Danny Gottlieb: Tony Williams' Dynamics!

One of the incredible experiences in my life was seeing the late, great Tony Williams do a drum clinic. He demonstrated so many different aspects of drumming and creativity, but one independence dynamic exercise stayed with me. I’ve never heard anyone else mention or demonstrate it, before or since.

He illustrated that you can work on coordination exercises, not just for the development of independence, but also changing the dynamics of each limb. He started by playing his classic time feel: cymbal beat and eighth-notes on the hi-hat for two measures (Ex. 1). He then played quarter-note triplets on the bass drum, and then proceeded to raise the volume of just the bass drum with a crescendo, with the hi-hat and ride staying the same (Ex. 2, with the hi-hat still played on all eighth-notes, but not written here for clarity). Tony then lowered the volume of the bass drum with a decrescendo, with the cymbal and hi-hat volume staying the same. It was amazing!

I hope you find this example inspiring, and that you will come to realize, as I have done, that you can practice independent limb dynamics in any pattern! Thanks for the inspiration, Tony!

DRUM! Notation Guide

Play the audio file: Gottlieb Example 1.

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