I was on the road for most of the month of August driving across northern Saskatchewan but made a point of spending daily time on my drum pad and, among other things, trying to think up some new ways to practice and reinvent some older materials (while also focusing on the Marvin Smitty Smith rudiment ritual).
This particular exercise and concept was inspired by Todd Bishop's great exercises that he consistently shares over at his wonderful blog Cruiseship Drummer and some clever Stick Control exercises that John Riley showed me last year when I was studying with him.
Syncopated Stick Control
George Lawrence Stone's seminal text Stick Control is an important study for any serious student of the drums. However, while it's great for many things (ie. developing fluency with different stickings, etc.) it doesn't go very deep in terms of actual syncopated rhythmic variations. So here's a very quick and easy way to add a little syncopated spice into your pot of stick control chili.
Here are a few variations to mess around with :
*Start with Pages 5-7 of Stick Control*
1) Whenever a double Right is written (ie. RR) omit the first R and replace it with a rest
For example a single paradiddle would transform like this:
RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL would play like this: RL-R LRLL RL-R LRLL
* - = indicates a rest! *
Similarly, a triple paradiddle would play like this:
RLRL RLRR LRLR LRLL = RLRL RL-R LRLR LRLL
2) Now do the same as above but apply this to the Left hand instead
3) Apply this "omission" rule to both the Right and Left hands:
ie. RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL = RL-R LR-L RL-R LR-L
4) Now what happens if you have three or more hands in succession?
If you have three or more hands in a row, leave out the 3rd 8th note (using the same combinations as described above)
For example, here'a few variations:
RRRR LLLL RRRR LLLL = RR-R LLLL RR-R LLLL
RRRR LLLL RRRR LLLL = RRRR LL-L RRRR LL-L
RRRR LLLL RRRR LLLL = RR-R LL-L RR-R LL-L
5) Another quick variation that presents some interesting combinations is to leave out the 1st and/or 5th eighth notes of each line. Invariably some interesting and, more importantly, practical patterns that you can use will emerge.
I've also taken a few lessons with George Marsh (author of Inner Drumming) lately and he pointed out something quite profound that I think applies to the concepts I've described above.
As you explore each syncopated line (essentially by taking away notes and adding rests) listen to the unique rhythms that emerge from both the right and left hands individually. To make the individual rhythms even more obvious, place your right hand on the cymbal with the left hand on the snare drum and observe the individual rhythms that emerge. George Marsh describes this as rhythmic awareness.
More on this later as things are about to get really busy again. Once I have an opportunity to elaborate more I'll share some four-way coordinated independence applications, using these Syncopated Stick Control variations that I came up with.