Linear Drumming Approach

Introduction:

In linear drumming, there are multiple ways to approach learning and”mastering” this type of playing. Some of these approaches include:

  • Chain the paradiddle rudiments together with single stroke roll and double stroke roll. Then substitute the feet in or add in kick drum hits in-between the rudiments.
  • Combine singles and doubles with the hands and the feet
  • Memorize and combine multiple licks then displaced the start of a lick within a beat.
  • Gary Chaffee’s Patterns series books
  • Mike’s Johnston’s “Linear Drumming” book

No matter the approach, what is important is that it makes sense to you AND it works for your situation. I thought the Gary Chaffee book “Sticking Patterns” would work for me but it did not work for my situation. Then one evening while at work I discovered an approach while dissecting a bunch of linear patterns and licks.

As I analyzed the patterns I broke the patterns into groups of 3s and 4s. Doing that I noticed that all of the patterns could be broken down into 24 separate 3 note combinations linked together. Yes, 24 is a lot of combinations to remember and practice but conceptually it is only eight patterns with three different starting notes. I will explain later.

A few things to mention before moving on.

  1. I have not actually practiced this approach yet. I plan on starting this approach this month (May 2019) and document my practice along the way.
  2. More important, this approach is not new. As a matter of fact Dave Weckl introduce this approach, if not something very similar, in one of his videos.

Definition:

Linear drumming is a drum kit playing style in which no drum, cymbal, or other drum component hits simultaneously. Unlike other forms of time keeping and fills, there is no layering of parts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_drumming

The Approach:

1R – L – R4L – R – L
2R – R – L5L – L – R
3L – R – R6R – L – L
7R – K – R10L – K – L
8K – R – R11K – L – L
9R – R – K12L – L – K
13K – R – K16K – L – K
14K – K – R17K – K – L
15R – K – K18L – K – K
19R – K – L22L – K – R
20K – R – L23K – L – R
21R – L – K24L – R – K

Optional combinations:

  • K – K – K
  • R – R – R
  • L – L – L

Listed above are all 24 combinations plus an additional three combinations to increase the possibilities of linear drumming. These 24 combinations can be simplified to 8 combinations given that 3 patterns are the same but starting on a different part of the pattern. The combinations conceptually can even be simplified down to four combinations if a drummer chose to and look at a combination from only a Hand/Foot perspective. Then one would substitute in an ‘R’ or ‘L’ where there is a Hand marking.

  • H – K – H would turn into R – K – L or L – K – R or L – K – L or R – K – R

Personal Note:

I look forward to practicing this approach since linear drumming is something that I’ve always wanted to learn and improve on. Many times I might hear a particular fill in my head that requires a combination of hands and feet but I have never stop to practice it in a way that I am not just memorizing 16/32 note licks.

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