Brush comping question

haredrums

Silver Member
Hey Everyone,

I have a question about how you all handle comping with brushes. Talking about brushes is hard enough, let alone writing about them, but I will try to make this as clear as possible.

When you are comping with your left hand, do you make the comping rhythm fit into your sweeping pattern, or do you change your pattern to fit the comping rhythm? Personally, I realized that I was changing my sweeping pattern to accommodate the rhythm because I only really like the sound of my brush comping going in one direction. I'm genuinely not sure how I feel about this and I wanted to get all of your opinions.

I apologize if this makes absolutely no sense, but try sitting down and comping on the + of 1 and then the + of 2 and see what your left hand does.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
For me I think it depends on what sounds good for the song. What you're describing might not sound good on certain tunes and at certain tempos. Others it'll fit like a glove. I'm left-handed, so if I were to accent the "&" as you say, I might do that with my right hand, while left hand continues the sweep for that time.
 

brady

Platinum Member
I think I understand your question. Brushes are indeed difficult to articulate into words.

I sort of do both techniques you describe. A lot of the times, my comping "accents" fit within the side to side or elliptical pattern of my left hand; typically a quick sweep, with a little more pressure. Ed Thigpen has a lot of exercises related to this in his brushes book, so does Clayton Cameron.

Sometimes I will add a bigger circle to my left hand pattern, similar to the 3 against 2 pattern in John Riley's Art of Bop book. (I think that's what he called it...I don't have the book in front of me right now.)

I like comping in either direction. This happens mostly on some Latin tunes we do. I will sweep the Partido Alto pattern, or the Bossa Nova "clave" with my left hand. Or I will sweep with the right; playing a "2 &3, "4 &1"...while playing a cross-stick with my left. That's a pattern that I picked up from Peter Erskine.

I hope this answers your question.

I hope this helps.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Great to hear from you, Andrew. I just mentioned your blog on another thread and asked if anyone knew where you'd been; I guess I have my answer! Welcome back.

I do some weird stuff with brush patterns, I guess. I generally use a counterclockwise sweep with my left hand (It seems this is less common than clockwise). But at a mid-tempo, I will sweep a full circle twice-per-bar, so I come around on every 2 and every 4.

If I'm comping the way you describe, the the 1+ left hand comp will be sweeping at the bottom of the circle (to the right) and 2+ will be sweeping at the top (to the left). So the sweep direction remains basically the same as if I wasn't comping. Meanwhile, I sweep only to the right with my right hand. I sweep 2 and 4 low (when my left hand is at the top of the sweep circle) and 1 and 3 high (when my left hand is at the bottom of the sweep circle). Basic idea: The hands stay out of each others' way.

At slower tempos, I have a double-time sweep that I'll take the time to explain only if you actually care, because it takes a while :)
 

vxla

Silver Member
Mostly fit around the comp pattern, but it really depends. I don't expect most players will find any time in a left hand brush pattern from more than 2 feet from the drum, so I doubt it really matters.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Great to hear from you, Andrew. I just mentioned your blog on another thread and asked if anyone knew where you'd been; I guess I have my answer! Welcome back.

I do some weird stuff with brush patterns, I guess. I generally use a counterclockwise sweep with my left hand (It seems this is less common than clockwise). But at a mid-tempo, I will sweep a full circle twice-per-bar, so I come around on every 2 and every 4.

If I'm comping the way you describe, the the 1+ left hand comp will be sweeping at the bottom of the circle (to the right) and 2+ will be sweeping at the top (to the left). So the sweep direction remains basically the same as if I wasn't comping. Meanwhile, I sweep only to the right with my right hand. I sweep 2 and 4 low (when my left hand is at the top of the sweep circle) and 1 and 3 high (when my left hand is at the bottom of the sweep circle). Basic idea: The hands stay out of each others' way.

At slower tempos, I have a double-time sweep that I'll take the time to explain only if you actually care, because it takes a while :)
Thanks!

Great to hear from you guys. I actually sweep counter-clockwise as well, but I haven't been able to get a good sound comping in both directions with my left hand. Can you post a video of your brush playing with some examples so I can check out the motion? Don't worry if that is not feasible for you, I just want to see what other people are doing.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I try to not interrupt the direction of the left hand (if I can help it), just like you wouldn't flip to a weak-hand sticking in the middle of a single stroke roll. I comp both ways (clockwise and counter) depending on the tempo and mood of the tune. If I'm circling clockwise with the left, I'm tapping quarters with my right, creating a somewhat bright mood. If I'm circling counter with the left, then I'm sweeping in a "half-moon" with the right: bottom of the "moon" on 1 and 3, top of the "moon" on 2 and 4; the result is much more legato and dark. The first method I got from Ed Thigpen's book, and the second from Ed Soph's videos on YouTube.

In both cases, if I'm accenting on the left, on the "and" of beat 1 or beat 3, the fan of the brush ends up where it would have been anyway, or as close as it can be to that spot, but with more force, obviously.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Andrew,

I don't have a tripod for my phone, but I rigged something to try and show it. Sorry the angle is so poor. I just tried to focus on the kinds of comps you mentioned with the + accents.

By the way, the more I looked at my hands as I actually did this, the more I realize I kind of didn't know what I was talking about. I answered your question sitting at my desk at work. When I played, it was different than I described, I think.

Like Ants said, brush playing really is a peculiar, individual thing.
 

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haredrums

Silver Member
Hey Guys,

I'm sorry it takes me so long to respond these days. I finally checked your video 8mile, thanks for doing that it really helps to see.

I think I figured out what my issue with comping on the "+" of 2/4 is. Generally, when I am just playing time I put an emphasis on beats 2/4 in my left hand sweeping pattern. Because of this, my hand is not really in position to play another accent right after the accent on beats 2/4.

I tried experimenting with this a little bit, and I am not at all satisfied with the results so far. If I leave the automatic accent on 2/4 out of my sweep, I don't feel the groove as strongly and the sweep sounds empty somehow. On the other hand, if I do play the accent on 2/4 my hand just doesn't seem to have another good/natural sounding accent available.

The struggle continues. When I have something that sounds decent I will post it up here or on my blog. I have some ideas, but they are going to take me a minute to work out.

For me, problems like these are often the beginning of new and exciting ideas. Thanks for your help everyone!
 

haredrums

Silver Member
OK!

Here is the post finally:

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2014/10/brush-comping-and-sweep-direction-part-1.html

This is the first half of the exercise I have been using to get myself comping comfortably in both directions. I will try to get the second half done by next week.

I will say that after having worked on this for about a month or so, I have noticed my brush comping in actual playing situations has gotten significantly more open feeling. Hope you guys find this helpful!
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I think I pay less attention to the sweep pattern and more to minute accelerations and pressure changes.

Any pattern seems to work for me as long as I don't impede the opposite hands work...and maintain a path to other voices on the set(that is, don't box myself in where getting to another voice would cause a feel change I don't want)

I've found a lot of my ghost approaches translate to brush work...something I have meant to explore in depth but just haven't gotten around to....
 

vxla

Silver Member
I agree with Otto: I'm more about pressure than direction. Honestly, I think most people either go clockwise or counter-clockwise naturally, and while it may be useful to learn both, it's probably more useful to spend time on the musicality of brushes rather than the technique.
 

jazzin'

Silver Member
I agree with Otto: I'm more about pressure than direction. Honestly, I think most people either go clockwise or counter-clockwise naturally, and while it may be useful to learn both, it's probably more useful to spend time on the musicality of brushes rather than the technique.
Not to sound rude, but what's the difference with sticks? I'm sure you spend time fixing simple technical issues or learning various techniques with sticks in different ways right? You learn rudiments with a left lead, or you make sure you can do ratamacues starting with both hands equally well. You make sure you can play a single stroke starting with the left hand etc.

Same can, and should, be said about sticks...yet it isn't nearly to the same degree. Technique is overdone with sticks, but underdone with brushes.

However, just like with sticks, it's important to have your technique to a level in which you can play what you wish, as you hear it. This comes down to technique and its limiting only being able to sweep in one direction.

Sweeping is the sound of the brushes and having complete mastery of directions, pressure, accents, speed, patterns etc etc is just as important as having simple rudiments down with sticks.

Musicality, creativity etc gets heightened with there are no technical limitations. Being able to sweep in one direction only is a limitation.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
OK,

So I think I am finally getting my hands around this issue. Just to clarify some of this discussion, I don't have trouble sweeping counter-clockwise or clockwise. The original issue was that when I want to add a comping accent in my left hand, I only felt good going from left to right.

After a lesson with my excellent teacher I realized that part of the problem was that when I am comping on the "+" of beats two and four with brushes, the sound gets cluttered if I also play the spang-a-lang with my right hand. Simple solution here was to just sweep quarter notes in my right hand when I am comping on those beats.

Here is an article with a video and exercise for developing this sound:

http://www.themelodicdrummer.com/haredrums/2015/1/13/brush-comping-and-sweep-direction-part-3

Let me know what you guys think, I hope this helps some of you guys as much as it has been helping me!
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
OK,

So I think I am finally getting my hands around this issue. Just to clarify some of this discussion, I don't have trouble sweeping counter-clockwise or clockwise. The original issue was that when I want to add a comping accent in my left hand, I only felt good going from left to right.

After a lesson with my excellent teacher I realized that part of the problem was that when I am comping on the "+" of beats two and four with brushes, the sound gets cluttered if I also play the spang-a-lang with my right hand. Simple solution here was to just sweep quarter notes in my right hand when I am comping on those beats.

Here is an article with a video and exercise for developing this sound:

http://www.themelodicdrummer.com/haredrums/2015/1/13/brush-comping-and-sweep-direction-part-3

Let me know what you guys think, I hope this helps some of you guys as much as it has been helping me!
Awesome work, and beautifully demonstrated!
 

Justinvarnes

Junior Member
Nice work! IT was cool to watch you progress through solving this via this thread. Lots to be learned from that, I think.


OK,

So I think I am finally getting my hands around this issue. Just to clarify some of this discussion, I don't have trouble sweeping counter-clockwise or clockwise. The original issue was that when I want to add a comping accent in my left hand, I only felt good going from left to right.

After a lesson with my excellent teacher I realized that part of the problem was that when I am comping on the "+" of beats two and four with brushes, the sound gets cluttered if I also play the spang-a-lang with my right hand. Simple solution here was to just sweep quarter notes in my right hand when I am comping on those beats.

Here is an article with a video and exercise for developing this sound:

http://www.themelodicdrummer.com/haredrums/2015/1/13/brush-comping-and-sweep-direction-part-3

Let me know what you guys think, I hope this helps some of you guys as much as it has been helping me!
 

geezer

Senior Member
Great stuff! I experience the same thing when playing counter-clockwise, can't wait to get started on this!
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Great stuff! I experience the same thing when playing counter-clockwise, can't wait to get started on this!
Awesome, let me know how it goes for you. I am planning to continue with this series when I make some more headway with tempos.
 
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