The Drums – Rhythmic Counting

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 21,809
    Expert drummer Wes Crawford breaks down rhythmic counting on the drum set.

    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.

    Wes Crawford: Hi! I am Wes Crawford.

    As we are studying the drum set and how to play it, we often have to picture ourselves as time travelers, and thats because time is divided up in music most often in even units called beats, and we often feel the beat of the music as we listen to it. It can be slow; it can be fast but its even beats.

    But what musicians and particularly people who deal with rhythm have to is go in between those beats and travel through time and create rhythms by emphasizing different parts within the beats, and this might sound complicated, but I am going to show you its really not and just follow these examples step-by-step.

    Now, in music we often define our beats in four-four time, what these means is we count to four over-and-over, we group in our mind the steady pulses or beats in groups of four, so we count 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4 If its a fast beat it might be 1.

    . 2.

    . 3.

    . 4.

    . If its a slow beat it might be 1. 2. 3.

    .

    .

    . 4. and so on.

    At this point, we are not going to do with written notes but we need to know that the beat is a quarter note so we can understand how all the other notes work with the quarter note and how they all interact with each other.

    Its a fraction base system, if we play quarter notes, we are playing exactly with the beat for instance about played quarter notes on the snare drum and I was counting 1 2 3 4 Id play 1 2 3 4, and I am playing quarter notes.

    If I play twice as fast, I am playing eighth notes just because in fractions two-eighths equals a quarter.

    So, we count the same numbers, 1 2 3 and 4 with eighth notes but since we have twice as many of them we have to say something in between the numbers and we simply say and so you have heard people count off music like this1 and 2 and 3 and 4Youve probably seen that on TV or somewhere.

    So, we can count eighth notes, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 andSo doing we are playing twice as fast as quarter notes. If this is our quarter note, our eighth notes would be.

    .

    .

    1 and 2 and 3 and 4 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 andSo, we had quarter notes playing here and eighth notes on the snare drum.

    Sixteenth notes as youve already guessed are twice as fast as eighth notes or four times as fast as quarter notes.

    We count a 1 and the and and the 2 and the and and so forth were sixteenth notes, but now that we have twice as many of them, we have to say something in between all these other syllables, and we will say, e or a after the number well say the syllable e after the and well say a so now wed count sixteenth notes.

    1.

    .

    e and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    .

    4.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 1.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 4.

    .

    e.

    .

    , 1.

    .

    e and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 4.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    .

    Now, that we understand how all these notes work.

    Lets play our feet to keep the beat. Well play our feet together, base drum and high-hat together and that will be the quarter note, and as I said earlier, thats the beat.

    1 2 3 4So then, lets travel through time as we keep this beat.

    Well first play one measure and a Measure is the time it takes to count to four one time, but count to four one time, where we are playing the hands, alternating the hands as the quarter note. So, itll play right along with these.

    Then, well double the speed for the next measure and well play 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and with the hands, so it will be going twice as fast as what the feet are playing.

    Then well play one measure of sixteenth notes where were counting 1.

    .

    e and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 4.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . going four times as fast as the feet are playing.

    Lets try that.

    1 2 3 4, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1.

    .

    e and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 4.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 1 2 3 4, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1.

    .

    e and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 4.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . and so forth.

    I urge you to practice this over-and-over because this is very important for drummers to understand because we will use this type of thing over-and-over. You have to understand the subdivisions of the basic pulse or beat, and its all mathematical, because math is what it feels right in our mind, this is what we understand and so what sounds right to our ear. So, its all mathematical base, and it is pretty simple. We are just doubling the speed and then we went back down to the original beat and we kept repeating that over-and-over. Well expand upon this concept in a later lesson.