Lessons

Peter Erskine: Velocities

Here’s some cool drum vocabulary that best exists in its own time and space frame; such rhythms shouldn’t be transcribed in measured time. Why? Because these are rhythmic expressions more of velocity and emotion rather than technique. To get started, let’s use the triplet as our foundation. Play Exs. 1—9 at varying tempos and dynamics, all the while listening to the drumming of Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, and Art Blakey. You will recognize these motifs, and you will also recognize that these are best played freely. Change the tempo and speed throughout (start and stop frequently if you like). Vary the dynamics rapidly and often. Experiment with crescendos and diminuendos. Vary the texture: Play on different parts of the head, drum, or cymbal. In other words: make the music breathe.

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