Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

The Stick Shot

A Unique Technique for Ultimate Articulation

by Steve Fidyk

This month we’re spotlighting the stick shot, a technique that’s fairly specific to the jazz lexicon. To obtain this alternate sound, press one drumstick tip against the head at approximately 30 degrees, while striking that stick at the shoulder with the opposite stick.

Jazz Drummers Workshop 1Here’s what the stick shot looks like when played with traditional grip.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s begin by playing paradiddle variations while incorporating this unique technique. Focus on the sound of each stick shot as you coordinate your hands to move between the taps and shots.

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While experimenting with the technique, notice how clear and articulate stick shots sound. I often use them in large bands as a signaling device to delineate changes in the musical form, to help lead the group into or out of phrases, or when accompanying ensemble figures.

Here’s how a stick shot can be used to punctuate the end of a four-measure phrase.

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These examples demonstrate ways to use the technique to accent ensemble figures.

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Jazz drumming legends Gene Krupa, Tiny Kahn, Philly Joe Jones, and Roy Haynes made good use of this technique when playing time and during solo exchanges. Here’s a transcription from the bass-less track “Idaho,” from the classic Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa album The Drum Battle. Krupa uses the stick shot in the intro, and his phrasing is in perfect unison with the alto sax.

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Here’s a four-measure break by Tiny Kahn on the track “Hershey Bar,” from the Stan Getz compilation At Storyville, Vols. 1 & 2. Kahn’s tasty drumming illustrates how stick shots can be used to frame solo ideas.

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Philly Joe Jones caps the trading-fours section of the tune “Billy Boy,” from the Miles Davis album Milestones, with a slick stick-shot break.

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The incomparable Roy Haynes often integrates the stick shot into time patterns and solos. Our final example is from the tune “Pumpkin,” on pianist Andrew Hill’s album Black Fire. Notice how Haynes creates space throughout each phrase, while using the stick shot in a deceptive and creative way.

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Steve Fidyk has performed with Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dick Oatts, Doc Severinsen, Wayne Bergeron, Phil Wilson, and Maureen McGovern, and he’s a member of the jazz studies faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia. For more info, visit stevefidyk.com.