Fusion study material

johnjssmith

Junior Member
Hi!

I've studied and played jazz for a while, then I've moved to studying fusion and while I have learned a few fusion songs, familiarized myself with a number of tropes/common elements/cliché and whatnot I feel like I was naive in my approach and my playing suffers because of it.
I studied jazz with a teacher for a short while and after that I studied on books, like The Art of Bop Drumming, but I've done no such thing with fusion, so I'm looking for recommendations on study material and other resources to solidify and broaden my fusion vocabulary.

Now of course fusion drums incorporate sounds and licks from other genres such as jazz, rock, funk and so on, but fusion as a "standalone" genre has evolved to form a variety of new and interesting elements, and that's what I'd like to take a deeper and more serious look into.

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
 

beatdat

Senior Member
I’m not aware of any material that focuses on fusion specifically, but seeing as you already have a background in jazz, instead of diving straight into fusion, maybe try dipping your toes into the other end of the pool first - prog rock. If you study some of the early greats (eg. King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, etc.), it may give you an idea of where some of the early fusion bands were coming from when it was in its nascency.
 

MattRitter

Senior Member
Here are some books that might be helpful:

Advanced Concepts by Kim Plainfield
Fusion: A Study in Contemporary Music for the Drums by Kim Plainfield
World Jazz Drumming by Mark Walker
Future Sounds by David Garibaldi
World Fusion Drumming by Skip Hadden

Enjoy!
 
Last edited:

toddbishop

Platinum Member
80s style fusion is basically all of drumming now-- usually the materials will be labeled "funk." That drumming style is used in most commercial music now. Look into Gary Chaffee's books, David Garibaldi, and Gary Chester. Everything you see now from people like Benny Greb comes from that.

70s fusion is closer to modern jazz, and Latin styles, especially Brazilian. After that it increasingly got away from that and became just a complicated, improvisatory, heavily ornamented R&B style. I don't know what books you use for the 70s type ways of playing-- it covers a lot of ground. Listen to a lot of 60s and later Roy Haynes, Airto, Jack Dejohnette, Bob Moses, Billy Cobham, Jon Christensen, Alphonse Mouzon, and Ndugu Leon Chancler. Learn to play a fast samba, a funky Afro 12/8, an ECM type feel, a quasi-Baiao. A lot of my straight 8th Reed interpretations get you into the approach for that.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
From a drumming standpoint, most fusion tunes incorporate funk or rock grooves, and occasionally a latin or straight-ahead jazz feel. So studying those styles would provide a very solid foundation for fusion playing.

Also, Dave Weckl offers a lot of educational materials on his website, including play-along songs (minus drums), an online school, private Zoom lessons and more. I've only done the play-alongs, which are challenging and definitely worth checking out. If you're serious about studying fusion drumming and don't mind shelling out some money, you can certainly dive a lot deeper.

 

JS_91

Member
+1 on Future Sounds.
New breed could be helpful too and a lot of people really like the way the stuff is layed out and formatted.

Honestly there are a bunch of coordination books you could go with. Also check out odd time sig books. I really like the permutation habbits that Future Sounds gets you into and I like the multi dynamic approach.

To generalize really broadly, fusion usually deals with straight eighth syncopated funk grooves and there's a big emphasis on being able to drive grooves with the hi hat and coordinate the quick open close hi hat strikes in all sorts of spots. (again, similar to funk). This is such a broad genre though so, again, I'm speaking super generally.

Moreso than anything though, immerse yourself in the music, find a groove or a fill you really dig that you want to learn, write it out or put it on repeat and make yourself learn it. Just like jazz or any other style, drawing vocabulary from the recordings is probably the best way to really dial into a certain style or genre.

Check out Billy Cobham solo albums, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Some Tony WIlliams solo albums, Return to Forever, Chick Corea Electric Band, man there's so much good stuff in this style.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
+1 on Future Sounds.
New breed could be helpful too and a lot of people really like the way the stuff is layed out and formatted.

Honestly there are a bunch of coordination books you could go with. Also check out odd time sig books. I really like the permutation habbits that Future Sounds gets you into and I like the multi dynamic approach.

To generalize really broadly, fusion usually deals with straight eighth syncopated funk grooves and there's a big emphasis on being able to drive grooves with the hi hat and coordinate the quick open close hi hat strikes in all sorts of spots. (again, similar to funk). This is such a broad genre though so, again, I'm speaking super generally.

Moreso than anything though, immerse yourself in the music, find a groove or a fill you really dig that you want to learn, write it out or put it on repeat and make yourself learn it. Just like jazz or any other style, drawing vocabulary from the recordings is probably the best way to really dial into a certain style or genre.

Check out Billy Cobham solo albums, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Some Tony WIlliams solo albums, Return to Forever, Chick Corea Electric Band, man there's so much good stuff in this style.

I don't hear him mentioned much here but I would also recommend checking out Zappa. Go back to the early days. Some of my favorites have been Aynsley Dunbar, Ralph Humphrey, Chester Thompson, Terry Bozzio, Vinnie Colaiuta and Chad Wackerman. A tremendous catalogue of stuff to enjoy, work on and expand your repetoire.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
The best study material is fusion music itself. So think Return To Forever. Weather Report. Mahavishnu Orchestra. Those three bands alone can provide a lifetime of study material. For RTF check out Romantic Warrior. For Weather Report check out Heavy Weather and Black Market. For Mahavishnu check out Visions of the Emerald Beyond and Birds of Fire. And obviously check out all the other stuff these bands put out. It's all good.
 
Top