Three Over Second Line

Today's drum lesson deals with playing a three-beat phrase over a popular New Orleans bass drum pattern. I've been messing around with this pattern for a few weeks now and it really twists your sense of timing around.

The inspiration for this exercise comes from mainly three sources:

First of all I have to credit Ted Warren over at his blog Trap'd Ted has a real knack for coming up with these ingenious (and very difficult) patterns and polyrhythmic exercises that will surely twist ones brain (and limbs!)

Also, I was fortunate to spend some time studying with drummer Yoron Israel at Berklee while I was performing in Boston for an extended period of time with the touring violin troupe Barrage back in 2004.

One of the things that Yoron had me practice was the rudimental etudes from Charles Wilcoxin's classic snare drum text "The All-American Drummer".

Except (and in the spirit of Alan Dawson!) Yoron had me play all the excerpts with the following New Orleans-inspired bass drum and hi-hat pattern accompanied in my feet:

If you haven't tried something like this I highly recommend it as it really helps one apply the rudiments to the drumset in a very practical and musical manner.

Furthermore, years ago while I was studying with Montreal drummer Michel Lambert while completing my masters degree at McGill University Michel often had me play familiar sticking patterns with some kind of foot ostinato. However, he would also have me place accents in odd places and spread them around the drums, hence taking me out of my comfort zone and creating fresh patterns and new ways of playing things I had already played a million times. Very clever, I thought...

So with those three drummers in mind I came up with this pattern to mess around with:

You'll see that this pattern is a three-bar phrase with the eighth-notes played in three-note groupings while the feet play the New Orleans groove underneath 4/4 (also known as the first bar of a 3-2 clave or the first bar of the "Bo Diddley" beat.)

Really emphasize the accents and play the eighth-notes as a hand-to-hand sticking RLRLRLRL etc. Because the accents of the snare drum and bass drum don't always line up, it has a bit of a sideways feeling to it.

Now here are some sticking variations to make things more interesting:





Once you've got that together then start moving the lead accent around the drums (for the two patterns that start with a double stroke, I keep them together).

- Move the lead hand around the drums in a clockwise direction

- Move the lead hand around the drums in a counter-clockwise direction

- Alternate the lead hand accents between the high tom and floor tom

*All the inner or "unaccented" notes stay on the snare drum

Obviously there are many more variations one could come up with but as Bob McLaren always like to say: "This is enough to keep you off the streets for awhile!"