Photo by Dave Hodgkinson

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Odd Number Triplet Groupings

Inspired by last week’s Elvin Jones 9 beat phrase lesson, I’ve been working on more ways to master the triplet with odd subdivisions. These odd number phrases have an conventional feel and mastering them can give you lots of new rhythmical options......

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Explosive 3 Beat Phrase – with Video

Here's a short phrase I came up with after revisiting some of my triplet/gospel video lessons from a few years back. It’s a simple 3 beat phrase consisting of...

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Cracking the Elvin Jones Code


Read my original article here.
Few drummers inspire more awe or bewilderment than the great Elvin Jones. His choice of phrasing and regular use of odd groupings give his solos an unconventional lilt and, having never properly analysed him before, I  was keen to try and crack the code of the Elvin phrasing once and for all. I hope to start posting regular articles on my travels into the unpredictable mind of the man.

First stop is via the excellent Justin Varnes and his 52 lick series on YouTube. In his recent Elvin Jones Brush Lick Video, he sets about transcribing a 4 bar phrase from the track ‘Pretty Brown’ on the album ‘Elvin!’:


As I said before, Elvin’s use of odd number groupings is an important characteristic of his sound, as bars 2 & 3 in the phrase above demonstrate. These are groupings of 9 triplets, giving you a three beat phrase (a not uncommon grouping); Elvin’s brilliance is in dividing this group of 9 into a sub-group of 5 & 4:


Played slowly, this may seem like a fairly straightforward phrase but finding any kind of fluidity with it a higher tempos is challenging. Now lets orchestrate this phrase around the kit:

Vernon also suggests using an alternate sticking which is more common for 5 note phrases – RL RLL. Played preceding the other 4 beats it creates a sticking of: RL RLL RL RL
Here are some orchestrations:

So plenty of material to work on here. Thanks again to Justin Varnes for the great work.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Gospel Triplet Fill – with video

At the risk of over-emphasising the point, please head over to my new website where this blog is moving. 

In the meantime, today i’m looking back to a video lesson I posted over 5 years ago (suddenly feeling very old) but remains the most popular video on my YouTube channel with over 140,000 views. I was inspired to develop this gospel, linear style through monsters such as Eric Moore, Chris Coleman and  Mike Johnston who I recommend you check out.

This lick is based on a simple Paradiddle-diddle but with the last note replaced with a kick:
Now try orchestrating it around the kit. These are two of my favourites:

Gospel Video Lesson - Full Score1
Here’s my painfully unconfident explanation from back in 2008:

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Mastering the Triplet (part 2) – with video

Just a reminder that i'm moving this whole blog over to my new website. Please head over and subscribe to my posts if you get a chance.

Here's another Mastering the Triplet video lesson. This time we’re  using Ted Reed’s Syncopation as material to develop our triplet vocabulary. By dividing up the accents into long notes & short notes (explained below) we can open up a whole host of interesting rhythmic and orchestral possibilities. Below are the first 4 lines of page 38 of Syncopation (if you feel this exercise is useful in any way, please go out and buy the book).

  • Firstly, reading syncopation as swung, we can play rolling hand-to-hand triplets with the syncopation phrase as accents. (0:47 in the video)
  • We want to divide the syncopation phrases into ‘long‘ notes and ‘short‘ notes. Long notes are quarter notes or longer (including ties across the bar). Short notes are all of the eight note accents. (1:13 in the video)
  •  To orchestrate the phrase we move the right hand long notes onto the ride (with an added kick drum underneath). Keep all of the other notes on the snare (2:15 in the video).
  • Now ‘trade 4′s’ with yourself. Play 4 bars of time, followed by 4 bars of rolling triplets with this new orchestration. 
  • Try your own orchestrations using this method including moving the same right hand, long notes accents to the toms.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Brand New Website at

After spending the last few weeks getting to grips with basic website design, i've finally got around to creating a new website at 

Along with the regular drum blog and news, there's a full gig listing page, discography, biography and video gallery. This means i'll be phasing out my updates on this page, so please head over to the new site for all of your drum blogging needs (you can also subscribe to blog posts by adding your email in the box on the right).

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Grooves from the Studio - Video

After a session today at Tilehouse Studios I got a chance to record some grooves on my Craviotto custom shop walnut drum kit. There's a Mike Clark influenced groove, a New Orleans 2nd line and some mid-tempo swing. Thanks to Luke Oldfield for the sounds.