Every time I sit behind the kit immediately after setting up for a gig, I do this warm up exercise to loosen my wrists and ankles. This is not something I practice with a metronome nor is this something I am very technical about. For the sake of explanation and clarification, I demonstrate with a metronome at 80 BPM, 120 BPM and 180 BPM. The pedaled hat demonstrates the spaces the doubles fall into. This happens to be in 3 but like I said before, this is not the point. The point is to play this figure loosely and very fast to loosen the wrists and ankles.
I had a great time playing and teaching this chant as it came out a lot more organic than I first intended. There will be more on the word “organic” later. The things to notice are how the kick and snare mirror each other. The phrases are identical. This was highly influenced by the music of James Brown. “Say It Loud I’m Black And I’m Proud” is a reference now that I think about it. I listened to that cut a lot as a very young boy watching the turntable spin as the funk took me over. Boom, bap, bap, boom, bap is how “Say It Loud” begins. Boom, boom, bap, bap is how this one begins! The pedaled hat/ride helps to establish the landmarks between kick and snare. There are many areas to consider where the spaces occur which is the center theme of all chants. The point is to always keep track of the shape in order to keep place and make music. One more point is to realize how easy it is to slip into a duple feel while learning this chant. It can be played in duple with the slightest shift in feel so be aware of keeping the triple feel bounce.
A new approach is used to remember the form of this chant. Subdividing the frame into three long beats and two short beats creates Long, Long, Long, Short, Short or LLLSS. Always remember: a Long beat is 3 pulses and a Short beat is 2 pulses. This is a much easier way of retaining the shape instead of counting. Although the chart written uses a simple pattern similar to the cymbal and kick drum, the cymbal pr ride can be played various ways as demonstrated in the video with the accompanying music. The key point is to play the chant inside the framework of LLLSS. Once this is mastered at 160BPM, the chant can be performed at faster tempos.
The chant has a rhythm and blues vibe for sure. Although it is in 11, another way to look at this is as a shape. A Long beat equals 3 pulses and a Short beat equals 2 pulses. All chants and rhythms can be broken into Long and Short beats. It’s a better way to keep track of the shape. We never break down anything into one pulse because that can be infinite. So we only need to limit all rhythms to 2 and 3 pulses. You will understand this as we continue from here on. In this case we have Long, Long, Long, Short as the structure and shape or “LLLS” for short. It is the same as 3, 3, 3, 2. However, it is much easier to retain the letters L and S rather than numbers which always change. This keeps you from counting. It is difficult to count while performing. Instead of counting 11 beats in repetition, visualizing long and short beats is the way to go. This will be useful when performing complex lengthy chants.