The Commandments of R & B Drumming is brought to us from the quirky drummer - Zoro. Known as being being one of the best and most popular R & B drummers around, and having played with some great acts, this is his guide to playing Soul, Funk, and Hip Hop.
I should also point out that this book has been voted the 'No1 educational book in the world' by Modern Drummer Magazine - a pretty good endorsement! Right, let's have a closer look...
There are 4 main sections in the Comandments R & B Drumming - Soul drumming, Funk drumming, Hip Hop drumming, and developing your own grooves.
There are few pages at the beginning that cover the role of the drummer, playing time, drum machines, and a gudie to the notated examples. There's also a neat section on slang terms, so if you're not sure what 'Stupid', 'Stankie', 'Treacherous', and 'Retarded' mean in the world of funk - it's pretty....er....'Slammin'.
The Soul, Funk, and Hip Hop chapters all begin with an historical overview of the era, which is actually really interesting. There are some pictures of the trail blazers from those days, and it sets the scene for the lessons.
Once you've read the history, the lessons start with some exercises to get you ready for the grooves themselves. First, the Soul chapter starts out with some exercises on ghost notes, buzz notes, developing independance, and unison figures which should get you up to speed.
But, it's the grooves that are real stars here. There are some great soul grooves like 50's rock, 2nd line feel, the mowtown feel, the shuffle, and the 12/8 feel. And there are also transcriptions from classic tracks like 'Green Onions', and 'Don't leave me this way' by Otis Reading.
On to the Funk section, and again there are a good set of exercises to get your hands and feet doing the right things. Hi-Hat open notes and foot patterns, more advanced ghost notes, and 2 hand unison beats are all here. The grooves start out with the quater note feel, 8th note feel, 16th note feel, and then 8th plus 16th note feel. Tasty.
There are some awsome funky transcriptions like 'Could it be i'm falling in love' by The Spinners, and 'Memphis Soul Stew' by King Curtis among others. Oh, and there's a nice James Brown groove too.
Moving swiftly along, the Hip Hop section gives you some exercises to improve your snare and bass drum combinations, swing bass drum patterns, and emphasizing different sounds and textures. As for the grooves, you get some basic go-go patterns, new jack swing, slow Hip Hop grooves, and house grooves. And there are more excellent transcriptions from the likes of the Isley Brothers, Grace Jones, and The New Edition.
It's also worth mentioning that each era section ends with the top 10 best cd compilations from that era. You'll have no trouble picking a great cd to learn from thanks to this.
Finally, the book ends with a section about creating your own grooves. And there are a few killer pages with exercises on some tricky hi-hat patterns, 32nd note bass drum grooves, triplet hi-hat patterns, and sextuplet hi-hat patterns. Tough but totally funky!
I really like the Commandments of R & B Drumming - it's straight forward to use and is layed out very clearly. The transcriptions are easy to follow and the text does a great job of explaining things. Playing the grooves does take some work but it's really good fun.
The cd that comes with the book is great too. It's well recorded and you can hear every ghost note, and 32nd bass drum note with ease. All the important examples in the book have a cd track so you can hear what you're aiming for.
I really like the fact that the book has a steady learning curve and starts with some more basic exercises. But by the last few pages you are really being challenged. The exercises build on top of each other as you go through the book, and the grooves get more and more tricky too, but are fun at the same time!
Using the book has helped me expand my repertoire of beats, and taught me a few tricks that I'd never have come up with on my own. All those great grooves from the past 40 or so years are taken apart and taught to you in an easy to digest way. Magic.
It will probably come as no suprise when I tell you that the Comandments is excellent. Mega grooves, a great cd, well put together, easy to follow, and fun. It makes me remember why I started playing - to enjoy grooving.
There are an impressive 156 pages to work through, and each one is gold. You'll probably take a year just to get near the end, and even then you'd still be kept busy mastering everything long after that. That's because it's crammed full with so many different grooves and feels. Nice.
Any downsides? You know what, I can't really think of any. It's so well put together and it's such good fun to work through - I wouldn't want to be without it. I am a little biased though becasue I love playing this style.
The book is really gonna benefit anyone who wants to get some authentic, classic grooves under their belt. If you enjoy playing this style, or want to get into it, then this is THE best book around. It'd be best for people who have been playing for at least a year or two, so if you're a total beginner - leave this for now.
You can also get the 10 Commandments of R & B Drumming dvd. It's just as good as the book, and is worth looking into if you want to see the grooves being played by Zoro himself.
The Final Word: if you want to crank out some killer bombastic beats, check it out. Fun, Hip, Slamin', and Funktastic!