Up-tempo studies 1Part 4: Up-Tempo Studies

Welcome to the fourth and final installment in our series on Stick Control drumset applications. This month we’ll explore ways of interpreting author George Lawrence Stone’s exercises while playing up-tempo swing rhythms.

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As you practice the following applications, it’s important to remain as relaxed as possible, allowing the sticks to rebound naturally. Try working out these examples in front of a mirror to ensure that your wrists, forearms, and fingers are moving together in a natural way. Practicing with a metronome is also strongly suggested. The following variations can be applied to any of the “72 Single Beat Combinations” found on pages 5–7.

Let’s begin by reading each sticking as whole notes, with each R on the bass drum and each L on the snare. A good starting tempo for these is 220 bpm. Here’s a phrase that incorporates the first measure from Examples 5–8 from page 5. Play these over the swing ostinato notated above.

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Now try reading each sticking as half notes. (For clarity, the half notes are notated as quarter notes followed by quarter-note rests.) This time, mix in the hi-hat as a substitute for each L sticking. Here’s the first measure from Examples 49–52 interpreted that way.

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Next, try reading each sticking as dotted quarter notes, with each R on the bass drum and each L on the snare. Here’s Example 70 from page 7 utilizing this concept.

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Now try playing dotted quarter notes with your feet while reading the L stickings as quarter notes on the snare with your non-dominant hand. Here’s Example 1, played with the feet, mixed with Example 6.

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Another fun way of interpreting this material is to assign two-measure phrases to each sticking pattern. For example, for each R, play the following two-measure riff on the bass drum.

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And for each L sticking, insert the following two-measure pattern on the snare.

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This application requires a great deal of concentration as you keep the riff going while reading and remaining relaxed. Below is Example 3 from page 5.

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Our next pattern is a substitution application. For each R, play a double paradiddle between the ride cymbal and snare; for each L, play a single paradiddle. Below is Example 21 from page 5.

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Our final application uses a paradiddle sticking with an added 8th-note rest.

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Substitute this 5/8 rhythm for each R and L sticking as you read down the column. Below is Example 1 utilizing this application.

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Once you’ve worked through these ideas, use your imagination to come up with your own up-tempo applications of the various exercises in Stick Control.

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, including how to sign up for lessons via Skype, visit stevefidyk.com.