A recent Practice Pad column of mine explored an Elvin Jones-inspired fill with humble origins as a four-note outline (Ex. 1). As the art of most transcriptions can complete a sound picture only part way, the player’s ear is all important in terms of guiding the relative speed and dynamic flow of such a flourish of notes (Ex. 2). The challenge of the column was to decide upon the most accurate way to notate something that seems to defy such cut-and-dry representation, however exotic the rhythmic groupings might be (we tried using quintuplets, septuplets, etc.). For the benefit of my students and the readers of DRUM!, I decided upon Ex. 3 as the best way to write out this Elvin-inspired connecting device. While the triplets (or sextuplets) remain the same, the accents combined with the note grouping/visual cues should provide the closest way to describe the indescribable. Thus is the mystery and beauty of music.
Peter Erskine has played with Weather Report, Steps Ahead, and the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and holds an honorary doctor of music degree from Berklee College Of Music. http://petererskine.com