Part 1: Technique
Rudiments are the building blocks of technique, and form the alphabet of the language of rhythms used on the drum kit. The standard 26 American snare drum rudiments, as well as the extended 40 Percussive Arts Society (PAS) rudiments, are all important in developing good hand technique. Whether one uses these patterns in playing music or not, the ability to execute them gives the player good control, a relaxed grip and efficient movements. At the level of creative application of technique in soloing, it is the gaining of a deeper vocabulary and the ability to access one’s ideas with ease where advanced technique can really play a huge part.
That being said, there are a great number of excellent drummers in the business who have never worked through these exercises, either as a result of lack of desire, knowledge or need. They simply developed their technique through trial and error and are still able to express themselves well and serve the music they perform to a high level. Technique is only a means to an end. I see it as a path one can choose to walk on, at any point, for one’s own reasons. I have been on and off this path over the years many times. Whenever I find myself with the time and inclination, I get back on it, and it is always a source of enjoyment for me. I love the feeling of finding limitations and being able to overcome them and every time I do, it opens new doors for me. Also, with every obstacle overcome, one gets better at learning how to open these doors. Many times in my career I have spent years at a time not practicing technique, but playing gigs learning how to play MUSIC. I believe there is no more valuable school for any musician than the school of the stage.
Recently I have given thought to the application of the rudiments in playing music as well as drum solos. Many among the 40 established rudiments apply very well to fills and soloing. However, many of them serve better as simply exercises for hand development. There are a number of excellent books that include all of them; I have chosen to focus here on the rudiments and their inversions that I feel best apply to actual performance, as well as some of my own ideas and extensions. This does not exclude the other rudiments, but rather presents a definite framework, with the emphasis being on expression in performance.
Here are the rudiments we will be applying:
1. Single stroke roll
2. Double stroke roll
3. Single Paradiddle
4. Double Paradiddle
5. Triple Paradiddle
7. 4 stroke ruff* (also called the "Single stroke 4")
8. 5 stroke roll
9. 6 stroke roll
10. 7 stroke roll
11. 9 stroke roll
13. Flam tap
14. Flam triplet* (also called the "Flam accent")
15. Flam 4 stroke* (my version of the "Single Flammed mill")
17. Single drag tap
Some reviews and comments...
"...Here's one for serious beginning drum students who want a modern progressive approach. ...McColgan aims high and demands much, but for musically inclined beginners this book could be a real eye-opener. (3 out of 5 stars)
Robin Tolleson, Modern Drummer mgazine
"...The great thing about this book, and the thing that makes it appeal to me, is the way John has separated technique from groove...There are significant "skeleton key" exercises that will open doors and urge the student to pursue creative explorations. His section Advanced Groove Concepts is a must-read for those who want to improve thier groove...The way McColgan handles the technical side, to my mind, is masterful and contains sufficient technique to handle any groove, no matter how complex. McColgan is obviously a musical drummer, you can see from the list of people who hire him- and making music with the drums is his thrust."
T. Bruce Wittet, Drums. Etc magazine
"John McColgans book is loaded with great ideas and exercises that can only have been written by a professional with years of playing experience at a very high level."
Peter Magadini-Drummer, author- Recent DVD release: "Jazz Drums"
"...I think your book is outstanding! There are many books that show "what" to play. The next level up is a book that not only shows what to play but also explains "how". Your book not only does both "what & how", but most important, it explains "why and when". You obviously put a lot of time, energy and thought into your book. Great work and congrats!!!"
Alan Schechner- drummer, author," "The Art Of Transcribing-Drum Set Book One"