Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Adaptive Anticipation or What comes next?

Adaptive Anticipation -- This is my own somewhat overblown term for controlling the sticks in a manner that anticipates subsequent strokes. It also refers to using the time between strokes to move the sticks to where they need to be. So while it's important to know how to make a certain stroke, a certain sound, it's equally important to know what sort of stroke comes next.

Let’s look at the infamous Moeller stroke. It consists of a 'down stroke' and an 'up stroke'. The down stroke is a full-length stroke executed with power, but with no rebound -- the stick tip remains close to the head. This is not a very useful position if you want to make another full-volume stroke, but it's ideal for a tap. Part two of the Moeller is to tap the stick and then lift it back up in preparation for another fuller stroke. Each type of stroke gets ready for what is to follow: The up stroke is a consequence of the down stroke just as the down stroke prepares for the up stroke.

Now let's look at paradiddles. If we play an accented first stroke, we add impetus. If we then keep the stick close to the head, it prepares us for the diddle, which is difficult to play with full strokes. The diddle also buys us lots of time for raising the other stick. This gives you a strong down stroke, followed by three lesser volume strokes, and plenty of time to get ready or the next figure.

So …
        R = Full down stroke while lifting the Left hand
        L = Half stroke
        RR = 2 Taps while lifting the Left hand
        L = Full down stroke while lifting the Right hand
        R= Half stroke
        LL = 2 Taps while lifting the Right hand

I like to use a billiard analogy. You can just whack the cue ball and hope for the best, but serious pool players put a lot of effort into controlling where the cue ball ends up. It's important to make the shot, but if you're not preparing for the next shot, your game will suffer. Same with your strokes.

I think in terms of down & up, slow & fast, accented & unaccented, and modify the end of my strokes appropriately. If I need to make two loud strokes in a row, then I'll use full strokes*. I'll make the stroke and let the stick rebound back to the top of the range. Then my stick is ready for the next stroke.

Down strokes prepare for lighter strokes; up strokes prepare for louder strokes, and free strokes prepare for another loud stroke. So get out some sticks and start lining up your next shot.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cymbal Minds

Dave Millar is a man on a mission. Dave came across a unique cymbal brand a couple of years ago and was so impressed that he just couldn't wait for them to be available in Canada. So he contacted the company. They weren't ready for market expansion at the time so Dave, who has years of business and sales experiences, said "What the heck ... I'll do it" (or something to that effect) And so Mirat Diril Canada was born.

First a bit about Murat Diril. Murat and his brother Ibrahim began their cymbal making careers in 1984 at Istanbul Cymbal Company (which split into Istanbul Mehmet and Istanbul Agop in 1997). They started their own cymbal business in 2008 and began making cymbals for other companies, mainly Paiste and Meinl. Murat developed Meinl's Byzance line and Paiste's Twenty Series cymbals. Today Murat puts his own name on the Turkish-made cymbals.

I could go on at length about Murat Diril cymbals. They are, in a word, wonderful ... what you'd expect from a first rank cymbal maker. The company currently produces three broad lines of cymbals, and each line has several series. The instruments are categorised by intended use as well as general style. I tried a couple of dozen cymbals covering most of the range, and it was tough to exclude any of the cymbals from consideration. (The 20" Renaissance Flat Ride just blew me away and the 17" Crash/Trash was awesome.)

The good news here is that the pricing is in line with other top-quality cymbals -- not cheap but not overly expensive -- and there are some bargains to be had, especially in the Renaissance line.

Now here's the cool part. Murat Diril cymbals are now available in Canada three years ahead of schedule thanks to Dave. And, rather than trucking his samples from music store to music store, Dave is reaching out to drummers directly. Now, if I were to design a cymbal business, I would do exactly what Dave is doing. He has set up a sampling studio (just north of Toronto) where drummers can stop by and try the cymbals undisturbed. Dave, as host, helps with matching and selection. I think this is the proper way to select cymbals.

Part of Dave's outreach program is to recruit champions (he calls them Local Heroes) -- drummers who are enthusiastic about the cymbals and who would like to feature them in their own studios. Here's how it might work. I have a home-based teaching studio. If enough of my students are interested in the cymbals, then I could act as an agent. Dave would supply me with a stock of cymbals and I would get a commission on any cymbals I sell to my students. I could also make my studio available to locals who want to try them.

So stop by the Murat Diril website, listen to the sound files, and if you like what you hear, get in touch with Dave to arrange a hands-on session or consultation.