educators often refer to Indian rhythms (you know, the
ta-ka-di-mi's) to teach odd time. While I think this is a
great idea, I also think it scares some well-intentioned (but
not as brave) souls away. To coin an old phrase, "There
is more than one way to skin a cat". We didn't learn
the rest of drumming with Indian rhythms right, so why do
we have to learn odd time with Indian rhythms?
I was younger, I attended a Vinnie Colaiuta clinic and someone
raised their hand to ask, "Hey Vinnie, what's your
approach to odd time?" Boy, you should have heard the
silence in the room. We were all expecting an hour long
dissertation on advanced Indian tabla and its polyrhythmic
applications to underlying meters (or something). I mean
after all, this was Vinnie talking! - Berklee alumni, Zappa
guru, ...the master of time manipulation!
paused for a moment, took a drag of his cigarette and replied
in his very "cool" manner, "I dunno man
I just like
I just like play in 7 for an hour or
you should have heard the applause in the room. The place
fell out! It seemed everybody "got it" at the
same time and were blown away by his answer. Anyone that's
played long enough realizes that one of the best ways to
understand (or get good at) anything is to just do it a
lot. A whole helluva lot!
I just wanted to share this with other drummers out there
and say to them; don't worry about the odd time stuff. Dive
right in head first and just "play". Learn one
odd time beat and just play it for an hour. This will build
your confidence overnight. Then you can learn a couple more.
Start with the time signatures that you're most likely going
to be called upon to play first (3/4, 5/4, 7/8, 9/8) and
get those down real good. Then study the Indian rhythms
and all the insight and infinite possibilities it provides.
Work with a qualified teacher that has experience in odd
times and listen to drummers and recordings so you can internalize
it. - Good luck, and most importantly, ..have
. Buy recorded music with odd time songs and play along
with them. You're more likely to hear odd time with progressive
bands, world music or jazz groups.
Take it out of the practice room and play live with
other musicians. This is extremely important.
Being that you won't play odd times as frequently, you need
to practice them more often to stay comfortable.
4. Try not to crash a cymbal on "one" too
much. Drummers have a tendency to do this with odd time
but if feels unnatural. Remember, we don't do this with
4/4, so we shouldn't do it with 7/8.
Tap into all resources for odd time including books, "Even
in the Odds" by Ralph Humphrey, "Odd Time Reading
Text" by Louie Bellson, etc. Visit this
link in our drum database for great websites on odd