Rock Perspectives


by David Garibaldi

In the basic rock concept, tom-toms are traditionally used only in fills and solos. This was expanded a few years ago with the release of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” which used a tom-tom on beats 2 and 4 instead of the usual snare drum. Then came Al Green’s records which used a similar approach, and then the “Philly Sound” of Thorn Bell which utilized a tom-tom with the snare drum on beats 2 and 4. The classic recording of “Rock The Boat” had a drum beat that not only helped make the tune a hit, but started a trend in other records that followed. There are many more examples of this, but I believe the ones I mentioned were the ones that influenced music significantly. 

Drummers like Steve Gadd, Billy Cobham, Bernard Purdie, Louis Bellson, Buddy Rich and a few others influence much of what drummers do today. There should be more men like that because music today needs the return of the innovative drummer; someone who sets the trends rather than follows them. The innovative drummer is the thinking drummer, the one who drives himself to produce results. I’d like for you to think this article through and then become inspired to develop ideas on your own; to get committed to be the best you can be and then have the energy and conviction to carry it out.

Here are a couple of ideas utilizing the toms as part of a drum beat, rather than just for fills and solos. Adding the toms give the beats a more melodic sound and can be very effective in complementing ensemble parts.

Tom toms 1

This concept substitutes T.T. for certain B.D. notes. For every B.D. note written off the beat, substitute a T.T. B.D. notes on the beat remain.

Tom toms 2

Now add B.D. on every quarter note to “lock-down” the time.


Tom toms 3The “straight” B.D. part sets the pulse for the more syncopated hard parts.

This next idea involves the L.H. between T.T., H.H. and S.D. to produce a “Latin Rock” sound. Begin with this hand pattern:

Tom toms 4

Rearrange the sticking slightly, adding T.T. and feet:

Tom toms 5R.H. omits the first 16th note (note in parentheses) when pattern repeats. R.H. can also be played on C.B. or 2 bell-type sounds.


Tom toms 6


L.H. moves from T.T. to H.H. to S.D., etc.

Any two T.T. can be used.Other foot patterns can be substituted, such as the Samba foot pattern or one like this:Tom toms 7

Remember, all unaccented S.D. are to be played softly (pp).
Have fun!!