Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Different Strokes Part III - The “Other” Strokes

There is no theme here, just techniques that don't fit neatly into the previous groupings. Rather than fringe techniques, these are solid tools that you may already be familiar with.

1. Wrist Stroke
Down, up, and down-up stokes are executed using just the wrists, with the fingers holding the stick firmly against the hand. Wrist strokes should not be your stroke of choice. Although good for power, they tend to limit speed and articulation and can lead to wrist problems.
2. Finger Stroke
A stroke can be executed by simply "flicking' the sticks with the fingers, keeping the wrist and arm movement to a minimum. Bounce and dribble strokes are often done using just the fingers. (Also see Skip Stroke in Part I.)

3. Forearm Stroke
In general, forearm strokes are not very useful, but there are two situations where they’re indispensable. To do a military-style buzz roll or a scratch roll, press the stick down using the forearms while keeping the wrist steady and guide the sticks with the fingers to produce the buzz.
The other instance of forearm technique is the blast roll or 'free-hand' technique. Rather than attempt to describe it, here’s Johnnie Rabb on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw4vMV3EnRw.

4. Whipping Stroke (Gladstone Technique)
Billy Gladstone (1893-1961) brought this technique to the fore while on the job at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Begin by lifting the stick to eye level using the entire arm, and then bring it down using a whipping or wave-like motion. Rebound is optional at the end of the stroke, depending on need. This stroke delivers maximum power and volume.

5. Skip Stroke
I’ve not seen any sort of documentation on this one*. While its main application is in a fast swing ride, it can be used elsewhere. Begin by throwing the stick tip against a ride cymbal with a slight rebound -- 2 to 4 inches only, opening the 2nd through 4th fingers on contact. Then pull the fingers back to quickly close your hand. with practice, you can ‘squeeze out’ two more notes (3 in total) using a 'stutter' motion and a snap: Duh-duh-Dum. The key is to use the fingers in a pulling motion to execute multiple strokes. So throw-pull-snap / becomes &-uh 1.

* There is an online video that presents it as the “Tony Williams Up-tempo Ride”, though the technique did not originate with Tony: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDu6w66F5dU

STROKE SUMMARY
* Use lift or rebound. Never pull your sticks up into position.
* When making a stroke, think stick velocity rather than force.
* Relax. Even when playing full tilt, keep your hands and arms as relaxed as you can.
* Tune and position your drums so they provide as much assistance as possible (for your preferred tonal range).