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Between the sky and Jeff Porcaro - Mushanga


Jeff Porcaro - Instructional Video

We found out in the previous article that checking out drumming videos on YouTube is very useful. It's a great way to get a feel for what's going on in drum performances.

Check out the previous article:

So, as much time as I could spare, I did some chain-watching (clicking on the thumbnails after the end of the video to watch them in succession), and I found a couple of Jeff Porcaro videos, and I was particularly intrigued by this one, so I'd like to check it out in detail!

This is a recording of a valuable lesson from Jeff Porcaro: It's good to play the 16-beat hi-hat with one hand instead of two (around 7:10) and other helpful concepts are introduced. Among them, I'd like to focus on the part that explains the basic pattern of Mushanga, a song included in Toto's album The Seventh One.

Seventh One

Seventh One

  • アーティスト:Toto
  • 発売日: 1990/10/25
  • メディア: CD

RL sequence and accents that I can't quite get

The explanation of the pattern begins at around 12:11. Next, we confirm the RL sequence by hitting only the hi-hat. As he explains, that includes paradiddle-diddle (RLRRLL).



The sequence is as he says, but what I can't figure out is: on the 3rd beat, the accent is only on the first L of L-L, and on the 4th beat, the second R of R-R. This is an idea that only a person with confidence in stick control can come up with. For me personally, this is a sequence that I would avoid because it is simply difficult to control. In the video, it looks very smooth and easy, so at first I thought it was the following sequence, but this is not the way to play the Mushanga pattern:

(Note: This is wrong)


The exquisite control of the sticks - accenting only the first L of L-L and the second R of R-R - is a true indication of his superb control skill. His smooth one-handed, accent + immediate non-accent, was analyzed as well in the past article here:

Actual Mushanga pattern

Now that we know the sequences and are familiar with it, move your hands on the drum kit and play the actual pattern in the Mushanga song.



Where X-shaped notes are placed on the toms' pitches, they indicate that the toms' rim (frame) should be hit and ticked. Occasionally, the X-shaped notes may be hit on the toms' surface instead of the rim, but those are not shown in the score above. Either way, it doesn't matter since the toms are played softly here with ghost notes.

Ergonomically friendly pattern

In this pattern, with its impressive toms, you don't need to be very conscious of where the accents are located, which we checked in the previous section using only the hi-hat. Rather, the actual Mushanga pattern is easier to understand in fact. It is very reasonable that the 2 notes of the 2nd beat are R-R instead of R-L, and the snare backbeat accent on the 3rd beat can be hit with the left hand. We hear the complex flow of sound with all the toms and hi-hats on the drum kit, but we don't have to get into any uncomfortable postures. The pattern is a sort of ergonomically friendly.

If you take a closer look at his playing, you will notice that unlike typical super drummers, he doesn't seem to be very flashy in his appearance. But now you know attracting attention with appearance is not the essential requirement of a super drummer. You just have to be able to express yourself in the form of art. It's okay if those who understand music understand you. It's okay if those who understand music don't understand you! I would like to play music with such a carefree attitude, as long as people allow me to.


No more failures at Jeff "Tain" Watts: San Jose Jazz Fest!


He is the drummer on the Wynton Marsalis song in the last article, and now he's back to play for us! His name is Jeff "Tain" Watts!

For the previous article, click here:

Jeff "Tain" Watts: San Jose Jazz Fest

Let's check out this performance from the San Jose Jazz Fest

He started off with a two-handed cowbell-strumming Latin groove. It's very lively. I want to copy this at all costs! So, I decided to copy it, and here's what I got!

(0:00- etc.)


From my first impression, I was surprised that he was not filling the cowbell with 16th notes all over. It's a sort of hard to understand the actual procedure of this two-handed cowbell pattern in the video.

There is a big hint in the second half of the video!

In the second half of the video, he plays the same procedure with right hand cowbell and left hand snare. If you bring your left hand on the cowbell in that pattern, you should be able to make the first pattern above. Thanks for the help! Here's the pattern for the second half of the video, where the procedure is easier to see, and I included the RL sequences too:

(3:01, etc.)


But still, it may be a bit confusing because a score cannot include drummer's appearances in video. The key point of this pattern, which is clearly visible in the video, is that the right hand goes back and forth between the cowbell and the floor tom. This is always kept in the cowbell pattern. You will be able to get closer to him once you play this right hand pattern as a base line and filling the spaces with your left hand:


Fortunately, this hint helped me figure out the procedure, so I went back to the first pattern and wrote the RL procedure as follows. I think I can manage to copy it now!

(0:00, etc.)


Whether or not to give up the Latin clave feel

Also, if you look at the left-footed hi-hat, it is a bit anomalous and jumps up the difficulty of this pattern. It's not a major element that forms this groove, so it can be omitted, though. However, it is still a rhythm that should be played to create a Latin clave (ostinato) feel. The fact that it can create a Latin-style clave feeling makes the coordination of the limbs proportionally more difficult, which is a problem.

Other nice patterns

There are other patterns with different accent positions for the snare: the second 16th note on the 1st beat and the snare accent on the 4th beat. The left hand occasionally glances at the hi-hat instead of the snare.

(3:17 etc.)


There's also a nice pattern with a ride cymbal and a closed rim shot.

(1:32 etc.)


It's nice to see a lot of drum close-up videos.

It's nice to have a video because it reveals the steps and settings. If you only have the sound, it is sometimes difficult to understand the specific procedure or the idea behind the phrase, so you need to put down a hypothesis of what the setting is and you need to strongly visualize in mind how it is played. In the Jeff's phrase of this article, it would have been hard to tell from the sound alone that the cowbell and floor tom were so close together that the right hand was constantly moving back and forth. If I had been able to see more close-up drumming videos when I was younger, I wonder how many detours I could have avoided. I envy digital natives who have easy access to videos of musicians playing! This is a heartfelt thought that I have written about many times in this blog.