Monthly Archives: October 2016

Out of the Box

As you can probably tell from my set-ups and videos I tend to gravitate toward the unorthodox-side of drumming. In fact my whole project Question Everything (?E) is about being an unconventional player. I’ve messed around with odd combinations, weird time signatures and experimental sounds. This includes using set-ups with all hi-hats, choosing multiple snares in place of rack toms and playing along to Godzilla’s roars that are triggered with sample pads. It’s no wonder that I gravitate toward drummers that are doing highly original things like Alan Myers of DEVO and Away from Voivod. I have a friend from high school who is a tremendous drummer for an amazing experiential band called Hepcat Dilemma (see video). He personifies what it means to be a nonconformist.

Another notable drummer who is pushing the envelope in a variety of ways is Scott Pellegrom. I was introduced to Scott after he did a guest appearance on Drumeo a while back (see above). I found his presentation to be incredibly enlightening and inspirational. Scott is an innovator who uses a variety of sounds emanating from his mouth and the drums. He also uses mallets, sticks and his hands to create a groove that he continues to build upon. At one point in Scott’s Drumeo lesson he broke free and displayed some amazing chops showing that he was a talented conventional drummer too. Scott refers to himself as a “rythmist” and has a remarkable ability to produce sound from anything. This includes sticking rubber duckies in between his hi-hats.

My favorite aspect of Scott’s playing is that he is fearless. He is willing to try anything in order to create music. In addition to his studio work and festival appearances Scott leads the Scott Pellegrom Trio. SPT refers to itself as a unique blend of Funk and soul. They have released their debut album titled“Supernatural Bang.” In his online bio John Sinkevics from LocalSpins.com describes Scott’s abilities:

“Whether he’s dubbed a ‘mad scientist’ or a ‘magician’ on drums, one thing is certain: Scott Pellegrom is an adrenalized, world-class percussionist with unmatched passion for his music and unrivaled admiration from his peers. For an admittedly “introverted, quiet, nerdy person, Scott Pellegrom transforms into a dazzling and rhythmic pretty crazy beast on the drums – a world-class percussion powerhouse.”

For those who want to see how far a drummer can push the boundaries check out Scott Pellegrom. His style will inspire you to experiment with your own original music. Ultimately Scott is redefining the status quo while proving that in drumming, anything goes.

Visit Scott online at: http://www.scottpellegrom.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sp3band
Amazon: http://www.amzn.com/B00YE9RPCY
iTunes: https://itun.es/us/z94C7
CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/scottpellegrom

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Young Gun: Alex Shumaker

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[UPDATE: Alex’s popularity is astounding. This post had close to 1,500 views the first day.]

“Prodigy” isn’t a word that is used loosely. The definition of a prodigy is “a person with exceptional talents or powers.” Alex Shumaker is a 10-year old prodigy who has become an Internet sensation. This young drummer from Punxsutawney, PA has been playing drums since the age of five. According to his online bio:

“While most five years were headed to the Toy section at Walmart Alex would ask to go to look at the CD’s. …while browsing the CD’s Alex found a DVD of the band Journey… Alex became fixated on drummer Deen Castronovo….To date along with Castronovo and Brian Tichy the most influential drummers for Alex have been: Todd Sucherman of Styx, Brian Hitt of Reo Speedwagon, Chris Fraizer of Foreigner, Peter Criss of Kiss, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Neil Peart of Rush, Sean Fuller of Florida Georgia Line and Rich Redmond of Jason Aldean to mention a few.”

Since picking up the sticks Shumaker has emulated his heroes while making a plethora of cover tune videos ranging from heavy metal – to country – to classic rock. He has racked up thousands upon thousands of Internet likes and comments. To date Alex’s Facebook page boasts 360,000+ total page likes and there are over 73,000 users talking about him. His cover of Guns N Rose’s ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ has over 300,000 likes and 74,000+ thumbs up.

Alex has sat in at numerous sound checks and performed with bands at every level including Jackyl (see below). He also performs live with his own “prodigy” band 80 Degrees. On top of all of his drumming accomplishments Shumaker also plays guitar. When he’s not practicing or performing Alex is a regular kid interested in playing and watching sports.

The young drummer shared his thoughts on his passion for the drums: “I love to play drums. It is so much fun and I just love music ! I want to play forever.” Looking at his accomplishments so far one can only imagine what heights this young man will achieve as he grows as a person and as a musician. Time will tell and I am looking forward to it.

For more on Alex Shumaker visit:

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/brookeshumaker1
Twitter: @alexshudrums – Instagram: alexshudrums
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/janie241/alex-shumaker-7-year-old-drummer/

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3197621886_1fe9138156UPDATE: Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending an hour interviewing one of my favorite drummers Kelly Keagy. Our conversation included Kelly’s insights and experiences from when he first took up the drums to today. In addition to being a great drummer and singer Kelly is also a great guy. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and it was one of the best interviews I’ve done to date. The article ended up being over 3,000 words and it will include photography to compliment the feature. Best of all Kelly and I seem to have established a relationship as I have been invited to come out to a Night Ranger show and hang with the band. Currently I am submitting the piece to my publishers for consideration. If it doesn’t run in either magazine I will post the interview in its entirety here. Stay tuned for the announcement.

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Get Well

John Blackwell was the drummer for Prince’s band The New Power Generation. He is one of the best drummers to come out of the 2000’s and his is talent is exceptional. I discovered John after seeing a clinic he did on YouTube. Further examination revealed multiple videos showcasing John’s infectious groove. John was recently diagnosed with two brain tumors. He is partially paralyzed and working to get his movement back. I ask that you pray for John. I am thinking about contacting his people to conduct an interview in hopes it will help spread the word. John has a GoFundMe account to offset his medical expenses at: www.gofundme.com/johnblackwelljr. Below is a message for his fans:

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2016_dw_cover

Each year I get to design the student workbooks for Rich Redmond’s Drummers Weekend. This event is a three day immersive camp that includes some of the best players in the business sharing their wisdom. Currently there are DW’s in Nashville and LA with plans to expand. For more info on this life-changing event visit http://richredmond.com/what-rich-does/crash-with-rich/

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Taiko

Yamato Drummers of Japan performing taiko drumming

Some of the most exciting drumming you’ll ever see comes from the traditional Japanese style of taiko. In Japanese, “taiko” refers to any kind of drum, but outside of Japan, it is used to refer to any of the various Japanese drums called “wadaiko” and to the form of ensemble drumming more specifically called “kumi-daiko.” According to the definition: “Taiko has a mythological origin in Japanese folklore, but historical records suggest that taiko was introduced to Japan through Korean and Chinese cultural influence as early as the 6th century.”

The style of “kumaoji-daiko” is named after its creator Okuyama Kumaoji, a central performer of the discipline. The process for playing this style begins with two players on a single drum, one of whom is called the “shita-byōshi” (lower beat). Shita-byōshi drummers provide the underlying beat. The other player, called the “uwa-byōshi” (upper beat), builds on this rhythmical foundation with unique patterns. While there are specific types of underlying rhythms, the accompanying player is free to improvise.

The contemporary style of hachijo-daiko is called “shin-daiko” (new taiko) which differs from hachijo-daiko. While the lead and accompanying roles are still present, shin-daiko performances use larger drums that are mounted on stands. Shin-daiko emphasizes a more powerful sound necessitating larger drums. Kumaoji-daiko drummers also wear looser clothing to adopt more open stances and larger movements with the legs and arms. This creates a dance style that incorporates tribal-like drumming with exaggerated movements.

Below: Four examples of a set of named patterns for the taiko stick drum, used only in dance sections. Placement of the dots shows right- and left-hand strokes; black dots indicate the softer—and light dots the louder—strokes. The patterns (tetsuke) shown here are from a set of 59 found in a taiko instruction book. The patterns are organized into families (tegumi; in the example, the kizami family in lines A and B and the uchi dashi group in lines C and D):

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The Return of Steve Smith

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Steve Smith has been killing it on tour with JOURNEY. It seems like every week a new and distinctive drum solo is being posted online. Not only is Steve picking up right where he left off, he’s playing with a renewed vigor. In an interview published prior to the tour he stated: “My hope is that JOURNEY fans will appreciate a new lineup similar to the ‘Escape’ and ‘Frontiers’ era — and will want to revisit this timeless music with me. By bringing my musical experience to the table along with the years that the members of JOURNEY have spent touring, I’m sure this new incarnation of JOURNEY will develop its own special magic. It’s going to be amazing. I look forward to seeing all the fans on the road!”

If you’re familiar with Steve’s previous solos you may remember that his approach featured a beginning, middle and end. Usually he would start off simple before breaking free to show off chops that did not lend themselves to the standard JOURNEY song. His new solos pay homage to those days but are a blend of familiar and fresh material. Steve has also created a hybrid kit that is a cross between the setup he used for JOURNEY and the one he uses for Vital Information.

Perhaps my biggest thrill as a writer took place when I interviewed Steve via Skype for Drumhead magazine. It was surreal to converse with someone you idolize from the comfort of their couch (Read here). His praise for the finished article (“This is fantastic! Thanks for a great job.”) is something I still cherish. If you’re on Facebook you can access Steve’s latest videos on his Facebook page. You can also find up-to-date touring and clinic information at Steve’s official website.

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A Historic Look at Rudiments

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Rudiments are how we speak the language of drums. As budding drummers many, if not most of us, started out by learning how to play rudiments. Once our muscle memory became comfortable we were able to transform them into tools for the drum set. I remember spending hours upon hours working on executing paradiddles and double-stroke rolls. I’m still not nearly as fast as I’d like to be.

The foundation of rudiments can be traced back centuries ago to the Swiss mercenaries who were at their peak during the Renaissance period. As fierce fighters Swiss mercenaries’ battlefield prowess made them highly sought-after troops. Their use of pole-arms (also known as “pikes”) in close formation required cohesive movement while marching. A tabor (hand-played snare drum), was used for marching cadences and to communicate commands in the field. The word “tabor” is an English variant of a Latin-derived word meaning “drum.” These patterns and phrases became the basis for rudimental drumming.

The first instance of a written rudiment goes back to the year 1612 in Basel Switzerland. Rudimental drumming was also extensively used by the French honor guards during the 17th and 18th centuries. The playing of rudiments was perfected during the reign of Napoleon I and became the basis for what is considered the era of modern rudimental drumming.

For many years there have been attempts to create a formalized standard listing of rudiments. According to their encyclopedia entry “The National Association of Rudimental Drummers, an organization established to promote rudimental drumming, put forward a list of 13 essential rudiments, and later a second set of 13 to form the original 26. In 1984, the Percussive Arts Society reorganized the first 26 and added another 14 to form the current 40 International Drum Rudiments. Currently, the International Association of Traditional Drummers is working to once again promote the original 26 rudiments.”

The most popular rudiments are the single-stroke roll, double-stroke roll, diddles, paradiddle, drag and flam. Each pattern utilizes a different procedure for control. The most prevalent use of rudiments is found in drum corp. Today there are four main Rudimental Drumming cultures: Swiss Basler Trommeln, Scottish Pipe Drumming, American Ancient Drumming, and American Modern Drumming.

Here are the Standard 26 American Drum Rudiments:

Thirteen essential rudiments:

  1. The Double Stroke Open Roll
  2. The Five Stroke Roll
  3. The Seven Stroke Roll
  4. The Flam
  5. The Flam Accent
  6. The Flam Paradiddle
  7. The Flamacue
  8. The Drag (Half Drag or Ruff)
  9. The Single Drag Tap
  10. The Double Drag Tap
  11. The Double Paradiddle
  12. The Single Ratamacue
  13. The Triple Ratamacue

Second thirteen rudiments:

  1. The Single Stroke Roll
  2. The Nine Stroke Roll
  3. The Ten Stroke Roll
  4. The Eleven Stroke Roll
  5. The Thirteen Stroke Roll
  6. The Fifteen Stroke Roll
  7. The Flam Tap
  8. The Single Paradiddle
  9. The Drag Paradiddle No. 1
  10. The Drag Paradiddle No. 2
  11. The Flam Paradiddle-diddle
  12. The Lesson 25
  13. The Double Ratamacue

More recently, the Percussive Arts Society added 14 more rudiments to extend the list to the current 40 International Drum Rudiments.

Last fourteen rudiments:

  1. The Single Stroke Four
  2. The Single Stroke Seven
  3. The Multiple Bounce Roll
  4. The Triple Stroke Roll
  5. The Six Stroke Roll
  6. The Seventeen Stroke Roll
  7. The Triple Paradiddle
  8. The Single Paradiddle-Diddle
  9. The Single Flammed Mill
  10. The Pataflafla
  11. The Swiss Army Triplet
  12. The Inverted Flam Tap
  13. The Flam Drag
  14. The Single Dragadiddle

For additional examples see:

40 examples and full notations

Videos depicting all 40 rudiments

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