Monday, June 11, 2012

More Quick Tips (fills, dynamics and melody)

In my last post I provided a few of Ed Soph's quick tips, focusing on tempo and touching upon dynamics. In this post I am going to continue with Ed's quick tips, this time focusing on fills, dynamics and melody.

Tip - Fills (and dynamics)

Reinforcing Examples. These examples show two masters of dynamics - Papa Jo Jones and Alan Dawson - matching the dynamic level of the music and musicians. As described in the tip, both Jones and Dawson perform their fills at the same dynamic level as the grooves they are employing. Pay close attention to Jones because there are many subtle things happening rhythmically and dynamically. Notice how each of them never plays louder than the instruments they are supporting - they find their spot under the music and support it. This is underscorded by Dawson's playing because he never gets louder than Rollins, and takes care to ensure that he also does not overpower the bass.

Jo Jones Caravan

Alan Dawson Trading Fours with Sonny Rollins

Tip - Know the Melody. This is probably one of the most important tips for jazz and blues drummers. Listen to just about any jazz or blues (not rock-oriented music called blues) and you will probably hear the drummer playing the melody. If they are not playing the melody they are usually supporting it with counterpoints and comping. Regardless, you still need to know the melody if you are going to support it.

Reinforcing Examples. Mel Lewis playing The Cute is definitely supporting the melody, and Vernel Fournier's groove on Poinciana is a masterful creation that actually harmonizes with Ahmad Jamal's melody line. There is a lot to learn from Ed's quick tip and these two examples.

Tip - Create a Melody. This tip is about a practice regimen more than a playing technique, but when I get to the reinforcing examples you will see some of the fruits from incorporating this into your practice and mindset.

Reinforcing Examples. Listen and watch as Al 'Tootie' Heath, Joe Morello and Alan Dawson incorporate the melody not only in their grooves, but in their solos in these four clips. It's obvious that each of these drummers practiced and thought in terms of melody. Listen to each a few times each pass will reveal a structure in their playing that is tied to the melodies of the songs they are playing. This did not happen by accident. Ed Soph's quick tip is not revolutionary - drummers have been incorporating this advice forever. Sadly, I see little evidence in many drummers of all experience levels today.

I hope this is helpful.

1 comment:

Shouun Drums said...

Hi Mike

This waspost was really cool. So much to learn and so much to enjoy.

Cheers Shaun