Book Reviews May 2012
Book/DVD Reviews May 2012
No-Brainer - Play Drumset
The newest addition to Alfred Music’s popular ‘No-Brainer’ series is a substantial study encompassing all aspects of drumming from how to hold the sticks to being a professional drummer and literally everything in-between.
On first reading you will quickly realise that this expansive book does not put quantity before quality.
Over 224 pages the roster of authors contributing to this book (G. Hyatt, R. Lackowski, R. Landwehr and S. Mitchell) set out to tick every box on the need to know list of the learning drummer. The book begins by succinctly laying out all the absolute fundamentals for the student drummer; setting up, basic reading, tuning etc.
The main substance of this book lies in the subsequent ‘beats’ and ‘fills’ sections. Rock, blues, jazz, country, funk, reggae, Latin and more are introduced not with one characteristic groove or fill but with a comprehensive series of real examples from popular music within each relevant genre. This is a fantastic element to include in a study like this as it encourages the student to really listen and get to know the history of the genre they are currently studying.
The first few examples of basic rock beats draw from prolific rock bands ACDC, Zeppelin, Nirvana and Deep Purple and in doing so immerse the student drummer in the atmosphere and attitude of the music itself. This element of the book is bolstered by the accompanying DVD which provides video reference for every example beat and fill. With over 120 pages bursting with examples, this section alone makes this book a worthy cornerstone of any drummers bookshelf.
Odd time signatures, locking in with the bass and even information on common drumming injuries are examined with thorough and far from superficial depth adding to the longevity of this book in its role in your collection.
Well written and cleverly peppered with encyclopaedic information on drummers, rudiments and terminology, this all encompassing study could be the all-in-one core text for any student or educator.
Already a worthy member of my bookshelf, I would highly recommend this book.
Groove Facility – Rob Hirons & Dom Famularo
The prolific educator Dom Famularo teams up with French clinician Rob Hirons on Alfred Music’s new publication; ‘Groove Facility’. Opening with the phrase, ‘From Motion to Groove’, this book sets out a unique and innovative study on the marriage and interdependency of these two concepts.
"What is so rarely taught to students, and yet so essential to successful groove playing, is the application of the correct motion required to create fluid, relaxed and consistent sound."
Why is it that certain drummers can perform a simple groove with such effortless fluidity that seems to elude definition? Why do drummers like Porcaro, Gadd and Jordan have some intangible sense of pocket that is the envy of drummers the world over?
The concepts set out in ‘Groove Facility’ may have unlocked part of this magic.
Famularo and Hirons combine many well known studies on motion, for example Moeller and George Lawrence Stone, and unify their application in quarter note ‘cells’ or components. This allows a bite-size learning method and makes such often convoluted concepts accessible to the student drummer.
The intricacies of the motion and strokes involved (free stroke, down stroke etc.) are set out in a series of videos which accompany the book in an mp3/video disc. Even with this learning aid the exercises put forward in this book are not for beginners and would best be employed with the help of a teacher. Further to the accompanying videos, many of the techniques applied here are comprehensively examined in ‘It’s Your Move’, (D. Famularo, J. Bergamini) which was previously reviewed by mikedolbear.com here .
Concerned only with the vital organs of the drum kit i.e. kick, snare and hats, Chapters 1 and 2 look at the construction of grooves from eight-note and sixteenth-note components respectively. Each component is to be examined individually with respect to the relevant motion and stroke(s). Chapters 3 and 4 are when the books unique approach to drum kit education is most evident. Working through the exercises on accents and ghost notes can add great depth and control to your groove playing and the chapter called, ‘Constructing Grooves From A Bass Line’ is a must read for any serious drummer.
The success of this book lies in its method of applying the often times daunting and complex motion studies in an highly original and user friendly way. If applied properly this book could transform your groove playing.
Dr Throwdown’s Rudimental Remedies – Dr John Wooton
‘Rudimental Remedies’ is a new publication from Row-Loff Productions who specialise in marching and concert percussion literature.
Written by Dr John Wooton (aka Dr Throwdown), a formidable figure in percussion education and performance, this book is essentially a series of exercises and études which progressively incorporate virtually all 40 of the Percussive Arts Society''s snare drum rudiments. Additionally as you progress through the book, the exercises span a wide variety of genres and incorporate the practical application of the Moeller technique.
The strength of this book is how the make-up of each étude almost covertly engages the student in the employment of rudimental and Moeller techniques. This bypasses the daunting sense one gets when faced with the list of the PAS rudiments and the task of learning all that information.
I often describe the rudiments as the alphabet of drumming. Often times we use them without thinking much like when you speak it does not occur to you that you have just used the letter ''S''. In isolation the rudiments seem abstract and without meaning as letters do. Put the letters together to form words and they begin to have a creative context. Put rudiments into phrases, grooves or fills and they come to life. The études and exercises compiled in this book exemplify this concept.
Written in a light hearted and informal manner (the opening paragraph of the preface quotes Mel Brooks from Space Balls) the book is simple, clear-cut and gives a clear sense of progress using the accompanying tempo tracks, play-alongs and progress chart. The two hour DVD included gives further insight into the exercises in the book.
This book is heavily geared towards the American market and with drum corps and marching drumming not being so prominent in the UK this book may seem to get lost in translation. However, whether a marching, orchestral or kit player, working through this book will undoubtedly improve your technique as a whole.
Reviews by Jon Colgan
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