August 2013
Rock & Jazz Clinic
Samba Coordination Builder
12 Independence Exercises Based on Chick Corea’s “Sicily”

by Daniel Bedard

I remember first hearing Chick Corea’s 1978 recording Friends at my music teacher’s house. This was when my ears got hooked on jazz. I was coming from a background in rock and punk, and I was amazed by the high energy and great technique displayed by the musicians on this album. It completely changed my thoughts about drumming and about music in general.

I listened to Friends a lot, mostly trying to figure out what Steve Gadd was doing on the drums. He plays a few fun sambas on the recording, and in this article I’ll share some of the exercises I came up with while trying to master the beat to the tune “Sicily.”

The Basic Groove

The “Sicily” drumbeat is based on an inverted paradiddle played over a samba foot ostinato. You’ll execute the part open-handed, which means you’ll play the hi-hat with the left hand and the snare with the right (or vice versa if you’re left-handed).

It’s important to play the accents so that the pattern has a nice flow to it.

All of the exercises are written with the right hand on the snare and the left hand on the hi-hat, but you could play them with your right hand on the ride cymbal and left hand on the snare, or with your right hand on the rim of a tom and your left hand playing rimclicks. It also sounds cool to play them using a brush in the right hand while striking the snare or tom with your bare left hand. To increase the coordination challenge, try playing the left-foot hi-hat on beats 1 and 3, on beats 2 and 4, or on all four beats. Have fun with it!

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