Saturday, 4 December 2010

Snare drum grip.

Many of you know how much I admire Leigh Howard Stevens, his personality, his music, and his fantastic "Method of Movement for Marimba".

I always liked his book because of its attention to detail, its clear explanations, the application of scientific methods, its fight against some "percusive myths" and his sense of humor.

I´ve never found a snare drum book equivalent to "MOM", which explained with detail all aspects concerning the grip, how to properly strike, and which developed technical questions in a scientific way. I have read many great books (those by Queen, Moeller, Stone, Morello, Chapin..., come to mind), but none of them is as meticulous as the one Stevens wrote for marimba. If such a book as "Method of Movement for Snare Drum" exists, no doubt it´d be my favorite.

My snare drum technique comes from the observation of many percussionists, picking up those things I´ve found best suited my musical ideas, and discarding those I thought were not useful.

Observing myself, I got to describe and explain what I do and (most important) WHY. In the same way I think we have to know what to do with every single note we play (and we always must have a good reason for doing so), I also think that´s of application in the technical aspect: we must know what we are doing with our technique, why this finger is here and not there, why our hand moves this way and not the other, etc, etc...

Taking into account that what I´m about to explain is what works for me, and that it doesn´t have to necessarily work for you, this is how (trying to be as meticulous as Stevens) I undestand the grip:

Due to the 15 minutes limitation by YouTube, I had no time to explain all things I wanted to. They will come up in future updates.

Remember technique is not a goal but a mean, a mean to take you to the real aim: Music.

Having said that, do not look down on technique. If Michael Schumacher was driving a Ford Fiesta, he wouldn´t have been seven times F1 World Champion. Your technique has to run parallel to your musical talent, or you won´t be able to express anything.

The false dichotomy "technique versus musicality" many musicians believe in is quite funny, but we´ll write about it in futures updates. 

I hope you enjoy the video.

…et in Arcadia ego.
© David Valdés

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