By Libor Hadrava – originally published on April 18, 2012 by Drum! Magazine at this link.
In our previous lesson, we shifted our patterns to the right and left sides of our bodies. That is, as opposed to the traditional concept of independence where the hands play over the feet, we assigned one pattern to our left hand and left foot and another to our right hand and right foot. In this lesson, we are going to continue with this approach to four-limbed independence by assigning one pattern to our right hand and left foot and the others to our left hand and right foot, forming diagonals or an “X.” By doing this, we further open the possibilities in orchestrating rhythmic, melodic, and even harmonic ideas across the drum set.
To begin developing this “diagonal” independence, play each of the patterns from our list between your right hand and left foot. I recommend starting with two sound sources that are distinctly different, such as a hi-hat and a tom versus a bass drum and floor tom. This will allow your ears to more easily focus on and identify each component of each pattern. Once you are comfortable playing all the patterns between your right hand and left foot, play them all with your left hand and right foot. Once both limb pairings are comfortable with all the patterns, it’s time to begin combining them.
“Developing Absolute Independence” Patterns
RLLR LRRL (Stick Control page 5, exercise #6)
RRLR LLRL (Stick Control page 5, exercise #7)
RLRL LRLR (Stick Control page 5, exercise #8)
Note: For this lesson make R=Hand and L=Foot. For example, RLRL = HFHF for both diagonals.
Choose one of the patterns to use as an ostinato for your right hand and left foot. In the video, I use RRRLLL and orchestrate it as my right hand playing an ascending/descending melody on three toms and my left foot playing the hi-hat. I recommend you begin with just two sound sources (such as a tom and hi-hat) before moving on to more advanced orchestration. Next we are going to overlay alternating single strokes with our left hand and right foot in three different ways:
1. While your right hand and left foot play the ostinato, play singles leading with your left hand: left hand/right foot/left hand/right foot/left hand/right foot etc.
2. While your right hand and left foot play the ostinato, play singles leading with your right foot: right foot/left hand/right foot/left hand/right foot/left hand etc.
3. While your right hand and left foot play the ostinato, start and stop the alternating single strokes at different points, changing which limb (left hand/right foot) leads.
Note that I’m purposely not discussing time signature and subdivisions. These patterns can be played as any subdivision in any time signature, but know that all four limbs are in the same subdivision. For example, if I choose to play my RRRLLL ostinato as eighth-notes against the pulse, then my other two limbs are playing eighth-notes as well. All four limbs always comply with the same grid or “master code.”
Remember our first couple lessons when we counted numbers out loud over our patterns? We’re now going to apply that skill here by playing odd-numbered alternating strokes against our ostinato. This will create a pattern within our pattern and automatically change the leading limb!
In the video, I play 15 alternating strokes between my left hand on the snare and right foot on the bass drum before repeating:
The double stroke to restart the pattern essentially switches the lead to my right foot as it relates to the ostinato (RRRLLL) between my right hand and left foot!
Overlaying The Patterns
Once you’ve mastered the single strokes against your ostinato, it’s time to move on to our list of patterns.
“Developing Absolute Independence” Patterns
RLRL* (Warm-Up #1)
LRLR* (Warm-Up #1)
RLR* (Called Pattern in 3 in the video)
RLRLR* (Called Pattern in 5 in the video)
RLRLRLR* (Called Pattern in 7 in the video)
RRRLLL (Used as ostinato in the video)
Note: for this lesson make R=Hand and L=Foot. For example, RLRL = HFHF for both diagonals.
Play each pattern between your left hand and right foot while your right hand and left foot play your chosen ostinato. Make note of how each of your four limbs relate to each other and how they all relate to the master code of time. You will notice that most patterns create polyrhythms, taking several repetitions to resolve. For example, if your ostinato is RRRLLL, you have to play a four-note pattern like RRLL three times before the two patterns meet again at their starting points.
In the video, I play the patterns marked with an asterisk between my left hand and right foot while my right hand and left foot play the RRRLLL ostinato.