Mark Guiliana’s Exploring Your Creativity On The Drumset

Mark Guiliana - Exploring Your Creativity On The DrumsetMark Guiliana’s new book, Exploring Your Creativity On The Drumset is the second drum education publication I paid for via crowdfunding. Before that was Benny Greb’s The Art & Science Of Groove. It’s rather fun to be involved in funding a new project. From Mark Guiliana I got the ebook first and a week or so later the physical book with DVD with a signature. You can download the video content using a code that comes with the book. The ebook works through an app on iOS which works pretty well on my iPad mini. On my Windows computers there is Hudson’s ebook reader which I don’t particularly like using, it has this pointless page flipping effect.

In a world with far too many drum books and DVDs to be useful (I have a disturbingly large collection), Mark Guiliana’s book adds something useful and different to the subject. The book and video present a system for developing ideas on the kit that incorporate the full breadth of rhythms and sounds we could use in music making. The creative elements we use are broken down in to the DROP system – Dynamics, Rate, Orchestration and Phrasing. Dynamics are dealt with pretty briefly (hey guys, don’t forget to use dynamics when you practice) but the other areas are developed in great detail. Each section evolves from simple to complex and we get to work through the building blocks of how to use Quarters, 8ths, Triplets & 16ths (notes and rests, of course) to develop new and exciting rhythms, how to mix up those rates, how to move the rhythms around the kit and how to move the phrases we create into different permutations.

If you work through the exercises in the book as they are written, you will improve your sense of time and rhythm, you will discover new abilities to improvise and invent new grooves. Once you understand the concepts presented (and memorise the handy DROP acronym) you’ll be able to apply them to whatever you’re working on.

The material in Exploring Your Creativity On The Drumset is style-agnostic and would be useful for any drummer who would like to strengthen their rhythmic awareness and precision, who would like to learn techniques for evolving original and interesting patterns and who would like to gain more freedom on the kit.

The video is really well made with loads of examples of the exercises and some clips with Guiliana’s band.

I would highly recommend this book/video to all drummers, regardless of how indulgent their existing collection of educational materials.

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Gig at Clery’s Clock Bar In Colindale With The Groove Crew 5th Of November

I will be playing at Clery’s Clock Bar in Colindale with the Groove Crew, a new piano based soul/funk/pop/jazz trio featuring Norman on piano and vocals and with Rodrigo on bass. Admission is free and we should kick off around 21.30. We’ve had great fun playing at Clery’s Clock and this should be a great night out.

Date: 5th of November
Time: 21.30
Venue: Clery’s Clock Bar
Address: 225-227 Edgware Road, London, London, United Kingdom

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Learning Charley Wilcoxon’s Rudimental Swing Solos – Rolling In Rhythm

Charley Wilcoxon - Rudimental Swing Solos CoverI haven’t done much by the way of learning drum solos such as those written by Charley Wilcoxon. I started learning Rolling In Rhythm and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I intend on working my way through the book slowly but surely. I’m not exactly sure what the end result is meant to sound like. There are a few examples on Youtube.

This guy has the speed down, I guess this is how the marching drummer would execute it:

This guy has speed and great feel and fluidity (and cats):

Here’s a post on the Cruise Ship Drummer blog with an excerpt from Modern Drummer about learning this etude with Philly Joe Jones:

Finally, here’s my effort. I want to improve my speed and articulation and learn to play the Samba and Bembe foot ostinatos to go with it:

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50% Off The Kinks Musical – Sunny Afternoon

Sunny Afternoon - Kinks Musical 50% OffI got an email from a chap called Cameron at who wanted me to let you all know that after two very successful years, Sunny Afternoon, the Kinks musical, is closing. If you’d like to see it before it closes, you can get half-price tickets by following this link –

If you like musicals and the Kinks in particular, this looks like a great deal.

See my review here –

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Afrobeat Drumming – Beats Of Tony Allen, Book Review

Afrobeatt Drumming - Beats Of Tony AllenOK, I think it’s obvious by now that I’m really in to the drumming of Tony Allen and Afrobeat in general. When I got into Afrobeat, I looked for teaching materials to help me develop my Afrobeat chops. There weren’t many resources available so I had to start writing my own. Over the last couple of years I’ve managed to get a good sense of Tony Allen’s drumming and have been lucky enough to see Allen live on two occasions. I hope my recent series of posts presenting a range of exercises for developing Afrobeat coordination reflects my understanding well.

I was very excited when I discovered the book Afrobeat Drumming, Beats of Tony Allen by Turkish drummer and educator Anil Sahinoz. The book contains transcriptions of the grooves from 54 of Tony Allen’s tracks including music recorded with Fela Kuti as well as his solo recordings. Each groove is broken down into its component parts to help you learn the patterns by working through a series of simpler steps. The grooves are laid out very clearly with one bar per line and wherever it helps the process there are detailed descriptions of what the student of Afrobeat drumming needs to look out for to get the feel and details right as well as some nice insights into the author’s process in learning these beats himself.

I highly recommend this book to any drummer interested in the music and drumming of Tony Allen and to any drummer who would like to grow their vocabulary and learn a new idiom which will develop feel and coordination. Learning to play like Tony Allen is a great way to enrich a drummer’s set of possibilities in terms of general facility and in particular for developing new perspectives applicable to funk and jazz playing.

I think Anil Sahinoz has made a great contribution to drumming literature in covering a topic that doesn’t get the attention it deserves among drummers. It’s encouraging to see someone independently producing music education material of such a high standard.

I bought the ebook version which is an unrestricted PDF download. An old fashioned dead-trees version of the book is available too.

You can get more information about Anil Sahinoz’s book and buy it here –

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Developing Coordination With Afrobeat Drumming Pt. 4

Check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this series of exercises based on Tony Allen’s first groove of Afrobeat. Now let’s get stuck in to some bass drum variations. As with the previous exercises, work on each example individually until you feel very comfortable. Then try playing through the sheet in sequence. Finally, you should play along to some recordings. Play each groove for a time in the order they appear on the page. Then pick grooves in a random sequence. Once you can comfortably play any of the variations, forget the sheet music and try improvising.

Download the Variations On The First Afrobeat Groove – Bass Patterns.

Variations On The First Afrobeat Groove - Bass Patterns-1

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Developing Coordination With Afrobeat Drumming Pt. 3

If you haven’t seen them already, Check out part 1 and part 2.

So let’s continue to develop our coordination with Tony Allen’s first groove of Afrobeat. Now that we can play a bunch of different ride and snare patterns, it’s time to do some work on the left foot. A unique aspect of Tony Allen’s style is the way he creates an interesting interaction between his hi-hat foot and his hi-hat hand patterns. I missed this facet of his playing when I wrote my first sheet of exercises for myself. You will have noticed already when playing the ride variations that playing the hi-hat foot on 2 and 4 and then changing the hand pattern adds really cool textures to the grooves. I find that varying between heel up and heel down allows even more scope for different colours.

Now we’ll work on varying the pattern played by the hi-hat foot. Once you get the hang of doing this with the right hand on ride, play the same again on the hi-hat (I recommend starting with the ride so you can focus on articulating the hi hat foot beautifully). I think many of us have neglected to explore the possibilities of the hi-hat foot and I found that working on this stuff has opened up lots of interesting possibilities in my funk and rock playing as well as helping with my jazz skills.

Without further ado…

Download the PDF here – Variations On The First Afrobeat Groove – Left Foot Patterns

Variations On The First Afrobeat Groove - Hi Hat Foot P1

Variations On The First Afrobeat Groove - Hi Hat Foot P2

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David Byrne: When to Resist Technology

I accidentally found this clip on this Vimeo channel in which David Byrne talks about technology used in music making. I am very ambivalent about technology in general and think its use in creating music has turned in to a negative force in many ways. Valve amps electric guitars and Hammond organs are great, sequencers and drum replacement software taking over the majority of mainstream music, not so great.

Anyway, Byrne’s thoughts here are interesting and pertinent.

David Byrne: When to Resist Technology from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

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Beathaven – Good Riddance To The Old Music Business, Not

So I got a message via LinkedIn from a bloke promoting his website, It’s one of those sites where musicians can post their tracks and invite others to add parts to the arrangement. If your contribution is used and the track earns some money, you can get your slice of the pie. All very cool. This is the kind of idea that allows people from all over the world a crack at earning some money using their musicianship, composition and arranging skills. The company claims it is in a position to sell music for profit, to get musicians and composers opportunities to work with successful artists and help gain greater recognition in the world of professional music-making.

Sounds great, right?

Except for one thing – if you find a track that you’d like to contribute to, you have to pay $4.99 (I guess US dollars) to download it. Oh…

Seeing the charge just made me think that this is just another attempt to rip musicians off. Beathaven wants me to employ my hard earned skill, my time and my expensive professional recording gear based on the possibility I might be able to share some royalties or session fees. OK, I might have a punt at such a proposition. But if they really thought they were able to make some money selling tracks, why try to hustle for money on top of asking me to do speculative work? It’s like being charged a fee to attend a job interview.

When I explained my reservations to the guy who contacted me, he did’t like it at all. He seemed to think he was offering me an opportunity rather than just trying to get me to buy some music at $4.99 a track. But it seemed to me that he was just making a sales pitch. I guess some business people can get caught up in their own “propaganda”.

I understand that some of my fellow musicians would like to have a go using a site like this and I hope there are real opportunities to make some money for people who choose gamble their $4.99 per track. But to me Beathaven looks like another olden-days hustle where the suits are doing whatever they can to get a few bucks off people struggling to find paid work.

Addendum: The guy from Beathaven was upset that I didn’t mention the fact that he’d offered me some free tracks after I gave him the feedback he requested. I declined the offer. I don’t think this changes anything relating to my review but you can be the judge (if anyone even reads this, I have no idea).

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Developing Coordination With Afrobeat Drumming Pt. 2

In my last post I shared a bunch of exercises based on Tony Allen’s first Afrobeat groove that worked on some different ride patterns to help free us up to improvise with Afrobeat drumming. In this post we’ll look at changing the snare part around still based on the same original groove.

The object of these exercises is to develop the facility to improvise freely with all limbs. The way I work on stuff like this is to practice each individual exercise until it feels easy and smooth. I am enjoying playing to a metronome that’s set to click 16ths, it allows me to be very fussy with my timing. Once I feel that the patterns are settling in, I’ll play them in sequence maybe four or eight bars at a time. If that’s feeling good, I do the same to music. Finally, I will play four bar phrases with three of the original groove and one of a variation until I can do all of that in sequence to music. During this process I always spend some time improvising with the patterns I’m getting good at along to music.

For practicing you can try something like Fela’s Go Slow or Look & Laugh. Any of the slower tracks really.

Download the PDF here: Variations On The First Afrobeat Groove – Snare Patterns

Variations_On_The_First_Afrobeat_Groove - Snare Patterns

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