Jazz Drumming: Keeping Hats on 2 and 4?

prokofi5

Junior Member
I've been working through some hi hat independence exercises and most actually feel pretty comfortable and I've found some good use for them while soloing, but playing anywhere other than two and four while comping just doesn't feel or sound right to me. I've been recording myself to check my time and dynamics and those seem okay. I figure I could put in the work to make it more natural, but with so much else I want to work on, I'm not sure how much time I should put into it. My question is as a non-professional non-conservatory-bound jazz drummer am I limiting myself or am I going to sound dated playing with more experienced people by only playing two and four? Thanks in advance.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
If you play well, nobody's going to care if you play the hihat that way or not. Practice what you want to practice.

You can also listen to records and see how much of those book patterns people actually play in the course of one tune, or one album.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
The bigger problem with playing the hats only on two and four is that, per your own description, you're doing so because you don't feel comfortable with other counts. In that case, you're definitely limiting yourself. Refining your limb independence is the only way to shatter this barrier, if shattering it is important to you. If it isn't, apply your attention elsewhere.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
This mountain isn't as high as you probably think it is. 10-15 minutes per practice session will get you there. What other things are on your practice plate, that you are worried about putting off?

Assuming you have developed some good coordination with the left hand and bass drum, against the ride cymbal -- it shouldn't take too much time to develop that left foot. Play the ride pattern, and practice your comping patterns, but substitute the left hand role with the left foot. Leave your left hand out of the whole thing for a while. As written, the patterns in Syncopation are a little busy for this (unless you modify them, by leaving out, say every other note, or play only the 8ths, etc.). The exercises in Art of Bop Drumming are more manageable, and don't require modification. With regular practice, you should be good in 6 to 12 weeks, even if you're only devoting 10-15 minutes of each practice session. It's not the hours that matter, it's the daily habit, that matters.

Once that stuff is solid, then you can get fancier with the stuff in this video:

 

prokofi5

Junior Member
Once that stuff is solid, then you can get fancier with the stuff in this video:
Thanks for the reply and info.The Steve Holmes video was really helpful. He made a point very applicable to my question about practicing more complex things even if I don't play that way. It makes sense to give myself some independence headroom. Never really thought of it that way.
 
I don't have a whole lot of syncopation going on in my left foot when playing but some things that seem useful are playing with splashed hi-hat sounds or playing on every quarter or some off beats as a subtle fill before going to the bridge or such things.
I think these work pretty well when playing brushes and slower tempos, so that might be another good place to start applying and learning these things.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
One of the things that helped me greatly with coordination....3 way coordination to me is fairly easy. When the 4th limb becomes involved, the difficulty increases exponentially...for me anyway. So what I do to break through the coordination barrier is to first sing (without playing it) the part I'm struggling with. If I can't sing it, I can't play it, truth.

In your case, it's your left foot. So, while letting your left foot go limp....don't play it...sing only the part that you would like to play with your left foot. If you are like me, singing it still throws me off. It's easier to get past my coordination issues by just singing or vocalizing the part that's throwing me off. Even grunts work. It's still difficult, but it is easier to sing the part than play the part. Once you are able to vocalize the problem part correctly, even with grunts, you really should be able to actually play it.

If you can do 2 and 4 on the hats, you really should be able to play it on 1 & 3 as well. Maybe try that to start to play different figures on the HH.

But yea, sing the problem part at first, don't try to play it until you can first sing it. It's one of those hard learned lessons that I had to figure out. It really helped me to break through coordination issues. I feel it's the quickest way forward when I can't do something. Your brain has to coordinate with itself before your limbs can get on board.
 
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nolibos

Well-known member
Until you work out some more left foot options, try playing the 2&4 very quiet. One thing i notice about contemporary progressive jazz, is that the hats are kinda behind the scenes.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Spend a couple of hours listening to Art Blakey and then some Philly Jo Jones. There you will find your answer.

Jazz drumming is not based on parts / repetitive patterns, which is where many people begin to confused. However it should not be confused with what is necessary to make something swing and feel good. That is what will make the people you are playing with want to play with you.

Developing independence does not always equate to musicality but it does relate to expanded vocabulary. That expansion is up to you. However without the correct musical backdrop - it will sound forced - not musical. Forcing vocabulary into the music will make those playing with you very unhappy.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I spent years - back in my 20's - getting my hi hat foot to be independent...and then after that, never really found situations in simple comping grooves where I wanted it on beats other than 2 and 4. In those situations, it really sort of keeps me "grounded" in the groove and space control

In more complicated time sigs, it was helpfull to be able to put it on other divisions, and it is definitely helpful for hi hat splash crashes, which I use a TON of now in my jazz situation...

the biggest thing that getting the independence helped me with was double bass grooves
 

tfgretsch

Junior Member
Spend a couple of hours listening to Art Blakey and then some Philly Jo Jones. There you will find your answer.

Jazz drumming is not based on parts / repetitive patterns, which is where many people begin to confused. However it should not be confused with what is necessary to make something swing and feel good. That is what will make the people you are playing with want to play with you.

Developing independence does not always equate to musicality but it does relate to expanded vocabulary. That expansion is up to you. However without the correct musical backdrop - it will sound forced - not musical. Forcing vocabulary into the music will make those playing with you very unhappy.
Well said, i am an intermediate rock drummer begining a journey in jazz and your insight makes alot of sense .I am starting to see things you mentioned on a few jazz jams i went on. I dont have many jazz chops in the bank yet, and that makes me feel a little inadequate, but i am trying to play with good basic time,touch and feel and have been getting good vibes from the band when i play like that. thanks for your wisdom.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
when you hear this broken style it is almost never exclusively the hi hat breaking away and is almost always the ride cymbal breaking as well.

These players have all four limbs contributing to the conversation ... as opposed to the ride playing 55 , the hats 2&4 and the left hand comping.

this is not something you will be ready to do if you don't have a solid foundation in the earlier style

I recommend listening A LOT ... find something you fall in love with and transcribing it ... it will accelerate the learning process and train you as to how to hear this stuff ... if you don't understand how to hear it you can't play it.
the old "if you can't say it you can't play it" thing

you definitely should be able to play in both worlds if you plan to accompany musicians

the broken style is a completely different way of thinking ... there is a great book by Skip Hadden called Broken Eighth Note Feel that is really good... but nothing is a substitute for listening and transcribing what you love

I always share this tune because I think it's a perfect example of this broken style

also listen to guys like Jack DeJohnette , Paul Motion, Bob Moses BIll Stewart etc .

 
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jazzerooty

Junior Member
I've been a professional jazz drummer for over 40 years (yeah, an old fart). If you're about to play standards with a group of guys who are new to you, by all means, keep the '2 and the 4' on the hats. It's only when the rhythm section is totally secure that you can explore stretching the time feel. The MAIN THING is to make it swing. And '2 and 4 on the hats is the standard. Don't be obsessed with playing sophisticated for its own sake. The musicians want a drummer who can help to make things feel good, time wise. They don't care about super sophistication. Make them sound good. Make the music sound good. That's the job. As you get stronger, you'll know creatively when it's time to let loose.
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
I’ve been working on exactly the same thing and ran across the same questions. At this point it would take my full concentration to bust out some of that on a mid tempo+ tune, and I have been at it for a while.

Where I use it a lot is when playing brushes mid tempo and below. When both hands are occupied on the snare it’s really nice to be able to hit or splash the hi hat at will. It’s also completely changed my playing when not playing jazz. I can now open and close that hi hat pretty much whenever I want when playing rock, blues, funk. That alone keeps me pushing forward with four limb independence.

BTW, That Steve Holmes video uncoupled my left foot. I worked on that for a long time!
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I'm not sure why anyone would ever see taking 2 and 4 off the hats as "sophisticated" or stretching the time feel

playing 2 and 4 works with some things and doesn't feel quite right with others

there is nothing "out" or "sophisticated" about it ... it is simply another way of playing ... another way of keeping time.

it is no different than varying the ride beat ...

sure a complete beginner should learn how to play time while playing 2 and 4 ... but man , you have to get used to playing without being tied to an anchor

this music is about expressing yourself when it is called for

yes ... get and keep everyone comfortable if you are not used to playing together ... but by all means learn to get off the 2 and 4 ASAP so that you can express yourself when the music calls for it ... and it will

if you are out there accompanying a band you are ready to cut away from the anchor

it feels great with some things ... but you have to be prepared to allow your left foot to be a voice and not be relegated to time keeper...

all four limbs keep time and make the time feel good ... that is as important as anything to learn

I believe that as soon as you have a beat and understand how to make music feel good you should start learning to vary the ride beat and get your left foot off of 2 and 4

express yourself ... what is jazz music without expression ?

it's nothing ... it's pop music
 
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