Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The Drum Yoda's Guide to The Classics

There are so many drum books available today that it’s easy to be confused by the range of choices. And new books seem to be arriving almost daily. But there are a few epochal books that really kicked things off for drummers the world over. What's even more impressive is that these often unassuming books can launch a whole new field of investigation with just a bit of creativity.

These, then, are the books that, for me, provided the most bang for my buck in the beginning and that continue to nurture my creativity years later.

Progressive Steps To Syncopation by Ted Reed
This is just about all the reading chops anybody really needs. The book's forté is its logical layout. It starts out with the basics and then builds gradually from there, never introducing a concept prematurely -- as the title says, "progressive steps". You can find a lifetime's worth of study here.

Stick Control for the Modern Drummer by G. L. Stone
May as well call this one the drummer's bible (and many drummers do). As well as providing a wealth of creative and useful stickings, the book also introduces rolls, rudiments, syncopation, polyrhythms, and more.  And it can be reinterpreted endlessly.
Modern Reading Text in 4/4 by Louie Belson & Gil Breines
Reading, reading and more reading. While at first it seems like just a lot of snare lines, this book takes you step by step from quarter notes all the way to triplets and 32nd notes, with emphasis on syncopation. (Also available and recommended: Odd Time Reading Text.)

The Essence Of Jazz Drumming by Jim Blackley
I admit that I'm a Blackley-ite, and a hard-core devotee of the man and his ideas. And with good reason. This is the only book I know of that pares jazz drumming down to its most basic and essential elements, and lays things out in a logical, easy-to-understand and musical plan for success. Even for a non-jazzer and the non-drummer, this is a must-have tome.
(You can find a downloadable study guide to Jim’s book on my website.)

Advanced Techniques For The Modern Drummer by Jim Chapin
What sets this work apart from virtually all books that preceded it is that it's a method for independence on the drum set. In a field once dominated by rudiments and snare etudes, a book for drum set players was welcome. Also for the first time (1948), the book incorporated musical lines and mixed phrasings.

The New Conception For Drums: The contemporary approach to jazz drumming, by Morris Lang
Out of print and almost impossible to find, this one will get you moving around the drums like a pro. The concept is short fills and solos using all parts of the set, and the applications are universal. Well worth looking for (I foolishly sold mine in a fit of ‘decluttering’).