Do you remember the Pirelli slogan? It was made famous by the ad featuring Carl Lewis running on water towards Manhattan scored by Aphex Twin. ‘Power is nothing without control’. Although I tweak it slightly, I find it relevant to drumming too: “Speed is nothing without control”. Drummers indeed have a tendency – and I often wonder why – to be obsessed with speed when, in my opinion, the true challenge lies in developing control and a beautiful sound.
To achieve this, I see two very important aspects to practising:
- Developing muscle memory
- Increasing control and endurance
Speed will come naturally as the result of these two aspects. Rudiments are very handy to achieve this. They constitute the foundation of the drum vocabulary. The ultimate goal is to apply them, effortlessly, in a musical context. They are great also because they provide an almost endless string of permutations and combinations, which can be used to make your practice routines both valuable and entertaining.
Building on the exercises introduced last month I am sharing with you a routine I do pretty much every day. It is a great warm-up and should help you develop the quality of your sound as well as endurance and control.
To start with, let’s review the four rudiments involved in this routine. We looked at the single-stroke roll last time, so I didn’t incorporate here. It is important you become familiar with each rudiment individually before you start combining them.
Here are the stickings for the double-stroke roll, the single paradiddle and the triple paradiddle. I am not incorporating the double paradiddle to this routine as it loops in 3/4 when played as sixteenth notes and I chose to keep the whole exercise in 4/4. Practise all rudiments leading from both the right and left hand; I definitely recommend spending more time on your weaker hand.
Feel free to add a stepped hi-hat en every beat too. You should practise this at a tempo of 60 to 140BPM.
Now link all four rudiments, playing two bars of each and keep on repeating for at least ve minutes. Keep a fairly loose grip, allowing the stick to bounce. As you have probably noticed, there are no accents featured in this exercise. The aim is therefore to keep the same sound throughout despite the sticking changes. It should be practised at varied dynamic levels and leading from both hands. Start at a comfortable tempo then gradually increase the speed, without losing the control and the overall quality of the sound. You can also add a stepped hi-hat on every beat.