"SAY N' PLAY" Your Drumset
The New Drumset Language
by Brother Dave
my email: Dave@PureChristians.org
Copyright 2003 by Dave@PureChristians.org (in N. Central USA)
All Rights Reserved.
Notice: These introductory samples are for your private practice only;
NONE of this new material shall be published anywhere in any form
without our prior written agreements and terms.
Introduction: This is a fast, easy, logical, practical method to help achieve 1-2-3-4 limb independence, to be able to play up to four drum parts or rhythms at once, and to do creative fills and solos in any style of music. This new drumset language system is structured on the ACTUAL SOUNDS of the drumset; thus it DOES NOT MATTER if your drumset is configured right- or left-handed and/or right- or left-footed. I have taught and practiced and performed in many dance/stage bands (and some concert band drumset, handling up to 4 separate percussionist parts on my one drumset) for over 45 years, and have created many conventionally notated drum fills, polyrhythms, jazz triplets+paradiddlediddles, solos, dance style new rhythms, etc. that will also be converted and published in this revolutionary new drumset language. If you are a music teacher of drumset, performer, or drum instruction publisher, and want to try this new system, email me, and we will try to achieve a satisfactory usage agreement.Learning Lesson 1
Each drumset WORD, practically and efficiently based on actual drumset sounds, is played ALL AT ONCE, as ONE simultaneous note, using your one or two or three or four limbs. If there is a REST, where there is no playing, this is shown as a dash. [ -] All words and dashes are played in a strict tempo as indicated at the beginning of each section. It is best to think or pronounce these words with a heavy accent on the first syllable, (the downbeat of each pulse) and the rest of the word fast and not accented.
ONE and TWO limb words
ONE limb only, either right or left hand, right or left foot, according to your drumset configuration.
bass drum (only played by itself) is OOM or OM (either is pronounced OOM as in ROOM)
snare drum (only) word is BA or B or b (snare + bass together is BAOOM, shortened to BOOM)
hi-hat closing (only) word is KICK, (closing hard) or KING, (let ring) or KA or K (say KA as in KART)
ride cymbal (only) word is SH (pronounced as SH in SHAME or SHARP, an extended ssssh)
(Miscellaneous percussion will be in lower case: cowbell = t,ti,tu,tung wood block = p triangle = hee etc. Flams, ruffs, grace notes, etc., played fast, can be shown as bB or bbB or bbbB on snare, or dddDun on the lowest tom, dddDin on the highest tom. This will be covered later.)
TWO limbs (played together) will always be a FOUR letter word, or a FIVE letter word if a tom is included, there are only six of these to learn, not including the five letter tom words to be covered later.
bass drum plus snare drum is BA + OOM and is shortened to BOOM
bass drum plus hi-hat (both played together with two feet) is KA plus OOM and becomes KOOM
bass drum plus ride cymbal is OOM plus SH and becomes OMSH (pronounced as OOMShh)
snare drum plus hi-hat is BA plus KA and is KABA (say this as KABa, with hard first syllable)
snare drum plus ride cymbal is BA plus SH and is BASH (one hard syllable)
hi-hat (foot) plus ride cymbal is KA plus SH and is KASH (say as KAShh )
Practice Lesson 1. Play these as quarter note 4/4 tempo, slowly at first, saying the words in tempo, then thinking visually and audibly about what to hit, then play this over and over until you get it. Here a single dash is a quarter note rest, - - is two quarter note rests, or one half note rest, etc. Here, each 4 beat measure will be placed on one line, measure numbers (optional) are indicated to the left of each four beats.
Each beat can be 120 beats per minute (march tempo) or whatever is comfortable to start; then slowly build up your reading/playing speed. It is best to use a metronome, or play along to very solid, steady music with precise timing - electronic disco music usually has solid timing, but is boring and of low musical quality. (Sounding dead, lifeless to me.)
IMPORTANT: the SPACES between the words have NO time value, they are just abstract, logical separations for easy reading/playing. All words are played as if they run together. Only a DASH [-] indicates no play on that beat or pulse.
1. OOM OOM OOM OOM (this is 4 bass drum quarter notes; same as OM OM OM OM )
2. OOM KA OOM KA (this is bass on 1 and 3, hi-hat foot on 2 and 4; basic two beat)
3. OOM KOOM OM KOOM
(note that OM is said as OOM; bass on all 4 beats, hi-hat on 2 and 4; a basic driving 4 beat. This is measure three, shown as 3.)
4. OMSH KASH OMSH KASH ( same as measure 2. PLUS we have added the ride cymbal on all 4 beats)
5. OM SH OM BA (bass, ride, bass, snare)
6. BA BOOM - BOOM (snare, bass, rest on 3rd beat,bass)
7. OMSH KASH OM KING (on beat 4, slap hi-hat hard with foot to let ring = KING)
8. BOOM KOOM BA KA
(take it slow and steady at first, practice 3 times a day for 30 minutes each or longer until you get it solid -easily played; only then, go on here. Spend time in mental visualization in playing and seeing/hearing the words AND the drum sounds in your head)
9. - KOOM - KASH
10. - KABA - KABA
11. - - BASH BASH
--------R--------------------R (optional sticking shown here, to play both with the right hand)
12. KASH KOOM KA KABA
13. OMSH OMSH OMSH OMSH
(note accents: louder on ride (or crash it) AND louder on bass on beat 1
softer to normal on ride with still loud bass on beat 2
softer to normal on bass with louder ride (or crash it) on beat 3
softer to normal on ride and stay normal volume on bass on beat 4
Yes, this will not be seen too often, but this shows the control that can
easily be indicated when needed for precision playing.)
OK, now, using all the above drumset WORDS, create your own quarter note study of 12 bars in 4/4, learn and play it. Advanced, create quarter note studies in 3/4, 5/4, 6/4 if you like. Add accents and sticking.
Repeat these studies until you get them down solidly. More fun fills and solos will soon follow. Stick with this, and you will soon be amazed at the complex polyrhythms, fills, solos you can learn to do easily !
Learning Lesson 2. The FOUR new words of THREE limb playing,
and the ONE new word of all FOUR limb playing
More time should be taken to get these next five basic words learned and executed well ! These four words of THREE limb playing are much harder ones; but you will progress well if you stick with this for a few more weeks and months; it soon will become more fun with many new beats and fills to be learned ! Lessons here are a middle, intermediate drumming level; future lessons to be published will also be for beginners or children, and others for more advanced drummers/percussionists, using different styles of playing, such as rock, jazz, blues, fusion, latin, etc.
THREE limbs (played together) will always be a SIX letter word, there are only four of these to learn.
(later, a few more SEVEN letter words that involve using toms and Three limbs will be added)
bass drum plus snare drum plus ride cymbal is BOOMSH (one hard accented syllable BOOMssh)
bass drum plus snare drum plus hi-hat (foot) is KABOOM (one hard accented syllable KAB'om)
bass drum plus hi-hat (foot) plus ride cymbal is KOOMSH (one hard accented syllable KOOMssh)
snare drum plus hi-hat (foot) plus ride cymbal is KABASH (one hard accented syllable KABssh)
ALL FOUR limbs (played together) is (in theory) a eight letter word KA + OM + BA + SH or KAOMBASH
or KOOMBASH, but to make this faster to read/play, we take the first letter of each two letter word and this is
KOBS (pronounce as KOOMBASH )
In conventional old notation, when reading multiple drum lines, the bass and hi-hat (two feet) are watched more importantly than the hands; the feet set the pulse, timing, mood/style for most music.
Concentrate very carefully on the above five very important words; the 3-limb words are not that hard if you practice these 3 times a day, 6 days a week, for some weeks. Now we can start doing more interesting and challenging lessons, and your creativity can shine more.
Practice Lesson 2. (Initial learning of all of the above to simple, well-known, basic drum beats)
The NUMBERS are just the MEASURE numbers, measures may be written left to right in horizontal rows,
or in vertical columns. This starts in 4/4 with simple 4 quarter note beat. Go slow and steady to start, thinking and listening to the words and the SOUNDS as you play them. You know these rhythms well, you need to focus on the language, sounds and thinking/playing them.
1. OMSH KABASH OMSH KABASH (basic quarter note 2-beat, with snare back beat)
2. BOOMSH KABASH BOOMSH KABASH (bass in 2, snare in 4, ride in 4)
3. OMSH KOBS OMSH KOBS (bass in 4, snare in 2, ride in 4)
4. BOOMSH KOBS BOOMSH KOBS (bass in 4, snare in 4, ride in 4)
5-8. (repeat above)
(these 5 next measures are mixed, with snare and hat always on 2, 4)
9. KOBS KABA KOBS KABA
10. KABASH KOBS KABASH KOBS
11. OOM KABA SH KOBS
12. BOOMSH KABOOM BOOMSH KOBS
13. KOOMSH KOBS BOOMSH KABASH
(next 7 measures are random, for reading/playing practice, anything musical here is an accident, ha ha)
14. SH BA OM KABOOM
15. BOOM OMSH KASH BOOMSH
16. KOOM KOOMSH KABA KA
17. KABASH BASH KOBS KABASH
18. KA BOOM KASH OOM KABOOM
19. SH BA BOOMSH KOBS
20. KABA OMSH BASH KOOM
(fff very loud, use earplugs, biggest, longest ringing full crash you have:)
21. SH - KOOMSH - (YOU PLAY ON 1 & 3 ONLY, RESTING ON 2 AND 4)
[Later, we will practice more specific cymbal words. This would be VVSH (VV meaning let ring or roll out)
or 22crVVSH if you want to indicate a long ringing 22" diameter crash]
Lesson: Basic polyrhythms of 3:2 etc.
A. We will now play in 3/4 with eighth note pulses indicated
(count beats and measures: ONE and 2 and 3 and; TWO and 2 and 3 and; THREE and 2 and 3 and)
1. - - - - - -
2. - - - - - -
3. - - - - - -
Ride playing 3 aginst snare playing 2
(COUNT 1 - 2 AND 3 -; ETC)
1. BASH - SH BA SH -
2. BASH - SH BA SH -
(now, with the same counting, we switch to the snare playing 3 against the snare playing two)
3. BASH - BA SH BA -
4. BASH - BA SH BA -
(now, we will swing this more by playing measures 1 and then 3, etc. to get:
5. BASH - SH BA SH -
6. BASH - BA SH BA -
(work up playing measures 1-6 above until you are solid at any speed from 60 to 360 plus quarter note beats per minute. 360 is the same as: playing in 2/4, triplets at 120 march tempo, and thinking of each triplet pulse as a quarter note. Advanced: yes, you can chew your gum in 9/8 over 4/4 time too, ha ha.
Beginners should also take drum lesons from a good drumset teacher who will show you the proper handling and control of sticks, how to play feet, etc for any style of music you want to learn. Unless you are a classic jazz purist, matching (identical) grip is now preferred over (unbalanced) traditional grip. I can play either way; and see no advantage to traditional grip, even in jazz combos.)
B. We will now add the feet and play in 4/4 (or 2/4 times 2) with eight note pulses indicated
(count beats and measures: ONE & 2 & 3 & 4 &; TWO & 2 & 3 & 4 &; etc.)
1. - - - - - - - -
2. - - - - - - - -
bass playing 3 aginst snare playing 2
1. OMSH SH KOBS SH OMSH SH KOBS SH (1 MEASURE OF A BASIC 4 BEAT ROCK RHYTHM)
2. BOOMSH SH KOOMSH BASH OMSH SH KOBS SH ( 3 ON BASS AGAINST 2 ON SNARE)
3. OMSH BASH KOOMSH SH BOOMSH SH KOOMSH BASH ( " ")
4. OMSH SH KOBS SH KOOMSH BASH KOOMSH SH ( " ")
5-8. repeat 1-4.
C. hi-hat playing 1 1/2 with bass playing 3 with snare playing 4 and with ride playing 6; and all in 4/4
This one is closer to the advanced level; take your time in learning this. Go on to the next sections here, and come back a few minutes each day on this until you can play it easily. This adds drive in jazz or rock situations. Later, we will learn a triplet variation of this.
(PLAY SAME TEMPO AS ABOVE, snare beats become faster; ride and bass and hi-hat are the same)
(1. ----,----,----,---- count 1 e an a, 2 e an a, 3 e an a, 4 e an a, or 16 pulses in each measure)
(the "," just divide the beats into groups of 4; they DO NOT add any time; they have no time)
1. OMSH - SH -, KOBS - SH -, OMSH - SH -, KOBS - SH - (1 MEASURE OF A BASIC 4 BEAT ROCK RHYTHM)
(possible HINT: Below, the hands are playing Both, -, Right, Left, Right, -; B-RLR-; B-RLR-; etc. This gives 2 lefts on snare against each 3 eighth notes on the ride; and 4 lefts on the snare against 6 eighth notes on the ride and 3 quarter notes on the bass, and all in 4/4 with hi-hat on 2 and 4)
2. BOOMSH - SH BA, KOOMSH - BASH -, OMSH BA SH -, KOBS - SH BA
3. OMSH - BASH -, KOOMSH BA SH -, BOOMSH - SH BA, KOOMSH - BASH -
4. OMSH BA SH -, KOBS - SH BA, OMSH - BASH - , KOOMSH BA SH -
5-8. repeat 1-4.
9. BOOMSH - (optional ending, or go on to another pattern)
Learning Lesson 3 Five New Words for all Tom-toms
highest pitched tom-tom (T1) is DIN (this may also be a prefix to other words)
upper-middle pitched tom (T2) is DEN ( " " )
lower-middle pitched tom (T3) is DON ( " " )
lowest pitched tom/floor tom (T4) is DUN ( " " )
If you use 2 toms, probably using DIN and DUN would be best.
For 3 toms, you might use DIN DON DUN; 4 toms is as above - DIN DEN DON DUN
For those with 16 different toms, you can use 1DIN 2DIN 3DIN 4DIN, 1DEN 2DEN 3DEN 4DEN, 1DON, etc.
but wouldn't you rather sell your semi-melodic "Saturday Night Special" drumset for a full 88-key grand piano ?
It might weigh less and be easier to move ! Ha ha.
I use 2 toms mostly and 10 cymbals, sometimes 4 toms and 8-9 cymbals. If your highest tom is smaller than 14" diameter, you have a "sissy set". (joke)
I prefer the sound of one-headed toms, called concert toms; and I use Evans hydraulic batter heads and put some added duct taping of edges and center for a dark, low-pitched "DOOM" sound; most other drummers still use 2 heads per tom, and get the complex after-rings and "boing" sounds to deal with.
Presently my 24" bass drum (with 2 special heads) is very deep and thunderously resonant; then my 16" concert floor tom is tuned up exactly one octave; (but still a deep bass note) and my little 14" diameter mounted tom is tuned up exactly one octave above the floor tom; (a medium-high note for this sized drum) and my 14" x 4" piccolo steel shell snare drum (as a tom with snares off) is up just a fifth
from the 14" tom; going up a full octave would be too high - too much head tension for me and my pocket book. This octave tuning of bass & toms makes for added power and interest when they are played in combination together. You might want to try this octave tuning.
It is important to spend much time in carefully tuning your bass drum to the best note (or notes) first, then go up to tuning the smaller drums to the bass drum. If you want maximum power and punch from your drums, selecting the best pitches is very critical. There are many books and web pages on "correct" drum tuning techniques to help you, plus ask your drum teacher,other good drummers, maybe even a skin doctor ! (ha ha) To get your ideal sounds, you need to experiment much with tensions, tones, taping, impact disks, etc., in a very scientific manner. Tune up or down only exactly 1/4 of a turn on all tension rods of one head at a time, see how it then sounds, and take notes. If you can afford a bass microphone, audio spectrum analyzer, sound pressure devices, and a full recording studio, you might learn more about tuning; but using your ears is usually good enough. Note, you can NOT tell much how your drums sound when near them to play them ! Have another drummer play them, with your sticks and your volume level, and go out in the audience to hear them as they really sound to your audience, and with the rest of the band playing. This is also true for all of your cymbal sounds as well as the drums. Taping/muffling more, and better ear plugs, may be needed for very small rooms.
Back to these new combination words for toms:
The snare drum, with snares ON, is BA
The snare drum, with snares OFF, is BIN (say as "biin", as in dust "bin")
The music will probably also have a note of "snares on", "snares off", and thus could just use BA for both.
New Tom-tom Words for TWO Limbs:
Highest tom (T1) plus snare drum (snares on) is DINBA (say DINba)
Highest tom (T1) plus bass drum is DINOM (say DINum)
Highest tom (T1) plus hi-hat (foot) is DINKA (say DINka)
Highest tom (T1) plus ride cymbal is DINSH (say DINsh)
Lowest tom (DUN) (usually a floor tom T2,T3 or T4) and in the above combinations gives us:
DUN plus snare drum = DUNBA (say DUNba)
DUN plus bass drum = DUNOM (say DUNum)
DUN plus hi-hat = DUNKA (say DUNka)
DUN plus ride cymbal =DUNSH (say DUNsh)
When you finish your long drum solo, and your DIN is DONE, you need a heavier batter head !
Drums four times longer than their diameter are perfect for long drum solos.
It is now "break time" for DUNCH. Ha ha.
Here are some Word combinations with BIN (your snare drum as a tom)
snare + tom 1 = BIN + DIN = DINBIN (all words including tom-tom playing start with D first)
snare + bass = BIN + OOM = BINOOM
snare + hi-hat = BIN + KA = BINKA (BIN comes before all others, except for D as above)
snare + ride = BIN + SH = BINSH
Here are more words for toms, using 3 limbs
T1 + bass + snare (snares ON) = DINBOOM
T1 + bass + hi-hat (foot) = DINKOOM
T1 + bass + ride = DINOMSH
T1 + snare + hi-hat = DINKABA
T1 + snare + ride = ??? (impossible, you would need to have 3 arms, or a big, forked drumstick !)
T1 + hi-hat + ride = DINKASH
Words for low tom-tom DUN, and as above
T (lowest) + snare drum (snares ON) + bass = DUNBOOM
T (lowest) + hi-hat + bass = DUNKOOM
T (lowest) + bass + ride = DUNOMSH
T (lowest) + hi-hat + snare drum = DUNKABA
T (lowest) + hi-hat + ride = DUNKASH
Some Words for snare drum (snares OFF, as a high tom) = BIN and as above
T(snaredrum) + hi-hat + bass = BINKOOM
T(snaredrum) + bass + ride =BINOMSH
T(snaredrum) + hi-hat + ride =BINKASH
T(snaredrum) + high tom (T1) + bass =DINBINOM
T(snaredrum) + low tom (T2) + bass =DUNBINOM
T(snaredrum) + low tom (T2) + hi-hat =DUNBINKA
Some 4 LIMB WORDS WITH ONE OR MORE TOM-TOMS
T1 + T2 + bass + hi-hat = DINDUNKOOM
T1 + ride + bass + hi-hat = DINKOOMSH
T1 + snare + bass + hi-hat = DINKABOOM
T1 +ride +bass + hi-hat = DINKOOMSH
T2 +snare + bass + hi-hat = DUNKABOOM
T2 + ride + bass + hi-hat = DUNKOOMSH
(T1 + T2 +T3 + T4 + snare + cowbell + woodblock + triangle = OCTOPUS ha ha
or just get these 8 items, and push them down a very long flight of stairs ! Instant "solo" !)
Learning Lesson 4. Advanced Cymbal Words
We already know that SH is a ride beat on a ride cymbal. But what about crashes/rides on many different cymbals ? I now play on 10 cymbals in my drum studio, plus special effects backup cymbals; I usually use 5 or more cymbals on the job. Here are more specific cymbal words to learn/use,
SH (main) ride cymbal
VSH is a shoulder or edge crash on a medium or full crash or crash/ride of 16" -26" usually.
spSH is a 6" to 10" fast splash usually.
Actual sizes can be noted, such as: 6spSH 8spSH 10spSH 18SH (ride or crash ride) 22SH etc
If you have several crashes, all the same size, as I do, then the location on the set can also be indicated, such as 18SH(left) 18SH(upper middle) 18SH(lower right) etc., and the brand name/series can be added in brackets 18SH(ZYN Super Five Star) 22SH (Zildjian swish) 14SH (Saluda dark fast) etc.
PSH is a fast crash, also you may note 15PSH 17PSH details, etc.
VVSH indicates to play a long ringing crash, or to roll it out. some sustained crashes/rolls could be
GONG is to play the gong. Size may be shown 26GONG 40GONG 72GONG (in inches or cm)
Bell sounding, and all special effects cymbals should be noted in brackets (bell in G) (Eb crotale) etc.
Learning Lesson 6
Playing fast rhythms, using the B and b Words
Let's write now in "SAY 'N PLAY" Words this common march beat on the snare drum:
In conventional notation, we would have these notes in 4/4 time.
8th,16th,16th; 8th, 16th,16th; 4each 16ths; quarter note and the count is
1 - an a; 2 - an a; 3 e an a; 4 and we will put accents on notes 2,3,4 and 8,9,10
In our new notation, the above obviously calls for dividing each measure in 4/4 into 16 equal pulses
1. ----, ----, ----, ---- these are counted 1 e an a 2 e an a 3 e an a 4 e an a (if all are needed)
Using BA for the longer notes, and just B or b for the shorter notes, we ge
BA -BB,BA-BB,BBBB,BA--- (DRUM TAPS HAVE NO DURATION; SO BA IS AS SHORT AS B)
so it probably is better to use all B and show the V accent marks, as below
Let's now do a more complex snare drum rhythm, also in 4/4; one measure is
8th + 3 ea triplet 16ths; 8th + 2 normal 16ths;8th + 4ea normal 32nds; 8th,8th
We see that the 1st quarter note must have 6 divisions/pulses;
2nd quarter note must have 4 divisions/pulses;
3rd quarter note must have 8 divisions/pulses;
5th quarter note must have 2 divisions/pulses
We now write this as
B--BBB, B-BB, B---BBBB, B - B -
6---------- 4-------- 8------------- 2 - - (this is the pulse/division line, just above, or just below, the notes)
In future lessons, coming soon, we will cover doing flams, ruffs, rolls; cowbell and accessories notations, etc. Then we will do many exercises and practical rhythms for fills and solos in many styles. Check back here every few days for this new material.
Do email me (click Email at upper left of each page) your comments, questions, suggestions, etc. If you have any interesting, cool, groovy (intermediate level for now) beats to share with others here; send me some that you want published, let me know if you want your email/URL/brief bio added. Using both old and this new notation together is best. I don't like .pdf format; maybe a .jpg or .gif image of the old notation could be put up on these pages, next to the new language.
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