Welcome to the third and final installment in this series on bass drum comping. This time we’ll be working in 5/4. The phrases included here are intended to help you develop dynamic balance with your bass drum foot in unison with your three other limbs. They are also designed to inspire you to improvise with your bass drum foot handling rhythms generally played on the snare drum.
When practicing the pattern below, center your attention on the ride cymbal, hi-hat, and bass drum rhythms, keeping the sounds dynamically balanced as one unit. In addition, focus on keeping the bass drum beater rebounding approximately 2″ off the head to obtain a soft, round sound. (Don’t bury the beater into the head!)
Next, try substituting the following nine bass drum riff patterns in conjunction with the ride cymbal and hi-hat rhythm from above.
Once you can play the above three-voice examples with control, add the following one-measure snare drum patterns to complete the riff.
As you continue to practice each of the layered rhythms, listen across your appendages to check that you have complete rhythmic and dynamic control of all the parts. Focus your attention on each limb, and repeat the riffs several times until the groove is locked and feeling strong.
For variation, practice the nine bass drum patterns with the following ride cymbal variations. Then create your own riffs. Have fun!
Steve Fidyk co-leads the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band (with arranger Mark Taylor), freelances with vocalist Maureen McGovern, and is a member of the jazz studies faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia. He’s also the author of several instructional books. His latest, Big Band Drumming at First Sight, is available through Alfred Publishing.