Jazz soloing: Filling, phrasing, voicing, trading 4's 8's, vocabulary.

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
where I do believe this is good practice advice and 5 7 and 9 stroke rolls in different combination orders do create some very nice patterns I do not believe that this is a way to become good at improvising ... again just my opinion

when you are playing premeditated "licks" and pulling from some sort of library you are not improvising

do the great players play a lot of the same things over and over ? ... of course ... but i don't believe someone just learning to improvise should be stock piling "licks" to incorporate into improvising

that is sort of the antithesis of improvising

I'd much rather hear someone play a one handed simple 8th note phrase based on the melody of the tune then hear them play 5 and 7 stroke rolls strung together in some sort of premeditated lick sequence

I type all of this will due respect Mr. Polak of course

I just believe that this approach is a slippery slope for someone who is still trying to find their way through their ability to improvise and often when approached this way it turns into memorized strung together licks that create a comfort zone of well practiced patterns ... and that is not improvising
that is regurgitated practice sessions

it becomes less about ideas and more about what sticking pattern I'm going to play to execute this "lick"

I'd much rather see someone scat a 4 bar phrase ... "zat do, ziggity bah gat, da dat , gat da dat, gah do do" then recreate that orchestrated around the drums than tie a bunch or rudiments together.

I don't see playing rudiments around the drums and improvising as the same thing at all .

being able to string things together is a great thing to be able to do ... but you don't need that to improvise

being able to eventually fit those into your improvisations is a bonus for sure ... but you definitely don't want to sit there thinking ..."ok I'll put a 5 here then a 7 ".... that's too much planning in my opinion

if we practice those rudiments separately hopefully they will creep into our improvising eventually

but to premeditate "licks" I think is counterproductive to being free improvisationally

To me it's much more simple ... think in phrases and then make sounds on the drums... however you achieve those sounds is TBD

We all work differently and that's a beautiful thing

But I can always tell when someone pretends to improvise by playing "licks" and it's never pleasing to my ear
I'm not saying do it this way then memorize it. I'm saying learn how to move the rudiments around. The whole lick library is a muscle memory thing, not a brain exercise. I'm in no way encouraging @Auspicious to try and stuff memorized parts into places they dont fit. I'm saying that taking the rudiments and learning how to move them around will give him the freedom to be able to do so when needed. The more he does it, the more freedom he will have to do so when the opportunity presents itself.
 
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eddypierce

Senior Member
Jim Blackley's book Syncopated Rolls for the Modern Drummer offers a good way of developing technique for soloing around the drums without focusing on rudimental patterns per se, but rather on musical phrases (or musical lines, as he puts it). I've found it quite helpful. And in reality a lot of what he espouses can be (and often is) applied to the way many people approach (sorry) Ted Reed's Syncopation book. In addition to offering specific exercises, it just offers a great philosophy on soloing in a musical fashion, that can be applied to any material
 

MG1127

Well-known member
To me practicing and becoming comfortable applying patterns around the drum set and soloing improvisationally in a jazz context are two completely different things

both should be practiced and if they eventually merge naturally then beautiful

but improvising and phrasing has nothing to do with premeditated sticking patterns

like I said anyone can sound beautifully appropriate playing a one handed well phrased 8 bar break ... zero rudiments or sticking patterns needed there

again all just my opinion
 
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MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
To me practicing and becoming comfortable applying patterns around the drum set and soloing improvisationally in a jazz context are two completely different things

both should be practiced and if they eventually merge naturally then beautiful

but improvising and phrasing has nothing to do with premeditated sticking patterns

like I said anyone can sound beautifully appropriate playing a one handed well phrased 8 bar break ... zero rudiments or sticking patterns needed there

again all just my opinion
My thought here is using something he is already working on, and move it around. I agree, no premeditated stickings when performing. But during practice, the idea is just to be able to get from any one part of the kit to any other part of the kit fluidly. By moving the stickings around while practicing rudiments, the movements required to get around the kit with ease are practiced also.

An old school jazz guy taught me this and it has helped immensely throughout my drumming journey.
 

grparty

Member
One exercise is to play melodies to tunes on the drums. Start by adhering strictly to the melody, playing it on the snare drum. Then try orchestrating the melody around the kit. Next, add embellishments and improvise over it.
Monk tunes are great for this, but you can use any tune.
There’s a great video of Elvin Jones demonstrating this approach with the song ‘Three Card Molly’.
 

jansara

Junior Member
Effective improv comes from the top of your head. When drummers try and apply rudimental licks in a live situation, what usually comes out doesn't swing or sound like improv, but sounds like a preconceived rudimental riff... here's my 5's and 7's and paradiddles... Stiff.

If you can sing it, there's a good chance you can play it. You can't sing it if you're thinking mathematics. Think sound, not math.

zib-i-dib-i-dap! .... is a 5 stroke.
diddle-a-diddle-a-dap! ...two 8th note triplets and a quarter note.

Come up with your own lingo.

Back in the day, many drummers played charts by singing note values - - "dit" for short, "dah-h" for long.

Take it from there. Start by learning to sing simple phrases.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
it is like we are writing our own book on this subject!!! Love it

the only thing can add, or reiterate, is don't start out trying to play like Jack Dejohnette, or Elvin, or Joe Morello or Jeff Hamilton...

listen to their ideas, but practice within your skill set first.

I can only add a story:

My dad is the one who taught me jazz -well, ALL drumming back when I was 3,4, and 5 years old. We would do ALL of the stuff mentioned in this thread as far as listening, analyzing etc. I was practicing rudiments and reading skills etc; doing the old Wilcoxin and Haskell Harr stuff...but these, at first, were separate of fill creation <--- they were more for "hands and brain" creation. They were not even associated with drum set playing...

when it came time for application, he would put on this old "play along to the styles" record that had mid tempo examples of jazz, blues, "old school" rock (the record was made in the 60's) and a bossa nova. We would use this for hours, just repeating the same style over and over for me to experiment with.

the biggest thing he told me was "to keep your fill ideas in a triplet (swing) feel; and try to set up where the music (chord) changes were going with a melody on the drums; he would give me parameters that I was not allowed to break out of until I "got" them...the 2 biggest ones being keep the fill in 4 pulses, and that i didn't need to hit every surface of the kit within the fill

after a while, we then would put on jazz albums, and he and I would analyze and tear apart how some more complicated fills were created - this was mostly done with the Brubeck Take 5 album - and then I would learn the fills by copying...we also used some old Woody Herman albums, and Dukes of Dixieland for jazz; Motown stuff for R&B,

so, 3-5 years of all of this practice led me to be able to understand how to create my own fills. Use of rudiments crept in, but not because I was forcing them...they crept in because they were "in my hands and head" from my separate practice of them; the practice of reading charts crept in because it really helped me to remember the fills I was making up b/c I would imagine what they looked like written out in music

finally, when I was "growing up" (5 years old to 20 years old) and taking all of this in, often times, I would not try to learn other guys fills note for note, but I would take the general idea of the fill, make it my own, and then play it over top of the recored fill while playing along

I am still growing as a musician, so really, this whole process never stopped, it just kept attracting other elements to learn

This is my example of how I have used pretty much every suggestion in the previous 2 pages.

Moral of the story?
Soak it all in.
Don't rush to the next item if you don't have the fundamentals of the previous item down.
Don't get into the mind set that one thing is more important than the other.
Don't be afraid to fail!!!
 

someguy01

Well-known member
don't start out trying to play like Jack Dejohnette, or Elvin, or Joe Morello or Jeff Hamilton...
How dare you imply that I will have a high probability of failure trying to play Buddy's Birdland with, like, zippy jazz skills, right out of the gate.
Haters. /s
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
How dare you imply that I will have a high probability of failure trying to play Buddy's Birdland with, like, zippy jazz skills, right out of the gate.
Haters. /s

oops...sorry. I forgot that we live in a world now where everyone is awesome, and gets a trophy with no work...so hard to remember!!

? ? ?

there, that should do it!!

:cool:
 

someguy01

Well-known member
oops...sorry. I forgot that we live in a world now where everyone is awesome, and gets a trophy with no work...so hard to remember!!

? ? ?

there, that should do it!!

:cool:
Thank you!
*adds to last place accolades shelf
Hope you never have to employ one of those kids, it's the thing of nightmares.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Thank you!
*adds to last place accolades shelf
Hope you never have to employ one of those kids, it's the thing of nightmares.

I am starting to be surrounded by that demographic at work...

and was around in teaching before that mindset was a thing, so I have seen it wash over us from the front lines.

I have done what I can with my own students to try to negate that mind set, and view. They all KNOW that being a member of my program is going to be living in "the old way" of hard work, discipline and respect. It is a culture shock for many of them...and many of their parents!!
 

Auspicious

Well-known member
I believe in practicing the rudiments and after they become part of the vocabulary.. by practicing the 5 stroke roll for instance and by knowing many ways to use it.. well this is vocabulary.

It's just a way to learn some vocabulary.

The muscles needs to have a certain amount canned vocabulary first in order to improvise around some music, piano or else. Like Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX says It's not possible to start playing like Jack Dejohnette directly.
 

beet

Well-known member
Funny that you talk about the 5 stroke roll, I practiced it on the snare yesterday .. but I had some sort of brain fog and could not really distribute it on the entire Kit. (Or the result was boring and unimpressive)

I will try your exercise today. (;
I’ve seen YouTube’s of five stroke rolls where they change it from RRLLR to RLLRR. Not starting with a double can make it more interesting.
 

Auspicious

Well-known member
I’ve seen YouTube’s of five stroke rolls where they change it from RRLLR to RLLRR. Not starting with a double can make it more interesting.
In the rudiments sheet with the pad these days, I play the drum rolls in single strokes instead of doubles..it feels better like that..

I can be wrong, we shall see later.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I listen to the music but often the content is highly advanced, so advanced, I can't figure it out, especially Jack Dejohnette, he is ma favorite drummer perhaps because his stuff is so difficult to figure out.

Of course if I want to copy it, I need to listen to it a lot but it feels like starting at the top while I can't even do the low level stuff.

Dejohnette is hard for everyone to figure out. Probably he doesn't know what he's doing all the time.

You can practice going for a certain vibe you heard on a record, while not necessarily knowing what you're playing. Keep developing your chops-- but personally, for me, it has never been a 1:1 thing of practice something ->use it.

It's for that reason, I use books a lot to build some kind of muscle memory of something.

I can already see the benefits of Bass drum control, Stone Stick Control and The Art of playing the brushes while I practice along with music, it's basicly memorized exercises and muscle development, chunks of data possible to apply while playing the music.

My next current drum set topic is to be interested to faster tempos and solos. In the morning, it's Stone Stick Control practice with the pad only, this is my regimen.

I think you should be playing with people as soon as it's safe to do so-- find some people to play some tunes with. Every session you play will be worth ~ two weeks of practicing on your own.
 

Auspicious

Well-known member
@toddbishop

Dejohnette is hard for everyone to figure out. Probably he doesn't know what he's doing all the time.
:ROFLMAO:

(I believe you)

***
I think you should be playing with people as soon as it's safe to do so

Ohh, I don't feel ready to play with others, I never published even 1 play along here. I listen to my stuff on camera, it's not worthy of a publication yet..

I have a lot of fun in my head but the result of it on recording is simply not enough.
 
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Ohh, I don't feel ready to play with others
How about posting an ad that you're looking for beginner/intermediate Jazz players? They want to learn, too and having a band makes it so much more fun and guides your practice. Have some sessions with them in a studio if the prospect of sessions in front of an audience and with unfamiliar tunes is too much stress. You don't need to come "out of nowhere" and suddenly play like a god.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I think it's important to understand what Syncopation is. It's just reading pages, rhythms that that you use as a basis for interpretation. There are plenty of teachers that use nothing but the first page of Syncopation, but they 1000s of ways to interpret it is the key. Accents, flams, filling in with singles or doubles is just the beginning. It doesn't have to be static and it's when you make your own exercises and build your own phrases that you integrate into your vocabulary the work really begins.

It's a great misconception that you have to play through the whole page and go through this whole routine based on that. It's one way to do it and it builds a certain set of skills, but...

...just creating a phrase and work on only that in all sorts of ways, move it around the kit with melodic intention and working on being creative with that basic building block is very productive. Pick one bar or two and just repeat. When you can do that comfortably with 4 bar phrases you have a lot to work with.

Dave DiCenso's book "Universal Rhythms" is an entire book based on a clave rhythm. Shows how endless it is.

John Ramsay's "The Drummer's Complete Vocabulary" shows how Alan Dawson used Syncopation to build skills with his students.

I think your issue with Syncopaton comes probably from not knowing how to use it properly and trying to bite over too much.

It's not a race. You are building a vocabulary and your own style. It's done generally through transcribing stuff you like combined with your own creativity and just doing it.

My idea of phrasing and flow comes from listening to and playing music on other instruments most of my life.

You don't need crazy amounts of vocabulary, you just need to work on doing things that make sense to you musically with what you have. You slowly add to that.

My foundational work has for the last several years really been just Wilcoxon's "All American Drummer" as well as working on "compound stickings" like Gary Chaffee goes over in "Sticking Patters" in subdivisios I find relevant. To add conditioning into it just do the same stuff on different surfaces, with brushes etc...

Today I just start with a musical situation in mind. Then I work on getting control of that. If there's something I tried to do that didnt work out, if it was a cool idea, I make some sort of routine out of that until it flows and try to build more on that.

Like all my heroes I don't sound the same every time. It's a constant evolution. It's not necessarily betterthan last year or last week, it's just different based what I like right now, what I'm working on and maybe stuff I try to avoid because I've done it a bit much. In the situation though, I try not to think, I just let things flow and that will be different depending on my mood of the day. If I'm feeling stiff I probably won't do anything too technical and if not it will just come out naturally based on the music and the moment, not because it's forced. To work on that you simply just have to do it. Pick a situation and just improvise. Maybe just do something freely. If it's sloppy it's just a matter of doing it more, maybe slowing down, identifying the issue and continue.

There's all sorts of ways to get someone into doing this, but I can only do that 1 to 1, being in the same room, open just the right doors and start a process.

There is no mastery . It's never ending. It has to be about the journey.
 
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Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
How about posting an ad that you're looking for beginner/intermediate Jazz players? They want to learn, too and having a band makes it so much more fun and guides your practice. Have some sessions with them in a studio if the prospect of sessions in front of an audience and with unfamiliar tunes is too much stress. You don't need to come "out of nowhere" and suddenly play like a god.

It's never too early. This is the activity you're trying to get good at, so just doing that exact thing is the best way to go. There's so much that goes into that situation that's really difficult to replicate on your own unless you've already had the experience and understand those things.
 
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