Introduction to Swing

Intro To Swing.

In this first video lesson on Swing I will be covering the basics on getting started.  Firstly, you'll need to be familiar with triplets and the necessary counting involved.  When counting triplets I recommend saying "One and ah, Two and ah, Three and ah, Four and ah".  Spending time working on the accented triplets section in Ted Reed's "Syncopation For The Modern Drummer" will help with this (initially, use the accents to indicate moving to a second drum).  Next, play close attention to the ride cymbal pattern:  notice which counts the ride cymbal plays on(count out loud), notice and develop the motion I outlined.  When adding the feet be sure they play "on" the beat and that they are not being pulled into the "off" beat (especially the basses on counts One and Three).  Be sure to play the bass gently, allowing the ride cymbal and hi hat rhythms to be heard clearly.  Once you have these parts running smoothly and you feel relaxed, move on to developing the snare drum playing "on" the beat and "off" the beat.  The end goal is to have the snare drum be able to play a wide variety of rhythms and to be able to mix them on the fly according to what helps propel the music.  Let's get started!



Swing Part Two

Intro To Swing, Part Two.

Now that we have our snare drum comfortable playing a variety of rhythms over the swing ride pattern and steady feet, we can turn our attention to developing the bass drum.  Up to this point the bass drum has been playing steady quarter notes.  Next, we want to develop the bass so that it too can play varied rhythms, including rhythms mixed between the bass and snare.  A popular resource for rhythms is "Syncopation For The Modern Drummer" by Ted Reed, arguably the most widely used resource for drummers.  When working on this material go as slowly as needed to play cleanly, also ensure that the ride cymbal pattern swings consistent and clear.  Another strategy is to build in the rhythm note by note.  By this I mean, have the ride cymbal and left foot play their steady patterns and then add only the first note of the rhythm in the bass, if it's landing cleanly then add the second note and so on.  With this approach you can avoid frustration and create a clear picture in your mind of how the parts line up.  The final part of this video lesson demonstrates an approach I call "broken cymbal" where the ride cymbal breaks away from it's steady pattern to follow the rhythm of the bass drum.  Be sure to save this for after you are comfortable with all the previous applications as it requires a firm understanding of the Swing feel.  Jump on those drums and go for it!