by Kim Plainfield
Seeing as I reference this book so often, I thought I'd better include it on my list of classic books. Here's a brief rundown of what you'll find inside one of my favorite method books of all time.
Author - Sandy Gennaro
Beginning in the early 90’s, Alfred Music began publishing a series of educational books derived from material being taught in the classrooms of New York City’s thecollective school of music. These early books were authored by renowned musicians and educators including Kim Plainfield, Bob Weiner, Frank Malabe, and Duduka De Fonseca. In the mid 2000’s, thecollective once again released a series of outstanding educational materials to the general public. Published by Carl Fischer Music, the Contemporary Styles series of books contain material authored by collective staff and derived from classroom curriculum. Targeting intermediate to advanced students, these books present an enormous amount of information across a variety of musical styles. Contemporary Rock Styles for the Drums provides an accessible starting point to acquaint newcomers to this valuable collection of material.
Unlike other selections in the Contemporary Styles series, the title of this book does not fully characterize the diversity of its contents. Contemporary Rock Styles for the Drums covers everything from straight eighth note rock and funk, to rockabilly swing, New Orleans second line and reggae. It's safe to say that this book is definitely written for those seeking to expand their musical repertoire. Each style is presented as a self contained chapter consisting of historical background and references, musical examples, performance tips, exercises, variations, and charts referencing the included play-along tracks. The book progresses in a traditional sequence, beginning with basic eighth note styles, increasing in difficulty with shuffle and blues patterns, and culminating with the more challenging reggae and odd time feels. Each chapter transitions logically into the next, with challenging variation patterns preparing for what comes next. This structure makes the book ideal for teaching, and I often reference it in my private drum lessons. One minor criticism from a teaching perspective is that a noticeable discrepancy exists in the difficulty among many of the variation patterns. Nonetheless, this variance does well to uncover student weaknesses, and as a teaching tool the book is invaluable based solely on the scope of information presented. The included discography and listening suggestions are especially helpful in guiding students to real word musical examples. Overall, Contemporary Rock Styles for the drums is a well thought out, cohesive package that presents a variety of challenging material while maintaining the ever important fun factor. From both learning and teaching perspectives, it doesn't get any better than that.
Author - Steve Houghton
Steve Houghton has long been regarded as one of the premier educators in the drumming world. Having published a wide range of educational materials targeting everyone from beginners to advanced students, there is much to be gained from his expertise and easy to follow teaching methods. The Essential Styles series of books presents students with a collection of patterns, charts, and insights covering a broad range of musical styles. As the title implies, the styles covered are essential for any versatile drummer to be capable of executing in a convincible manner. Co-authored with bassist Tom Warrington, this series also includes bass charts and insights that allow for organized practice and collaboration in the rhythm section. Book 1 covers a total of 30 different styles in the areas of pop, rock, funk, R&B, blues, fusion, Latin and jazz. Book 2 also encompasses a broad range of music, but focuses more on Latin and jazz styles. Each book includes play-along tracks that are stereo split with drums on the left channel and bass on the right. Simply panning to one channel or the other removes either the drums or the bass, allowing for more focused practice with the recorded click track. Published in 1990 and 1992, some of the included play-along tracks feel somewhat dated, such as the funk rock track that's highly reminiscent of Chaka Kahn's Masterjam and the 16th note shuffle that closely replicates Stevie Wonder's Superstition. That being said, these books are still highly relevant. A number of high-quality, multi-style book / CD packages by the likes of Dave Weckl, Russ Miller, and even other Houghton offerings have been released since Essential Styles hit the market in the early 90's; however, the material in these books is presented in such a straightforward, unintimidating manner that it is even approachable by most beginners. From a teaching perspective, these books are absolutely essential, and in my case still often beat out newer titles that have a more contemporary sound. If you are a drummer or bassist who enjoys playing different styles of music, and are committed to becoming as versatile as possible, then the Essential Styles series is an absolute no brainer.
Check out Steve's website at the following link: http://www.houghtonmusic.com/index.html_
Author - Joel Rothman
A definite must have for any serious drummer, as well as an invaluable teaching reference, Rothman's Basic Drumming presents reading, technique, and style development studies in a highly approachable structure. This book, along with Rothman's coordination series are indispensable.
Check out more at www.joelrothman.com
Dan Kinsinger is a versatile, freelance musician, audio engineer, and educator based in Canton Ohio. He has over 25 years of performance, recording, and teaching experience, is proficient in a broad range of musical styles, and productive in any performance environment.
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