Drum solo - using Gary Chaffee stickings and linear phrases





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Published on Mar 20, 2016

I have be influenced by Vinnie Colaiuta since the day I watched a VHS tape of him playing at the Tribute to Buddy Rich Concert. I mean this guy just blew me away and I started to buy every CD that I could find with him playing on it. Eventually I found out that Vinnie was a product of Gary Chaffee at Berkeley School of Music, I also learned that what Gary taught Vinnie (and others of course) eventually became the first two books in a series of 4 called the “Patterns Series”. These books have become a part of my life as much as Stick Control is to most drummers, I dedicated almost 20 years of practice to these books and I feel that they are the most comprehensive books written on the topic of the drumset.

If you’re not familiar with these books, the short synopsis is that they deal with playing different rates against the quarter note (3,4,5,6,7 and 8 notes), artificial groupings, figures against multiple beats (poly-rhythms) and subdivisions of poly-rythms – to be fair the books cover a lot more topics but what I’ve outlined is relevant to what I played.hat I would like to do is outline some key things that I played, not the actual orchestration but just the sticking or concept behind so that you can explore and find your own way of using some of this material in your own way (which is really Gary Chaffee’s concept to begin with). What you’ll find is that much of this is very simple to play if you understand how to play different rates against a quarter note, if you don’t than this can be a great place to start as all of these figures are pretty straight forward from a sticking stand point.

0:000:51 – I begin the solo playing a Baiao rhythm with my feet as an ostinato pattern (repeated phrase) – Baiao is a rhythm from north east Brazil. I like this rhythm because it is not overly difficult on the listener and can be musical – not as difficult as playing a 5 or 7 note ostinato but I find that patterns like that generally get lost on all but the most advanced listeners.

I solo against this pattern with my hands using jazz style phrasing, playing triplet and quarter note based rhythms against the Baiao creating both 3 and 6 against 4 poly-rhythms.

At the 1:04 mark I start to play linear style patterns (no two limbs play at the same time) in different rates against the “imaginary” quarter note pulse.This is a simple pattern that I learned from Rick Gratton many years ago, its a 5C sticking from Gary’s system with a bass drum thrown on the end to make it a sextuplet. I use this grouping a lot in many different ways (we’ll see this pop up again in a different way later).

I follow this up with a 6 note sticking pattern that I use a lot between the cymbals and the snare drum, I generally play the singles of this sticking on the cymbals and put the doubles on the the snare drum or toms.This is a great pattern that can be played very fast and sounds really fat if your doubles are together with your bass drum. I generally play this between the toms and bass drum as I think that it sounds best like this but that’s really in the ear of the beholder.

At the 2:07 mark I reintroduce my 5c plus bass drum pattern but this time is played as 32nd notes with my right hand on the ride cymbal and my left hand playing the snare and toms, here is the pattern.I like using this pattern in this way as the six note grouping creates a nice tension against the 32nd notes but it also hides well and doesn’t sound overly “odd” (something that my ear really doesn’t like).

The final linear pattern that I use is a standard Elvin Jones/John Bonham style 3 note figure (right, left bass drum) but I use it as a nine note grouping against the quarter note, here is the pattern, it appears at the 2:48 mark.his is a fun pattern to play because of the speed that it has to be executed at!

This is a basic dissection of my solo, hopefully this gives you some jump off points to add some of these licks to your playing and open up some of the rates that you play in.

If you have any questions regarding this please feel free to ask, either email me or leave a comment I’m always happy to help if I can.

Until next time.


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