Christmas Drum backing Track - Drum and Bass

Christmas Drum backing Track - Drum and Bass

Drumless track to practice drums with this Christmas

Hi drummers,

As it's nearly Christmas I thought I'd share this slightly weird festive drumless backing track with you. It's a messed up version of Jingle Bells without drums so you can provide the rhythms.

The style is drum and bass so it is accordingly quick at 170bpm. The generic drum and bass rhythm is not difficult per se but maintaining the 8th note hi-hat part at 170bpm for the duration is a challenge.

Technique is the key so use the fingers, allow the stick to bounce and don't tense up. If nothing else this is a good excuse to review your technique and try to develop it up to this level.

And if this doesn't get you in the festive mood then you are a lost cause!

If you want to check out some live drum and bass drumming, two guys that I enjoy watching are the Andy Gangadeen and Jojo Mayer so get on YouTube and kill some time getting inspired. As well as their great technique, watch how they use electronics and alternative drum sounds to work sonically in a very electronic based genre.

New Drum Sheet Music Resource

New Drum Sheet Music Resource

Get your favourite songs in drum notation

Hey drummers,

A new online drum learning resource is currently being written but in the mean time you have access to full drum notation for some of your favourite drum songs, as well as some less obvious choices. These have the drum notes for the entire song so you can learn them slowly at a comfortable pace, practice them and then gradually build up to the full speed and play along with the original track.

To check out and access the catalogue visit totaldrummer.com

Here you can find songs by Green Day, Bon Jovi, ACDC, Frank Sinatra, The Police, Guns and Roses, Katy Perry, Muse, Led Zeppelin and many more.

So head over there and grab some new material to take your drumming to the next level.

Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan – John Robinson Drum Beat

Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan – John Robinson Drum Beat

Hey Drummers,

Following on the series of classic grooves (check out previous posts for SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT, LATE IN THE EVENING, CHAMELEON, FIFTY WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER , we are today looking at a groove my session drumming legend Jonh J.R. Robinson, a prolific recording drummer, proven with a glance at his extensive C.V. The main aspect that draws me to J.R.’s drumming is the flawless execution of his grooves as heard on tracks from Michael Jackson’s ‘Off the wall’ album as well as the track Ain’t Nobody from Rufus and Chaka Khan’s 1983 album ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’.

Here we are looking at the Ain’t nobody drum beat. A commercially successful track and one with a very strong vocal hook, it doesn’t immediately grab the listener as a great drumming track. But that is part of the skill that J.R. possesses in my view. The ability to play complex parts that sit perfectly in the track and support the song rather than detract from it. There is a reason that J.R. is called upon by so many top artists!

And this example is one of those tracks that sounds innocent enough to the casual listener, but upon closer inspection, is actually a cleverly constructed drum part and by no means the easiest to execute.

New music video

New music video

Rock video released

Hey drummers,

It's been quiet on here for a while which I'm hoping to remedy soon but it's mainly because I haven't had the time to make videos or write articles. That's great because I've been busy doing sessions in my studio as well as other studios around London, as well as loads of gigs and teaching.

I'm also slowly getting the syllabus together for the online drum tutoring service called Total Drummer so there'll be loads of new learning material coming out through that soon.

As well as the diverse and random work of being a freelance drummer,  I've also been working with a London based rock band called Fears along with Sony/ATV. There have been loads of great gigs and lots of time in the studio demoing and getting the album together but we can also now get the first video out there into the world.

Drum Practice Backing Track in Six Eight

Drum Practice Backing Track in Six Eight

Develop crucial timing skills

Hey drummers,

Playing with the click is an ever increasing skill that every drummer needs and it's crucial that we all spend lots of time working on this. But just as important is the ability to keep good time without a machine to guide us.

I have found in the past that I'm playing live and in the studio with a click so much that I've become dependent on it and feel exposed when the click isn't there. When that happened I made a point of going back and practising without a click to build back the confidence in my internal metronome.

I have a Soundcloud profile that has a growing collection of drum practice tools to help with timing and other concepts. The track below is one of these.

It is in six eight time and lasts for eight bars. The first five bars have backing music and a click but the last three are silent. The exercise here is for you to keep playing through the silent bars. When the loop comes back around again you will know if you sped up, slowed down, or maintained perfect timing.

If this is difficult at first, persevere and it will become easier in time. Start be playing a very simple groove through it all. As you become comfortable with it you can become more adventurous with what you play in the gap.

Huge Discount on Drum Books

Huge Discount on Drum Books

Grab 55% discount off my drum books and more

Hey drummers,

My publishers have given me a great discount that I want to pass on to you guys in case you want to get any of my drum books before Christmas.

If you do then now is a great time as you can get 55% off the price. The two books I have published through Rowman & Littlefield are 'The Drum: A History' and 'Drum Kit Secrets - 52 Strategies for the Advanced Drummer'; catchy name huh!

The fist one details the total history of the drum from the earliest evidence right up to the modern drum kit and studio technology. It's very in depth and goes into great detail to try and uncover where our favourite instrument came from.

The drum secrets book has one tip for each week in the year to help people become the best drummer they can. It covers everything from playing technique, timing, studio techniques, health, stage fright and loads more. It's a useful book for anyone serious about improving on the drums. Well I would say that wouldn't I!

Anyway, if you are interested simply head over to Rowman & Littlefield in the US or NBN if you're not in the US and search for the books. Use the code AUTH1555 before 31st December to enjoy a huge discount.

Enjoy!

Drum Lessons in Farnham, Surrey

Drum Lessons in Farnham, Surrey

Farnham, Surrey Drum Lessons

Welcome to the website for local drum teacher Matt Dean. Matt has been teaching drums from his drum studio in Farnham, Surrey since he completed his 1st Class BA (Hons) music degree in 2001.

Since then he has taught students from as young as five years old up to adults from the surrounding areas of Aldershot, Farnborough, Fleet, Hook, Camberley, Odiham, Guildford and Ash in Surrey and Hampshire.

His studio is well equipped with three kits (a smaller one for younger students), lots of percussion, keyboards and recording facilities so students learn the necessary skills of studio recording.

As well as his own syllabus he also takes students through the grade exam process when required. Lessons cover all styles whether the student wants to learn rock, pop, funk, jazz, blues, Latin, or simply gain a rounded understanding of all possible styles.

There is also the option to learn from his online drum course Total Drummer, either instead of or as a supplement to 1-2-1 lessons.

As well as teaching drums privately, Matt has taught in many schools 1-2-1 as well as giving workshops to whole schools. In that capacity he has also given drum clinics to children and adults across the UK. He drums professionally as a freelance live and studio drummer playing with many different artists and shows. He also runs his own drum studio where his drumming is used around the world on albums and TV. He has also written for all the major international drum magazines as well as having two drum books published in America. Information of these can be found on the author page.

He has an enhanced CRB check in place.

Contact Matt to discuss booking a drum lesson.

Drum Pratice Solutions

Drum Pratice Solutions

New Music Technology for Quiet Drum Practice

New Options for Buying a New Drum Kit

I was recently approached by Sky News to review two new bits of drum learning and creative technology as the ‘Drum Expert’. Their words – not mine!

The show went out over the weekend and can be seen below.

I often speak to people that want to practice drums and be creative but can’t have a drum kit at home because they are too big, too noisy, too expensive. It’s a familiar story and all of us drummers have had to make a compromise somewhere down the line. These limitations actually stop all drum practice.

Sky News Matt Dean Drums

Traditionally we have used practice pads, used silencers or drum mutes on the drums, or used electronic drum kits which are increasingly becoming more impressive.

With a greater focus on this side of the market and new technology allowing greater things, I’m always interested in ways to help people become more creative and I wanted to share these bits of kit with you as they might just help you out.

My full comments were edited down for the news clip (I do ramble on after all) but the basic gist was that I thought both of these were fantastic bits of kit. For someone living in a small, terraced house with neighbours close by, someone that lives away from home all week and can’t practice in their hotels, someone in shared accommodation or flats, or someone with very grumpy neighbours or even family members, then products like this make the difference between not playing at all and being able to progress as a drummer and get creative.

I don’t see these being used in a serious way such as live performance or studio work, but I really think these could be a lot of fun and great for enabling people to practice the drums.

The bits of kit were Aerodrums and Jambe.

Rather than explain what they do I think the Sky News item below tells it better or you can check out the product pages in the company links above.

HISTORY OF THE DRUM KIT EARLY 20TH CENTURY – DOUBLE DRUMMING

HISTORY OF THE DRUM KIT EARLY 20TH CENTURY – DOUBLE DRUMMING

DOUBLE DRUMMING

Hi drummers,

Many of you may already know the history of the kit but for those of you that don’t this short post simply highlights the relative infancy of our beloved instrument. It is only really in the last hundred years that it has existed in its current form, and with tunable toms it has been even less time!

Before this time several percussionists were required in the orchestra pit to carry out various duties with bass drums, snare drums, cymbals and other percussive effects. This was not only expensive as every musician needed paying, but also took up valuable space in the cramped theatre pits.

This situation was alleviated slightly when some bright spark conceived the idea of ‘double drumming’. This entailed the bass drum being positioned close enough to the snare drum so that a single drummer could operate one drum with a stick in his right hand and another drum with a stick in his left hand.

Now one drummer was effectively out of a job and the remaining man could do the jobs previously done by two men. Not good for the unemployment statistics but a positive step towards the drum kit.

I’ll talk about the next stage later but to give you a clue, a man named William F. Ludwig (you might have seen his name on the kits of some bright young players such as Ringo Starr and John Bonham) was heavily involved and it allowed the drummer to sit down…………what a relief!

Anyway, just to think how far the kit and the way we play it has come since then shows what can be achieved by forward thinking people. Who knows, maybe you can dream up the next drumming revolution and change the way we play.

BUDDY RICH, ANIMAL AND ALBERT EINSTEIN

BUDDY RICH, ANIMAL AND ALBERT EINSTEIN

A little food for thought.

As these blogs often look at the history of the drum kit and the drummers who shaped the genres we listen to today, I know it’s sometimes tempting to ask, “Why does history matter?” Albert Einstein who was nearly as clever as the average rock drummer once said, “If you want to know the future, look into the past.”

I believe that to take music to the next stage, an understanding of what has come before is crucial, so that we can learn and accomplish what those great drummers achieved before us. And with that knowledge and those skills we can push beyond into new territory which would never have been possible without that foundation to build upon.

With that in mind, to help us examine some more historical drumming here’s a video of Animal from the Muppets. A great drummer who is seen here in battle with another chap who is trying his hardest to learn from Animal’s skills. Legend has it that this young man did actually go on after this experience and took drumming to new levels.

By the way, that Einstein geezer also said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” So get back on the kit and try something new today, something that you wouldn’t normally do. Maybe play your favourite beat with reversed sticking so that the left hand plays the right hand’s part and vice versa. Maybe try your favourite fill backwards. Maybe play in a new style or time signature or tempo or anything you want. After all Buddy Rich, Animal or Einstein wouldn’t be afraid to do so.

DRUM KIT HISTORY. THE BASS DRUM PEDAL

DRUM KIT HISTORY. THE BASS DRUM PEDAL

Having looked at double drumming in a previous blog, it is clear that two drums were being played by a single drummer by the early 20th century but the desire to play even more was strong. Unfortunately for most human beings, not counting those who were cross bred with an octopus or even that famous example of a chap who possessed centipede genes (look it up) , the great limitation was only having two arms and therefore only being able to hit two things at once.

This limitation was removed when the feet became able to play music rather than just supporting the weight of the body. This happened courtesy of the bass drum pedal. Pedals had already been experimented with in the 1890s but they required a laborious toe heel motion in order to strike the drum and then pull it back to the start position. Some were in the recognised form, attached to the bottom rim of the bass drum, whilst others hung from the top rim of the bass drum with a cord attached between the bottom of the upside down beater and the foot pedal on the floor. Other instances didn’t even possess a bass pedal, the beater attached to the foot directly with a cord, which may help to explain the term ‘Kick Drum’, which is still in use today. These examples were large and cumbersome.

And then came along a German who created a sprung version which returned the beater to its position after striking the drum. That man was William F. Ludwig who had moved to America in the 19th century as a boy and by 1908 he was drumming in the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, getting increasingly frustrated with his poor quality wood bass pedal, whilst playing emerging up-tempo jazz and ragtime styles. He decided to build his own pedal, which turned out to be so successful that by 1910 he and his brother were mass producing metal pedals under the company name of Ludwig & Ludwig. The drummer was now a seated musician and had every limb at his playing disposal. 

And so here we are 111 years later on our very comfortable padded seats but we wouldn’t have had a decent excuse to sit down if it was for Mr. Ludwig.

What a great guy!

DRUM KIT HISTORY. GENE KRUPA AND THE TUNABLE TOM TOM.

DRUM KIT HISTORY. GENE KRUPA AND THE TUNABLE TOM TOM.

Even though it seems like the drum kit is ancient and has always been around, we know that this is not the case. So far we’ve looked at double drumming HERE and the development of the bass drum pedal HERE but still the drum kit was missing something that is integral to the modern set up.

That is tunable toms. That’s right, before the 1930s drum kits or trap kits as they were known, more often featured contraptions which came in all manner of various percussive objects clamped to an arching tube that sat above the bass drum. The only type of tom that might be seen here was a Chinese tom which featured drum skins that were nailed to the drum kit.

And so the final move came to evolve the drum kit into the beautiful thing that we play today. And it came courtesy of the now household name, Gene Krupa. Krupa stripped away all the contraptions to create a streamlined kit. Having done away with the rattles, bells, whistles and other sound effects, his set up of snare, bass, 13 x 9 inch mounted tom as well as 16 x 16 and 16 x 18 inch floor toms is still favoured by many drummer s today. At first the floor tom sat in a three legged cradle but soon the legs were attached to the shell as recognized in today’s drums. The modern drum kit had been born.

Here is a video of Krupa playing ‘sing, sing, sing’ with the Benny Goodman orchestra. Throughout the track Krupa drives the band with his mastery of the kit and showmanship which makes this an early version of a drum hit. Can you think of any others?

World’s Biggest Drum

World’s Biggest Drum

WORLD’S BIGGEST DRUM

We often see huge drum kits such as that of Terry Bozzio, Thomas Lang orJoey Jordison but who actually owns the biggest single drum?

In 1922, the University of Chicago commissioned the building of a huge bass drum for the football team. It was first used in a match against Princeton University. It now belongs to the University of Texas at Austin and is played by their Longhorn Band. Colloquially known as Big Bertha, this bass drum stand 96 inches in diameter and 44 inches deep.

In Japan the large barrel drums known as o-daiko hold the record. One in particular was made for the Festival Forest Art Museum in Takayama City which possesses a head diameter of over 81 inches and 106 inches at the widest part of the barrel. It sits upon a wooden stand with wheels that have disc brakes in order to cope with the colossal four ton drum. Here they boast to have the world’s largest drum. As well as being a temple drum and museum piece, this drum occasionally makes appearances in orchestral pieces.

But even bigger than that is a drum in Ireland. The 2001 the Guinness book of records described the biggest drum in the world as Brian Fleming’s Millennium Drum for the Millennium Drum Carnival. It stood 308 inches in diameter and 75 inches deep and was designed to resemble a bodhran on one side and a lambeg on the other to represent harmony between the protestant and Catholic fraternities of Ireland.

So next time you’re whinging about carting your little 22 inch bass drum to gigs, just remember…….it could be a lot worse!

If you know of any bigger drums, let me know in the comments box below.

SHAKESPEARE SAYS DRUMMERS ARE ALRIGHT!

SHAKESPEARE SAYS DRUMMERS ARE ALRIGHT!

Hi Drummers,

According to Shakespeare, we’re alright!

I know some of you lie awake at night worrying whether or not you’re trustworthy, panicking that you might be a nutter, contemplating whether or not you are capable of feeling real emotions.

Well me too. But as it turns out, all of us are just fine according to William Shakespeare. The character Lorenzo in the Merchant of Venice says, “The man that hath no music in himself, nor is moved with concord of sweet sounds is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils: The motions of his spirits are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erubus; let no such man be trusted.”

I think there might be something in these words. A human that isn’t moved in some way by music, that doesn’t feel some kind of emotion when they hear dramatic classical, swinging jazz, screaming metal or just a sweet pop melody, must surely be lacking something inside. Beware of that person!

So as we love nothing more than the sounds of a rocking drum beat, I think that means we’re ok. Let your friends, girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, pet goat and everyone else know that you’re trustworthy.

Enjoy a peaceful nights sleep safe with this new knowledge.

KILLER DRUMS

KILLER DRUMS

Gruesome drums of horror

The humble frame drum, known in many cultures across the world and taking various forms with different shapes, materials and sizes appears so innocent. Many of us tapped on tambourines at school, with the merry sound of the jingles accompanying our rhymes. But this hand drum has a dark side!

The ancient Hebrews called their hand drum a tof and it was generally played by women back then. Thetof  bears strong and gruesome connections to an area known as Tophet in Jerusalem; a region where great horrors occurred.

This hellish area was the site of child sacrifice which saw kids burnt to appease the God Moloch. Although these horrific deeds were carried out in the name of this God, the screams of the children were too much for the people in the surrounding area so drums were beaten to disguise their cries. Now many of us have played some bad gigs in our time, but this is on another level!

This area became known as the valley of Tophet and a possible derivation of this name is that of the frame drum, tof, or toph.

Apologies if that was a bit disheartening to read but the long history of the drum is fascinating and amongst all its productive qualities, there is a dark side too.

Now go and jam along with something happy and positive.

If you're interested in the history of our beloved drums you might like to check out my book which goes deep in the subject. THE DRUM: A HISTORY

Breaking News: Boy Drummer Decapitated During Performance

Breaking News: Boy Drummer Decapitated During Performance

Calm down, I haven’t cut a student’s head off for playing the paradiddle incorrectly, although maybe I should employ such teaching techniques! This was a little misleading as a news headline but in the battlefields of the past, it wasn’t unheard of.

The military side drum was still popular on the 18th and 19th century battlefields and conditions could be dire.

On one hand the favoured timpanists of the orchestra enjoyed membership of the trumpet guilds (with whom they were closely associated) in such countries as Germany, offering job security and high musical standards. In contrast to the members of the guild, a military side drummer or timpanist was faced with special duties. For a start they marched head on into battle with the soldiers, keeping a steady rhythm to which the fighters could march. But maybe worse than that, they also accompanied any negotiation parties, playing their drums so that the enemy knew they came forth to talk rather than fight.

Sometimes this tactic might work but other times their visit was met with great hostility and used as an opportunity to make a point. Sometimes the enemy would decapitate the drummers’ heads and throw their severed noggins back as gruesome way of saying, “We are not interested in your offer of negotiation kind sir.”

And to think that these poor drummers were often young boys. So next time you’re playing your drums, just think how much worse it could have been if you were here 200 years ago!

Now you’re in the mood, check out this modern interpretation of the historical Basle drumming below.

LATIN PARADIDDLES DRUM BEAT

LATIN PARADIDDLES DRUM BEAT

Hi drummers,

Here is a look at another use of the paradiddle with Latin paradiddles. It´s another reason to practice the rudiments and actually get something useable from them and it also gives you another groove to use in a Latin context, although it could be adapted for use in many diverse styles.

I have experimented with a video today. There will be many more to come and this one has flaws as I had to do a rush job before I travelled abroad for a while. Hopefully you can get something out of this until I edit and improve it upon my return. Let me know your thoughts on how useful this is.

THE WORLD’S LARGEST DRUM

THE WORLD’S LARGEST DRUM

Hi Drummers,

Following on from the WORLD’S BIGGEST DRUM blog, I thought this drum was another interesting example to fill in another part of the jigsaw in this ongoing human quest for the biggest drum ever.

Although it has been overshadowed in recent years, at the time this drum held the title as the World’s Biggest Drum, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records and seen on Roy Castle’s UK Record Breakers TV show in 1987.

Designed by East London Supreme Drum Co. proprietor Lou Dias, with wood working expert Frank Cahill at his side, together they built the ‘Supreme Drum’ using laminated strips of wood that were bent and joined together. The result was a shell with a diameter of 12 feet and 9 inches, and a height of 4 feet. Each part of the shell consists of 6 layers of Finnish Birch plywood to form a 1 inch thick piece of wood. The wooden counterhoop was also 1 inch thick as well as 4 inches deep.

Unfortunately they couldn’t find an animal who was willing to supply such a large surface area of his skin so they created one by stitching together strong sail cloth from Southampton that could withstand the ton of pressure that the lugs would apply to it.

This drum surpassed the other large drums such as the drum at Disney Land, which sat 10 feet and 6 inches in diameter, and the Boston Jubilee Drum at 12 feet in diameter.

The first performance of this new largest drum was held at London’s Royal Festival Hall with such audience members as ELP’s Carl Palmer, Status Quo’s Jeff Rich and world renowned percussionist and author James Blades.

Carting this drum around was not for the feint hearted as it had to be dismantled every time it was transported.

world's largest drum

WHEN WAS THE HI-HAT INVENTED?

WHEN WAS THE HI-HAT INVENTED?

In the early 20th century, the trap (contraptions) kit was becoming very popular and so the drum kit as we know it today was taking shape. Check out this earlier BLOG to read more.

But we still didn’t have a hi-hat. Having discussed the bass drum pedal in a previous BLOG, we know the impact that Ludwig & Ludwig were having on the drum kit was significant. Their early bass drum pedals had already begun to look at utilising cymbal sounds by using an extension arm coming from the bass drum beater. This arm struck a small cymbal known as a clanger. Now the bass drum and clanger could be played simultaneously with the foot. However, they could only be played together and this wasn’t always desirable.

Snow Shoe on left and clanger attached to bass drum

Moving on from this primitive effort, we came to the Snow Shoe or Charleston Pedal. This brought the left foot into play by attaching two cymbals to the end of wooden boards. A hinge was added at one end and the foot attached to the top board via a loop. Now when the drummer lifted and dropped his left foot, the cymbals clashed together in a similar manner to our hi-hats in the 21st Century. Four limb independence was underway.

Then advancing from that we found find the Low-boy. This carried on the idea of two cymbals clashing together but here we see them raised several inches from the floor by way of a metal tube. Still just a percussive voice played with the foot then, unless a very short person was playing them!

And then it happened! The big moment came. It was in the 1920s that someone looked at the low boy and realised that with slightly longer tubing, the cymbals could be raised to the height of the drummer’s hands and therefore open up many new possibilities. And at the forefront of this new design was the company Walberg & Auge.

Low boy

It is with this evolution that we can also see why the drummers began to cross their hands. With a majority of players being right handed, it makes sense that they would cross their dominant hand over to play on this newly available hi-hat.

The modern drum kit as we know it today was nearly born, but there was one more step. One more element was to be created by a famous drummer of the day.

FLAM AND BASS FILLS: DAVE GROHL STYLE

FLAM AND BASS FILLS: DAVE GROHL STYLE

FLAM AND BASS FILLS; DAVE GROHL STYLE.

Here we are looking at a selection of fills which utilise the flam rudiment and notes played on the bass drum. This is a very easy to use but incredibly effective technique, especially useful for rock as it lends itself to heavy playing easily. Also included is a look at the fill performed by Dave Grohl on the Queens of the Stone Age track ‘No-one Knows’.

If you’re are unsure what a flam is watch the rudiment video..