Advice for Using Brushes

Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
This saturday is actually my first ever paying gig! I'm confident about my playing in this situation despite the fact that I only have one more out of two rehearsals on thursday, mostly because I have a pretty good chemistry with the piano player/director and my sight reading was good last week.

However, I do have a problem.

The director re-wrote a number that's very soft and fluent, and changed the drum chart and wrote out the piano completely. I'm supposed to be using brushes, and the one thing she kept saying throughout that section of the rehearsal was that she wanted more brushes - in particular "More swirly!" I understood what she was getting at, but I wasn't at the time sure how to go about producing more response from the drum. So, I assumed it was my technique with the brushes.

How do you play more loudly when sweeping with brushes? Is it a matter of pressing more deeply into the drum, or is it a matter of how quickly your sweeps are? Is there a particular pattern that would produce more of the textural sound or not? Am I doomed, seeing as I'm using Steve Gadd sig brushes and a coated Emperor and old snares, and I can't get new heads soon? How do I approach the drum to get 'more' with brushes?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
God knows what she wants, and if what she wants is even realistic. Just do your best, smile and nod, and agree with everything she says. You can play more "swirly" by doing longer, overlapping (in sound) sweeps with the brushes; you mostly want to stay on the tips, but you can mash them a little bit to vary the sound (doing that will not produce more volume). Try my link on the other brush thread to get some ideas for patterns.
 

Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
you want to "stir the soup" in tempo and sort of apply pressure on the quarter note to imply a pulse

check out some videos

dont worry about the head....Ive seen Tony Williams play beautiful brushes on a Black Dot

and you generally want to turn the snares off when playing brushes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjE2IDtDs1s&feature=related
That's an interesting video, very clear. I like the diagrams.

I originally learned the basics of brushes from a Peter Erskine series on Vic Firth's website, but obviously there's more than one way to work it.

Maybe I should clarify on my original question: How could I possibly get more volume out of brushes?
 

JohnW

Silver Member
A while back, I read a Modern Drummer interview with Max Roach. During the course of the article the interviewer tells Max that Papa Jo Jones would occasionally pour salt on his snare head for a better brush sound. Max bursts out laughing and says something like "That old codger!"

I think it might have come from a technique used by tap dancers. So I looked further and found this (BTW, Sandy's was a great club in Beverly MA on Cabot Street, since torn down):

"I saw Papa Jo Jones at Sandy's just outside of Boston in 1973... I was 18 and in my first year at the Berklee College of Music at the time. Boston was HAPPENIN' back in those days! What an absolute MECCA for catching great players/music! Anyway!...

Papa Jo had a "trick" for playing brushes that I had never seen before in my life. I watched with amazement as he got back behind the drums after their break and "prepared" his snare drum for the opening tune of the next set. I asked him after that set.. ( Sandy's was so intimate... all the players were right there and easily approachable ) .. WHAT he had done. When he told me, well... I remember saying to myself, really? Wow. By the way... what a humble and extremely affable man Papa Jo Jones was. Took the time, and with pleasure, to chat with me. GREAT memories. Oh, I almost forgot... what was the "trick" ? SALT!!!! He sprinkled salt on the snare head prior to playing that particular tune. He had a calf head on his snare drum, and said the salt gave the brushes a little more "scrape" and eased up on the "drag" of the calf! Too cool! He was 62 at the time. What a complete and total gentleman... and FABULOUS player!

Tommyp
"

http://www.vintagedrumforum.com/archive/index.php/t-28497.html


-John
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
That's an interesting video, very clear. I like the diagrams.

I originally learned the basics of brushes from a Peter Erskine series on Vic Firth's website, but obviously there's more than one way to work it.

Maybe I should clarify on my original question: How could I possibly get more volume out of brushes?
you can really only get so much volume out of brushes before you are abusing the brush and the technique

flipping off the throw off helps a bit and sounds a bit better

not sure there is much you can do in terms of volume other than heavier brushes and the right amount of pressure and a nice fresh coated head

brushes are what they are ......ya know

sounds like she being slightly unrealistic
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
A while back, I read a Modern Drummer interview with Max Roach. During the course of the article the interviewer tells Max that Papa Jo Jones would occasionally pour salt on his snare head for a better brush sound. Max bursts out laughing and says something like "That old codger!"

I think it might have come from a technique used by tap dancers. So I looked further and found this (BTW, Sandy's was a great club in Beverly MA on Cabot Street, since torn down):

"I saw Papa Jo Jones at Sandy's just outside of Boston in 1973... I was 18 and in my first year at the Berklee College of Music at the time. Boston was HAPPENIN' back in those days! What an absolute MECCA for catching great players/music! Anyway!...

Papa Jo had a "trick" for playing brushes that I had never seen before in my life. I watched with amazement as he got back behind the drums after their break and "prepared" his snare drum for the opening tune of the next set. I asked him after that set.. ( Sandy's was so intimate... all the players were right there and easily approachable ) .. WHAT he had done. When he told me, well... I remember saying to myself, really? Wow. By the way... what a humble and extremely affable man Papa Jo Jones was. Took the time, and with pleasure, to chat with me. GREAT memories. Oh, I almost forgot... what was the "trick" ? SALT!!!! He sprinkled salt on the snare head prior to playing that particular tune. He had a calf head on his snare drum, and said the salt gave the brushes a little more "scrape" and eased up on the "drag" of the calf! Too cool! He was 62 at the time. What a complete and total gentleman... and FABULOUS player!

Tommyp
"

http://www.vintagedrumforum.com/archive/index.php/t-28497.html


-John
Great story, John. I remember reading that very exchange in MD but I thought it was someone else like Mel Lewis. It stuck with me, too.
 
Top