tips on developing a wide/loose swing on the ride?

saturnresearch

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i've been listening to a lot of billy higgins lately and love that wider, kind of behind the beat swing he has going on. anyone gravitate towards this style of playing and have any pointers for developing a similar feel?
 

Seb77

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Hope nobody minds if we get a bit technical here - it's always a touchy subject, Billy Higgins, Elvin jones, practially all great jazz drummers being about so much more than technique, it's a matter of mindset, soul, even spirituality...

Still,
try using a certain height/tilt to the ride cymbal, then playing all three beats of the ging-ga-ding at medium tempo with finger strokes. This seems like a lot of work for the the ringfinger and pinky, but because they need to work that hard, it does create exactly that effect of evened out, wider beat. Note that most of the time Billy Higgins is not behind the beat though, rather pushing relentlessly.

At one time I collected video snippets where you could study the great players' ride playing, uploaded a few of these to youtube. I have some Billy Higgins, too, just never got around to uploading these.

Check around 3min25, 7min25, 19min25, 35min40 (uptime, using wrist, too). Btw, Thanks for reminding me - you can never have too much Billy Higgins :)
 
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multijd

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I have a favorite Billy Higgins recording, “Let Freedom Ring” by Jackie Mclean. Billy is poppin on that. When I want to emulate that feel I play along, listen, imagine it. That gets me there.
 

charlesm

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The most important thing is that you've recognized that there is something unique happening (as opposed to having no ears for it and no clue).

Now, it's just a matter of emulating it and learning to feel it. That's really what it comes down to. As the poster earlier said, it's about mindset and spirit...emotion and expression, not just pure technique.
 

Seb77

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I remember listening to a Blue Note sampler CD, I think it was some Dexter Gordon with Billy Higgins (maybe it was Hank Mobley with Blakey). Vo. 2 something or other. Back then, I didn't just get a CD when I liked it... Anyway, there was definitely something unique happening. The swing was so deep, I had never heard anything like it.
Years later, I was a music major, writing my thesis on the topic I mentioned above. You can get lost in the technicalities of drumming, but with any Higgins clip, I am immediately struck by his love, joy, happiness, spirit. However, there is this technical aspect I tried to outline above. As with all kinds of drumming, knowledge of the techniques used doesn't hurt. Will upload one of my Billy clips from back then (pre-youtube).
 

robthedrummer

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In my mind, the key to his sound, and all great musicians, is relaxation, and I think that is what makes any drum part sound 'right', especially at fast tempos. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to just play and not think about the technicalities of playing, but rather the music. Call it confidence. I can tell when a drummer (especially myself) is unsure of a difficult part or when a tempo is a bit too fast for comfort. Some types of fast Latin patterns are my personal bugaboo. I play in some pretty good big bands, so sometimes I get some crazy stuff. If I'm seriously unprepared for a tune, or it's technically over my head, I will often tend to tense up. In turn, my tendency is to rush and play louder than I should.

Try going back to the first part of the Chapin book. On the ride, just play quarter notes, but strongly accent 2 and 4 and almost ghost 1 and 3. Over accenting if fine, especially at slow tempos. Then add the bounce pattern, but still almost ghost them, still accenting 2 and 4. Do this at a slowish tempo until you can do them in your sleep without looking at the pattern and all four limbs are completely relaxed. Then start increasing tempo bit by bit over days. If you start and notice any tension, stop. Slow down again and work on what you are unsure of. Whatever you're unsure of is causing the tension. By the time you can play these exercises at about 180, with the same level of relaxation as you attained at 120, the ride accents will be more subtle, the bounce pattern will not be as ghosted as it was, and it'll swing!

Same for the snare rhythms. Over accent at first and ghost the others. Faster tempos down the road will even those out as well.

This applies to all music styles. The Tommy Igo play along books are awesome for gaining some technique ( and confidence) in a lot of different styles, but you have to approach them methodically also. I initially found the fast examples often too difficult, and some of them are still out of my wheelhouse. For the ones I've mastered, I had to break them down in tempo and work them up to a faster tempo (always with relaxation foremost in my mind) than the recordings and then go back to the play-a-longs.

Hope this helps. It helped me.
 

TPC

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Agree with all the above about confidence, relaxation, emotion, ...

For jazz "feel", I really liked spending a little time with the Blackley Essence of Jazz Drumming book.
 

Cann_Man28

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As many have already posted, if you can hear it, you are halfway there. It's technique that will get you the rest of the way. Personally, I think developing a strong fulcrum between your pointer finger and thumb is really important to that sound.

One exercise that I can recommend is on the practice pad. Set a metronome to 40, and play quarter notes as both single strokes. Focus on maintaining contact with the stick by keeping the wrist loose, and use your pointer finger and thumb as the fulcrum. To help improve your time, feel the metronome on the + so you play between each pulse.

Another good exercise is to play accented patterns, for example, play a single accented note in an even Paradiddle, then keep displacing that accent until it lands in every spot. Then play two accented notes, again displace those. This forces our hands to pick up the stick, especially when accenting the second note of a double. The unaccented notes should be 1/2" off of the practice pad--that is about the thickness of a 5A. And the accented notes should be whatever height makes a loud sound for you. If you play quiet gigs, maybe that's 3"if you play weddings, maybe that's 12"

You can see Ralph Peterson demonstrating the strength of his fulcrum here:
 
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toddbishop

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Just play the thing, and try to copy the vibe as you hear it. You have to actually do it, is all.

One useful exercise is an Ed Soph thing I got second hand through a student of his-- and now I'm telling you how I did it, so who knows what Soph originally taught. Play the jazz cymbal rhythm @ ~ 30 bpm, playing full timpani-type strokes with a lot of lift on each note of the rhythm. Gradually speed it up to maybe ~ 50 bpm, then go about your business playing normally. That should introduce some flow that you don't get from just banging out the rhythm at performance speed.

Just copy this look:
 
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Seb77

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Nice!^^
Looking at the thread title in a more genral way, there are many ways to skin a cat, and the more original/authentic your playing (instead of being a copy of someone) the better.
Other players with a "wide beat" include Elvin and Mel. The latter mentioned himslef that the triplet phrasing - that he got from Elvin - became central to his style. Elvin's beat is a lot about rebound, but compared to Billy Higgins, he uses more wirst and arm, including that typical accent pattern "Ging-Ga-ding", the last one being softer.

Mel's motion is quite different, smaller, more even, but still creating a wide sound in a way. I was really on a hunt for video bits showing Mel's right hand, the 80s Netherland clinic video is great for that.
 

thenuge

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Maybe it’s an equation???? 4x swing – 2y shuffle = Higgs

I don’t know but Hart’s thoughts below changed how I think about the ride rhythm in general.

Billy Hart: “..the island element. The cascara rhythm. Roker had the cascara in his ride cymbal beat, just like Higgins and Haynes. And drummers who have the cascara beat in their cymbal will always be very popular.

It’s really deep what that is…and Higgins has that from Blackwell the way Elvin got it from Haynes. Elvin and Higgins both have some correct sht that doesn’t come from where they come from. Higgins called it “The Lift,” but basically it’s a use of upbeats. An upbeat is not the “and of one” or the “and of two,” it’s a part of a triplet. It just sounds like an upbeat, since it’s so close. Elvin often played the last two of the triplet, and Higgins just the last. Where it gets deep is how Higgins ride cymbal is like the cascara — almost an even eighth-note — and his left hand is playing the triplet. Elvin has something similar, except for him it’s harder to define. And when you go back to see how Art Blakey or Philly Joe did it, you realize that this element is crucial to what we call swing. And some cats, like Roker or whoever have this so naturally. And they talk about it that way, too: “Man, how are you going to explain that? That is some natural sht. You can’t explain that academically.””

EI: I recall that you once told me that you thought the backbeat was a commercial simplification of the clavé.

BH: What! Did I tell you that? Do I really mean that? [Pause.] Let me put that another way: I hear the second-line, which is clavé, in all jazz. The backbeat seems pretty simple compared to something as vast as God!

The clavé (and all the great Latin rhythms associated with the clavé) is always four and six at the same time, or rather, triplet and binary at the same time.”


https://ethaniverson.com/interviews/interview-with-billy-hart/
 

vinnyrac63

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I have a favorite Billy Higgins recording, “Let Freedom Ring” by Jackie Mclean. Billy is poppin on that. When I want to emulate that feel I play along, listen, imagine it. That gets me there.
Let Freedom Ring was my gateway drug into the Billy Higgins World back in the 80's. MAN that record kills. That thing should come with a warning label for aspiring jazz drummers.
 

JDA

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any pointers for developing a similar feel?
I don't know about that...but in regard to a 'wide and loose" beat... Fill in ( with varying degree) with your (left) other hand in other words Yes let your Cymbal hand point to the pulse.........but extend and mutate with the left (the in-between note flow/beat) .......to have it appear your right is "loose and wide"
In other words give equal weight to "the other side" (your left for a right handed drummer)

Right hand on the ride but the left having it's own (sinister, subtle but also agenda....usually it's the left foot hi hat- the feet in general- that keeps both hand sides together.
That'll get ya wide and loose and elastic.

Equal importance and weight and awareness to what the left hand is, (and all sides are) doing.
The left (placement) can make the right seems stretched floating or tight and however you want it
with the feet keeping the balance (pulse) together

The hands are conjoined not separate; are in-tandem no matter How It appears.
You spread them apart like elastic or take them tight towards each other
that's the choices you have with feet keeping a deeper foundation underneath

everything is conjoined everything is creating the picture; it's not one (hand or thought) without the other..
it's four thought decisions at once at all times

think Jack DeJohnette, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Billy Higgins, Tony Williams
it's four decisions in each case in every case. at once.
resulting in one. One result.
In every drummers case.

See what Billy's other three limbs are doing.
Sometimes hard to hear. He's quiet. Ornette's albums with him.
Lonely Woman on Shape Of Jazz To Come and Just For You. - a slower ballad on Art Of The Improvisers -> here

One's ride beat is not in isolation. It's (played on and off) with the other limbs
(conjoined)
 
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JDA

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cat treat for reading


watch what his left hand is doing to maybe better help understand his right..
that's how he sees it how he feels it how who he is (or was)
 
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dyland

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I'd argue that having an appropriate amount of "give" built into your stoke is central to getting the cymbal to sing. Once the cymbal is singing then you're able to manipulate the space between stokes however you want, based on your audiation (inner hearing). As other posters have mentioned, tension will wrench any degree of flow or consistency, and I'd say it also detracts from the ability to listen proactively and inhibits the ability to marry your execution to your intent.

From a practical and mechanics perspective, strengthen your thumb and get real honest and nitty gritty about your grip. From a more musical perspective, identify the sound you want, replicate it in your imagination, "find" that sound on your ride, then marry the sound outside to the process inside.

May take an hour, may take a lifetime. I know that I surely have not "arrived" yet. Good luck!
 

Keith Balla

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I would recommend taking a lesson with Joe Farnsworth. He is a world class drummer, fantastic teacher and was strongly influenced by the great Billy Higgins from both recordings and first hand observation. If I'm not mistaken, he is teaching online.

 

Rock Salad

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Maybe it’s an equation???? 4x swing – 2y shuffle = Higgs

I don’t know but Hart’s thoughts below changed how I think about the ride rhythm in general.

Billy Hart: “..the island element. The cascara rhythm. Roker had the cascara in his ride cymbal beat, just like Higgins and Haynes. And drummers who have the cascara beat in their cymbal will always be very popular.

It’s really deep what that is…and Higgins has that from Blackwell the way Elvin got it from Haynes. Elvin and Higgins both have some correct sht that doesn’t come from where they come from. Higgins called it “The Lift,” but basically it’s a use of upbeats. An upbeat is not the “and of one” or the “and of two,” it’s a part of a triplet. It just sounds like an upbeat, since it’s so close. Elvin often played the last two of the triplet, and Higgins just the last. Where it gets deep is how Higgins ride cymbal is like the cascara — almost an even eighth-note — and his left hand is playing the triplet. Elvin has something similar, except for him it’s harder to define. And when you go back to see how Art Blakey or Philly Joe did it, you realize that this element is crucial to what we call swing. And some cats, like Roker or whoever have this so naturally. And they talk about it that way, too: “Man, how are you going to explain that? That is some natural sht. You can’t explain that academically.””

EI: I recall that you once told me that you thought the backbeat was a commercial simplification of the clavé.

BH: What! Did I tell you that? Do I really mean that? [Pause.] Let me put that another way: I hear the second-line, which is clavé, in all jazz. The backbeat seems pretty simple compared to something as vast as God!

The clavé (and all the great Latin rhythms associated with the clavé) is always four and six at the same time, or rather, triplet and binary at the same time.”


https://ethaniverson.com/interviews/interview-with-billy-hart/
What an incredible blog! I have never seen an article so in depth with a master's personal theory.

And then from the same blog regarding the beat.


Not just jazz, you can hear the tie all the way to the punk rock beat.
 

Pedal_Pusher

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When I work with drum set students new to jazz I start with getting them to move their right (or dominant) arm in a nice medium tempo and snap their fingers on beats two and four. We experiment with their arm moving inward only and then outward only and then I ask them which felt more natural. They always pick the inward motion. I got this from a book by Ed Soph I think. Then we add a stick and play just quarter notes on a ride cymbal. I have also found that this part of learning works well with ride cymbals positioned very flat. Some students have a little trouble striking the ride cymbal in the same place since they are used to closed high hats and don't have to work too hard to make the same sound with their strokes on a high hat. It becomes a listening game as we move around to play the various parts of the cymbal. It drives me crazy when they consistently play on the very edge, but that sound can work well for ballads. It always amazes the students when I get them to change the balance from bass and snare timekeeping to ride cymbal and high hat balance (without burying the bass drum beater or doing snare rim shots). They have usually not heard much music like that. That becomes the next lessons to listen develop big ears and listen to all types of music. Anyway all of this precedes the main discussion of this topic, just thought it might be useful.
 

bbshams

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I would recommend taking a lesson with Joe Farnsworth. He is a world class drummer, fantastic teacher and was strongly influenced by the great Billy Higgins from both recordings and first hand observation. If I'm not mistaken, he is teaching online.

Farns!!! He is doing lessons online currently, I've studied with him-- such a kind soul and a great teacher. The knowledge he has to pass on is vast, and he got it all directly from the masters of this music! Highly recommend
 


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