Drumming education has come a long, long way since the birth and continued evolution of the instrument. An instrument that was designed for jazz music, drum set language was developed in the military snare drumming that preceded it. It’s education was traditionally aural – passed down from the elder statesmen to the younger generation.
While that tradition still exists and drummers continually trade information and patterns, licks, ideas etc, the market for education has grown considerably. With that growth has come a vast library of drumming books, which deal with just about every conceivable topic and style out there.
In this post, I’ll attempt to outline some of the books on various styles that I think are important and that should be in your library. It’s worth noting that list is by no means, definitive/exhaustive and contains nothing more than my own opinion, garnered through my experience of teaching/studies. Please feel free to investigate either all or none but please do investigate the wealth of knowledge that is available – you’ll be undoubtedly a better drummer for it.
Ultimate Realistic Rock – Carmine Appice
One of the first books to really crack open and deliver a method for teaching Rock, Carmine Appice’s book continues to be a staple used to teach the style today – dealing with everything from basic rhythms to polyrhythms, linear phrasing, hi hat and double bass drumming exercises,shuffles and syncopation exercises. Well worth a look.
The Roots Of Rock Drumming – Daniel Glass.
Whilst not a method book, this book provides a wonderful insight into the development of the style and more importantly WHY certain players played certain things. Some wonderful interviews with legends of the instrument.
Advanced Funk Studies – Rick Latham
Latham’s classic first book, Advanced Funk Studies, was named by Modern Drummer magazine as one of the 25 greatest drum books ever published. In it, he teaches essential hi-hat, funk, and fill patterns—with ideas taken from some of the most famous and proficient funk drummers in history. It’s also available in DVD form.
Future Sounds – David Garibaldi
Tower of Power’s Garibaldi has always been revered as a funk pioneer and his books and videos are nothing short of awesome. He is a fantastic player and teacher and Future Sounds provides and insight into his unique style and his permutation ideas. The book is broken into chapters that deal with his ‘Two Sound Level’ concept. There are 15 Groove studies available and 17 Permutation studies that follow studies on Four-Bar Patterns, Groove Playing and Funk Drumming. A must for all funk fans. Below is a lessonon Permutations taken from his ‘Breaking The Code’ DVD which will highlight the concept explored in the book.
Groove Alchemy – Stanton Moore
Described by Moore as a ‘Groove bootcamp’ it features a wide array of grooves and exercises, that Moore himself went through in order to develop his groove ability. Highlights include transcriptions of classic James Brown grooves, Led Zeppelin grooves and many more, with over 600 examples being outlined. Also available as a DVD.
The Art of Bop Drumming/Beyond Bop Drumming – John Riley
These were originally written as one book which would have been a behemoth. They focus on the evolution of jazz drumming from Bebop onwards, with a really comprehensive breakdown of studies – everything from comping ideas, solo ideas, how to play the ride cymbal, how take phrases and orchestrate and develop the phrases through different subdivisions. It also includes a detailed and comprehensive listening list with a breakdown of various recordings and the features of the drummers and the band.
Advanced Techniques For The Modern Drummer – Jim Chapin
One of the original jazz books to be printed (1948). One of the reasons that the book has endured is it has very little text but hundreds of comping examples. It deals primarily with snare drum comping and snare and bass drum comping through both triplets and semi quavers. It pulls all the info together with solo exercises.
The Drummers Complete Vocabulary, as taught by Alan Dawson – John Ramsay
This is one of the most elaborate methods to ever be brought to the drumming pedagogy (yes I did just write that). It has come from Ramsay’s studies with Dawson whilst at Berkeley. The book is separated into 4 sections. One is the rudimental ritual – a detailed routine of all 40 rudiments plus around 4o or so more o top. It’s to be played over a samba bass drum pattern and with brushes in order for the student to develop finger control.
The next section deals wth Ted Reed’s Syncopation book – predominately the pages between 33-45. It takes the rhythms provided in these pages and shows different ways to comp them. Dawson had around over 40 different ways to play the exercises.
Section 3 deals with speed exercises for the hands and section 4 deals with soloing – using various linear exercises to be played whilst singing the standards over the top. An amazing, yet frustrating book.
Rather than break these ones into styles, I’ll list them as other, simply because they may cross genre or they cover more specific things and don’t necessarily focus on a style.
Patterns Series – Gary Chaffee
These books, for some, are the paradigm of top end education. Chaffee is famed for teaching such guys as Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith, J.R. Robinson, Dave DiCenso, Jonathan Mover, Casey Scheurell, Joey Kramer and more.
His Patterns series of books are divided into 4 – Time Functioning Patterns, Sticking Patters, Rhythm And Meter Patterns and Technique Patterns. Each book has tremendous content from groove exercises to polyrhythm study to finger control study, linear grooves and fills and more and it’s impossible to really outline the depths of these books in a mere paragraph. Suffice to say that the systematic approach of the books makes a lot of sense and has a broad spectrum of application. A must for any serious student but by no means are they beginner books.
The New Breed – Gary Chester
Much like Gary Chaffee, Chester has taught a mass of wonder drummers such as Kenny Aronoff, Dave Weckl, Danny Gottlieb, Max Weinberg, Tico Torres and Lindy Morrison, out with his own celebrated session career. The New Breed focuses on a variety of things at once – independence, vocalisation of rhythms, reading, ostinato, and groove/time. Said by some to be on of the most difficult books around, Chester followed it up with the New Breed II
Master Studies – Joe Morello
Adapted from his love of Stick Control, Morello fleshed out those exercises into what is a veritable bible on hand technique practice. The book deals solely with the hands andhas been layed out with 7 sections – Accent studies, Buzz roll studies, Stroke combination studies, Control studies, Fill-in studies, Ostinato studies, and Flam studies. It’s an intense study but very, very worth it and short regular practice session would perhaps be the easiest way to tackle the material.
Suggested by many that Stick Control is the single most important book you will ever use in learning and improving your drumming. This classic was designed to serve beginners, intermediate students, drum and bugle corps members, and professional musicians of every style. Ultimately a snare drum book, drummers everywhere found different ways to use the exercises – for example, everytime you see a R hand noted, you play the bass drum and every L notation is a snare drum. You then play some jazz time over these exercises and right away you have some jazz comping. However it still remains as a template for hand development and was the initial inspiration for Joe Morello’s Master Studies.
Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer – Ted Reed
Voted second on Modern Drummer’s list of 25 Greatest Drum Books in 1993, Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer is one of the most versatile and practical works ever written for drums. Created exclusively to address syncopation, it has earned its place as a standard tool for teaching beginning drummers syncopation and strengthening reading skills. This book includes many accented eighths, dotted eighths and sixteenths, eighth-note triplets and sixteenth notes for extended solos. In addition, teachers can develop many of their own examples from it. As stated earlier, Alan Dawson had over 40 ways of playing the Syncopation exercises in the middle.
Reed followed the book up with Syncopation II which provided a few of these ideas, fully notated out for drumset.
Groove Essentials 1/2.0 – Tommy Igoe
A great addition to the drum book library, the books feature 47/53 different grooves respectively that deal with just about every conceivable style that drummers are likely to come across/have to play. What’s more there are 2 playalong versions for each groove – slow and fast so that every ability level can work on said grooves. Each groove is also supplied with 2 variations, so that as you progress in ability, the grooves change and/or become more challenging. A must book for beginning styles.
The books are broken into sections, such as Rock, Funk, Hip – Hop, Jazz, Speciality/World and Odd Meter grooves and there are exstensive introduction sections to guide you through at the start of the book.
A Fresh Approach To Drum Set – Mark Wessels, feat. Stanton Moore
A thorough approach to starting the drums, Mark Wessels has taken what he considers to be the iumportant builidng blocks in order to have a great working knowledge of playing drums. With over 41 playing alongs covering a variety of styles and grooves, the book is broken down into sections that have an accompanying track(s). In conjunction, he has filmed video lessons to work hand in hand with book, featuring New Orleans drum star Stanton Moore. The book can be used by beginners, intermediate and advanced players as the play along material can be used for a variety of different practices.
As I said before, this list isn’t exhaustive and I encourage you to find books that work for you. I haven’t covered the feet really at all and there are some bass drum books worth looking at – Colin Bailey’s Bass Drum Control would be a great starting point.
Most newer books are usually accompanied by an online resource and/or DVD package which is always worth a look too, in order to re-affirm what you’re learning. Dive in and you never know what might inspire you!