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Old 04-03-2010, 07:37 PM
realself realself is offline
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Default playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

Anyone out there have any experience playing hihat with the heel down, on uptempo jazz tunes? seems most use heel up, but kind of exhausting after some time; looking for new approach. Also, feathering BD at those tempos (over 130 half note) gets to your shins and knees; any ideas?
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:34 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

Being that I'm 53 years old I sometimes have the same pain issues.
I alternate both my bass and hat heel up play to avoid fatigue.
I'll play heel down for a while and then switch to heel up.
Thats the only method that I have found to help.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

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Originally Posted by realself View Post
Anyone out there have any experience playing hihat with the heel down, on uptempo jazz tunes? seems most use heel up, but kind of exhausting after some time; looking for new approach. Also, feathering BD at those tempos (over 130 half note) gets to your shins and knees; any ideas?
I think it's just about training whatever muscles you use, i'm 18 and find it hard to play heel down both feet while playing fast.....but when playing heel up...

you probably do this, but don't use you're whole lef, just lift you're heel up and down, it will come out much softer and ater a while i just forget about my hi hat foot!
Hope that helps
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:41 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

I would not mess with feathering the BD at fast tempos, unless you're planning on auditioning for the Basie band. With the HH I would actually practice both techniques, and get comfortable switching between them- at fast tempos it's easy to get locked into a kind of tense physical zone (especially if you play heel up), and having that flexibility in your left foot will help you ease back from that. Also you'll need to economize your motion- the rocking thing heel down, and the extra leg bounce heel up are just going to bog you down above HN=130. Try to make your notes happen without any extra movement in between, especially above ~HN=150.
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Old 04-04-2010, 02:07 AM
realself realself is offline
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

Thanks all of you for enlightening advice. essence of which, seems to be: trust your body, don't overload it, for the sake of a few horn players ; D seriously, I'm now working on a new approach, and will keep you posted on results.
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Old 04-04-2010, 02:48 AM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

Don't agree on ignoring the feathering of the bass drum at faster tempos even in very modern Post Bop settings.

I wonder how many of the younger generation of players are actually hip to the fact that Tony even in the much later years playing hard driving Post-Bop original music feathered the bass drum well mixing in loud bombs at crazy swing tempos...his hat was on all 4's heel raised pivoting swinging back and forth on the front of the foot all the time providing the pulse notes. The relaxed slight motion of the front part of the foot playing quiet open tones flat foot {heel down} is key to success without any undo stress on the lower calf muscle or knee. You'll be surprised over time how fast you can feather the BD at faster tempos in swing based music given this approach. Take your time and slowly increase the tempo till you get tense then back it off again.

As far as hat goes I switched to heel raised over 27 years ago after trying the rocking motion for some years before. The rocking back and forth {heel/toe} thing never really worked for me...just my approach to sound {the chic} and defining with my body the HH foot strokes.

Check out available YouTube clips of Elvin, Tony and such to see how these drum masters approached the heel raised HH subject is my advice.

Yes try a few approaches before you decide...your body and sense of feel directed towards the HH will usually decide for itself over time what "feels" right for you.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:06 AM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

I usually do that heel-up bouncing kind of thing. It never gets tiring and in a lot of ways it helps your pulse. I find that keeping my heel down creates a lot of tension, but there's no reason why you can't. As for feathering, I try to feather all of the time, after all, it can't hurt. I've been taking lessons from Donny Osborne (Buddy Rich protegee' and Mel Torme's drummer for 20+ years) and he feathers ALL of the time and he has so much control that it's not even audible unless he wants it to be. I'm doing the same thing. Why not increase your bass drum control?
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:27 AM
toddbishop toddbishop is online now
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

I guess my Basie band comment was a little off base- I was just reminded of my old teacher Gregg Field telling about catching some unwanted attention from Freddie Green when he didn't play the bass drum on a very uptempo tune. But in modern settings it's not a real controversial decision to not feather- there's more than one correct approach here.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:20 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

I agree with Todd. Especially in crazy modern stuff feathering probably isn't the greatest idea, but who knows? Just do what the music calls for...or do what the band leader is telling you to do haha.
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:16 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

Effective understanding and use of feathering in swing based jazz music can't be underscored...even used in very modern Post Bop settings as Tony Williams did even into the 90's with his own quintet as I earlier mentioned as just one example out there for reference.

I don't use it all the time myself especially if i'm playing more off a Jack Dejohnette approach to an entire 4 limb conversation creating the swing groove and feel or in open improv ensemble music but it sure comes in handy having a real solid handle on it in more straight ahead settings where it really works and fits for these type of swing based group settings.

The other positive bonus in feathering is developing INCREDIBLE right foot control and bass drum dynamics going from pp to ff ...sometimes in a mere split second switching back and forth between soft pulse and loud syncopated bass drum phrasing and "bombs" used in the music.
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:50 PM
realself realself is offline
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

After some time I review all the comments and my experience and say: I'm not cut out to play HH heel up for extended periods at high tempo, and to feather the BD at high tempo. I'm recovering from a month of extreme pain in my right knee (and arm, but that's another issue; unrelenting spangalang at hyperspeed) and I've learned my lesson. Tony is another kind of guy, that's clear. and Elvin...

I switch from heel up to heel down on HH, seems heel up can lead to tempo issues, ie digging in too hard and dragging, or getting too worked up and rushing; heel down, I keep cool, calm and collected. Still, there are "up" moments. You've all provided some very insightful comments, for which I am grateful. To get a variety of viewpoints is invaluable. I noticed my playing got much more "me" when I played heel down, and stopped feathering, ie, what I did in practice I could now do onstage; going beyond huffing and puffing. X D
It's funny but what works for me, though not the prescribed (even in my mind) "proper" way to do it, is letting me be more creative and more myself; I guess we have to go beyond preconceptions in every way... Thanks again, and keep jamming!
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

IMO, heel up is infinitely easier on faster tempos- all pedals.

Try the follow things and see if it helps:

1) raise your seat up about 2-3 inches.
2) Draw the hi hat closer to your body ( so that the foot isn't extended way out, its more under you.
3) place your foot on the pedal so that your toe is as far up on the foot plate as possible.

...
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:03 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
Effective understanding and use of feathering in swing based jazz music can't be underscored...even used in very modern Post Bop settings as Tony Williams did even into the 90's with his own quintet as I earlier mentioned as just one example out there for reference.

I don't use it all the time myself especially if i'm playing more off a Jack Dejohnette approach to an entire 4 limb conversation creating the swing groove and feel or in open improv ensemble music but it sure comes in handy having a real solid handle on it in more straight ahead settings where it really works and fits for these type of swing based group settings.

The other positive bonus in feathering is developing INCREDIBLE right foot control and bass drum dynamics going from pp to ff ...sometimes in a mere split second switching back and forth between soft pulse and loud syncopated bass drum phrasing and "bombs" used in the music.
I'm with you on this, Stan. It's something to work on even if you don't use it all the time. If you play a lot with a particular limb, you're going to create greater control with that limb. A lot of jazz drummers forget about their right foot.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:00 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

the problem is, you want to play the bass drum heal down always in jazz, and if you play heel down with the high hat and the bass drum, you will be off balanced, you might even fall over! thats no good
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

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the problem is, you want to play the bass drum heal down always in jazz, and if you play heel down with the high hat and the bass drum, you will be off balanced, you might even fall over! thats no good
That's not true. I can play with both heels up, or both heels down, or combinations of the two. Your weight should be on your seat, not on your feet.

Go watch John Riley play - just for example - he plays with both heels down just fine.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:58 AM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

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Originally Posted by Boomka View Post
That's not true. I can play with both heels up, or both heels down, or combinations of the two. Your weight should be on your seat, not on your feet.

Go watch John Riley play - just for example - he plays with both heels down just fine.
i guess its just me then, i find it uncomfortable to balance on my thrown, i guess it get easier with practice
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Old 05-05-2010, 06:42 AM
shadowlorde shadowlorde is offline
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6hb0y2cU2M

try that for your hat foot and bass drum .. faster speed .. less energy
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:19 PM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

I admit I'm usually a heel up player on the hi-hat, but when it comes to fast tempos a teacher of mine taught me that it's more energy saving to play heel down. In addition, there's to be none of the heel toe rocking motion - it's just a simple stroke of the foot closing the high-hat with no other movements in the leg. It's surprisingly hard to do this if you, like me, are used to having a bouncing-sort of motion through the whole leg to really feel the time. It does work though - plus the hi-hat 'chik' sound is louder heel down.

Just a thought....
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Old 05-08-2010, 10:42 AM
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Default Re: playing uptempo jazz with heel down on hi-hat

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Originally Posted by foursticks View Post
I admit I'm usually a heel up player on the hi-hat, but when it comes to fast tempos a teacher of mine taught me that it's more energy saving to play heel down. In addition, there's to be none of the heel toe rocking motion - it's just a simple stroke of the foot closing the high-hat with no other movements in the leg. It's surprisingly hard to do this if you, like me, are used to having a bouncing-sort of motion through the whole leg to really feel the time. It does work though - plus the hi-hat 'chik' sound is louder heel down.

Just a thought....
I must admit that I've always thought the opposite. For slow to medium up I've been more comfortable with heel down and the 'chick' is still nice and loud/clear etc while at uptempo, from maybe 250+, I feel a clear, louder 'chick' is much easier to get with the heel up, bounce....Hmmmm....

Anyway, to the TS, I would try to get very comfortable with both ways and you'll eventually segued toward one way the more you play. There's no wrong way or better way, it's just whatever is easier and more comfortable for you and allows you to play whatever you hear and feel the best.
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