Effective Drumming

Don't waste your energy playing too many notes or on touches or awkward hand patterns. It junks up the sound.


People, especially dancers, occassionally would like to hear high energy rhythms. You'll drag everybody if your rhythm is so energy consuming or complex that you can't keep up. Often, a rhythm will start out slower and you'll find your pattern too dense to keep up as the speed increases.


|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & |

|O O t t O O t t | A

 r l r l r l r l


|O O     O O     | B

 r l     r l


|B   t O B   O   | C

 r   r l r   r


|B     O B   O   | D

 r     l r   l


A wastes energy and muddies up the sound

B is clean and cutting

C is alright when slow, but

D will keep the rhythm driving

Also, you can "divide" a rhythm or drop notes as speed increases.


|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|

|B   O O B   O O| med

|B   O   B   O  |

|B       B      | fast


|1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3|

|B O O B O O|B O O B O O| med

|B   O B   O|B   O B   O|

|B     B    |B     B    |

|B          |B          | fast


In most traditional drum cultures, the low drum because of its sustain, plays the lead. Low drums can also shape a rhythm. Example:


(This example is not named by Jim and I hate to say, it's a blah blah blah, so I'm leaving it untitled. It's useful enough as an example. Luis)


|1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3|

|X     X     X     X    |X     X     X     X    |axatse

|X   X   X X   X   X   X|X   X   X X   X   X   X|gankogui

|  O O   O O   O O   O O|  O O   O O   O O   O O|kaganu

|P   O P O O P   O P   O|P   O P O O P   O P   O|kloboto

|P P P O O O P P P O O O|P P P O O O P P P O O O|kidi

|P   O   O   P     P    |P   O   O   P     P    |sogba



|X     X     X     X    |X     X     X     X    |  1

|P           P     P    |P           P     P    |  2

|    O   O              |    O   O              |  3

|O           P         O|O           P         O|  4

|O           X     X    |X               O O O O|  5

|O       O       O     O|O       O       O     O|  6


Atsimevu is the low drum.

1. It drives the beat X=stick on side of drum.

2. Emphasizes the press tones of the sogba.

3. Reenforces the open tones of the sogba.


(The sogba in this example may be mislabeled totodzi or vice versa. the terms really don't matter since it's the relationship between the drums that's being stressed. -Luis)


4. Broadens the beat.

5. Doubles the length of the rhythm.

6. Makes a polymetric beat and can completely change the nature of the rhythm.


The axatse is similar to a shekere. A gankogui is a double bell.


Listen to what is going on and put something in that either reinforces where it is needed or complements. But, make sure it has a different structure to add depth.


Sometimes it's tempting to start out playing a complex pattern to make a rhythm sound nice, but once the rhythm starts speeding up, don't let complexity block the flight of a rhythm taking off. If you can't play a certain rhythm with freedom, spirit and life it it, save it for practice. When the energy is high, fire up and do your best.


Lower drums usually have more sustain. Play too many notes and they'll start to run together and just sound like a rumble.


Jim's Notes: A Course in Drumming