Bass Drum in Jazz

triitone

Junior Member
I'm a novice trying to learn jazz. I have purchased several books, including The Art of Bop Drumming and am listening to Kind of Blue and Moanin on a daily basis. My question is what's going on with the bass drum? I assume there is some comping with the bass drum. Maybe four on the floor. Either way, I can't hear it. Riley says the bass drum should be felt and not heard. Mission accomplished, at least on those two albums. What's a beginner to do?

Thanks.

 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
There is no rule that says you must play on the bass drum. The ride is the dominat instrument and it's impossible to overstate how imporant that is and how much work should be put into playing the ride well.

In those type of settings, yes the bass drum is merely adding a bit of attack and body to the bass player. In swing music so much of the responsibility is on the bass. It's about those driving quarter notes more tham anything else.

Yes, we comp with the bass drum, but it ties in both with taste and also a bit of the drum kit's evolution.

Just check out some Erskine material.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I think it's best to learn how to make a strong time feel with just the cymbal and hihat, and use the bass drum for punctuations, or for interactive comping with your left hand. I recommend against doing the four on the floor/feathering thing habitually— it takes a lot of finesse to pull it off without sounding extremely hokey. You really don't want to be in a position where the quarter notes on the bass drum are anchoring your whole thing, and you have to play them all the time.

It's a good idea to spend a little time learning how to play the quarter notes lightly on the bass drum, though-- along with the cymbal and hihat— also just the 1 and 3.

I wrote a blog post awhile back with some more detail about this, with ideas for how to treat the bass drum, if you're interested.
 

triitone

Junior Member
There is no rule that says you must play on the bass drum. The ride is the dominat instrument and it's impossible to overstate how imporant that is and how much work should be put into playing the ride well.

In those type of settings, yes the bass drum is merely adding a bit of attack and body to the bass player. In swing music so much of the responsibility is on the bass. It's about those driving quarter notes more tham anything else.

Yes, we comp with the bass drum, but it ties in both with taste and also a bit of the drum kit's evolution.

Just check out some Erskine material.
Thanks. I will do that. Anything in particular that you would recommend as a starting point?
 

triitone

Junior Member
I think it's best to learn how to make a strong time feel with just the cymbal and hihat, and use the bass drum for punctuations, or for interactive comping with your left hand. I recommend against doing the four on the floor/feathering thing habitually— it takes a lot of finesse to pull it off without sounding extremely hokey. You really don't want to be in a position where the quarter notes on the bass drum are anchoring your whole thing, and you have to play them all the time.

It's a good idea to spend a little time learning how to play the quarter notes lightly on the bass drum, though-- along with the cymbal and hihat— also just the 1 and 3.

I wrote a blog post awhile back with some more detail about this, with ideas for how to treat the bass drum, if you're interested.
Excellent blog post!! This very much answers my question about the bass drum role. It is interesting to hear how it has, and still is evolving.

Thanks.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Thanks. I will do that. Anything in particular that you would recommend as a starting point?
I'm mainly talking about his DVDs. He goes through everything, talks with other musicians etc.. but there's stuff on the web, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SpixowaoGc

His play-a-long apps he did with Lucas Ives are great.


For written material it doesn't matter so much what you use.

I think it's wise to not get too cought up in all the things one can do and really focus on feel and musicality. It's mostly about listening and being free to react in a tasteful way. Exercises don't mean much unless you really absorb them and milk all you can out of each one.
 
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