Hands

Rhythm - - FEATURE -

So let’s be­gin with per­haps the most ob­vi­ous start­ing point; the hands. This is the one el­e­ment of this fea­ture that can be heav­ily in­flu­enced by tech­nique, so if you feel that things are un­com­fort­able and tense and you’re hit­ting a wall in terms of tem­pos it could be a sign that the tech­nique side of things could use some at­ten­tion. If that’s the case any good tu­tor should be able to of­fer some help and di­rec­tion.

Ex­am­ple 1

We start things off with a clas­sic para­did­dle based ex­er­cise, which the great Jim Chapin would of­ten use. It fea­tures a com­bi­na­tion of 6/6/4, with the sixes be­ing made up of dou­ble para­did­dles and the four be­ing one half of a para­did­dle. The half para­did­dle means the stick­ing switches hands in each bar. It’s an ef­fec­tive and more de­mand­ing com­bi­na­tion of the in­di­vid­ual stick­ings and is ex­cel­lent for build­ing dex­ter­ity be­tween the hands.

Ex­am­ple 2

One of the key points in de­vel­op­ing re­laxed speed with the hands is be­gin­ning to utilise the fin­gers. Ex­am­ple 2 is an ef­fec­tive way of play­ing grad­u­ally longer bursts of notes us­ing just the fin­gers. It be­gins with three notes per hand, then six, then nine, and fi­nally 12, with the lead hand play­ing 10 re­peats be­fore mov­ing up the next group. From a tech­ni­cal stand­point one thing to look out for is try­ing to keep the wrist and hand static so that all of the move­ment of the stick is done by the fin­gers. To achieve this the ex­am­ple will need to be played above a cer­tain tempo, al­most like the tick-over point of an en­gine.

Ex­am­ple 3

It’s cer­tainly true that most of us have at some point tried to de­velop sin­gle-stroke rolls speed by play­ing al­ter­nat­ing sin­gle-strokes from su­per-slow to teeth-clench­ingly fast. And whilst this can be an ef­fec­tive way of de­vel­op­ing speed, al­ways lead­ing with the same hand means there can be an im­bal­ance. The fol­low­ing com­bi­na­tions could be re­garded as the 7, 5 and 3-stroke ruffs and in­volve the sin­gle-strokes mov­ing hand-to­hand. On pa­per they look sim­ple enough, but they can be de­cep­tively chal­leng­ing to play com­fort­ably and at speed. How­ever, once mas­tered the syn­chro­nis­ing of sin­gle-strokes should feel much eas­ier.

Ex­am­ple 4

This four-bar ex­er­cise is one that Si­mon Phillips some­times breaks out at drum clin­ics and it is par­tic­u­larly ex­cel­lent for de­vel­op­ing speed and stamina. It starts off straight­for­ward enough with a bar of sin­gle-strokes, then a bar of dou­ble strokes. Next comes three notes per hand but no­tice how, in bar 3, this be­comes syn­co­pated, mean­ing we be­gin the groups of four notes on the last 16th note of bar 3. The left hand then plays the last 16th note of bar four and the first note when the ex­er­cise re­peats, caus­ing it to switch hands each time.

Ex­am­ple 5

Our fi­nal ex­er­cise for the hands has four parts or, rather, in­ter­pre­ta­tions. Es­sen­tially, we have four dif­fer­ent ways of in­ter­pret­ing the dot­ted quar­ter-note based two-bar fig­ure in Ex­am­ple 5.

First we play it as ac­cents in sin­gle-stroke eighth-note triplets. Next we dou­ble the un­ac­cented notes. The next ex­am­ple uses a six-stroke in­ter­pre­ta­tion, while the fi­nal ex­am­ple will sound the same as the dou­ble-stroke one but in­stead uses sin­gle-strokes. It should be made clear that each of the in­ter­pre­ta­tions will have a dif­fer­ent max­i­mum tempo as the tech­ni­cal de­mands are very dif­fer­ent but with a lit­tle work they should re­ally push the speed and flu­ency with sin­gle and dou­ble-strokes.

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