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Bill Powelson's School of Drums
PRIVATE DRUM LESSON 11 E-M
"Polka, CutTime, 2/4, and Up-Tempo Jazz"

Polka, Cut-Time 2/4, and Up-Tempo Jazz

WARNING: Though the beats in this lesson appear simple in print they will prove very frustrating to all but the rudiment freaks. You will actually be executing single stroke and double stroke rolls at extremely rapid tempos when performing these beat patterns. The truth is, these beats are somewhat useless at slow tempos and seemingly impossible at quick tempos for all but those who have devoted many hours to the above mentioned rolls.

THE GOOD NEWS: There are easier substitute beat patterns that can be used in place of these patterns. You might play a lifetime without these beats and never have a problem. So, if they drive you crazy and leave you frustrated . . . DON'T PANIC! You can put them on the back-burner for study at another time.

MORE GOOD NEWS: Mastery of these patterns will automatically help students develop enviable mastery with the specific rudiments in question. In other words . . . you will be learning beats that will also help you get a grip on those boring rudiments that always need so much additional effort. With enough time and effort expended on these patterns you will enjoy greater flexibility over-all around the kit. In essence you are mastering two very important rudiments as you master these dancebeat rhythms. These beat patterns can help a student develop the technical polish and control that will otherwise only occur as a result of effort expended with rudimental repetition. This means that any effort you expend here won't be wasted. Most of us need the rudimental practice anyway!

EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS: After many years of teaching these patterns I have developed a stair-step process with these beats that will make the patterns appear overly simple in the beginning stages . . . you will find uses for the simpler stages and by using the easy forms at first, the more difficult stages will gradually develop and grow over a period of time. One day, 6 months later . . . you will gravitate towards the more difficult stages when your hands, feet and mind are ready. Even the difficult stages are easy to comprehend but may be very difficult to play at extremely quick tempos. The problem is that these beats are only valuable in quick tempos . . . they aren't often used in slow tempos. This means you have to be fast with them, coming out of the gate and that takes a lot of work.

All of the above discussion has been added to simply help you avoid being too hard on yourself if you hit a brick wall here.

  • Understand these patterns . . .
  • Work on them as much and as long as your patience will allow . . .
  • DO NOT let this material discourage you!

Improvement will occur with time. Move on to another topic . . . just prior to driving a drumstick through your batter head in frustration. You could play 20 years and make a Million Dollars without these beats. Don't let them bring you down.

EASY!!!! This one is a piece of cake . . . and so simple, you will begin to wonder why I am raving about all the difficulties. Remember, speed is at issue here. This is about the fastest beat on the planet. When all else fails, we can still use this easy, beat to keep the band in line. No drummer worth his salt would use this at tempos slower than you will hear on this midi file.

The plot thickens . . . Now we play a quick double right hand with every other repetition. The tempo should remain the same. Notice the '<' accent mark below the backbeat. We need to play that note a tad louder than all the rest. My dumb little midi file maker had a problem with the accent and I had to fudge a little to get the sound we need. I would love to use a real drum set here but regrettably, it is a major gig, trying to get an acoustic drumset to make midi files.

NOW, add the left hand with each downbeat. And yes . . . the tempo should remain the same as before.

This is the final product. And . . . another name for this one might be 'The Train Beat'. What a dumb name, haha. Why would they call it that?

OK . . . I'm going to assume that two years have passed and you are playing the above beat pattern at about twice the speed of the midi file. Grab your brushes and play around with it. When played with brushes this beat pattern becomes a super background rhythm for hundreds of smokin' jazz tunes . . . You will also hear it in Punk, Rockabilly and Country & Western styles too.

Remember this as well, . . . each bass drum note could potentially be the beginning or end of any of your previously studied fills. Try them all within this structure: Singles, Triplets, Press Rolls . . . the works. Be able to play any of your routine fills without losing tempo.

MORE!!!???

Yes . . . I can keep you busy another year or two by changing the stroke pattern on these same beats. It may be easier for some of you to play this as a Single Stroke pattern rather than a Double Stroke as it is written above. A truly versatile drummer will be able to play it either way . . . and VERY fast.

HERE IT IS AGAIN,
AS A SINGLE STROKE PATTERN . . .

Yes, it sounds the same, but it is great to know the beat both ways . . . That way, as your hands grow numb in the 30th minute of a jamming jazz (or Punk) tune . . . you can always switch strokes in mid song, placing the stress on the opposite hand.

AS A PARTING THOUGHT . . . try reversing the hand you begin with. In other words, rather than beginning the beat with the left hand as it is written above . . . reverse it . . . and start with your right hand.

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Imagine tomorrow, and I'll show it to you NOW!

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Copyright Bill Powelson 1996 all rights reserved.