Drumming and Banjo

Eric says:

Arthur Hull (West Cliff Percussion, Santa Cruz, CA) is a master drummer and teacher, and, in teaching African rhythms, he uses a method called “hand-over-hand”, which means that you keep your hands moving (up and down), alternating left and right, whether or not you strike the head on a given “stroke”. You create a certain rhythm by leaving notes out of the perpetual motion of up and down (hand-over-hand), but no matter what, you keep the beat and motion steady in the motion of your hands, one always trading off with the other.

I found the same to be true with the banjo- a similar perpetual motion in the right hand provides a constant and steady beat. Even when leaving notes out to create a certain rhythm, the steady motion keeps the timing right, rather than stopping the hand, waiting (allowing the mind to count, or somehow decide when to play again) and then starting the hand back up into motion. It’s a way to lock the rhythm into the body, and leave your mind out of the loop.

Incidentally, Arthur also says that rhythm comes from the hips (and the motion thereof), and therefore forbids anyone to sit down and drum at the same time. I noticed that it may also be true for your style of playing….you have a way of bobbing your head down, with your lower back pushing back (into the chair) while your frontal torso shortens…this may just be an adaptive way of bringing the rhythm from the hips while in a sitting position….the lower back (lumbar spine) lifts with the up-beat and compresses with the down beat….


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