Let’s get an uncomfortable truth out of the way here.
When I first saw a pipe band drum corps, I was thrown off by how ‘disorderly’ it seemed. I was blown away by what I was hearing, but there was this little voice nagging at me saying things like:
“What’s the deal with all of them shaking their sticks to the beat?”
“What the hell is wrong with their hands?”
"Why are they all looking down at someone else's drum?”
“Why do they start their strokes like marimba players? ”
You see uh… Well... I mean….
Look, I think get it now, but (and not to belabor this point) a HUGE part of my musical training as a DCI-style American Drummer was concerned with...
If I had to pick one single thing that I love about Scottish Drumming, it would be its use of Buzz Rolls. Check this out...
I mean, just listen to that.
That sound is just plain incredible. I can’t think of anything else even remotely close to it. It’s like a combination of rain, waterfalls white noise, and a million record needles crying out in terror. Maybe with some bacon frying in there somewhere. It deserves it’s own word.
Unfortunately, over here in my LARWO (Little American Rudimental WOrld) the word, "roll" refers to the open variant. Now that I’ve learned about what can be done with the closed variety, I’m changing that definition in my head. From now on, when I write "roll" I mean Buzz Roll. American style machine-gunning will be referred to by the term "Open Roll."
It’s important to resist the tendency to raise my arm and sort of ‘stab’ down onto the head at a sharper than normal angle. This cheats the gesture and in the long run will become a liability when it comes to fluidly dropping them into quicker patterns. Starting the motion flat and at grace note height helps keep it nice and delicate.
You may have not have noticed the ‘dip’ before. It’s something that McWhirter and other Monsters do when they play a Drag.
The best way to isolate this motion is in the Open-Closed-Open classes on Rhythm Monster. They have most of the common Pipe Band rudiments broken-down, plus some American rudiments.
Check out this McWhirter left hand:
I could handle that I needed to disconnect my thumb and first finger on my left hand and I could break the open roll monotony, (I always felt they were cheating anyway), but this was something else entirely.
Trying to play the Pipe Band Drag made me feel like I was in high school, learning Inverts again*.
The American Left Hand thumb-to-index connection
Inverted Flam Taps
* Learning Inverted Flam Taps can be a difficult rudiment for many Drummers, as it requires the Invert Motion: a Tap followed by an Accent in a single motion. ST1006- The Drummer's Alphabet breaks down this and all the other singular hand motions
I wasn’t quite as dapper as this young fellow. My parents liked when I played with brushes. I preferred the sticks. My father played the pipes. Once he took me along with him to play for the teachers at a grade school… over the intercom... before class started. His piping accompanied by my drum. To say I was embarrassed doesn’t quite cover it.
As a drummer, I am a total noob. Well, my parents did buy me a snare drum when I was in second or third grade back in the mid-60s. It was red with gold trim, almost totally plastic, with a few rather limp snare springs on the bottom and a single cymbal. In retrospect, I'd say the drum head had as much tension and stick bounce as the side of a box of fruit loops.
That little drum was an...
I learned Flam Drags at the knee of the Bayonne Bridgemen in the pre-kevlar days of DCI (Drum Corps International).
This is a Flam Drag, btw, for us American Drummers:
My first snare drum was a megalithic 15” Ludwig hanging from a strap.I messed around at audition camps for the (then) Cadets of Bergen County and made the quad line there in ‘89. In ‘91 I did the same with the Blue Devils. Unfortunately, my bad back kept me from ever completing a season with either group.
After I aged out, I kept up with what the DCI guys were up to and managed to keep my chops at a reasonable level over the years.
Then about 2 months ago, deep down a YouTube hole of, “in the lot with Broken City,” videos, I stumbled across this video, uploaded by something calling itself “Rhythm...