Monday, May 4, 2020
George Lawrence Stone meets Ghana
I first met percussionist Russell Hartenberger at the Banff Centre 20 years ago and had the opportunity to study with him over the course of my artist residency during the fall of 1999. He was an inspirational teacher back then and he would later serve as my thesis advisor during my doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, almost fifteen years later.
During our many lessons together, Russell gave me these written out snare drum exercises. These are all based on bell and drum patterns found in the Ghanaian drumming styles of Gahu and Agbekor except they are interpreted using accented single, double and paradiddle sticking patterns, much like the sticking patterns you'd expect to find in George Lawrence Stone's Stick Control or Accents and Rebounds.
Here they are:
(*sorry folks these photocopies are twenty years old!*)
Perhaps listening and playing these patterns along to the Ghanian grooves themselves would be a good idea as well (see below!)
If you do this correctly, I find that practicing sticking and accent patterns in this manner really helps get your head out of the technique side of things and allows you to think about how the patterns themselves are supposed to flow and fit into a groove.
Incidentally, Jason Marsalis once told me that he would spend time playing the rudiments on a drum pad while playing along with recordings. The goal being to play them in a relaxed manner and to get them to swing/groove/feel good. Furthermore, he also mentioned that he would often try to match the eighth-note feel of the rudiment he was playing with to that of the musicians on the recording he was drumming along with (ie. Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, etc.)
btw - the photo of the drummer at the top is of Abraham Adzenyah (whom I also studied with briefly at the Banff Centre over the course of another summer workshop...) Adzenyah is an influential Master drummer and teacher from Ghana and served on the faculty at Wesleyan University for many years.