Jazz Drumming – How to Play Drums to Basic Jazz
Jazz is one of the rewarding, and challenging styles of music to play. Jazz drumming is full of improvisation, soloing, and dynamics. Playing in a jazz band can bring forth the true creativity in your drumming, and can encourage you to play with more independence and style than ever before. Jazz is a huge genre of music, ranging from faster bee bop, to fusion fink Jazz, to jazz swing, to softer melodic Jazz. Each style shares the common jazz groove – one that every drummer must know. It is almost as essential as the basic 4/4 beat to some. So let’s break the chains on jazz drumming and learn how to master the most essential jazz groove. Before you move on, make sure you take the time to master the art of drumming with brushes. In Jazz, brushes are almost as common as drumsticks!
To being, I want to stress the fact that jazz drumming is unlike rock drumming. There is a certain finesse to jazz that is not shared in rock. The job of a jazz drummer is to keep time first, and compliment the band second. In jazz, every musician will get their own turn to solo and add their expertise. This means you must have a lot of patience and self control. Some of the time you will be playing along with the pianist or the bass player to compliment their playing. Another big aspect to this style of music is dynamics. This means playing softer and quieter at certain parts of the song. Feathering the bass drum is a technique that you will use quite a bit.
The basic groove to learn is a triplet groove. Most people know this as a jazz beat, but do not know how to read it. Although Jazz is mostly about feeling, you should still be able to recognize what is looks like on paper. The main beat is played with 2 voices on the drum, the ride cymbal and the Hi hat. Usually you will be used to using your bass drum to drive the beat; this is not the case in Jazz music. Another thing, rock music usually accents the 1 and 3 on the beat. Jazz focuses on the 2 and 4. This is a big deal, one that takes a bit of practice to grasp.
Let’s start with the ride swing pattern. This is a very well known groove. Remember to count this an eight note triplets, and it will all make sense. Usually, you will play this on the ride, but realistically you can play it on the hi hats or other drum voices.
Now watch where you add the hi hat. This is VERY important in jazz drumming. Make sure you play it loud enough to hear. This will drive the beat. Add this over top of the swing groove you have going on already.
Here is a quick video of the basic jazz pattern on a practice pad:
There you have it, the basic jazz swing beat. This is very common in most jazz, bee bop, swing, and fusion jazz as well. Take your time with this, only using your ride and hi hat at first to get the feel of the swing groove. You can add the bass drum if you want, but remember that is a secondary voice, and should not be over played, or played too loud. That is why feathering is so important. All that remains is adding your left hand. This is what takes a lot of independence and cannot be learned in one day! So keep practicing this beat until then! When you have mastered this and feel the need to move on, check out the jazz swing groove in 5/4, a very popular groove to learn!Check out Jared Falk’s Jazz Drumming Secrets to learn more about Jazz beats, soloing, and hand independence!
By: Dave Atkinson
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