Sunday, January 15, 2012

Transitions Part 3: Brushes To Sticks

Brushes to sticks
The transition we are going to focus on in today's post is moving between brushes and sticks.  This transition appears to be relatively simple and unimportant, but in reality it is very difficult to do well and makes a big difference in how the music comes across to an audience.  It is exactly the sort of thing that you don't notice when it is done correctly, so many drummers make the mistake of not practicing it. You can see me do a version of this transition at 1:25 in the video above.  The song is another great Bobby Muncy original "Bouncin With Joe And Dana", and the soloist is the fabulous Gene D'Andrea.

One hand at a time
The best examples of this transition are the ones that come as a complete surprise.  That is to say, you don't hear the drummer switching implements, it just seems to suddenly happen.  In order to do this you have to keep the forward momentum of the groove and eliminate fumbling/extraneous noise as much as possible.

In general the key to achieving both of these objectives is to switch implements one hand at a time.  Notice how in the video example above I start to fill with my left hand and bass drum while reaching for the stick with my right hand.  This allows me to come in neatly on the down beat of the new chorus playing time on my ride cymbal.  Once I have the time established on my ride cymbal, I then reach over with my left hand to grab the other stick. 

Exercise for developing this transition
Here is an exercise from my forthcoming book "Melodic Syncopation" that will get you started developing this transition:

Classic example from Kenny Washington
As with most things brush related, Kenny Washington has this transition down cold.  At about :47 and 3:33 in the clip below, he makes this transition with almost alarming speed and clarity: