«MELODIC JAZZ DRUMMING by Jonathan David McCaslin A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts ...»
MELODIC JAZZ DRUMMING
Jonathan David McCaslin
A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements
for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts
Faculty of Music
University of Toronto
Copyright by Jonathan McCaslin 2015
MELODIC JAZZ DRUMMING
Jonathan David McCaslin
Doctor of Musical Arts
Faculty of Music
University of Toronto
This dissertation examines and explores how jazz drummers consider the concept of “melodic drumming” and how it relates to their own personal performance practice. The drum set, in the context of jazz music, can easily be considered a primarily rhythmic instrument by its very nature. It is, nevertheless, worthwhile and necessary to discuss the significance of how jazz drummers consider other musical elements in their own personal style.
An overall musical approach to the drum set is recognized and encouraged, but the term and concept of playing “melodically” is also important. However, an exact definition of this idea is difficult to absolutely define. The definition and application of a melodic approach to jazz drumming is often as unique as the individual who chooses to either define or apply it.
For the purpose of this research, the question of how jazz drummers incorporate and consider melody in their own playing was determined through a series of extensive interviews with contemporary jazz drummers. The interviews also explore how melody is viewed in the larger scope of jazz drumming. The findings from these interviews, combined with various other available sources, were then compared with the findings further organized, compared and discussed.
iii In addition to the importance of playing the drums with an overall musical agenda, jazz drummers also describe using melody on the drum set in the context of being both an accompanist and a soloist. This includes very literal expressions of melodic structures on the drum set to more conceptual (and perhaps less obvious) applications. Many drummers also explored how melody can be an effective tool in pedagogical applications. Furthermore, many jazz drummers also discussed their sources of melodic influence. Jazz drummer Max Roach figured quite prominently in many of these interviews and his contributions and stylistic relationship to melodic drumming are also discussed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following people whose help and assistance
were invaluable in making this project come to light:
My thesis supervisor, Dr. Russell Hartenberger, and dissertation committee members, Dr. John Brownell and Prof. Terry Promane, for their insight and guidance. Special thanks to Prof. Paul Read for his instrumental role in setting up the DMA program at the University of Toronto and for initially encouraging me to pursue my academic studies at the doctoral level.
Thank you to Adam Nussbaum, Matt Wilson, Kenny Washington, Joey Baron, Lewis Nash, Billy Martin, Barry Elmes, Dennis Mackrel, Ian Froman, Ali Jackson Jr., Peter Erskine, John Riley, Billy Drummond, John Ramsay, Yoron Israel, Bob Gullotti, Jason Marsalis, Nasheet Waits, Carl Allen, Dan Weiss and Joe LaBarbera for so generously and openly sharing their thoughts, ideas, opinions and personal experiences related to jazz drumming.
My doctoral colleagues at the University of Toronto: Dr. Tom Van Seters, Dr. Patrick Boyle and Dr. Mark Duggan for their collaboration, encouragement and fellowship.
A very special thank you to my family: My parents David and Roberta, my wife Chandra Thomas and son Seamus. Without their patience and unwavering support, this paper would never
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF APPENDICES
1.1 THE THESIS
1.6 LITERATURE REVIEW
CHAPTER 1 WHY IS MELODY IMPORTANT?
1.1 THE FOUNDATION
2.3 COUNTERPOINT AS MELODY
CHAPTER 3 THE DRUMMER AS MELODIC SOLOIST
3.4 LINEAR DRUMMING
3.5 IMPROVISING OVER STRUCTURES ANDTHE USE OF REPETITION
3.6 DYNAMICS AND STICKING PATTERNS
3.7 ROY HAYNES - “IN WALKED BUD”
3.8 MAKING MUSICAL CONNECTIONS
CHAPTER 4 MAX ROACH
4.1 THE INFLUENCE OF MAX ROACH
4.2 MAX ROACH’S MELODIC SOLO STYLE
4.3 SOLO DRUM SET COMPOSITIONS
CHAPTER 5 MANIPULATING THE PITCHES OF THE DRUMS
5.1 THE PERCUSSIVE ROOTS OF THE MANIPULATION OF PITCH
5.2 JEFF HAMILTON’S MELODIC APPROACH TO “A NIGHT IN TUNISIA”
5.3 ARI HOENIG – A METHOD TO PLAYING MELODIES ONTHE DRUMS
5.4 FOUR DIFFERENT PARTS OF MELODIC DRUMMING................ 119
5.5 HOW TO START PLAYING A MELODY
5.6 PLAYING A MELODY ON THE DRUMS USING CONTOUR......... 122
5.7 PLAYING ACTUAL PITCHES
CHAPTER 6 MELODIC DRUM SET PEDAGOGY
6.1 ALAN DAWSON AND MUSICAL DRUM SET PEDAGOGY.......... 133
6.2 SING A SONG
6.3 LEARNING INSTRUMENTAL SOLOS
6.4 BIRD SONGS – THE INFLUENCE OF CHARLIE PARKER............ 149
6.5 HARMONIC AWARENESS
CHAPTER 7 MELODIC INFLUENCES
7.1 MELODY VITAMINS – THE INFLUENCE OF THE PIANOAND OTHER MELODIC INSTRUMENTS
7.2 BRAZILIAN DRUMMING AND WEST AFRICAN RHYTHM......... 169
7.3 NORTH INDIAN TABLA
7.4 FUNK DRUMMING
CHAPTER 8 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
8.1 WHY IS MELODY IMPORTANT?
8.2 THE MELODIC DRUMMER AS AN ENSEMBLE PLAYER............ 178
8.3 THE DRUMMER AS MELODIC SOLOIST
8.4 MAX ROACH
8.5 MANIPULATING THE PITCHES OF THE DRUMS
8.6 MELODIC DRUM SET PEDAGOGY
8.7 MELODIC INFLUENCES
8.9 FURTHER STUDY
8.10 PERSONAL BENEFITS
APPENDIX A (List of Interview Subjects)
Figure 3.1 Roy Haynes: “In Walked Bud,” measures 1-8
Figure 3.2 Roy Haynes: “In Walked Bud,” measures 9-16
Figure 3.3 Roy Haynes “In Walked Bud,” measures 9-13
Figure 3.4 Roy Haynes “In Walked Bud,” measures 7-14
Figure 3.5 Roy Haynes “In Walked Bud,” measures 37-39
Figure 4.1 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 2-9
Figure 4.2 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 10-17
Figure 4.3 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 18-25
Figure 4.4 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 26-32
Figure 4.5 Max Roach Rhythmic Pattern
Figure 4.6 Max Roach Rhythmic Pattern (variation)
Figure 4.7 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 50-53
Figure 4.8 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 62-65
Figure 4.9 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 82-89
Figure 4.10 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 99-106
Figure 4.11 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 123-130
Figure 4.12 Max Roach “Conversation,” measures 179-190
APPENDIX A (List of Interview Subjects)
APPENDIX B (Transcriptions)
1.1 THE THESIS This dissertation will examine how contemporary jazz drummers address the musical concept of “melody” in the context of their own personal drumming style and overall approach to playing the drum set. It will also examine the role that melody plays in other areas related to jazz
drumming. It is my goal to determine and answer the principle question:
How do jazz drummers use melody when they play the drums?
Often referred to as “melodic drumming” or “playing melodically,” these general concepts and terms will be examined thoroughly by discussing and comparing the thoughts, opinions and personal experiences offered by various individual jazz drummers. These interviews were, for the most part, all done specifically for the purpose of this research.
Discussions with these artists form the central basis of my research. Information from other sources including existing literature, published interviews, and pedagogical materials are included to complement the material collected from the interviews.
My primary aim is to compare and contrast a broad range of ideas, opinions and philosophical approaches that drummers use when considering the potential use of melody in their own playing. It is my goal to consider the overall means of how playing “melodically” is achieved in the context of jazz drumming. The goal is not to present a final definition of what “melodic drumming” absolutely means but rather to collect a variety of possible applications and considerations. Nor is the intention of this research a focus on an absolute or in-depth definitive technical approach as to how one can play melodies on the drum set (i.e. through the process of extensive transcription and specific technical analysis and procedure). The techniques that drummers use to apply melody will certainly be discussed, however, it will not represent the only focus of this document.
When considering the ideas and opinions presented by those who were interviewed, there are really no wrong answers. Rather, they are all opinions, albeit sometimes contrasting or conflicting, that are formed by personal experience and all are considered to be equally valid approaches. It is my contention that these experiences and opinions help form a musician’s unique and personal approach to playing music, and ultimately shape the basic framework that musicians use to make musical decisions on their instrument.
Technique is an important and essential element needed in order to express oneself musically on an instrument. However, I believe that it is also the intention behind that instrumental technique that allows for a demonstration of musical expression and a significant individual artistic style to emerge. Therefore, for the purpose of this paper, the discussion of the conceptual approaches to melodic drumming as well as its technical possibilities will both be addressed.
1.2 WHAT DOES MELODIC DRUMMING REALLY MEAN?
Many might consider drummers to be only concerned with elements of rhythm. An assumption could easily be made that a drummer is not able to achieve any degree of melodic continuity from playing the drum set. A survey and analysis of the history of jazz drumming styles and of its innovators up to the present, or indeed a discussion with any accomplished present day jazz drummer, will prove this assumption to be false. The drums are in fact capable of a profound melodic expression, and melody holds a significant place in every jazz drummer’s approach.
Experienced drummers are quick to point out that any approach to playing the drum set that deals exclusively with rhythm and ignores melody (or harmony for that matter) is actually limiting in overall musical potential. The means and methods in which jazz drummers use melody in their own drumming style varies considerably, but at the very least its significance is consistently acknowledged. Not only do drummers acknowledge the overall importance of using the concept of melody while playing the drums, but its application can be considered in a variety of ways as well. These applications range from literal and precise expressions of melodic statements on the drum set to broader conceptual approaches that use melody to inform and facilitate musical expression in a variety of circumstances and contexts. So then, what can the term “melodic drumming” mean? How can we use melody on the drum set?
1.3 WHAT IS MELODY?
Before a discussion can begin as to how a jazz drummer applies melody to the drum set, it should be worth considering an initial definition of the musical concept of melody.
According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary of Music its definition derives the term melody from the combination of the Greek words melos and aeidan which translates into “Sung Music.”1 This would imply that a melody is a musical idea that can be sung or at least has a lyrical, vocal-like quality to it.
Slonimsky (1998: 311) In terms of a more specific technical definition of melody, Webster’s New World Dictionary of Music also offers that: “Melody involves successive tones projecting a self-governing sense of a logical progression. In modern usage melody is a tonal line vivified by a rhythmic beat.”2 Similarly, The Oxford Companion to Music defines melody as: “The result of the interaction of rhythm and pitch.”3 In its simplest terms, the important assertion is made between these two sources that a melody is basically comprised of a series of tones (pitches) connected by a rhythmic line. We are presented with the idea that in order to construct a melody we require two musical elements: pitch and rhythm.
This definition of melody, basically described as being a musical intersection between pitch and rhythm, provides us with a satisfactory basic starting point that we can use towards a discussion about melodic drumming. However, as the current definitions continue, several other views of melody are presented and worth considering as well.