One of the most rewarding, difficult and interesting areas of drum Set playing is that of Coordination. The moving of all 4 limbs melodically, harmonically ostinato-ly (I just made up that word) is an essential part of Drum Set study.
I heard it suggested once that only a helicopter pilot has greater or equal coordination demands. (I have never flown a helicopter and, in fact, have only ridden in one once (as I was being medi-vaced to the local hospital following a bike accident and I have to admit my attention during the flight was not comparing coordination similarities.) I think some heavy equipment operators also have some very daunting challenges. There seems like a lot going on there when the caterpillars are on the move. Suffice to say that the modern drum set player has a unique and difficult challenge. To solve the resulting physical demands and offer musical possibilities there has been a huge amount of coordination books released onto the slavering market.
There are quite a few approaches to coordination (and we will examine them all eventually) but this little article will explore “sequential” coordination, that is, one limb following another in sequence. You could also think of this as “melodic” coordination
We have four limbs to do our coordinated duty….the RF LF RH and LH. The typical right handed Drum set player will have the RF on the bass drum. Call the resulting sound” BOOM.” The RH will play the ride cymbal. Call that resulting sound “RING” The LH plays the snare, “CRACK” and the LF will step the hi-hat equaling “CHICK”. When you do these 4 things in a nice smooth sequential flow you will hear those 4 sounds in a row….BOOM-RING-CRACK-CHICK. I recommend staying on this for awhile. Feel the 4 limbs moving from one to another and appreciate the resulting sounds and the different feel of each instrument. The hard surface of the cymbal, the tight head and interplay of the snares the softer give of the bass and the varied “slosh” to “chick” sounds of the hi-hat. Try saying the words out loud as you do it and commit the sounds to your memory.
BOOM RING CRACK CHICK.
If you start from the Bass drum…i.e. “BOOM”…. There are 6 different possibilities for 4 limb sequences.
- BOOM RING CRACK CHICK
- BOOM RING CHICK CRACK
- BOOM CRACK RING CHICK
- BOOM CRACK CHICK RING
- BOOM CHICK RING CRACK
- BOOM CHICK CRACK RING
Play and savor all of these patterns.
Now, try combining any of the two numbers.
1 and 3 will be: BOOM RING CRACK CHICK. BOOM CRACK RING CHICK.
2 and 6 will be: BOOM RING CHICK CRACK. BOOM CHICK CRACK RING.
There are quite a few interesting and melodic possibilities just using those 6 basic sequences. While playing them you can try, like before, singing out the sounds.
One of my own personal faves is to take one of the 4 limb motions and start it from different spots in its rotation. They are all going the same direction but have a retrograde kind of feel.
- BOOM RING CRACK CHICK
- RING CRACK CHICK BOOM
- CRACK CHICK BOOM RING
- CHICK BOOM RING CRACK
Try playing all four of those in a row for an interesting and funky challenge. Notice that the original BOOM RING CRACK CHICK is the starting note in each flow.
For an added bonus, within each 4 part motion is various shorter moves: Once again, using the original BOOM RING CRACK CHICK.
- BOOM RING
- RING CRACK
- CRACK CHICK
- CHICK BOOM
- BOOM RING CRACK
- RING CRACK CHICK
- CRACK CHICK BOOM
- CHICK BOOM RING
Any one of these 8 possibilities should provide you with hours of coordinated and musical fun.
Check out the other lessons on this topic for more variations and designs.