View Full Version : learning to phrase with your hands!

10-20-2010, 07:21 AM
My endeveur into matched grip has been forcing me to re-evaluate everything I once held on to. I've been working on rudiments for rudiments sake for a long time now, with my philosophy being to "train my hands for any musical possibility". Where I have been hitting some road blocks is in the "phrasing" strictly speaking on the snare drum. It seems to me the greats like Chapin and Buddy could litterally say anything they wanted on the snare drum cleanly and perfectly the first time through. They could play complex patterns or sensible phrases with ease, and fluidity.

For me it seems I've got my stock "go to" riffs, and sequencing them together can sound choppy and aimless (and aimless seems to be the way I go about practicing them as well). My favorites also seem to have blazing single stroke rolls that transition into flams and diddles in so many cool ways.

I have worked out of a place of rudiments for so long now that I can blaze through any one rudiment at a pretty good pace, but it seems to me I'm only learning "words" here. I want to play "sentences"! Any recommendations to this problem?

I've seen video footage of guys like Dom "just playin' around" on a pad and it's so...perfectly musical and un-rudimentary (though they employ a ton of rudiments). I'd just appreciate any philisophical or practical light on the topic.

10-20-2010, 10:50 AM
Maybe Benny Greb's DVD? The concept isn't new, but it's nicely presented and he's got some great ideas. It's basically all about the 4 sixteenth notes in a quarter note, and all the accent variations in it. Then you can try things like double all the unaccented notes, which gives you sort of roll variations (7-stroke etc), but it makes you use them more freely.

What I'd also try is play with some rudiments, start at every place, change them around (eg the swiss army triplet), or try different accents (paradiddle) and note values.

Anyway there are some rudiments which suit rock/pop/fusion/jazz oriented drumset playing better, and others that won't really, IMO. Some rudiments like the triple ratamacue will always sound like marching drum to me.

By the way, some parts of your post already suggest new ways to your practicing: "My favorites also seem to have blazing single stroke rolls that transition into flams and diddles in so many cool ways": Well why don't you start with practicing transitions from singles to flams and diddles for example? :D

10-20-2010, 12:18 PM
Work on playing melodies, not flamadiddles. Play jazz melodies in triplets to start. Like from the book Syncopation.

10-21-2010, 09:55 AM
I believe that the Greb dvd is the right thing for you, without a doubt. His system learn us all the letters there is so that we can put our own musical sentences together.

10-21-2010, 10:31 AM
Yes, if we look at grooves, bars and pulse quite mathematically that is. Other ethnics may look at it a whole another way, but then I think Adam (and I too) doesn't primarily want to learn the language of another culture.

10-21-2010, 08:07 PM
One approach might be to play a 'song' on your drums e.g baa baa blacksheep.

10-22-2010, 02:05 AM
One approach might be to play a 'song' on your drums e.g baa baa blacksheep.
Yes. And Greb's DVD is another rehash of concepts with new names, not song oriented. Learn a song, transcribe a sax solo on your drums etc... Just do something that can keep someone's musical interest.

10-22-2010, 08:54 AM

I like to improvise with this theme everytime I play. Generally following my warm ups. It's really a nice-feeling melody and it has since inspired me to apply my playing (especially my solos) more in a musical context. Also, try some of these melodic ideas with different tools. Things like brushes and soft mallets.

10-23-2010, 04:43 AM
I agree re: the Benny Greb DVD, definitely check that out.

Also, check this out.


10-25-2010, 12:40 PM
Sticking Patterns, by Gary Chaffee. The whole thing top to bottom is a great approach to using continuous note groupings to place accents around the bar.
But stay away from some version that's on p2p networks. It's lacking section 1 of the book, which is essential to understand the whole concept.
Then you should try some rudimental solos to put them rudiments in context. Wilcoxon's book is great for that (I recall Virgil talking about studying it with Philly Joe). A bit dated and rather basic once you get into the whole rudimental thing, but it's very melodic and more than enough to get the basic rudiments going.

EDIT: As much as I love Benny and his playing, and having enjoyed his DVD a lot, I still see it as a rehash of the same concepts, only seen in a different, more entertaining way. You should give it a look but really, Chaffee's books are where the real stuff is.

10-25-2010, 08:22 PM
Jim Chapin's book?