Sunday, January 10, 2010

Suggesting And Vocalizing Starting Drum Circle Rhythms

When I'm suggesting a rhythm to play. I like to vocalize the first 4 to 8 measures (or bars) of it before I begin playing it, and I start it out very slowly, then I can gradually bring it up to the desired tempo (speed) once they are comfortable with it.

I always mention that this is just a starting point, and that you don't have to play this support rhythm, play whatever feels good to you, or whatever you feel fits. So when I'm suggesting a drum circle rhythm, I like to vocalize the first few measures before I start it out.

The reason is that the logical analytical side of the brain can process it quicker, which then frees up the creative intuitive side so it can improvise. Then people can play what they feel, rather than over thinking it. It is after all, "a drum circle" not rocket science. When you think too much, the joy goes out of it.

Interestingly, I've found that most people can wrap their heads around it quicker if I vocalize drum sounds with a "K" in them. It's also one of the secrets of the trade in stand up comedy, words with K or Q are funnier.

ie: Boom chicka-boom Chick. Or, Doum tekka-doum Tek. Or, just "scat" them out jazz style any way you can.

When I'm working with beginners I like to use this notation style, and explain the sounds like this:

Doum (D) – Right hand, clear, low tone, (from center of drum – like you’re bouncing a basketball, or on a trampoline)

Tek (t) & Ka (k) – Right & Left hand, crisp high tone (sharply striking the edge of the drum head) Iv'e heard some say to pretend like you are hitting the bottom of a hot frying pan. I don't like to say that, because it associates drumming with pain. Not something I want to do.

Tek (T) - usually played with the dominant hand. Reverse hands if you are left-handed, like me. The accented strokes (or slaps) are in caps. Hope this helps you a little.

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