Sabtu, 18 Oktober 2008

How To Play Reggae Drums

How An Introduction

Learning how to play reggae drums involves thinking differently regarding the primary pulse of the beat. In reggae the emphasis is on the third beat in the measure as opposed to the 2 and 4 in popular music. The grooves can be played straight or with a triplet swing feel.

The bass drum played with the snare on beat three enforces this backbeat. The kick and snare can be placed anywhere you desire within the pattern. Just make sure the emphasis is on the third beat. These are just general guidelines to base your patterns on.

One Drop - Rockers - Steppers

When learning how to play reggae drums there are three main drum beat styles to master: One Drop, Rockers and Steppers. The One Drop beat, places the emphasis on the third beat of the bar with the snare and bass drum played together. Beat one is not played which is the opposite of most popular music. Carlton Barrett drummer of The Wailers is credited with inventing this style.

Check out "One Drop", by Bob Marley and the Wailers to hear him play this beat. Barrett often used an unusual triplet figures on the hi-hat, as heard on the song "Running Away" from Marley's "Kaya" album.

The Rockers beat, has the emphasis on beat one and beat three as heard on "Night Nurse" by Gregory Isaacs. The Rockers beat can also include syncopated counter rhythms such as the Black Uhuru song "Sponji Reggae".

In the Steppers beat, the bass drum plays four solid quarter notes giving the beat a strong driving pulse. "Exodus" by Bob Marley is a good example. Stewart Copeland of Police fame mixed syncopated rock and reggae rhythms to create a distinctive style that influenced many drummers.

In the Steppers beat, the bass drum plays four solid quarter notes giving the beat a strong driving pulse. "Exodus" by Bob Marley is a good example. Stewart Copeland of Police fame mixed syncopated rock and reggae rhythms to create a distinctive style that influenced many drummers.

The triplet or swing feel gives reggae drumming a jazzy feel. Playing straight tends more toward rock or a heavier sound. Reggae drummers often play drum fills that do not end with a cymbal crash.

A standard drum set is commonly used with high a pitched snare sound. A timbale or second snare with the snares off adds tonal variety to the beats. >Rim shots and side stick techniques on the snare are common in reggae. Toms are often used within the beat pattern itself, not just for fills.

A variety of other percussion instrumentation is used in reggae. Bongos, congas, claves, cowbells and shakers are often used to add counter-rhythmic flavor to the grooves.

Always remember that drum styles and beats are always evolving. Rules are made to be broken when it comes to music of any kind. Try to take these basic principles and create your own hybrid reggae beats.

Reggae originated in Jamaica and Bob Marley is recognized as the artist that made it popular around the world. If you want an education in Reggae drumming add a Bob Marley compilation CD to your collection and learn the drum beats.

Learning how to play reggae drums is really fun and adds another great style to any drummer's library.


How To To Make Your Drum Life Easier

  • A positive attitude makes all the difference in musician to musician relationships.
  • Practice everyday to keep loose - 20 minutes is better than nothing.
  • Always arrive at the gig earlier than you're supposed to.
  • Carry a spare snare head and snare cord.
  • Learn your drum parts completely before rehearsal.
  • Playing in between songs is really amateurish sounding.
  • Never argue about anything on stage.
  • Getting drunk and playing drums at a gig is NOT the cool thing to do. Having a friend or cab drive you home after getting drunk at the gig IS the cool thing to do.
  • Keep the breaks at gigs precisely the time agreed upon.
  • Have plenty of drumsticks, especially if you play loud.
  • Use a personal monitor that is easy to hear and portable to set up.
  • Compliment band members for playing well.
  • Refrain from mentioning band members mistakes.
  • Listen carefully to the other musicians and play to compliment them.
  • A bass drum mic is essential in most band situations, except very low volume playing or rehearsals.
  • Wear very comfortable bass drum friendly shoes when possible.
  • Bring a small "pocket practice pad" and warm up a few minutes before the the show.
  • A drum gear checklist is a good idea if you break your equipment down into smaller pieces.
  • If you always transport your own drums consider quality drum bags like Beato or Humes and Berg instead of hard cases.
  • A heavy duty baseball bat bag can be a very light and affordable drum hardware bag.
  • Keep your cymbal hole protective seating and washers in top shape to prevent cymbal damage.
  • Look sharp (as Joe Jackson would say) for the gig or show.
  • Remember your brushes, mallets, and breath mints - just in case.
  • Keep a small powerful fan in your trunk just in case your drumming gets too HOT! (sorry, couldn't resist)
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Kamis, 09 Oktober 2008

Brass Lip Slurs

Producing a lip slur on a brass instrument involves moving smoothly between two notes using the same valve combination or trombone slide position. In other words, the player moves to another pitch within the same harmonic series using his lip muscles and air support alone. The tongue is not used! Because the embouchure has to tighten when moving to higher pitches, it is usually more difficult to execute a lip slur properly when moving upwards rather than downwards.

Practising lip slurs is an important means of building embouchure strength and flexibility. Unfortunately, exercises involving lip slurs are also among the most erroneously played! All too often, students who are asked to practise etudes involving lip slurs simply tongue the upper notes notes, thus negating the purpose of the whole exercise. With the full ensemble playing the sort of etudes found in the standard band method books, it is easy for young players to tongue the notes without being spotted. Rehearse the brass players in small groups - or one by one if necessary - in order to spot the laggards. Insist that they make the necessary effort to play the exercises properly. While doing this, it is also a good idea to remind the ensemble not to apply more mouthpiece pressure in order to reach the upper notes of a lip slur. A lip slur should be executed by the lip muscles!

Playing lip slurs correctly involves:
  • Maintaining a steady airstream throughout the slur.
  • Ensuring that there is enough flesh of the lower lip in the mouthpiece to begin the slur.
  • Contracting the muscles at the corners of the mouth to obtain the upper note.
  • Arching the tongue upwards when moving to higher pitches and flattening it when moving to lower pitches.
  • Ensuring that the tone does not become excessively pinched.
Playing lip slurs on a brass instrument is not easy for beginners or even many moderately experienced players. Unfortunately, many standard band method books do not give the subject the careful attention it deserves. The following graded exercises are intended for use with cornet or trumpet players who are having real difficulty. Suitably transposed, they can also be used with other brass instruments. Practise these exercises in consecutive order: open (no valves depressed), 2, 1, 12, 23, and 123. Once they have been mastered, the student should be encouraged to attempt more advanced lip slur etudes.



Selasa, 30 September 2008

Design your own marching band or drum corps drill show

MML (Micro Marching League) is the first ever online marching game!

Link :

With this web, you can make a marching band drill show.
Each show can have up to 32 sets. To publish a show, it must have at least 12 sets. When you're ready to show it to the world, you can publish it. You can edit the show for up to 24 hours after it is published.

Sample :


Sabtu, 27 September 2008

Marching Percussion Tuning Techniques

Marching Percussion Tuning Techniques
By Kevin Namaky (Marketing Manager for Pearl Corporation)
Pearl Corp. Nashville, TN

What Is Your Desired Sound? Some General Concepts:

• Cutting/articulate/staccato?

  1. Tune higher.
  2. Use larger amounts of muffling (this will decrease volume but shorten the length of note, resulting in a more staccato sound).

• Very resonant? To create a booming sound?

  1. Use less muffling.
  2. Tune in the low to mid-range.

• A blend of resonance with articulation? A percussion sonority that bends with the band?

  1. Obviously this is the middle-ground of the above two extremes.
  2. Tune in all ranges depending on the instrument, with a focus on the mid-range.
  3. Tune snares a medium to high pitch, basses a medium to low pitch, and tenors bridging the gap (6” is tuned high while 14” is tuned low with substantial tone).

Basic Tuning For ALL Heads:

  • While the head is off, clean the drum (specifically the bearing edge). Some percussionists like to use a material such as soap on the bearing edge to eliminate any unnecessary friction when tuning the head. This helps keep pitch consistent around the head. Also remember to lubricate tension rods when possible.
  • Place the head on (check the logo if there is one) and place the hoop over the head.
  • Tighten each tension rod as tight as possible only using your fingers (finger-tight). IMPORTANT: Be sure to tighten rods evenly and follow a crossing pattern. This ensures that the head sits evenly side to side. If the head is uneven, you are almost guaranteed many headaches in trying to clear the pitch of the head later on and you will also shorten the life of the head.
  • Using a drum key (possibly a high-tension key), tighten each a few turns and follow the same crossing pattern. Continue this pattern until the head reaches a low to medium range and you can begin to distinguish between the pitches of each rod.
  • Tap lightly near each rod to ascertain its relative pitch. Tighten only those lowest in pitch until the entire head become an even pitch (or very close).
  • If at this point the head is still too low, tighten each rod one or two turns (max) in the crossing pattern until the head is at the desired pitch. At this point you can check again to see if any rods are out of tune with the rest of the head.
  • Remember to proceed slowly once you near your desired pitch, especially on tenor drums. Sometimes one turn of a rod can dramatically alter the overall pitch of a head.
  • Finally, evaluate the length of sound at your desired pitch and use muffling if you want to shorten the sound at all (keep in mind that muffling can also change the pitch).
  • In a drumline, each drum should be tuned the same to create a clear and consistent sound (just like wind players have to play in tune with each other). All snares should be tuned the same with pitches matched from drum to drum. Same for tenors. Basses are the exception, although each side on any one drum should be identical.

Specific Concepts for Each Instrument

  • Snares
    • Heads: Mylar vs. Kevlar (and other synthetics)
      • Sound vs. Maintenance
      • Mylar will produce a warmer and thicker sound. It is more responsive. However, it also requires a lot more maintenance to keep it in tune and can break at high tensions.
      • Kevlar will produce a brighter and drier sound. It is less responsive, however it requires much less maintenance and can attain higher pitch levels.
    • Pitch and Feel: Bottom vs. Top
      • Relative pitch is important in determining the general characteristics and feel of the drum.
      • Tuning the top head lower results in a softer and more comfortable feel. Tuning the top higher results in more rebound but is also harsher on the hands (and the ears depending how high you go).
      • Try tuning the bottom head to a ½ step below the top, even with the top, and a ½ step above the top. Determine which sound you like best and stick with it (my personal preference is to tune the top to a medium tension and take the bottom a ½ step higher than the top).
    • Gut Tuning (see gut tuning article)
      • Do they sound “raspy”? Tune them.
      • Should you use tape? Depends how “wet” or “dry” you want the drum to sound. The more tape, the drier the sound.
    • Muffling
      • If the length of sound is too much.
      • If you can’t seem to get rid of an unwanted overtone (rare).
      • Often a folded up paper towel/toilet paper is used. Remo makes a muffling crown. Evans makes inserts for their heads.
  • Tenors (Trios, Quads, Quints, Sextets, etc)
    • Heads: 1-ply vs. 2-ply (2-ply is most common)
      • Resonance vs. Durability
      • 1-ply is more resonant but less durable.
      • 2-ply is a little drier with sharper attack and is more durable.
      • In general, clear heads resonate more than white or frosted heads.
    • Pitch and Intervals
      • Thirds are most common.
      • Start with the bottom drum and get a good sound. Then tune up from there.
      • An easy reference is to use a D7 chord: M3, m3, m3 as you go up in pitch (drums 4 then 3 then 2 then 1).
      • The 6” is just tuned high. No specific interval for it. Usually used for accents and effects.
    • Muffling
      • In most cases tenors are not muffled.
  • Basses
    • Heads: 1-ply vs. 2-ply
      • 1-ply is more resonant. The drums usually “sing” better with this head.
      • 2-ply is a shorter sound. A little punchier. Better for indoors/domes or when a drier and less-live sound is desired from the bassline.
    • Pitch and Intervals
      • Thirds are most common.
      • 4-drum setup often uses thirds only. Tuning scheme can be same as tenors (D7 chord or similar).
      • 5-drum setup often incorporates a 4th or 5th between the bottom two drums. Starting on drum 4, then tune up as you would with four drums.
    • Muffling
      • Bass foam, hardware store (foam and stripping), built-in systems. There are many options depending if you want to put it on the inside or outside. Different types of foam yield different results.
      • You will usually have to figure out what you like via trial and error. A good starting point is to use foam from a drum or head manufacturer.

It should be noted that these are GENERAL concepts. Because opinions differ and there’s often debate as to what type of tuning scheme is best for the outdoor marching ensemble, this is an attempt to cover basic concepts and generally used sounds, regardless of their “correctness”. I feel it is best to let each individual teacher to use his/her own judgment as to their desired sound and to tune accordingly. That being said, I think that most people will find certain sounds to be more acceptable than others. With that in mind…



Selasa, 23 September 2008


The mellophone is a brass instrument that is typically used in place of the horn (sometimes called a French horn) in marching bands or drum and bugle corps.

The mellophone has three valves, operated with the right hand. Mellophone fingering is identical to that of a trumpet, not the horn as is commonly assumed. Mellophones are typically pitched in the key of F. The overtone series is an octave above that of the horn. Many drum and bugle corps, however, use mellophones pitched in G, although the number has dwindled somewhat since the two major United States drum and bugle corps circuits (first Drum Corps International and then Drum Corps Associates) passed rule changes allowing use of bell-front instruments in any key (although corps using mellophones pitched in G typically have the whole of their brass section also using G instruments, while those using mellophones pitched in F generally have the remainder of their brass section using B♭).

Mellophone playing range

The mellophone is used in place of the horn for marching as it is a bell-front instrument, so that the sound goes in the direction that the player is facing. This is especially important in drum corps-style marching, since the audience is typically standing or sitting on only one side of the band. There are also marching Bb horns with a bell front configuration; mellophones also are usually constructed with a larger bore for louder volume than marching horns. Marching Bb Horns do use a horn mouthpiece and have a much more horn-like sound, but are much more difficult to play on the field.

Another factor in the greater use of mellophones is the notorious difficulty of playing a concert horn consistently well, even in a seated concert setting. The mellophone and other alto range instruments with a cup mouthpiece are better suited to the physical demands of playing while marching.

Mellophones are more directly related to bugle-horns such as the flugelhorn, euphonium and tuba. Their design is more radically conical than horns, producing a sound generally considered more suitable for martial music; a mellophone tends to be easier to articulate sharply as is required by martial music. In rare instances mellophones (usually old ones) have been made shaped like horns, but newer instruments are almost always built as bugle-shaped marching horns. A mellophone shaped as a concert horn is built with piston valves and with the bell facing the left, in reverse of the traditional horn.

The mellophone in its early years had one piston valve to change keys and one rotary valve, both operated by pressing of the thumbs, to change the pitch up or down a half step. However, this proved difficult to operate in the activity of drum and bugle corps, and impossible to play a full chromatic scale on the instrument. The mellophone was soon redesigned into a three-valve configuration, more resembling the trumpet and the euphonium or baritone, that could play a full range of notes.

One maker/instrument of this type has proven to be of particular interest: the Conn Corporation (U.S.) and its 16E Mellophonium. They were developed by Conn and were embraced by legendary bandleader Stan Kenton, and appeared in Conn's advertising in 1957, with the earliest examples having production codes dating even to 1956. Contrary to popular legend, Kenton himself was not involved in the design of the Mellophonium. The new instrument was used by Kenton to "bridge the gap" in tonalities between his trumpet and trombone sections. Kenton utilized a four-man Mellophonium section between 1961 and 1963, turning out 11 albums; two of these, Adventures in Jazz and Kenton's West Side Story earned Grammy awards.[citation needed]

The direction of the bell, as well as the much-reduced amount of tubing (as compared to a concert horn) makes the mellophone look like a large trumpet. In fact, many mellophones use trumpet-style parabolic ("cup") mouthpieces rather than the smaller, lighter, conical ("funnel") mouthpieces used on concert horns. When using a horn mouthpiece, an adapter is commonly used so that it fits in the lead pipe of the mellophone; other mellophones have lead pipes that do not require the use of an adapter. However, use of a "cup" mouthpiece results in a more trumpet-like sound, as opposed to the horn-like sound produced from a "funnel" mouthpiece. (


Rabu, 17 September 2008

What is Marimba?

Origin of Marimba is not known, but it seems it started off as wooden bars laid over a hole on the ground which was struck with sticks. In the myth of Zulus (of South Africa), there is a tale about a goddess called "Marimba" who made an instrument by hanging gourds below wooden bars. It sometimes is referred to as the source of the name of the instrument.

Marimba, which was born in South Africa, was brought to South America in the early 16th century by the Africans who were taken there as slaves. There, a Guatemalan called Sebastian Hurtado made a Marimba with a wooden resonator pipe instead of gourd. This formed the basis of the modern marimba.

Marimba, which was improved in South America was brought to the United States eventually, and they started to make marimba around 1910. Deagan of Chicago changed the wooden pipe to the metal pipe. Numerous other improvements were made since then including the rearrangement of the keytop to resemble the piano. Modern Marimba is now treated not only as an orchestra instrument but also as a solo instrument thanks to the louder sound achieved by the pipe.

The modern instrument usually has rose wood keyboard with brass pipe resonators. Range differs from an instrument to another, but 4+1/2 to 5 octaves ones are most popular. Major makers of modern marimba includes Musser, Yamaha, Korogi, Saito, Marimba One, Malletech etc.