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LINEAR RHYTHM CONCEPT

Part 2: Linear Drums and more


In my fantasy School of Music, where I design the curriculum, a semester of trap set would be a core requirement. I have had a seat behind the set ever since I began playing in bands. In addition to being a great aerobic workout with endurance and coordination, drumming has helped me to understand how to relate to the rhythm section, both in performance and composition.

Many musicians and most listeners respond to the "feel" of the rhythm, rather than the details that make it work or not work. While this is an excellent way to enjoy music, it's not always the best way to work with it as a fellow band member. While working with Linear as a drummer would won't necessarily make you into one, it will certainly help you to understand more of what you are hearing from the drum set.

With that in mind, we will look at how a chunk of rhythm can be manipulated to do different tasks. Since we are working with a measure of sixteenth notes as our basic rhythmic resolution, we will use a symmetrical pattern of 4-4-4-4. This pattern places the accent directly on the beat pulse, and therefore does not produce any syncopation in its original form.

example 2: 4-4-4-4  [ top ]

rh(r) on hh or ride
lh(l)
on sn or rack tom

R-l-k-k R-l-k-k R-l-k-k R-l-k-k

Notice that there is no accent shifting, as there was in the 3-3-3-3-4:

R-l-k-k
R-l-k-k
R-l-k-k
R-l-k-k

In other words, the beat-pulse and the accent line are identical. Since exchanging one group for another would have no effect, it would seem we are out of options for variations. That is where shifting the pattern comes in to play.

What shifting the pattern refers to is placing the chunk of rhythm in a different place in the beat-pulse grid. For example, moving our accent from beat-one to the e-of-four.

To demonstrate this idea we are going to use our hands the way a drummer might play a sticking. A sticking four is typically played with two right strokes followed by two left strokes. This is also called a double stroke roll. You can tap a table or right and left legs, depending on how loud you can get at the time, or you can grab some sticks and go play the sticking on a snare drum - nice and loud!

R-r-l-l R-r-l-l R-r-l-l R-r-l-l

Now see the pattern shifted back, so that the first stroke of each group comes a sixteenth note earlier, with the first stroke shifted to the very last event of the measure.

r-l-l R-r-l-l R-r-l-l R-r-l-l R-

Here are the groupings showing the beat pulse:

r-l-l R-
r-l-l R-
r-l-l R-
r-l-l R-

Try playing the rhythm in your hands and using one foot or both feet to tap the beginning of each grouping. This will help you feel the shifting of the accent. Accenting the ta of each beat (one-e-and-ta) creates a feeling called anticipation. Verbally counting the rhythm while you play it can help keep everything straight while you learn to hear it.

The groupings can be shifted back two more times before the original rhythm is reached.

l-l R-r-
l-l R-r-
l-l R-r-
l-l R-r-

l R-r-l-
l R-r-l-
l R-r-l-
l R-r-l-

The first of these two lines can give a good old-style country feel if you can get it moving fast enough. The last example seems to push in an unbalance way, creating a feeling of falling into the accent from the downbeat.

As you can see, just moving the starting point of the linear number grouping can drastically change the musical feel of a pattern. As their technique progresses, drummers learn to accent these places in the beat without changing their sticking.

R-r-l-l
R-r-l-l
R-r-l-l
R-r-l-l

r-r-l-L
r-r-l-L
r-r-l-L
r-r-l-L

r-r-L-l
r-r-L-l
r-r-L-l
r-r-L-l

r-R-l-l
r-R-l-l
r-R-l-l
r-R-l-l

This also brings up a point about working with Linear. One of the great advantages it brings is creating a relatively easy way to create complex patterns. As the musician's ear learns to hear the accent line formed by the Linear pattern, it becomes possible to play these same accents in different ways. We should strive to play what we hear, hear what we play, and stretch the limits of our hearing in our practice and career (as much as possible). Linear helps with the third, especially if you are doing the second, and the first will follow - moving backwards ala Merlin!

These ideas can be applied to melodic instruments in scale practice, arpeggio practice, and melodic interpretation, and to harmonic comping in rhythmic placement and accent. As usual, experimentation is the key to learning how to incorporate this into your own language.

Good luck, and have fun!

 

*GUITARISTS:
The accent lines created in the examples above can be translated easily into guitar strumming. Play a sixteenth-note strum where the downstrokes fall on the beats and the ands, and the upstrokes fall on the e's and the ta's.

Play the accents with a harder, louder stroke, and play the remainder of the strokes softly or not at all (by missing the guitar strings) and you will hear the line formed by the number set.

*ADVANCED:
If you are working on these ideas on a trap set or with four limbs, you can do some footwork along with the stickings. To begin with, keep both feet playing on the beat-pulse, which is the beginning of each four-event-grouping. After you have mastered this, use the right-foot or kick-foot to play the ta of each beat (one-e-and-ta, two-e-and-ta, etc.) while continuing to play the beat-pulse with both feet.
example where each line is one event-cluster (happens at once) showing one beat of sixteenth notes:
r/k/hh_foot
r
l
l/k

Article by Frank Singer ©2005 All Rights Reserved  [ top ]  
[ 001 ]   [ 003 ]

Linear Rhythm Concept
Article Index

1. Linear Drumming
2. Linear Drums and more
3. Orchestrating Linear for the Trap Set

Resources and Definitions

Resources_Definitions.htm
001 Handout: Cells
002 Handout: Groove Examples
003 Resources and Definitions (document in pdf form)
Linear Picking 1 (guitar)
Linear Picking 2 (guitar)
Time Drill (piano)

 

 

 

 

Linear Rhythm Concept
Article Index

1. Linear Drumming
2. Linear Drums and more
3. Orchestrating Linear for the Trap Set

Resources and Definitions

Resources_Definitions.htm
001 Handout: Cells
002 Handout: Groove Examples
003 Resources and Definitions (document in pdf form)
Linear Picking 1 (guitar)
Linear Picking 2 (guitar)
Time Drill (piano)

 


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