Exercise #7: Triplet Rolls with the Melody as Accents

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Step 1: Accented Triplet Rolls This exercise continues on to the next step in terms of triplet subdivision, the sextuplet or triplet roll. All the advice from exercise #6 applies here, except for now all unaccented notes will be doubled. Do not try to start out playing this too fast. Instead, go for a slow and accurate approach. Even though you are playing fast triplet rolls, be sure to keep your touch light to avoid getting bogged down.

After two times through the melody, you will jump ahead to the shout section. Notice the big dynamic contrast. On the downbeat of bar 30 (one bar before the end), stop playing triplet rolls entirely, and go back to playing only the melody. This is the famous Count Basie ending. For this ending to work it has to be dramatic, so be sure to observe the dynamic markings closely.

Guide R.H. and L.H.= Triplet rolls with the melody as accents R.F. and L.F.= Jazz feet

Example #1 (measures 16-19)

Drum set
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Playing Tips: The Blues Splanky is the first clear example of a blues in the book. The 12 bar blues along with the the 32 bar song form are the two most popular forms in jazz. Most of Count Basie’s early music was the blues, and this style informed everything that Basie and Papa Jo played. So just as in the AABA form in exercise #2, it is critical to learn to be almost unconsciously oriented at all times in this form.

Step 2: Setting up the hits (measures 15 to 31 shout) Playing improvised fills to bring in big, unison band rhythms or hits is called “setting up the hits”. In this step you will set up the big hits in measures 15- 27 (the shout section) using your own improvised fills. The big hits in this example

are generally all at the start of each phrase in measures 15/16, 17/18, 21/22, and 27/28 on the “+” of 4 and the “+” of 1, and are all marked with accents. The only other hits to set up are on the “+” of 1 in measure 24, and the last note of the tune in measure 31. To set up these hits successfully, try using relatively simple triplet figures to start out with (see the example below). These figures should generally end on the bass drum strongly on the beat to give the band a sense of where the offbeat is. Play all the accented hits themselves with your snare and cymbal together to really bring them out. Make sure to go right back into the triplet rolls on your left hand without breaking up the groove after you play the hits.

Example #2 (measures 15-18)
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Once you feel comfortable, feel free to great creative and go for some more ambitious fills, just be sure not to loose the forward momentum of the groove. The triplet rolls you have been using in this exercise are an excellent source of fills for setting up hits. For a complete description of what “setting up the hits” means and how to do it, go to exercise #9.

Double Strokes Through the Carvan Warmup, you have already had a chance to work on single strokes, and this exercise is an excellent opportunity to work on your double strokes. Every jazz drummer needs to have technical mastery of both single

and double strokes. The choice of a shout section is significant as they are usually the climax of a song, and consequently are one of the best musical environments for flashy double stroke rolls. For a real challenge, try this exercise with brushes!

Endings The two parts of a song that are going to have the biggest impression on an audience are the beginning and the ending of a song. Everything you do, including playing a great ending, is predicated on your ability to listen.  If you are listening intently you can have the confidence to know when to be flexible, and when to be assertive. In jazz, certain endings like the Count Basie ending have become so popular, that over time they have become a part of musicians standard vocabulary, and are widely used on many tunes.  As a drummer, it is your responsibility to learn and master as many of these as possible so that you can play them when they are called for. There are many variations of these standard endings, as well as a wealth of other standard endings to learn, so the best thing to do to prepare yourself is to listen to as much jazz as possible. In addition to the standard endings, many songs have built-in endings that you need to know.  Often times these endings are short and precise, sometimes just on the last note of the melody, so you won't have time to anticipate them if you don't know the ending ahead of time. Just like listening, being able to relax when you are playing is something that will determine your success in music generally. The negative impact of tension on your ability to think clearly can not be overstated.  In this case, tension will lead to frantic and muddied endings.  Conversely, if you can relax and think clearly, you will be able to make good decisions.  In my experience, one of the best ways to help yourself relax is to remember to actually breathe while you are playing. 

Suggested Recording Count Basie, “The Complete Atomic Basie” (Sonny Payne on drums)