The Drums – Playing the Two Beat

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 36,230
    Expert drummer Wes Crawford breaks down the two-beat 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, 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 now we are going to study the two-beat. The two-beat is a drum set beat; its probably one of the simplest but most versatile beats you will ever find. The beauty of the drum set is compared to many other instruments, you can more quickly learn enough on the drum set to go and actually perform with other people, than any other instrument and thats whats fun about it. The two-beat is simply using two of our coordination kernels; the first one with a right hand on the closed hi-hat, right foot on the bass drum, left hand on the snare drum and left foot can just keeps the hi-hat closed. The first kernel of coordination is the right hand and the right foot together, like that and I did it over and over for you. The second kernel that we are going to put with this is the right hand on hi-hat and the left hand on the snare. So, when you comfortable with those put them together do the first thing which is the right side of your body, the second thing which is your hands or the top side of your body and keep alternating them. Right, top, right, top, right, top. Now, lets see if we can speed it up a little bit. Thats a real professional drum beat; if you hear it slow you might have a Luther Vandross Ballet. It will work for a lot of slow things, if you hear it fast, you might hear it as part of some circus music, or you might hear it in a Broadway show, where they are whamping while the characters are running around the stage.

    It could be a country two-beat, it could be a punk music thing, open up the symbols a little bit so they splash. So, its very versatile, you will hear it all over the place. Its very basic and generic so it fits with the lot of things; there are no rhythms that get in the way of what some part of a song might be doing. So, learn this and you probably already know a third of the songs out there.