There are a lot of mixed opinions about transcribing full solos for drums, which I understand. The purpose of transcribing whole solos, is to try playing in the style of a particular drummer, getting a fully detailed understanding of their note choices. However, it is the work following to transcribing the solo that is more important! A good procedure could be to focus on a small cell, or phrase from the solo – play it with different stickings and experiment with orchestration on the drums in order to get inside the cell, and then shaping it into your own unique musical statement. Generating our own ideas and building up our own personal vocabulary is what it’s all about.
Transcribing drum solos will benefit your playing, one way or another. Further vocabulary, better technique, better notation skills and phrasing. Over the years I have learnt and studied drum solos of the great drummers like Philly Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Frankie Dunlop, Roy Haynes, Billy Higgins, Max Roach, Jeff Tain Watts, Bill Stewart and Ed Blackwell.
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- Here’s 8 bars of Bill Stewart trading with Steve Swallow, from John Scofield’s live album “EnRoute”.
Stewart creates this very advanced cross-rhythm, which is a 3 beat phrase against 4.
- Check out this killing solo by Ed Blackwell on Folk Tale.
- The solo above is from the album “Music From The Motion Picture When Harry Met Sally” with Harry Connick Jr.
Here’s the transcription of the above: Stompin’ At The Savoy – Jeff “Tain” Watts
- Now – check this out – here’s a transcription of a Teddy Brown snare workout – (YouTube link here)! This is not for the faint-hearted. To execute this exercises up to speed will take some practice.
Teddy Brown was an extremely talented American entertainer performing popular music in Britain back in the mid-late 1920’s.
“I don’t know how you managed to do it. It is so fast!” – Michael Skinner (Principal Percussion at Royal Opera Orchestra and freelance percussionist in orchestras around London for 31 years)