Tell me about Alan Dawson

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I realize since I stopped pad practice that my rudiments and technique aren't getting the maintenance they need..

I remember a Thomas Pridgeon drumeo vid where he explained Alan Dawson's method and went through the rudiments over a samba (I think) kick and hihat pedal pattern. Could anyone give me a bit more insight or is that the jist of it?

I'm aware of stick control and various rolls and diddles, is it worth me buying a book or is it easy enough to experiment with what I already know?
 

Souljacker

Silver Member
Alan Dawson has a system called the Rudimental Ritual. What Pridgen said is correct. It's a massive list of rudiments (I think something like 70ish, including hybrids) and they are played back to back over the samba/bossa nova foot pattern.

Ideally they're to be played with brushes.

Demonstration of some of the ritual:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOwFQRYbbTo

I actually bought the Alan Dawson book, the Drummers Complete Vocabulary as a reference book for rudiments. But it also includes Alans ideas for using Stick Control and Syncopation (Ted Reed) especially. So you could look at the book as being split between rudimentary stuff and jazz coordination. Also has some nice stuff on soloing and other bits and bobs.

Many of Alans Syncopation exercises in the book go right over my head. I can't visualize what I'm meant to be doing by reading the instructions even.

But for sure it's a very nice book for learning rudiments from and if you want to get stuck into the jazz independence section too, more power to you.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Get the book. The ritual is something to work up to; I would definitely not start out with it. John Ramsay, who transcribed Alan's teachings into that book describes it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIBKk61xsIs

If you jump into it without the long, necessary preparation, it would be like running a competitive road race cold, without training. However, just the prep work will get you miles ahead of where you're at in terms of understanding rudiments, without even getting to the ritual.

When I studied with Alan, he gave you 3 rudiments at every lesson. He would go over details to watch out for when you practiced them and then he'd demonstrate them. He'd play what is called a 'breakdown', from slow to fast and then back down slow for each one. You brought a cassette tape and he'd record it for you while playing sticks on a pad. And he'd write out the pattern on his personalized note pad for you. You had to demonstrate a proficiency with each one (and there were a lot of them) before he'd give you the next set of 3. Also, while you didn't learn them with a bossa nova ostinato underneath, but you did tap your right foot on all four (on the floor) and your left foot went heal toe on 2 & 4 while doing each breakdown. On the set you would just transfer that foot movement to the pedals.

Mind you, rudiments were just one component of his lessons and while he challenged you to move forward, it was always at a balanced pace with the other material. He wasn't being tough just to be tough. But the material was inherently challenging and he had developed a most efficient way to get through it so that you could get to the real goal, which was playing musically without mechanical flaws. He's no longer here to make sure you're not taking any shortcuts or skipping ahead. (And giving you that stern look if you slacked off on anything!). At the very least, I would take a few Skype lessons to learn a handful of core rudiments, just to get good efficient strokes. But the book is a good aid if you read each instruction and honestly follow it through.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Cool. Do you find it useful?

I never actually play that foot pattern under a solo or anything really but I guess it's better than practicing rudiments on the kit with just your hands.
 

geezer

Senior Member
There's also a website that one of his former students set up that has lots of audio examples on it, and the same student did a couple of apps that go thru all the rudiments, the rudiment ritual and the syncopation exercises from the book. I'm a huge Alan Dawson fan, have the book, and the apps on my phone. I started by doing the 3 rudiments a week approach to review ones I knew and then learn the more obscure ones that I didn't and am now finally working on the rudiment ritual.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Cool. Do you find it useful?

I never actually play that foot pattern under a solo or anything really but I guess it's better than practicing rudiments on the kit with just your hands.
Yes, I do. BD 1/4 notes, 2 & 4 on the Hi-hat. It helped me from running away with the pattern, especially when my goal was to play them on the set. At first I viewed it as an annoyance; just another set of limbs to confuse the issue. Later I realized it settled me into the time better and now that's the only way I practice them individually (when I do a breakdown). Even rudiments like the double ratamacue which might be played in 3/4 or 6/8. It crosses over the bar-line in 4/4 but you get used to it pretty quickly.

If you do that, the Bossa pattern is quite an easy transition when you get to the ritual.
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
I recently saw the Thomas Prigden video, and got inspired to try what he was demo-ing. A lot of the rudiments I'm pretty good at - especially the paradiddle variations, but I've never spent a lot of time with the 5+ stroke rolls, (since I've never really seen the point) but Prigden was making them sound great :) I tried with the samba bass, the tresillo bass pattern, and a 3/2 bass pattern. Wasn't that hard but I noticed my hands were a lot cleaner than my feet on the samba. I haven't played any gig that required a samba pattern for years (I generally prefer to play Brazillian stuff by spitting up the bass, giving it more of a reggae, heavy 2 feel than the driving American style ... I really seemed rusty with it!

I really felt like it pushed my technique up just the the 30 minutes I had to practice between lessons - something I haven't felt in a while. I look forward to doing it tomorrow


::EDIT:: Day 3.... I'm stoked about working on the rudiments, and my hands are feeling GREEAT, but I'm even more about working on the 2/3 foot ostinato, and being able to switch back and forth between it and the tresillo, and a 4/3.
 
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Souljacker

Silver Member
Cool. Do you find it useful?

I never actually play that foot pattern under a solo or anything really but I guess it's better than practicing rudiments on the kit with just your hands.
Not sure if this question was directed towards me or not, but since you created a separate post after to thank John I'll answer it anyway.

I haven't tackled the ritual itself, I just use the book as a resource for learning rudiments. Maybe I'll aim for it when the time is right. At the moment I'm applying some of the rudiments in the book around the kit.

As for the samba foot pattern, I'd wager it's better than just practicing with the hands alone. To give the 4 limbs a workout.

I'm now pretty comfortable with that pattern. I first learnt it a few years into my drum lessons with my first teacher as part of a basic bossa nova. I'm at the stage now where I can solo well over the foot ostinato, play rudiments in 6 such as the paradiddle-diddle over it (also odd groupings) and have my hands going faster than the speed the foot pattern is at, keeping that pulse solid with the feet and letting my hands do as they wish over it.

If I remember rightly, Thomas Pridgen talked about some of this in that Drumeo video (such as the rudiments in six played over the foot pattern).
 

kanefsky

Senior Member
My teacher will often write down an exercise and then tell me to play it "five ways", which is his shorthand for playing it on the snare drum, snare drum plus bass drum, across the kit with one bar per drum, across the kit with one beat per drum, and as a fill (either a one-bar fill after three bars of a rock beat or a four-bar fill after four bars of the jazz ride pattern).

Anyway he mentioned that even if you can play it with the bass drum or across the kit right off the bat it's good to also practice it on the snare drum alone because it can actually be more challenging to keep time that way.

--
Steve
 

mata

Junior Member
I guess the tresillo means two dotted quarter notes followed by a quarter note. Not sure about the 4/3 but it could mean a 4:3 polyrhythym between the bass drum and the hihat
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
I guess the tresillo means two dotted quarter notes followed by a quarter note. Not sure about the 4/3 but it could mean a 4:3 polyrhythym between the bass drum and the hihat
Mata,

First, the question was to him, otherwise we would be an entire LIFE guesing...

I don´t know if you speak Spanish, you might after your nick (mata=kills in Spanish). Tresillo is a Spanish word and means Triplet, and it´s at least "temerary" to call two dot. 1/4 + 1/4 a triplet... I mean I would never call a Bear a "Big Dog", hahaha...

About the 4:3: keep guessing man....hahaha.

Please let him answer...

ALL THE BEST!
 

mata

Junior Member
I know man, but since his post was from 2015 I figured he wasn't gonna answer anytime soon so i gave it a shot, no harm intended.
I have heard it called the "cuban tresillo" by a few people like Efrain Toro that's why I think he means that. Also called the one bar clave by some.
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
I know man, but since his post was from 2015 I figured he wasn't gonna answer anytime soon so i gave it a shot, no harm intended.
I have heard it called the "cuban tresillo" by a few people like Efrain Toro that's why I think he means that. Also called the one bar clave by some.
Mata,

Thanks for your reply, I always thought it was well intended.

Best!
 

jazzerooty

Junior Member
And remember that knowing the music--if you're studying jazz--is the other, even more necessary, aspect of getting to be a good player. Play along with recordings, like "Kind of Blue." There are a lot of technical wizards that are terrible drummers. And there are great drummers with nearly zero "technique."
 

nolibos

Member
I started working on the Ritual this summer and realized that it is an undertaking for someone with a lot of free time. Instead I am focusing on the Swiss Triplet section (Tony Williams always mentioned them).
My favorite Alan Dawson exercise is the "Eight Triplet Ways"; this one is more useful for my Jazz playing.
Also the exercise using Stick Control and singing jazz tunes, also more useful for Jazz.

If you have time, the Ritual will only make your playing better. For me, I only have time to maintain my single and double stroke roll.
 
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