Peter Erskine: Long Tone Stickings

Long Tone Stickings

Hearing potential fills as outlines offers the drummer opportunities to provide specific rhythms while playing any number of strokes to increase the density or velocity of the moment. These strokes, or “stickings,” become a drummer’s “long tones” on the instrument, at the same time creating excitement. Let’s look at an example of something in the style of Elvin Jones. The following stickings remain the same, but the rhythmic subdivisions are altered, each successive example an attempt to make the fill less metronomic. Ex. B is most likely the “correct” way to notate this fill. But Ex. C better captures the increased momentum and velocity aiming for the destination, or beat 1, of the next measure. Exs. D, E, and F are variations on this theme. Which one achieves the goal of accurate transcription best? As with any notation, your ears become the most important guide to playing something that feels right or “best” to you.

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