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Expand Your Creativity
Posted On 12/12/2007 12:53:39 by Waywood
Sometimes, just 'playing the beat' is not enough.

I try to think of a song as a 'musical picture'. Just as an artist paints a picture with many colours, and with many shades of the same colour, so it is with music. My 'musical palette of colours' is the different sounds that I create. However, just as an artist knows when to stop, and what to leave out to make the picture complete, so we must do the same in our playing.

Here are a few ideas that you might find helpful for increasing the colours in your musical palette of sounds.

FOR DRUMMERS

DRUMS

Try hitting the edge of the drum skin, near to the rim, for a more 'open' ('ringy') and higher-pitched sound, rich in harmonics (overtones).

Hit the skin with a stick whilst pressing the skin with your other hand to vary the tension (and hence the pitch) of the drum. You can use this to produce a 'pitch-change' or 'pitch-bending' effect.

Vary your sticks. Use brushes, multi-rods or beaters. Mix the combination of these in your different hands, such as, stick - left hand, brush - right hand.

Try playing your snare drum with snares off for a different sound.

Play your bass drum with your bass drum pedal and with a stick for interesting tonal combinations and rhythms.

Move beats from the drums to the rims, to the head just inside the rim, or rim shots to produce a range of tonal colours. Try using these strokes in place of accents.

CYMBALS

Try varying your sticks. Use brushes, multi-rods or beaters. Mix the combination of these in your different hands, such as, stick - left hand, brush - right hand or vice versa.

Use different types of stroke. Drag the stick tip, whilst holding the stick vertically, across the bow of the cymbal from the bell outwards to produce an eerie 'wailing' sound. HINT: Wooden tip sticks work best. Try moistening the tip before playing to increase the friction, and hence the sound. Drag a brush across the bow of the cymbal for a 'swish' or 'sssinggg' sound.

Play the edge of the cymbal using a vertical drum stick, striking the actual edge (i.e., straight against the edge) rather than hitting the cymbal from above/below near the edge). This will produce a sustained bell like sound.

Try the 'old favourite' of beaters on the cymbals to produce a mellow crescendo sound. Experiment with changing volumes and 'choking' the cymbal to produce an instant silence.

FOR PERCUSSIONISTS

DRUMS

Try hitting the edge of the drum skin, near to the rim, for a more 'open' (ringy) and higher-pitched sound, rich in harmonics (overtones). Hit the skin with a stick/your hand whilst pressing the skin with your other hand to vary the tension (and hence the pitch) of the drum. You can use this to produce a variety of 'pitch-change' or 'pitch-bending' effects. When playing drums with natural skin heads e.g., congas, look for variations in the thickness of the head and see how many different tones you can produce from these areas.

Try playing the heads with different parts of your hand, or with your fingers, or different numbers of fingers to produce a variety of tones.

Vary your sticks and strokes. Use brushes, multi-rods or beaters. Use slaps, open, closed and bass notes. Mix the combination of sticks that you use, such as, stick - left hand, brush - right hand.

Move beats from the drums to the rims, to the head just inside the rim, or rim shots to produce a range of tonal colours. Try using these strokes in place of accents.

Add further interest by playing the drum shell, as well as the head.

CYMBALS

Try varying your sticks. Use brushes, multi-rods or beaters. Risk using the pads and backs of your fingers for 'soft' and 'hard' sounds. Mix the combination of these in your different hands, such as, stick - left hand, brush - right hand or vice versa. BEWARE: Cymbals (especially the smaller sizes) have SHARP edges ... to which the scars on my hands bear testimony! So, BE CAREFUL especially when playing multiple hits using your hands on the same cymbal.

Use different types of stroke. Drag the stick tip, whilst holding the stick vertically, across the bow of the cymbal from the bell outwards to produce an eerie 'wailing' sound. HINT: Wooden tip sticks work best- try moistening the tip before playing to increase the friction, and hence the sound. Drag a brush across the bow of the cymbal for a 'swish' or 'sssinggg' sound. Play the edge of the cymbal using a vertical drum stick, striking the actual edge (i.e., straight against the edge) rather than hitting the cymbal from above/below near the edge). This will produce a sustained bell like sound.

Try the 'old favourite' of beaters on the cymbals to produce a mellow crescendo sound. Experiment with changing volumes and 'choking' the cymbal to produce an instant silence.

Get really adventurous and try a violin bow across the edge of your cymbals.

EFFECTS & ‘TOYS’

One of the real joys of playing percussion is the number of 'toys' you can use. These may vary from professionally made instruments to things you've found in the garden or waste bin.

Allow your mind to wander concerning how you may be able to play these.

For example;

Why not
a. Use fingers on a cowbell, or brushes, or hand strokes?
b. Rest the bell on a drum, hit it and see what sounds you can produce?
c. Fasten a shaker to one or both wrists and then play the drums or other instruments, thus combining sounds?
d. Get some three or four limb co-ordination going, playing bells, blocks, hi-hats with your feet whilst doing the usual things with your hands?

The list is as endless as your creativity.

BUT REMEMBER: If you are in doubt of what to do or play, be risky and leave space; play nothing. It may be one of the most significant contributions you make all night!

If you're interested in more articles like this why not visit my free advice website at Waywood Music Web Site.

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Viewing 1 - 2 out of 2 Comments

From: Waywood
12/13/2007 17:28:37
Great idea Ken.

Another technique I use is playing the kit with hands, fingers, fingertips etc. I know it's been done before but it is great for a totally different, more rounded sound.

I also play my snare drum, with snares off using conga techniques ... works particularly well on a drum with higher tuning (you're then free to play bass & hi-hat at same time).


From: KenSanders
12/13/2007 08:18:34
Cool blog! Another thing I sometimes do is to play a pattern with two drum stricks in one hand. If you hold them slightly loose you can get some "clicky" sounds in addition to the stroke.




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