The Drums – How to Play an Old Blues Beat

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 27,948
    Professional drummer Wes Crawford demonstrates how to play a Blues beat.

    Wes Crawford

    Wes began his professional music career after graduating with a B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Tech. Soon thereafter, he began performing drumset with the extraordinary Jazz/R&B singer Jane L. Powell, a musical association that lasted eleven years and continues as a managerial relationship. The group toured throughout North America and the Caribbean performing at festivals, universities, resorts, nightclubs, and cruise ships. They opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, The Crusaders, Joan Jett, Ernie Watts, and Paula Poundstone, and occasionally performed alongside artists such as Tony Bennett, O.C. Smith, and Dorothy Moore. The 1,300 colleges and universities comprising the National Association for Campus Activities voted the group Entertainer of the Year in 1990, their highest honor, and Jazz Artist of the Year for 1990-1992. During these years of touring, Wes also recorded two albums with Ms. Powell as well as for several outside artists. Wes also conducted electronic percussion seminars at VA Tech and at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted. In 1992, Wes settled with his family in the Washington, DC area as an independent artist on drumset and percussion where he currently performs and records with acts such as Shahin & Sepehr (Higher Octave/Narada world music recording artists), Cocktail Nuts (aka “C-NUTS”- Jazz versions of rock classics, on Wildchild/Mapleshade Records), mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman (including a clinic at PASIC 2000 and a featured performance at Baltimore Drum Day 2000), Squeeze Bayou (1998 winners of the “Best Non-Louisiana-Based Cajun Band Recording” awarded by the Cajun French Music Association), and Night Life (high-energy show band). Wes has also regularly performed and/or recorded with Aisha Kahlil (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Eva Cassidy, Catalyst Events’ “Beatswork!,” Zydeco Crayz, Mary Ann Borelli, “Oh Susannah!”, Sugar Jones, and Armadillo recording artist Daryl Davis. His other noteworthy performances and recordings include those with the David Bach Consort (2nd place winner in the 1998 BET unsigned band video contest), Hennesy Jazz Search regional winner Jerry Gordon, and performances with Milestone recording artist Ron Holloway. Wes considers education to be an important link to the future of the percussive arts and teaches drumset privately and at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. He also performs in public school assemblies with Mosaic, which provided the musical instruction and curriculum for the 2000 Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Wes serves as the Director of the annual Drumset And Percussion Camp of the Goucher Summer Arts Institute and as Vice-President of the MD/DE chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 2000, Wes started MusicAndGames4U.com, a site to feature his interactive educational media such as his popular “Drumset Play-Along DVD.” His latest “A Rhythmic Murder Mystery” interactive DVD features a solo electronic drumset concert, which he also performs live. Wes holds Associate Artist relationships with Maryland Drum Company and with Trueline Drumsticks, and he occasionally works as Music Consultant for the not-for-profit Sustainable Environments for Health + Shelter.

    Hi. I am Wes Crawford and we are going to now study the old Blues type beats and these are based in 12-8 time, but 12 beats per measure within in 8th notice of beat. Well, that might get complicated for a minute so lets just think of it in four-four times so we still have four beats per measure but lets just subdivide those beats into triplets. Thats three groupings for each beat and we can count them one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet. What often varies from a style or differentiates a style from another is the way we subdivide the beats and so now were dividing the beat into thirds or triplets, it has a whole different feel. A very basic Blues kind of beat or 12-8 of four-four with triplets beat might be, one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet; one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet; one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet. As you can see it has quite a different feel than the regular rock beats we have been playing that would be now it goes to (music) one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet. We could keep our bass drum on the beat every time, one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet; one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet.

    We can vary the bass drum more like one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet; one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet that is one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet; one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet. And you can get more complicated with a beat. You can bring in 16th nodes vary up these snare drum. Its up to you, listen to all kinds of music and see what other people have done before you, but one thing out of all these you better get used to doing is playing that slower. Just go to the right cymbal and try to play along with this. (Music).

    Do that for four minutes, a lot of Blues songs are very slow. We can also hear them in old rock and roll records, where it sped up more and you might hear (music), one triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet (music). Anyway so these are just some other types of beats to explore that are very important. Youll very definitely play in a Blues gig somewhere someday and you better know that one.