Friday, April 9, 2010

Some Quick Tips on Second Line Drumming

One of the more elusive styles is the New Orleans second line drumming that has been around since jazz was born. The grandfather of this style may well have been Louis Cottrell Sr., however, the style was propagated to a much wider audience by Baby Dodds and others.

My favorite video that demonstrates the old style, as well as the evolution of second line, is New Orleans Drumming. One clip, in particular, from the video is performed by Herlin Riley who does a beautiful job of demonstrating the traditional form:

There is a segment by Johnny Vidacovich who diiscusses (and demonstrates) not only the second line style, but other New Orleans music which was derived from the roots. This clip of Vidacovich is not from the video, but does contain some of the techniques he discusses in it, with an emphasis on the all important clave rhythm:

The late, great Earl Palmer is also in the video. He discusses the influence of New Orleans drumming on popular music of the 1950s and 1960s. Palmer is one of the most recorded drummers in history, along with Hal Blaine, so it is illustrating to discover how pervasive the New Orleans and second line influences are to contemporary (for that period) music.

The final segment is performed and discussed by Herman Ernest, who shows the influence of early New Orleans drumming on funk.

If you want to dig deeper into the art of second line drumming I recommend Stanton Moore's A Modern Approach to New Orleans Drumming, which may be more in line with a more modernized approach to learning the style. Moreover, Moore's DVD is more focused on instruction, making it a great learning tool.

Moeller Technique (and other tips by Derrick Pope)

As a follow-up to two previous posts (My Favorite Instructional Videos: Grooves and Woodshedding!), these instructional videos by Derrick Pope are pure gold:
Moeller Technique

One-Handed Rolls

Double Stroke Technique

Watch and learn!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More on brush playing

Scattered throughout this blog are posts about playing brushes:I wanted to add another resource from my other blog that should inspire brush players (or those who want to learn brushwork): Sound of Swing - A Great Basie Video. What makes this video special is it's just Basie and his rhythm section (Sonny Payne, Freddie Green and Norman Keenan). Payne's brushwork is exquisite on every performance, two of which are embedded in the post, and the interplay between and among the musicians illustrates how to make excellent music as a cohesive group. Watch Basie closely for the cues he gives the other musicians.

Update: See Jon McCaslin's excellent blog post, The Art of Brushes: Roundtable Discussion for more about Steve Smith's instructional video.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pearls from Pearl

In my opinion Pearl, like Ludwig, knows how to make a snare drum with mojo. I have yet to play a snare drum from either company - even their low end models - that was a dog.

My introduction to Pearl snare drums came about when I purchased a bare Pearl Sensitone steel shell off eBay. The story behind the purchase is somewhat humorous and a lesson to not drink and browse eBay. However, the finished product after I outfitted the shell with lugs, throw/butt, hoops, etc. turned out to be a great sounding (and looking) snare drum.

The only reason I sold it was it was too loud for my tastes. The rock drummer who now owns it is pleased.

My next Pearl was the Chad Smith signature model. I was pleasantly surprised by the wide tuning range and sensitivity of this instrument, which is among the low end snare drums offered by Pearl. Even with stock heads and snares it was more than adequate for jazz, blues and classic rock. One feature I especially like is the Pearl SR-015 strainer, which is a Gladstone style throwoff shown below:

Overall it is a versatile snare drum that is often overlooked because of its low price and the fact that it has a steel shell. The only reason I sold mine is because I was on a vintage snare drum quest and I had other metal shell snare drums that rendered the Chad Smith model redundant.

I next acquired a Pearl 6.5x14 brass Sensitone Special NAMM edition:

This snare drum started my love affair with Pearl Sensitone snare drums. My favorite feature is the single flange hoops with heavy duty hoop clips that give this snare drum an open sound. It works extremely well with brushes, and has a wide dynamic range from soft to loud. It also is one of the more sensitive snare drums I've owned.

I feel that you cannot go wrong with any of the many Sensitone models, but I especially like the 6.5x14 Sensitone Elite Beaded Phosphor Bronze Snare (easily the equal of my Special NAMM edition Sensitone), and the 5x14 Pearl Sensitone Elite Beaded Aluminum Snare, which sounds like a vintage Ludwig Acrolite. The 5x14 size of the aluminum model is more versatile than a deeper snare drum, and the shell gives it a wood-like sound, making it a good compromise between a metal and a wood snare drum.

My Special NAMM edition snare drum will always have a place in my snare drum arsenal, as will my Pearl 5.5x14 50th Anniversary snare drum.

I love everything about the 50th Anniversary - single flange hoops, steambent maple shell, and even the special edition Fiberskyn head. This particular snare drum proved to me that Pearl could make a wood snare drum that has the same mojo as their metal models. This led me to the 6.5x14 Pearl MHX Masters Mahogany Snare Drum, which is - in my opinion - the equal of any wood snare drum Ludwig makes (and Ludwig will always be the benchmark.) This snare drum has a 4-ply mahogany shell and 4-ply maple reinforcement rings, and is perfect for any musical style. I did not like the die cast hoops that it came with, but after throwing a set of triple flange hoops on the snare drum sang.

Bottom line: Pearl knows how to make snare drums. In my opinion you cannot go wrong with even their low end models, and their high end models are simply amazing. More importantly, every Pearl snare drum I have owned or played worked beautifully out of the box, which is refreshing considering that the first thing I do with a new snare drum is change the heads and snare wires.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Five Star Tips

Need some quick advice on tuning, head selection and a plethora of other topics? This collection of short tips is worth checking out.