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  #1  
Old 04-21-2013, 05:11 PM
Tbonez Tbonez is offline
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Default Tom rhythms

I work production at a very large church every now and then. They hire only top end musicians. One of the things that blows me away about the drummers is how easily they can transition into a Tom rythm, improvise and add feel.

Is anyone out there practicing this stuff and if you are can you make recommendations? I lose all creativity, organization and feel when I try to transition to a strictly Tom based rythm. When I simply move a standard rythm off of the hats or a ride onto the Tom it has no feel.. I've attempted to stretch fills into Tom rythms and it never seems to fit...
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

That's probably because we play different things on the toms than we do on cymbals. Tom rhythms (add another "h" in "rhythm", btw) are more geared towards the pulse of the song and the rhythm section than they are straight eighths. Playing straight eighths on a tom sounds silly, usually. The exception is on the floor tom, but usually if I'm doing that I will throw in a quick double-stroke roll on the next-highest or next-lowest tom on the "and" of beat four, to kind of propel the beat into the next bar.

Most times when we are playing in a groove we accent the groove with our right foot on the kick. Think of the the standard rock beat: Boom Chick ba-Boom Chick. Move that "ba" accent (the eighth note before beat three) into the hands somewhere. One way you could do this: Ride eighth notes on the floor tom with your right hand and play the "boom" of beat one, the "ba-boom" into beat three, and the "chick" of beat four on the rack toms with your left hand. That's just an example. There are dozens and dozens more.

Now that you have a rhythm, you need to practice the transition. Use a click if you have one, drill it, and don't tense up in anticipation.

If you don't have a teacher, I recommend getting with one. Not to sound patronizing at all, but this is a common sort of question asked by drummers with less background in the musical theory behind physical actions at the kit. Best of luck to you.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

Everything you play is based on what is going on at the time, and without any context, I find it difficult to understand what you are looking for. Is this during a solo or not during a solo? Is it during a lead part or a vocal part? It's such an open ended question that has no specifics.

Watching other drummers succeed in that particular area...gives you a great opportunity to follow their lead. Perhaps you should observe the holy crap out of them and reverse engineer what they are doing so you can understand better for yourself. Just steal their stuff, everyone does it.

Better yet, go up to them, compliment them, and ask specifics.

When I think of strictly tom work, the first thing that pops in my mind is the 3 against 2 stuff, AKA the Bo Diddley pattern, with all it's variations, but I have no clue if this is even close to what you are looking for
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:27 PM
Tbonez Tbonez is offline
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Default Re: Tom rythms

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Everything you play is based on what is going on at the time, and without any context, I find it difficult to understand what you are looking for. Is this during a solo or not during a solo? Is it during a lead part or a vocal part? It's such an open ended question that has no specifics.

Watching other drummers succeed in that particular area...gives you a great opportunity to follow their lead. Perhaps you should observe the holy crap out of them and reverse engineer what they are doing so you can understand better for yourself. Just steal their stuff, everyone does it.

Better yet, go up to them, compliment them, and ask specifics.

When I think of strictly tom work, the first thing that pops in my mind is the 3 against 2 stuff, AKA the Bo Diddley pattern, with all it's variations, but I have no clue if this is even close to what you are looking for

They are playing it for a single verse and or chorus. It completely changes the feel of the song.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:30 PM
Tbonez Tbonez is offline
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Default Re: Tom rythms

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Originally Posted by alparrott View Post
That's probably because we play different things on the toms than we do on cymbals. Tom rhythms (add another "h" in "rhythm", btw) are more geared towards the pulse of the song and the rhythm section than they are straight eighths. Playing straight eighths on a tom sounds silly, usually. The exception is on the floor tom, but usually if I'm doing that I will throw in a quick double-stroke roll on the next-highest or next-lowest tom on the "and" of beat four, to kind of propel the beat into the next bar.

Most times when we are playing in a groove we accent the groove with our right foot on the kick. Think of the the standard rock beat: Boom Chick ba-Boom Chick. Move that "ba" accent (the eighth note before beat three) into the hands somewhere. One way you could do this: Ride eighth notes on the floor tom with your right hand and play the "boom" of beat one, the "ba-boom" into beat three, and the "chick" of beat four on the rack toms with your left hand. That's just an example. There are dozens and dozens more.

Now that you have a rhythm, you need to practice the transition. Use a click if you have one, drill it, and don't tense up in anticipation.

If you don't have a teacher, I recommend getting with one. Not to sound patronizing at all, but this is a common sort of question asked by drummers with less background in the musical theory behind physical actions at the kit. Best of luck to you.

Very interesting information..Thanks! I will work this out around the kit today. I do have a teacher but I have been focusing my lesson times on recording, playing back etc..

One quick question..Did you learn this or was it a natural instinct? How are you guys figuring this stuff out?

Last edited by Tbonez; 04-21-2013 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:47 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

You have to feel it. If you approach it from an intellectual standpoint, it probably will sound too clinical. The rhythm needs to be felt to translate correctly. I think it's safe to say that this applies across the board. You have to feel it.

If you're not feeling it, don't despair. It can be learned. You have to develop a new skill if you aren't feeling it now. If you are feeling it and it just doesn't come out right...that's probably the easier problem. Feeling something you just don't feel right now takes a little more dedication and devotion.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:21 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tbonez View Post
Very interesting information..Thanks! I will work this out around the kit today. I do have a teacher but I have been focusing my lesson times on recording, playing back etc..

One quick question..Did you learn this or was it a natural instinct? How are you guys figuring this stuff out?
I learned it. Do you have a tom rhythm in mind from a particular song? Then listen and, if possible, watch the video to see what the drummer is doing, then practice the bejeebus out of it. You could also ask your teacher to break the pattern down for you. Often these tom rhythms are simple single stroke stickings, and the only complexity is the subdivisions and the physicality of moving hands to different toms.

Larry mentioned the Bo Diddley beat. Many common tom rhythms are variations on this timeless pattern, and that is an excellent place to begin. If you aren't familiar with it, it's basically a 3:2 clave (ba baaa ba, bum bum). Check it out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_Didd...o_Diddley_beat

Comp that a little bit on a single drum with one hand, then with two. Then start filling in other places between the clave, or switch notes between the drums. For example, you could place the first three notes of the clave on three descending toms, then the last two on the snare; or backwards, while keeping steady four on the kick. Maybe you are ringing out eighths on the ride cymbal bell while playing the clave with the left hand as described above. Maybe the right hand is playing those eighths on the floor tom. See where I'm coming from?

Larry is correct in that if you are not feeling it, you need to practice it for feel. Best to start simply, as I said, with one drum, even with one hand. Make that clave feel natural. Play along to a song that features the Bo Diddley, if possible. I personally find it hard to get all the feel without music to play along with, whether in my headset or with other musicians. Then practice some more. Remember what I mentioned before, if you are transitioning out of something on hats or ride into the tom piece, feel it, don't tense up "omigod omigod hereitcomes hereitcomes ogod ogod" -- best recipe for a train wreck ever. Practice helps with that.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:43 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

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Originally Posted by alparrott View Post
I learned it. Do you have a tom rhythm in mind from a particular song? Then listen and, if possible, watch the video to see what the drummer is doing, then practice the bejeebus out of it. You could also ask your teacher to break the pattern down for you. Often these tom rhythms are simple single stroke stickings, and the only complexity is the subdivisions and the physicality of moving hands to different toms.

Larry mentioned the Bo Diddley beat. Many common tom rhythms are variations on this timeless pattern, and that is an excellent place to begin. If you aren't familiar with it, it's basically a 3:2 clave (ba baaa ba, bum bum). Check it out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_Didd...o_Diddley_beat

Comp that a little bit on a single drum with one hand, then with two. Then start filling in other places between the clave, or switch notes between the drums. For example, you could place the first three notes of the clave on three descending toms, then the last two on the snare; or backwards, while keeping steady four on the kick. Maybe you are ringing out eighths on the ride cymbal bell while playing the clave with the left hand as described above. Maybe the right hand is playing those eighths on the floor tom. See where I'm coming from?

Larry is correct in that if you are not feeling it, you need to practice it for feel. Best to start simply, as I said, with one drum, even with one hand. Make that clave feel natural. Play along to a song that features the Bo Diddley, if possible. I personally find it hard to get all the feel without music to play along with, whether in my headset or with other musicians. Then practice some more. Remember what I mentioned before, if you are transitioning out of something on hats or ride into the tom piece, feel it, don't tense up "omigod omigod hereitcomes hereitcomes ogod ogod" -- best recipe for a train wreck ever. Practice helps with that.

Really great advice..I have practiced the 3:2 and the 2:3..I've honestly never thought about putting it into a Tom rythm, however. I will practice that around the kit and see if I can make it fit. I will also see if I can make it fit in a musical sense. You would make a great teacher if you aren't already.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:45 PM
Tbonez Tbonez is offline
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Default Re: Tom rythms

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
You have to feel it. If you approach it from an intellectual standpoint, it probably will sound too clinical. The rhythm needs to be felt to translate correctly. I think it's safe to say that this applies across the board. You have to feel it.

If you're not feeling it, don't despair. It can be learned. You have to develop a new skill if you aren't feeling it now. If you are feeling it and it just doesn't come out right...that's probably the easier problem. Feeling something you just don't feel right now takes a little more dedication and devotion.


Good advice as well..I'm still trying to learn the feel of stuff like the purdie shuffle long after I locked in the technical stuff. It comes naturally to some but it's a never ending battle to me..I'm also pretty hard on myself soothe truth lies somewhere in between.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:02 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

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Originally Posted by Tbonez View Post
Really great advice..I have practiced the 3:2 and the 2:3..I've honestly never thought about putting it into a Tom rythm, however. I will practice that around the kit and see if I can make it fit. I will also see if I can make it fit in a musical sense. You would make a great teacher if you aren't already.
I am, but of English as a Second Language =)

Anything you do anywhere on the kit, with any limb, can be moved to another place or another limb, given enough practice. Go back to the simplest components of rudiments -- the single and double stroke -- and explore where substituting a double for a single on any limb or any drum gets you. The tom rhythms usually are something that would seem simple played on one drum, like a snare, split up between multiple drums.

Take a paradiddle, for example. LRLL, RLRR. Put your left stick on tom 1, right stick on tom 2, play the first paradiddle LRLL. Them move so that left stick hits tom 2 and right stick hits floor tom. RLRR. Now one added wrinkle: dot the first note of each paradiddle and turn the odd stroke into a sixteenth note. It'll sound really cool and difficult but only you will know it's just a paradiddle.

Experiment. Move your hands to funky places and just play stickings and rudiments without worrying where your hands are; then remember how you did it.
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:23 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

listen to some famous tom groove songs, those help a ton. Try sing sing sing, by the Benny Goodman orchestra, Come Together by the Beatles, sunshine of your love by Cream, and howlin' for you by the Black Keys. That will give you a good idea of basic tom grooves. Also the band The Black Angels uses a lot of floor tom grooves.
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:28 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

I love the boogaloo toms on some of the latest Macy's commercials on TV. All their commercials with the big band have a really cooking soundtrack to them.
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:31 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

good example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWif7AsOl-A
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Old 04-22-2013, 03:45 AM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

Great advice in this thread. I'll just throw my 2 cents into in for what it's worth.

I had to recently work in a section into a new song with direct tom fills played over piano stabs, so the drums become the melody instrument. I started by playing the melody, or more so suggesting the melody on the toms and throwing a few sped up runs in there to make it a little more interesting.

The best advice I have received recently as I've been working on my jazz drumming is to listen. If you can sing the melody then you can play it.
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Old 04-22-2013, 05:07 AM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

As an old Osibisa fan I love tom rhythms, or as Teddy Osei would say "Criss-cross rhythms ... explode with happiness! Yeah!". Paradiddle variations on the toms are lots of fun.

You need to be careful not to intrude on the bass player's territory. In one old band a critic described us as having a touch of "dirge" about everything we did. Since critics usually know tons about lyrics and image and almost nothing about music he probably didn't realise that the "dirge" would have been due to my tom playing, which was overloading the bottom end at times. Even ignoramuses can get it right at times.

Keys players also step on the bassist's territory when they mechanistically play with two hands like when they're at home.
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Old 04-22-2013, 06:55 AM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

This is a brilliant thread - everything I always wanted to know, but was afraid to ask!

Quote:
Originally Posted by alparrott View Post
Remember what I mentioned before, if you are transitioning out of something on hats or ride into the tom piece, feel it, don't tense up "omigod omigod hereitcomes hereitcomes ogod ogod" -- best recipe for a train wreck ever. Practice helps with that.
It can be difficult NOT to do something: "Mustn't tense up, mustn't tense up" often leads to exactly what I want to avoid doing! Doing something positive which prevents the unwanted behaviour can be a lot easier, such as "Sit up straight" rather than "Don't slouch". When I'm coming up to a tricksy bit, I make myself smile. Instant endorphin release (I'm easily fooled) AND it helps me lighten up and not take the tricksy bit too seriously if it goes wrong. If it goes well, I'm already smiling - which I think is pretty damn efficient!
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:55 PM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

Also, dynamics are mega important here.

Most toms have a different tone when hit harder. If you set the base dynamic low and then throw in an accent you will start to create a groove. Practice on just two toms, get a loud click going and just jam along. It is helpful to maintain a sense of 4/4 or whatever the time signature is so the rest of the band know where you are.

Hitting snare and floor tom on beat 4 each bar is an example.

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Old 04-22-2013, 03:16 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

The most tom based album I know is Lateralus by tool. I learned a few cool things from that album. I agree it's hard to hear exactly what drummers are doing when they're playing tribal stuff/tom beats, and so it's a bit hard to learn by ear.
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Old 04-22-2013, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magenta View Post
It can be difficult NOT to do something: "Mustn't tense up, mustn't tense up" often leads to exactly what I want to avoid doing! Doing something positive which prevents the unwanted behaviour can be a lot easier, such as "Sit up straight" rather than "Don't slouch". When I'm coming up to a tricksy bit, I make myself smile. Instant endorphin release (I'm easily fooled) AND it helps me lighten up and not take the tricksy bit too seriously if it goes wrong. If it goes well, I'm already smiling - which I think is pretty damn efficient!
Excellent advice. I have found that the key to not tensing up, myself, is confidence and a concentration on remaining relaxed. The place tension takes place (for me) is in chest and shoulders, as well as in my grip. I will actually practice going into a fill I know tenses me up (Bonzo's triplet 16ths down the toms in "Trampled Under Foot" comes to mind) while consciously trying to relax those areas of my body.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dre25 View Post
The most tom based album I know is Lateralus by tool. I learned a few cool things from that album. I agree it's hard to hear exactly what drummers are doing when they're playing tribal stuff/tom beats, and so it's a bit hard to learn by ear.
You are exactly right; a lot of tom rhythms sound like mud to the audience. I have found two things that help: crisp, distinct strokes -- don't get lazy just because you *know* the rhythm is less distinct -- and not detuning and muffling your toms all to heck.
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Old 04-22-2013, 06:13 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

I think patterns with some sort of double stroke in them sound better on toms. It can sound really clunky if you use only single strokes. Accents are also important when playing on toms to give it some feel.

Also, larger toms have less articulation of the notes and its easy to sound muddy.
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Old 04-22-2013, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

I play twice a week at church, and I go into a tom rhythm thing whenever I am inspired to do so. The rest of the musicians and singers seem to like it. Peace and goodwill.
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

This is a good example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O-8Cm_uo5g, Toto made a hit single with that song back in 1995.

I love tom rhythms, I love the feel it creates if it suits the piece you're playing, it adds another dimension than the regular hi-hat, snare, kick pattern.

Generally speaking, the music will provide the platform for tom rhythms, I often hear it in my head simply by listen to the others playing before I even touch the sticks, I then try to reproduce what I heard and felt on the kit.

I also like to try "ideas" while practicing and sometimes I can come up with an interesting pattern, I think it helps to develop that type of feel and approach.

Sometimes songs are tom rhythms based, the whole song is constructed around the drummer's tom pattern(s) when he present it to the rest of the band in the same way that a particular song is build around a drummer's groove.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:05 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

One thing that can help smooth out a transition like this is to decide on a bass drum rhythm that will tie the two parts together. Even if you're moving both hands to the toms in one swoop, you'll still have your foot holding down the under-rhythm that you can use as a foundation in your tom part. You might be surprised what you get out of simple quarters or half notes on the bass drum if you keep them consistent while your arms move around the kit.

Hopefully that makes sense... Obviously it's not a one size fits all solution, just something to work on. Incidentally, it works just as well if you anchor on anything you want to keep constant... Keep the hats going, or focus on keeping your snare 2 and 4 going through the "tom part".
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

I gotta suggest listening to "Stop Swimming" by Porcupine Tree....tom work as part of an overall groove...and a classic from Terry Bozzio - "Mental Hopscotch" by Missing Persons.

Breaking down the barrier that makes you think of it as different from the rest of your playing is a good place to start.
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:19 AM
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Default Re: Tom rythms

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
...

Watching other drummers succeed in that particular area...gives you a great opportunity to follow their lead. Perhaps you should observe the holy crap out of them and reverse engineer what they are doing so you can understand better for yourself. Just steal their stuff, everyone does it.

Better yet, go up to them, compliment them, and ask specifics.
This. I know what you are talking about and it is an area I am focussing on right now.
I love tom rhythms and want to develop more there myself.

What I did was to listen for songs (on the radio) that had the kind of tom rhythms
I liked, I took them apart, wrote out the parts and learned them note for note.

Once I did that, I had those patterns to call on, and I use them now, and am learning more as I go.

My limited experience is that there are many fairly simple tom rythms that sound good.
It is the style and accents that make them work.

Well the simple ones work for me anyway, mostly cuz I can play them. :-)
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Old 08-23-2013, 12:13 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

At the urging of one of the guitarists in my band, I've been really getting into doing more tom rhythms in our songs. One of my favorite drummers who does these beats at will is Danny Carey. He has a new album out with his other band Volto
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OnbKsE-D20

I used to be horrible at them but I think just doing some pad work and four way limb exercises and shaping up the left hand and hi-hat pedal has really freed me up because I can keep time on the hi-hat and do whatever i want with the toms throwing in some snare and tasty cymbal work. It's not easy to get the hang of. Sometime I fumble and bumble my way through some mediocre stuff before I come upon some good rhythms.
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Old 08-23-2013, 04:03 PM
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Default Re: Tom rhythms

I still kinda suck at these but I thought I'd add something else - playing between the right hand and right foot on the floor tom seems to have opened doors for me.
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Old 08-23-2013, 06:19 PM
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I still kinda suck at these but I thought I'd add something else - playing between the right hand and right foot on the floor tom seems to have opened doors for me.
I just started working on this myself. It's like a new tool to use. Hasn't entered my gigging playing yet, it's not internalized enough yet. But I'm having a fun time with it.
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Old 08-24-2013, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I just started working on this myself. It's like a new tool to use. Hasn't entered my gigging playing yet, it's not internalized enough yet. But I'm having a fun time with it.
Sounds cool Larry. What kinda stuff are you doing?

I just play singles, switching the leading limb between the foot and hand... and I also play 3 stroke ruffs (HFH FHF HFH FHF). 8th notes/16th notes or triplets.
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