Welcome to DrumBeat Web TV Episode 16 PolyRhythms – DrumBeat News Vol 12 No 4: Click the video below for a Special Lesson in Polyrhythms and Ostinatos to tweak up your drumming skills. It’s fun, educational, and free! Then, take a moment to post a comment in the box below to let me know what you think of it. Thanks! Tiger Bill
This is a special (brief but powerful!) episode where I demonstrate some of the PolyRhythmic drills that Joe Morello taught. They are based on the exercises from the first three pages of George Stone’s book “Stick Control.”
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Variations on Joe Morello’s Polyrhythmic-Ostinato Drills
Aside from his incredible technique and mastery of odd-time signatures, Joe Morello was probably most widely known for his skill with polyrhythms and ostinato patterns. Here is an example of two of the exercises that Joe taught for the development of polyrhythms (playing different rhythmic groupings simultaneously with each limb) and ostinato patterns (repeating the same rhythmic pattern while playing various patterns against it). Note that all of these exercises use jazz interpretation, which means that you must play all groups of two eighth-notes as if they were the first and third note of an eighth-note triplet.
Drill #1 shows me demonstrating exercise #3 from the first page of Stone’s "Stick Control." which is actually page 5. Joe had me playing the constant left hand ostinato pattern shown in the written example (below) while playing all the right-handed sticking in Stick Control with my right hand on the floor tom and all the left-handed sticking with my right foot on the bass drum. And while all that’s happening, I had to play my hi-hat on the beats of two and four. Also note that Joe taught the Stick Control book like it was written in 4/4 time instead of cut time (2/2) to make it easier to count. Try it slowly at first. Your overall speed of this drill will be limited by that of your left hand ostinato.
Drill #2 is a little more advanced. Everything is the same as in Drill #1 with the exception of the left hand ostinato part, which now includes two eighth-note triplets in the second measure with an accent on the first note of the first triplet. Again, the speed of the ostinato will limit your overall speed of this exercise.
Drill #3 is an example of one of the ways I modified Joe’s drills. You’ll note that everything remains the same as in the above exercises with the exception of the left hand ostinato part, which is now even more difficult. Try it, slowly at first. Again, you’ll find your overall speed will be limited by the speed of your left hand ostinato.
As explained above, the three exercises shown here (and on the above video) are all based on just one exercise from the book "Stick Control." To fully develop your ability to play ostinatos and polyrhythms, you must apply the above drills to every exercise on the first three pages of the "Stick Control" book, which happens to be pages five, six, and seven. Then, when you’re finished with that, you should start all over again while reversing the hands. Then switch the feet, etc. I think you get the idea. Switching the hands and feet develops what I call "cross wiring." This allows your brain to build neuro-pathways throughout your body that will greatly increase your 4-way independence. After you develop the ability to play these types of complex cross-patterns, you will have little trouble playing almost anything that requires 4-way coordination on the drumset.
If you are interested in further increasing your polyrhythmic and ostinato skills, visit my website at TensionFreeDrumming.com and also watch for my upcoming book on Polyrhythms.
DrumBeat Web TV: Episode 16:
Produced by: Tiger Bill Meligari at TigerMix.com, Inc. Studios NJ USA
Video by: Tiger Bill
Music by: Tiger Bill – Composed using Sonicfire Pro 5
Here are all the links for Episode 16 that you’ll want to visit:
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Until Next Time: Keep safe, have fun, and stay loose!