MacDonald and Mike Downes, and this is what happened when someone in the crowd requested "Nardis". It's a very honest representation of where I am right now, and I'm good with that. :) 


Monday, April 25, 2022

Beware of the online bullies

 It's funny, I began on this posting because of a Twitter conversation fellow blogger Todd Bishop and I had, but he beat me to it

I will, however, further stress his point about the current pattern of trying to get viewers/subscribers by preying on young player's insecurities! NO DECENT TEACHER WILL EVER DO THIS! Musicians are a community, and we take care of and encourage each other. Dave Holland once told a room full of young musicians at The Banff Centre something to the effect of, " We are all on the same path, we may be at different points along it, but it's still our common road."

I am reminded of the fashion industry's penchant for selling clothes and make up by attempting to make women feel they aren't thin enough/blonde enough/busty enough/light enough/dark enough/Tall enough etc.. etc.. In both cases, this is people that don't care about you just trying to make a buck. Please ignore them. We are all unique beings with so much to offer. Find your community that supports you and lifts you up. :) 

….and speaking of supportive, encouraging people, here's a great interview with Trumpet and composition master Kenny Wheeler. I met him at the Banff centre as well, and was lucky enough to work with him a handful of times of the years. He was always encouraging and positive, and I miss him a lot.

Monday, April 18, 2022

3 ideas for medium tempo brushes

 Here's a handful of videos I recently filmed dealing with ways of getting more variety from brushes at medium tempos.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Cymbal Assessment

 Hey all,

I've mentioned this before, but one of the silver linings to the dark cloud of things being shut down is the chance to assess elements of one's sound. Inspired by Paul Motian's list of cymbals that made the rounds, I decided to do an inventory of all the cymbals I own. 8 rides, 3 splashes, 5 crashes, 1 China type and 3 sets of hi-hats. For someone who has been playing for over 40 years, that's not really that much. Then I started recording myself and playing various combinations of of my collection.I won't post most of the videos because they do go on, but I have been making notes and will share them here. Hopefully, my insights into the qualities and interactions of my various metal friends will inspire you to assess your sound as well. 

I will  be grouping my cymbals by categories such as Best at playing with others (blend, in other words), Most similar Sounding, Darkest, Lightest, Trashiest, This Needs to Go, Loudest, Quietest, Hardest to Control, and anything else I can think of…..should be fun! 

The results:

Well, first of all, I should say that after 3 or 4 days of cymbals comparisons, my ears were getting fatigued.  I remember checking out cymbals at the Zildjian factory some time ago, and after about an hour it was like, "Um, that sounds like a cymbal, and so does that!"

Most Bull in the proverbial "China" Shop

This was easy. My 16" Zildjian Oriental Trash doesn't sound like anything else I own. Because I tend to view China-type cymbals as crashes (like DeJohnette) rather than rides ( like Mel Lewis), the trash cymbal is thin fast, and nasty! The ironic thing is, because the sound of this pie is so specific, it actually works wonderfully with all the other cymbals because it's always a great contrast! Whenever I get a bit burnt out on this sound, I put it away and when I come back to it, it sounds fresh again!

Most Same-y Same-y ( Or, "Why do you have two of these?)

There were a few of these. My 12"  A Zildjian splash and my Dad's old A Zildjian Hi-Hat (which is actually 11", my mistake earlier) sound close enough in pitch that I wouldn't ever use them both at the same time, so if I get some sort of Manu Katche tribute band together, I'll only have 2 splashes available! :) I will use the newer 12" and keep the 11" mainly for historical and sentimental value. I also have an 8" Zildjian splash that does sound quite different than the other ones…...

Also the two 16" crashes' pitches are very close. I will use them both for slightly different things however, as the A Zildjian ( the first "Good" cymbal I ever bought myself!) is better for high volume situations. The K Constantinople crash seems to "max out" after things get loud, and I have found this true with all the newer Ks I've tried.

Phew!  Is anybody (besides my Mom) still reading this?……………….

Least interesting cymbal

My 2002 Paiste 20". Now, that isn't to say it isn't a good cymbal. In fact, if I had the dough and played a lot more Pop and Rock I would love to have a whole set of these. They record well too! ( Lot of highs and low, and not so much mid-range.) So, what's the issue?  Well, it doesn't have a ton of character, IMO. Sometimes the things that make a cymbal challenging to play, are also what make it interesting. Anyway, it is a nice clean sounding cymbal, and I'm glad I have it.

Most interesting cymbal

Probably the old K (20")  I've had since high school. It's very thin and therefore it took me a long time to learn how to play it without washing out. I traded it for a 20" A Zildjian mini-cup ride which Ive NEVER regretted getting rid of.  The mini-cup is again, a good quality cymbal, but it seemed to combine the worst elements of a flat ride and a regular cymbal, without any of the benefits of either!

Is there a cymbal I still want?

Speaking of flat rides! I'm still looking for one. I had an A. Zildjian flat ride for awhile but it was too bright. I like most of the Jazz drummers in the GTA, borrowed Don Thompson's Paiste 602 flat ride. ( The "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" cymbal. ) I LOVE the 602s, but getting them to blend and harmonize with any other cymbals I find very difficult. I'm still looking though. I borrowed Kieran Overs' 20" K Flat ride ( Where would we drummers be without borrowing other instrumentalist's cymbals?) and that was pretty close. If I can find one for a decent price I'd probably grab it. (UPDATE: I bought a 20" K Zildjian light flat ride that I am really enjoying.)

Most Whacky Overtones

Oddly enough, the 3 Old Ks I use were beaten out by my 22 A Zildjian from the 70s. (Mids for days), and the 19" K. Dark Crash (2000s) , that, despite being quite a low pitched cymbal, has a strange kind of brittle brightness that I've  never quite gotten used to. It seems to have mellowed a bit, however, so maybe it just needs more time.

Hi-hats, not so catchy-matchy

Of the 3 sets I have, only the old Ks are actually a matched pair. (I absolutely LOVE these hats, and if I was only allowed on set of hi-hats, I would play these quite happily.) One is an old A. Zildjian bottom I'm using as a top cymbal and a Sabian (the only cymbal of this make I actually own) Flat Hat on the bottom. The other "set" of hi-hats is a newer K. Zildjian on top and a A. Armand Zildjian on the bottom.

Anyway, I would encourage everyone who has been amassing gear to go through it and access occasionally.

Happy trails! 

Happy trails! 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Ron Carter, Jim Hall Telepathy

This is a recording I had heard about for a long time, but I hadn't listened to.

 Full disclosure, I'm late to the party. BUT WHAT A PARTY IT IS!!!!! Everyone should listen to this. Why? Here's a just few reasons…

1. Hall's mastery of thematic soloing is only matched by masters like Sonny Rollins. JH never wastes an idea, or even a note. All musicians can learn from this.

2. The use of space by Carter and Hall is exquisite. Again, they never fill a space in the music superfluously.

3.  There is serious, deep, listening going on here.

4. The time feel is fantastic.

Speaking of time feel, this would be a great "drummer less" recording to play along with. It will work your dynamic range (try it with both brushes and sticks), sense of time, and most of all TASTE! :) 

Okay, now go get playing/listening!!! :)  

Monday, April 4, 2022

Transcribing and dependent coordination

 When I was in high school, I read an interview with Wynton Marsalis where he said something like, "When you transcribe, you're learning to read a solo more than play it". Now, because I was young, inexperienced, and prone to black and white thinking, this formed my attitude about transcriptions for the next 40 years!

Cue recently, when a pianist/composer friend of mine asked me to transcribe some timekeeping on the drum set for an arrangement she was writing. It happened to be the first chorus of this:

Of course, I love Mickey Roker, especially his playing on this track, but I hadn't listed to his playing on it in detail. This is where transcribing led me to some conclusions that I wouldn't have made UNLESS I was listening to it multiple times in a row AND was able to look at it! Hence, the advantage of transcribing. :) I might post it here at some point, but I actually believe the actual act of transcribing is where the transcribee learns the most. Case in point, Roker plays a lot of ride rhythm without the skip beat. He certainly doesn't play just quarter notes on his cymbal, but he is judicious about where he plays the +s in the rhythm, using it to decorate rather than dominate. This led me to realize that a lot of my work on independent coordination had become somewhat of a trap. When one works on something a lot, the opposite thing gets increasingly more challenging. For example, try playing the standard ride rhythm  and sometimes DON'T play the cymbal on 2 & 4. Conceptually easy, but there's a lot of muscle memory to get past! :) So, I started working on some "dependent coordination" ideas. I didn't write them out because these will work on any beats you know well.

Take any standard beat and….

1) Never allow a quadruple stop. (4 limbs playing at the same time).

2) " " " a triple stop. (3 limbs).

3) " " " Double stop. (2. At this point, you have become a saxophone player!)

Mix and match which limbs/parts of the kit become "immutable" and will always sound when you're making a choice of which combinations to play and what to leave out.
There are tons of examples of this we already play. For instance, in the Charlie Watts beat, the snare/LH on 2 & 4 is more important than the hi-hat/RH, hence the snare alone on those beats.

Have fun and experiment with it. I guarantee it'll kick your butt a bit and get you thinking about why you orchestrate things the way you do. :) 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Joe Henderson Quartet 1994

Programming Note: Well it's definitely Monday. :( Seems I can't post this on the blog, but please use below as a link to watch this incredible footage. I promise it'll be worth it!  

Wow! This is a great set from one of Joe Henderson's great working bands with Al Foster, George Mraz, and Bheki Mseleku. Al Foster is such a great example of someone who really found his own voice. It's also worth noting how "common" all the tunes they play are, and how often they (especially Joe) played them. Just goes to show that's it's not the tune, but the person playing it! Enjoy.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Paradiddle Madness!

 I have spent a LOT of time over the years working on Paradiddles and Paradiddle Inversions. What I haven't spent as much time on, is Double and Triple Paradiddles.

So, quick review.

Double Paradiddles are RLRLRR LRLRLL so if we want to play them in a very "consonant" and non-over the bar way, they work great as triplets or in 3/4.

Triple Paradiddles are RLRLRLRR LRLRLRLL (although we could certainly start both of these rudiments on the left hand as well.) This sticking adds up to a bar of 4/4 on each side of it, so that works quite well to start with.

Here are a few ways I used these rudiments. Most of them voiced around the drum set and quite a few of them going over the bar. Note I didn't film most of these or even write them out, but you will benefit from filling in the blanks on these yourself, as well as coming up with your own ideas.

1. Triple in 8th notes in 3/4

2. Triple in triplets in 4/4 and 3/4 (add whatever foot patterns feel represent these time signatures).

3. Doubles in 8th notes in 4/4.

4. Doubles and Triples in 8th notes in 4/4 w/ dotted 8th notes in bass drum.

5. "         ""           in hi-hat. ( BD plays quarters)

6. 4-5 in Triplets

7. 4-6 in 3/4 time.

8. 4-7 with 7 beat on again/off again BD pattern.

So, as usual, there's tons of work to do.

We can also play with putting in accents that don't naturally go with the stickings. Try playing double paradiddles in 8th notes in 4/4 but only accent in half notes. Or here's a fun one. This is a Triple Paradiddle w/LH on snare and RH on hi-hat with dotted quarter accents and a 2-beat feel in the feet. It has a sort of relentless feel that I like, and seems to get more powerful the quieter I play it. As always, play for the music and be kind and gentle with yourself.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Thoughts on over the barline playing

 Basically, relate everything to the tune you're playing.

Here it is in more detail…..

Monday, March 7, 2022

Embracing matched grip

 I have mentioned before that I am exclusively a matched grip player. Except for a very brief period in my early 20s, I haven't even attempted to play traditional grip. When I experimented with conventional grip I realized that I would have to practice incredibly hard to even get it to a passible level, and I decided to focus on other things. I have nothing against anyone playing trad grip, or switching to it. It does drive me a little crazy however, when people try to associate a grip with a style of music. Lots of great Rock players play traditional, lots of wonderful Jazz players play matched. I wish that was the end of the discussion, but far from it!

Lots of trad players (especially American ones)  justify what they're doing as part of a legacy. I also think it's a way drummers demonstrate how much time they've spent with the instrument by learning the "harder' grip, and maybe playing matched as well. I've argued against these points until I'm blue in the face, so I won't bother to do it again. I will, however mention a few advantages that matched grip has that maybe don't get mentioned that much…….

1.) Matched grip is a much more "elemental" way of holding the sticks.

Yes, obviously it's easier to play louder but rather I'm talking about getting in touch with the first instinct someone has when they pick up the sticks. If someone has never seen someone play traditional grip, there's NO WAY they will grab the sticks in that fashion the first time they play. Even if they have seen someone play trad grip before, they invariably get it wrong. The first person to ever play drums with sticks played like Ringo, like it or not! To play matched is to be in touch with the primitive, non-intellectual, and emotional beginnings of the instrument!

2. One hand can "teach" the other.

Because both sticks are held the same way, if you do something you like with one hand, you can mimic it to learn it with the other. I recently realized I had a better way of choking cymbals with my RH, so I'm setting about teaching my LH to do the same…… (See video below.)

Once again, I think it's very important for me to stress I have nothing against traditional grip and the many great drummers who play that way. I just feel that lately, matched grip is being viewed in a somewhat limited way by the drumming cognoscente. What ever way you hold the sticks, play the crap out of the music! That's the important part! :) 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Gatekeepers and their opposites…...

How many of us have had a similar experience to Homer (from 0:43 - 0:53)? 

 ….In the late 80s, I auditioned for the Jazz program at the Banff School for the Arts. I wasn't very good, was supremely unconfident in my musical abilities and myself in general, and I really didn't know that much about Jazz or how to play it. Nonetheless, I played for Dave Holland in Montreal and he was kind enough to let me attend. I am still thankful for that. The drum prof in the program was a very well known player at the time, with MASSIVE amounts of technique, and I was super intimidated. Despite this, I learned a lot from him, but at the same time, he was very distant from the students. He also never let us forget that he was the voice of authority, and that we really didn't know anything. ( And thinking back on it, he was absolutely correct!) When his time at the school was up (it was a month long program, but most of the faculty were only there for part of the time) he said something to the effect of, "When I got here, you all really sucked, but now you suck a little less, and that's because of me!" 

That was my first experience with a gatekeeper.

I'm not actually putting down the gatekeepers, as I think they have important roles to play. The gatekeepers keep us humble, they help us to gain strength and resilience, and they help us to learn to believe in ourselves.

That said, for a young, mediocre drummer who was scared of his own shadow, it wasn't much fun! I desperately wanted this person to like me, to like my playing, to acknowledge me as one of "the cats". As someone who was the product of a broken marriage and who's father lived in a different city than me, I'm sure there were some "daddy issues" in there as well. So, in other words, I wanted this person who had just met me, didn't like my playing, probably thought I hadn't done any work to learn the drums or the music it was involved in; I wanted him to sooth my bruised, fragile ego, and self-image problems. That was an impossible task, believe me! 

But here's the thing. As soon as I stopped looking at others for approval, I was better able to follow my own path and really get to work. A great saying I heard in therapy circles is, "What you think of me is none of my business"! As long as we care about what gatekeepers think, we will always be in our own way. A lot of the "clubs" these people run that won't have you as a member have nothing to do with music. They will reject you because of the place you come from, your gender, your sexual preferences and identity, even your skin hue.(And please note I'm not accusing anyone in particular of this.)  Even when you're not barred from entry by these things it might be what gigs you play, what grip you use, the amount of flashy technique you do or don't have etc…..

So, by all means, learn everything you can from everyone. Just realize you're not going to be able to hang with all of them, and that's okay. From every report I've heard, Tony Williams was the ultimate gatekeeper.  Mr. Williams was and will continue to be a beacon of everything I love in drums and music, but we were never going to be bowling buddies or anything. :) I would also gently advise people to try and leave one's ego out of interactions with other musicians when you meet them. Case in point, I've heard the great Lewis Nash  live a few times in recent years, and I've told him how much I enjoy his wonderful playing. Since I wasn't taking a lesson, or playing a gig with him, it didn't matter if I told him whether I played drums, kazoo, or the radio! Me shoehorning that into the conversation would just be my ego, and therefore useless, so I didn't mention it.

So, as the waffle people say, Lego your ego!!!

Have fun and be good to yourselves.

Monday, February 21, 2022

More Slashing Flams and Dead Stroke ideas

 ….I really need to come up with catchier titles for some of these posts!

The first video is more ideas based on using my RH to hit 2 surfaces almost simultaneously with sort of a scooping/slashing motion, in 2 very contrasting beats. I also think this camera angle helps you see it better….

Next, is an idea using 2:3 clave LF/Tumbao RF with a two hands on h.h. with some of the LH on snare as dead strokes….

Okay, full disclosure. I'm not sure how many people actually see these, much less work on them , but I also am posting them as sort of a diary and reminder of things I've worked on…. Regardless, love the music and yourselves, ALWAYS! 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Triple Stroke Groove

Inspiration is such a cool thing. If one is open to ideas, and work with them, they lead to more ideas, and at times it seems endless what we can discover. (Note I said at times. Ha!)
Anyway, I was watching a cool IG post Dan Weiss had done about alternating Ruffs and Swiss triplets and then stumbled on to this sticking in triplets, accenting each downbeat….

After playing for a minute I realized I was doing the triple stroke roll. This was an idea I worked on a lot when I first went to university in the Precambrian era, but haven't spent much time on it lately. It's super fun to voice on the instrument in different ways like RH cymbal/LH snare, a hand on each tom, or this, which is RH hi-hat/LH snare. First I'm playing quarters with the bass drum and then I'm playing Jazz (displaced by an 8th triplet) quarter note triplets with both feet, which creates a fun open and closed thing with the hats. :) Have fun.

Also, Happy Valentine's Day. Next year I'll come up with a beat that's more romantic! :) 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Jimmy Cobb brush idea

Certain players create endless rivers of ideas flowing past us every time we hear them. One of those is definitely Jimmy Cobb, so I lifted this little brush idea from him…..

It's nice to know we can still learn from master musicians, even after they have left the physical realm.
Once again, thank you Mr. Cobb.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Don't give up your sound…FOR ANYONE!!!!

As someone who generally plays Jazz, I play for small audiences in small venues (COVID lockdowns notwithstanding). One great part of this is that I am rarely mic'd, so the drums are exactly as one would hear them acoustically in the room. So, generally I have been able to do my own "mix" with very little sound reinforcement. I think this is an important skill to learn that perhaps people that only learn and play on electronic drums or only play through a sound system miss. The relationships between the volume of your cymbals and drums, the amount they ring etc. are YOUR CHOICE, and good sound engineers will understand this. Occasionally when playing a festival, I may get an individual doing sound that maybe hasn't heard a lot of the type of music I play, and in that case, diplomacy and positive communication are the key. (Unfortunately, I didn't have many of these chops when I was younger.)

Quick example, I was working at a  Jazz festival once, and the house sound reinforcement people were generally people that only understood doing sound for big Rock shows, and the results weren't that good, .This was true from both the listener's and performer's perspective. During this festival I got to see Brad Mehldau's wonderful trio with Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy, and even though they were still dealing with the same sound people as everyone else, they sounded fantastic! Now, one factor is that they are all magnificent players, but another is that they played super quietly! There were lots of dynamics, but at a much lower level than most bands. When you play like that, the sound people aren't getting a ton of signal in their mics,  so it's very difficult for them to manipulate the tones they're getting, and all they can do is make them louder. :) A great lesson.

Okay, maybe this was a rant, but I'd call it a mini-rant! Work on your sound and I'll see you soon! 

Monday, January 24, 2022

The FORM guys, the Form!

 The year was 1983. I was a (self-appointed) hot shot going to St. FX U in Nova Scotia, and I was attending a summer Jazz camp. Many great guest artists were there to teach, but none more anticipated than Saxophone master David Liebman. Now, to be honest, I didn't know Liebman's music super well at this point, just that he had played with Miles and Elvin and was seen as someone who was on the cutting edge of the music.

He was there for several days, giving a great concert with the faculty which concluded with Naima on solo piano! Heady stuff. He also played for the drummers and sounded like Elvin, but even looser, if such a thing is possible!

Well, it was with all this in my head that I found myself playing "Confirmation" with him at a jam. I'm not sure who else was playing but my very good friend and long time musical collaborator Mike Downes was on bass. I don't think I'm telling stories out of school to name Mike on this, as we have spoken of the experience since and he has helped me recall some of the details. 

So, anyway, we're playing, and for me I'm sure I was worried about being impressive and hip, and probably not listening very well. But even with my "green ears" I noticed that we were playing a lot of A sections in a row for an AABA tune. So, after the tune ended, Liebman looked at us, and in his classic NY style said this…..

And, Mike and I both hung our heads in shame and thought, "The Form".

But a cool thing happened, Mike and I both started take much more responsibility for song form and developed our strength and awareness of it. To this day, Mike's ability to concentrate and navigate song forms is second to none, and I would like to think that i have developed a similar skill set.

So, thanks so much Dave. I have been lucky to have performed with him a handful of times since, and I believe I've been a lot better equipped to contribute to the music. So folks, don't fret if you have a slightly embarrassing situation with a musician with more experience than you. It's the way you'll learn! :) 

Monday, January 17, 2022

"Slashing" Flams

 Okay, this is one of those things that I don't have a name for, but I thought the "slashing flam" sounds sort of swashbuckling, so let's go with that for now. It involves hitting two different drum/cymbal surfaces almost simultaneously, with one stroke, creating a flam sound between those surfaces. The history of me using this technique is sort of funny. In the '80s I was checking out an Ed Soph instructional video and was trying to learn this thing he was teaching where you sort of pull your arm out for accents or something. Anyway, i never learned the technique and probably misunderstood it in the first place, but afterward I noticed that I could hit either left side cymbal/small tom or hi-hat/snare almost simultaneously. But I currently started working on this with my right hand to play right side cymbal/floor tom or left side cymbal/small tom. Here is my first attempt, playing it in a 7 thing with a 3 beat cross stick…..

It's hard to see here, but I'm sort of making a circular/scooping motion with my arm so I can reach both surfaces on the way down. It's interesting, it seems to bring the sound of the tom out more when I buzz the stroke, otherwise it's easy to lose the sound of the drum over the volume of the cymbal. I will keep working with it though.

Here's another video where you can see the motion I'm making a little better. Sorry about the low volume of my talking in this one…..

Finally, I mention how this technique can have sort of a loose, almost crude feel that I really like. I'm not sure if this is what he's doing on this tune, but on the Fleetwood Mac tune, "Hold Me" there's a great fill after the break down, (2:45) where he sounds like he went for his tom and accidentally hit his cymbal too! Great, cool fill! Here it is….

Also, although this has nothing to do with what I was discussing, check out how he switches from hi-hat to bell of the cymbal halfway through each chorus. A truly unique player, who also looks great in archeologist's garb! :) 

Have fun! 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

A little fun on the floor tom….

Here's a cool thing to do with brushes. The LH is clockwise circling in a dotted quarter rhythm while the RH  plays alternating legato strokes in a 7 beat downbeat/upbeat pattern. Will this beat be a in a world famous tune that rockets me to stardom while becoming part of the sonic signature of a whole generation? :) Probably not, but that's okay…………

Oh, I played this on the floor tom because the head was in a bit better shape than the snare drum head. Again, this is the drum set at the studio I rehearse at and these are NOT my preferred drum heads. I happily use ATTACK drumheads and everyone should go out and buy them! :) 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Thursday grab bag!

 Hey all,

I know Rick Beato can be polarizing (partially because he's become so successful) but I think he offers some great thoughts here on having people you trust vetting your work for you…

…And here's some great footage of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, and Brian Blade from  2004…...

Monday, January 10, 2022

As promised...

 Here's what I was working on the other week when I made the post justifying that I was working on it! 

First is a RLRLRLR 7 beat sticking, going between the small tom and crosstick with the Tumbao BD and half note LF. I'm thinking about it in 4/4. In fact I'm singing "Blue Bossa" to myself while I'm playing….

Next I'll playing a 7 beat figure between my ST., snare and bass drum, while playing a 3 beat figure I've been playing SINCE HIGH SCHOOL in the RH/LF. I'n still thinking in 4/4 though, and relating it all to a 12 bar Blues internally.

In closing, I remember seeing Steve Smith do a clinic and someone asked him how he prioritized his practicing. His response was "If you're playing with a band on the weekend and they're playing Brick House, learn how to play Brick House."

Hoping your practicing is mighty-mighty, and you're just letting it all hang out! :) 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Likes and shares do not a gigging drummer make…...

UPDATE: I was just hipped to the latest missive from a reasonably well known youtuber/provocateur. I won't name them here but their handle is drummer plus either a ratio or a percentage (whatever that means.) This individual claims that drummers can now be divided into "gigging" and "internet" players and that the people who have embraced being online are the ones who are facing how the world is now, taking advantage of technology etc…
The major problem with this is the way one seems to get noticed online is with a lot of lowest common denominator pizazz designed to flabbergast and impress the viewer. So, what we end up with is more and more circus trick videos from people who don't even have enough together to successfully play the average wedding gig! And the proliferation of such material is helping ensure that later generations will be even LESS EQUIPPED to just play normal gigs like backing a blues singer, being in the house band at a jam, playing with a strolling Dixie band, etc.
Now, maybe many don't think this is important, or most live gigs won't come back or whatever. I certainly can't predict the future. I will say that if said future doesn't value playing with actual musicians in real time in a room together, I'm not sure how interested I am. If that makes me unhip and old fashioned, so be it.

Stay tuned for a post where I give shout outs and links to all the drummers online who I feel are providing good information and helping to educate the players of the future.

Okay, on with the show! 

 Alright! It's time for THE FIRST RANT OF THE YEAR!!!!

Unsurprisingly, it involves that frequent bane of musician's existence, social media, especially Instagram.

As I've mentioned before, IG is inundated with drummers performing death defying feats. The problem is, doing your trapeze act doesn't have a lot to do with playing a gig! Playing a gig calls on a drummer to have taste. as well as good ears and judgment. 

So, the next time you get down on yourself because you aren't able to play things that only people who know nothing about playing music WITH OTHERS dig, remember that 90% of these IG warriors CANNOT:

1. Read a chart (or any written music) to save their lives.

2. Play anything they're playing below a FFF dynamic, therefore making it useless when actually playing with a band.

3. Play any beat or solo that doesn't glorify them in some way.

4. Blend with a band. (See 2.)

5. Improvise

6. Shape a tune, solo, evening of music, or collection of compositions in a recorded format.

7. Choose feeling in the music over some impressive things they've worked out. I.E. TASTE!

8. Relate to the music in any other way except what the drums do.

9. Problem solve in the moment, like professionals do on gigs all the time. I.E. Is the bassist dragging? What should I do? Is my dynamic appropriate for the band and the room?

Don't fool yourselves folks. All the likes and shares in the world won't equal nailing the gig! 

Thanks, and Happy Rant-y New Year.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Jan. Sale at Drum Joy With Ted

Hey all,
Ontario ( and lots of other places, I'm sure) has gone back to online learning only so I thought I would offer a sale on my teaching services for the month of January.
Details below….

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Letting go

The period between Christmas and New Year's has been traditionally a time for me to get some practicing in, and now, with a new lockdown as a possibility, there are even less demands on me than ever, due to no gigs!


I stumbled on to a couple of 5 and 7 beat things I liked, within both 4/4 and 3/4 time. (I might put them up on a future post).

And your next question should be "SO WHAT?"

That is a truly valid question, because as I was developing these ideas I was struck by the fact that I may never play these live. Maybe in a solo, but the likelihood of playing them within a group context is extremely low. But yet I still persist, because…..

-Any of these overlapping metre things help me tighten up my time, no matter what I'm playing.

- Finding new grooves and orchestrations perpetuates itself, and keeps the flow of new ideas going.

-Hearing long odd phrases helps my concentration and keeping track of time signatures and forms.

And here's the thing. If any of these things work their way into my playing on a gig, it will have happened organically. The days of me trying to justify things I've worked on to satisfy my ego are over, thank God!

So, if I'm on a gig and they call "Back In Black" or a Country Waltz, and I try to shoehorn this stuff in, I'M BEING A TOTAL DOOFUS AND WILL LIKELY NEVER PLAY WITH THAT BAND AGAIN!!!!!

And, if I'm on a gig and I attempt to play the AC/DC tune or a Country Waltz, and it sucks, GUESS WHAT THE NEXT THING I PRACTICE SHOULD BE?????

Find your role within what ever the music you're playing is, and then play the crap out of it!

Also, Happy New Year! :)