Jul 26 2015

Playing Drums in a Big Band

A very cool 4 part series on the art of big band drumming.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube -

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube -

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube -

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube -


Jul 12 2015

How to read drum tabs (Part 3)

How to Read Drum Tab (Part 3)

As promised, here is the third instalment of the How to Read Drum Tab series. If you haven’t read the previous posts you might want to do that first. Start here  How to read drum tabs (Part 1). If you’re up to speed let’s look at the phrase I mentioned in Part 2.

_ | o     o    o                     #
H | x-----X-|--x--X--|b-------|------c
S | O-o-o-o-|f-o-ogo-|f-@-ogo-|O-o-g-g
B | O---f---|--------|O-------|f------
_ | 1 e + a |2 e + a |3 e + a |4 e + a

It’s a fairly complicated looking phrase and it may take a bit of practice to get it down but it illustrates most of the advanced strokes and symbols that you might encounter. It’s actually quite easy to read once you break it down tho. So let’s look at each line individually.

We will start with the B line. B is interchangeable with K, so the bottom line is just another way of writing the kick drum pattern. The o is a strike just like x but o is generally reserved for drums and not cymbals and just like X an accented stroke is O. So if we rewrite the Kick part it looks a bit more familiar, right?


K | X---f---|--------|X-------|f------
_ | 1 e + a |2 e + a |3 e + a |4 e + a

Now, let’s look at the f. It means flam, which is a very cool sound that you might already be doing. It’s when you hit the drum or cymbal with both sticks at the same time but not exactly the same time. It’s very common to end a fill with a flam on the snare, and they can work well in snare and tom rolls. It’s easy to do a flam and it can really spice up your fills if used correctly. This flam, however, is on the kick drum, so an easy way to play this is with a double bass pedal, just slam both beaters down at roughly the same time, but release them quickly if you still want a big sound. Leaving them on the head will kill the sound, which can also sound good, it just depends on you and your kick drum. You can also play the flam with 1 foot if you don’t have a double bass pedal, but you will need to be very quick, it’s tricky but it can be done.

So, what’s up with this snare line? It may looks a bit easier now that you know what o and f mean. It’s basically just a single stroke roll with some flair. Take out the @ and the g and try and play it.


S | O-o-o-o-|f-o-o-o-|f-o-o-o-|O-o----
_ | 1 e + a |2 e + a |3 e + a |4 e + a

Okay and let’s look at the original phrase again:


S | O-o-o-o-|f-o-ogo-|f-@-ogo-|O-o-g-g
_ | 1 e + a |2 e + a |3 e + a |4 e + a

The @ sign is for a rim shot. This is not a cross-stick which is when you put your stick on the snare and tap the rim. A rim shot is an accented snare stroke made by hitting the head and the rim at the same time, so it has a bit more flavour than a normal accent. The g represents a ghost note which is a very quiet stroke, the quieter the better generally, but you can choose your volume to suite your groove.

Play that a few times and then add in the kick when you feel comfortable. This is a fairly easy phrase for a beginner but when you start adding the hi-hat it can become a little more of an advanced phrase. I am sure you will be able to play this phrase with only a little practice, but it’s up to you to decide which hands to use and how to play the subtle nuances in between the main hits. So let’s look at the pattern.


_ | o      o   o                     #
H | x-----X-|--x--X--|b-------|------c
_ | 1 e + a |2 e + a |3 e + a |4 e + a

The first thing that may seem odd are the symbols (not cymbals) on the extra line here. This extra line can be used to show extra cymbal and hi-hat attenuations. When there is an o above the hi-hat stroke that means the the hi-hat is to be played with the pedal open, if there is no x on the hi-hat line that means that you need to close the pedal and make that sound in time.

If you have a CC line, which is Crash Cymbal you would rather write the b and c there, but it’s acceptable to write your extra cymbal hits on your hi-hat line. So when you use b on a HH or CC it represents the bell of your ride. It means something different when used on other lines, but I will cover that in a future post. The c on the HH or CC represents the China Cymbal.

And, finally the # on top of a cymbal stroke is when you choke the cymbal. Choking the cymbal is a technique used to kill the ring of the cymbal by grabbing it with one hand immediately after striking it. So grab your China straight after hitting it.

It may take you a while to get this last part down, it’s more a fill than a beat so it’s fine to play it once over and then start again, but if you are feeling adventurous you could turn this into a nice groove. There is still more to cover and hopefully you will be able to read more complex drum tab now. So good luck, and let me know if there is any other weirdness you want me to go over.


Jun 23 2015

Recording a drumkit

It’s been a few years but I finally got a practice space again. My kit fits comfortably in it’s room and recording can commence. Because it’s been such a long time I am going to brush up on my knowledge and see if there are any new interesting ideas out there that might help create the perfect sound recording my kit. These are some of the resources that I found helpful.

13 Correct Ways To Mic Up Your Drum Kit

Recording Drums in your Home Studio

Minimal Drum Micing

Minimalist Drum Miking Techniques

embedded by Embedded Video

embedded by Embedded Video


Mar 11 2014

Robot Drumming Arm gives Drummer 3rd Arm

Not too sure how I feel about this yet… Maybe it will grow on me.

Click here to read and watch the video of this automatic drumming arm.


May 21 2013

RUSH Guitarist Interviewed by Chad Smith

From Blabbermouth:

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS drummer Chad Smith launched his own podcast on May 13 through Music Radar called “In Conversation with Chad Smith”. The series bills itself as a non-traditional interview format offering insight into the personal and professional lives of musicians. Smith’s guest for the first installment was RUSH guitarist Alex Lifeson, whom he sat down with in Los Angeles a few days before RUSH was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame last month.

Click here to listen to the interview!


May 21 2013

The 10 Heaviest Drummers Of All Time – DRUM! Magazine

Who’s made Drum!’s 10 heaviest drummers of all time list?  It’s not all metal players.  The roster may surprise you!

Click here to read more…


May 21 2013

Mike Mangini Interview about joining Dream Theater


May 20 2013

Stanton Moore: Between Swing & Straight – DRUM! Magazine

Click here for the full lesson!


Mar 18 2013

Chops versus style.. who wins this drum battle?


Mar 18 2013

Replacing a djembe drumhead

To continue the djembe theme..