The following studies are from my book "Advanced Coodination for Drum Set and Hand Percussion". They are presented in PDF format which should facilitate fast downloads. If you do not have a PDF viewer you can download Adobe Acrobat for free below. If you want clean (less fuzzy) copies of these pages you should get the book. Have fun!
Rhythmic Patterns | Two Note Groupings | Brazilian & Afro-Cuban Ostinatos
All studies and exercises are PDFs. You will need Acrobat Reader in order to view them.
Rhythmic Patterns study
Two Note Groupings study
Here are some of my favorite patterns that are the result of the previous study. I have notated them on a dual staff system so that you can easily see the separate components. Please pay close attention to the instrument and hand/foot directions for each study. Remember to use the rhythmic patterns on pages 7-9 (see Rhythmic Patterns above) as your left hand or foot solo patterns. Also make sure that after you are comfortable with a page, you improvise with your free limb. This means that you should try to make up the solo limb patterns without any written-out source.
Brazilian Ostinatos study
These ostinatos are played with the left (or weak) hand on the hihat while the right (strong) hand plays the rhythmic patterns. Try to also play the patterns around the toms since your right hand will now be free from having to cross over to play the hihat.
Brazilian Grooves study
Afro-Cuban Grooves study
Basic Beat Displacement study
Beat Displacement Funk Grooves study
Bass Drum and Hihat Technique
To work on this technique, try to think of bouncing the beater off the head in the same manner that you bounce sticks off a drumhead. I also use a side stepping motion with my bass drum foot. I will lift my heel off of the pedal about one-inch and balance on the ball of my foot (the part just beneath your toes). Then, I will bring the heel of my foot down to get one stroke and use the ball of my foot to get another. This becomes an alternating action and you can gain incredible amounts of speed and power using this technique. At the same time, you can rock your foot sideways to relieve any pressure on one muscle group. As you can gather there is a lot of movement going on here. Your feet, like your body, should always be in motion when drumming -- sort of a perpetual dance. This motion also works great for the hihat foot when performing open and closed splash patterns. Here are some exercises for your feet using this type of technique. Play the bass drum and hihat examples separately at first and then combine them. These also work great as foot ostinatos to use when soloing or as foot accompaniment for rudimental type snare drum solos. bass drum and hihat foot exercises.
Over the years I have learned that you can use any brand, size, and material of drums and get a decent recording out of them, if the drummer can play. I’ve had guys bring drums in that looked like they had been buried underground for years and with some new heads and a can of WD40, they worked okay. That being said, there is no substitute for a quality instrument in a recording situation. Drums that work fine in a live situation will reveal all manner of squeaks, rattles, worn heads, and bad tuning under the interrogation of a good microphone. Therefore if you don’t own a good set of drums, you may want to rent one or check to see if the studio you are recording at has some available. This will make a huge difference in the quality of your drum sound. Also keep in mind that most engineers will not know how to tune your drums or for that matter fix them. It’s basically up to you, the esteemed drum owner. Here is a basic primer on tuning, head selection and recording your drums.
Note: When changing heads on your toms and snare drums always change top and bottom heads at the same time. That’s right, those bottom heads wear out too. Although you are not hitting them, air is forced down to the bottom head every time you hit the top. If you don’t believe me put you hand on the bottom head of the tom and hit the top. See what I mean. Over time this wears down the bottom head and it looses its ability to vibrate freely.
1) Bass Drum -- Sometimes called the kick drum (I hate this) the bass drum can produce a huge variety of sounds. It can be tuned anywhere from very low and dry for a fluffy type of sound, high and dry for a sharp attack or left completely open for a ringing and rounder sound. If you don’t like my adjectives here’s the breakdown.
2) Toms -- I generally prefer smaller toms for recording since in my opinion they are easier to tune high without choking and seem to stand out more in a thick mix. They also exhibit overtones that are much more controlled than larger drums. I like the qualities of birch toms (drier with a sharp attack) for recording pop or rock and maple toms (open and round) for jazz. Heads for jazz should be thin and coated (for brushwork). You can also use calf heads. For the rock and pop genre try to use something a little heavier and perhaps even one of the double ply heads available. Unless you have a drum head endorsement this is the way to go since heads are expensive and if you play hard a thin head will hardly last a day. I tune my toms to dissonant intervals (see jazz BD above) to reduce unwanted overtones from the kit. I also try to tune both top and bottom heads to the same pitch. I fine this gives me the purist tone and maximum volume. The biggest problem I hear drummers and engineers talk about with toms is snare buzz. This fact of drumming life occurs when one of the toms -- usually the smallest -- causes a sympathetic vibration of the snares on the snare drum. It can range anywhere from not so bad to sounding like you have whole kit of snare drums. There is really no way to completely eliminate this anomaly with out choking the hell out of your snares or using electronic drums. To me snare buzz is a fact of drumming life but there are ways to minimize it. First of all try to tune you toms differently-sometimes a 1/2 step interval makes a huge difference. If this doesn’t work try a different snare drum or tighten the bottom heads on your snare. You should also be aware that snare buzz adds a lot of top end to you bass drum sound-not necessarily a bad thing. You can also ask the engineer to put a noise gate on your toms and snare. A noise gate is an electronic device placed in the recording chain after the mic and preamp that will let sound through when a certain threshold or loudness has been reached. Otherwise the gate remains closed and no extra sounds are admitted when a drum is struck. It is usually a good idea not to track (record to tape) with noise gates since if they are set up wrong they create a horrible sucking sound that will remind you of your favorite Hoover vacuum cleaner. It’s best to apply these effects on mix down.
3) Snare Drums -- Ah, the snare drum...the heart and soul of the kit (at least for backbeat based music). Most pro drummers own 30 but alas, I only have eight. Eight is enough though (probably more than enough) and I am able to get most tones I need out of four, yes four, different drums. They are: a 6.5” x 14” wood shelled drum, a 3.5” x 14” brass piccolo drum, a 7” x 12” wood soprano drum and a 5.5” x 14” metal drum. These four drums offer almost limited tonal possibilities and with a little tweaking at least one will always work for a specific song or session. I almost always use the same head combination that consists of a thin coated batter head with a very thin (read thinnest available) snare head. This gives me maximum sensitivity as well as volume. It also works with brushes and I have the option of leaving the drum wide open for a ringing sound or muffling for a drier sound. I am also a big believer in heavy die cast hoops for my snare drums. They will give you much more “crack” to your sound and will make tuning the drum much easier. When tuning a snare drum I start by tightening the snare head and tensioning the snares so that a light tap on the head gives a sensitive response without any errant snare noise. Then I turn off the snares and tighten the top lugs finger tight. Then, using a star tuning system (i.e. full turn on lug 1, then lug 7, lug across from it, etc.) I tighten the head until all wrinkles are out. At this point I will press down hard on the head to break the glue seal around the outer ring. I then try to fine tune each lug to the same pitch all the way around the drum. It usually takes a couple of hours to break in a new head. This applies to bass drum, toms and snare heads so make sure you change the heads a day or two before you session and not at the session.
4) Cymbals -- For recording, and in all other situations, use cymbals that work well together as a group. As an experiment try striking all of your crashes, rides and hihats one after the other. Now listen to the resulting ring. You want all the timbres to match but not the pitches. I prefer to use thin crash cymbals because they speak and decay quickly. Heavy crashes will sound too metallic and can wreak havoc at the higher frequencies. Make sure your ride cymbal does not hum at a certain pitch and does not “wash out” when played hard. For rock and pop music a strong clear bell is a must. A ride that is too heavy will call too much attention to itself in a mix so try to find a good combination of stick definition, clear bell sound and sustain. For jazz styles your ride should act as a cushion for all the other instruments. This is why the quality of the older K Zildian cymbals is so desirable. These cymbals are very dark sounding when played alone but when they are used with other instruments they blend incredibly well. Any special effects cymbals like chinas, splashes etc. should always be used tastefully as to not get overly annoying. Most drummers these days are moving towards smaller hihat cymbals such as 13” or even 12”. For the intricate rhythms of funk and latin styles these sizes work great. It is a good idea to own at least three pairs of hihat cymbals of various weights and sizes. This will give you lots of options on a session if the music or producer asks for something different. Finally it would be a good idea to learn the correct way to strike a crash cymbal. Always use a glancing blow. This means that you never should hit a cymbal straight on so that it absorbs all of the impact of your strike. Use a wrist motion instead of an arm motion. This will sound much better and will keep you from breaking those very expensive cymbals.