Saturday, October 16, 2010


Dynamics are an important element for any serious drummer and musician to consider. However, some drummers think of dynamics in linear terms only, meaning that everything they play is played at only one dynamic level (whether that be forte or piano, etc.).

In some contexts perhaps that is fine but accents are a form of dynamics as well so it's very important to develop that technical skill in order to fully exploit the idea of dynamic expression on the drum set. Accents are, in essence, really just another level of dynamics which, when played correctly, give a rhythm or a groove much more depth and allow us as drummers to "speak" musically at a whole other level musically.

I'm paraphrasing here, but seem to recall an Ed Soph quote where he proclaimed:

"What's the difference between an average drummer and a great drummer?"

"The Answer? Accents!"

(ed. please correct me if I'm off base here...)

So here's a simple exercise that I came up with using the book Stick Control that's inspired by all the Joe Morello exercises I've been working on lately (specifically these days I've been checking out his book Master Studies and his two instructional DVDs):

"Stick Control Accent Exercise"

Play several bars of eighth notes on the right hand followed by the left hand

Using the sticking patterns found in the pages of Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone use the following system for each line:

When playing repeated eighth notes on the right hand:

R = accented note

L = unaccented note (but still with the right hand)

When playing the left hand as repeated eighth notes use the following system:

R = unaccented note (but still with the left hand)

L = accented note

So a single paradiddle (RLRR LRLL) would look like this, played with the right hand:

And played with the left hand, the same pattern (RLRR LRLL) would look like this:

For an extra challenge, play these lines as straight eighth notes AND as swung eighth notes as well to explore playing accents using a different rhythmic feel.

Try to maximize the difference in dynamic levels between the accents and the grace notes but do so in a relaxed manner. Don't overdue it !

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