On these pages you will find some brief points for anyone who is coming to jazz drumming for the first time or wants to review the basics - something we should all do sometimes. Topics (will) include Jazz Cymbal Time, Basic Comping Ideas and Basic Solo Ideas.

September 30th, 2017

Basics #5: Beat Placements

The idea of using beat placements as a way to practice just about any rhythmic figure was taught to me by Trevor Tomkins while I was at Guildhall, but you can find something similar in Benny Greb's material, and Jim Blackley makes use of a similar idea especially with accents, in Syncopated Rolls.

The idea is both simple and complex, so I've included the master sheet and then an example so you can see how it works. Take any rhythmic comping idea and practice putting it in different places in the bar while playing jazz time. It is a very systematic approach and covers all the possibilities. Each bar should be practiced many times over before moving to the next one. Once you are comfortable with this start mixing the bars/placements to create comping patterns and try with other figures such as those from basics #4 and basics #2. This will build your comping vocabulary.

Jazz Drumming Basics #5, Jazz beat placemenst Jazz Drumming Basics #5, Jazz beat placements example
Filed Under : Jazz Drumming: Basics
August 16th, 2017

Basics #4: Triplet Comping

One of the quintessential elements of jazz drumming is triplet comping, something used heavily by people like Elvin Jones. This usually means filling in the remaining triplets between each quarter note with the snare drum and/or bass drum. The worksheet shows you how to count each beat, "1-trip-let" "2-trip-let", how the notes line up in the different parts, and where to place the comping note. Work on this slowly, while counting a loud and make sure it is led by the cymbal. These figures should sit lightly below the cymbal line and give it some forward momentum. Don't drown the cymbal in loud comping patterns! Listen to Coltrane Plays the Blues for some Elvin examples of these patterns, and more, in use.

Jazz Drumming, Triplet Comping
Filed Under : Jazz Drumming: Basics
September 15th, 2016

Basics #3/Idea #32: Triplet Flow

I'm posting this in basics as I think it is a good exercise for beginners, but in fact it can be useful for all levels as a warm up or a way to practice moving in and out of time. The basic idea is for you to play a bar of time and then a bar of single stroke triplets, repeating many times until it is smooth. Then you play two bars of time and two bars of triplets. then 4 bars of each. At this point you can see you are developing foundations for trading fours, then eights, working up to 32bar phrases. The second page gets a bit more challenging as it introduces accents, which can then be voiced and mixed to develop solos and so on. Work with basic feet throughout, as you can see in the pdf, and a variety of tempos.

Jazz Drumming, Triplet Flow
Filed Under : Jazz Drumming: Basics
June 11th, 2015

Basics #2: Beginning Jazz Comping

Once the jazz cymbal time is consistent and flowing, it is typical to add comping ideas to support the soloist. This accompaniment is itself freely improvised in response to the music and should add to the conversation rather than overwhelm it. Think light touch! These basic patterns all focus on beat 4 and the "and" of beat 4 as this is probably the most common position that helps the music move forward. Remember that the "and" is the third part of the triplet. Again practice each pattern repeatedly. This time ply them along to Miles Davis's "So What".

Jazz Drumming Basics #2, Jazz Comping
Filed Under : Jazz Drumming: Basics

Basics #1 - Cymbcal Time