Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed  
A Manual For The Modern Drummer (Berklee series)  

A Manual For The Modern Drummer (Berklee series)

This book should be named "The Missing Masterpiece for the Modern Drummer"

I looked months if not a years for this book. After buying a used copy on Amazon, waiting with anxious anticipation of what the postman would bring, good fortune smiled on me as the book was hardbound with a solid spine and all pages intact. A library copy with that old book smell . . . heaven.

I was made aware of A Manual for the Modern Drummer during one of many lessons with my mentor and teacher, Chuck Silverman. A missing masterpiece of drum books (if not missing then sure hard to find). I like this book for its content and its historical value.

The book was published in 1962 by Berklee Press Publications and authored by Alan Dawson and Don DeMicheal. At that time Alan Dawson was supervisor of Drum Instruction at Berklee School of Music and Don DeMicheal was Editor of Down Beat Magazine. The book is divided into three main parts; Part I - The Fundamental, Part II - Dance-Band Drumming, and Part III - Jazz. The dance beats in Part II are a bit dated but still applicable for the novice drummer in terms of historical knowledge and gaining limb independence. Throughout the book, there are nuggets of drumming insight shared by the authors, such as "sing the figures before playing them." There is also valuable insight into the "evolution of the drum solo" from back in the day. For me, the meat of this book is in Part III, the lessons with triplets being played on a single surface (pages 61-83, see figure 1) and again in the lessons with bass-snare combinations (pages 101-115, see figure 2). The single surface exercises remind me of working through Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer, by Ted Reed, but have greater variation and focus a lot more on using triplets. The author explains that it is "essential that the student understand thoroughly triplets and the triplet 'feel' . . . Much of jazz . . . is played with this feeling of triplets." The bass-snare combinations are reminiscent of working through John Pickering's Drummers Cook Book, the difference there being more jazz/funk oriented, where as Pickering's book is more boogaloo/funk oriented. Unlike the Drummers Cook Book, these exercises have no written cymbal patterns, so one is free to create their own.

-The Cymbal Beat: Interpretation and Application
-Putting the Left Hand with the Cymbal Beat
-The Feet
-Hi-Hat and Sock-Cymbal Beats
-Combining Feet and Hands - The Final Step

-Syncopation and Tied Notes
-Two-Beat Dance Music
-The Dance-Band Drummer and 3/4
-Lame Duck and Shuffle Rhythm
-Ethnic Rhythms
-Latin Rhythms
-The Tango
-The Beguine
-The Bolero
-The Conga
-The Rhumba
-The Samba
-The Mambo
-The Cha Cha Cha
-The Merengue
-Latin Rhythms: Timbales and Finer Points

-Drums in Perspective
-The Jazz Drummer and Double Time
-The Jazz Drummer and "Odd" Time Signatures
-Hand Independence and Coordination
-Hand Independence Using Triplets
-Hand Independence Using Eighth and Sixteenth Notes
-The Jazz Drummer and the Drum Solo
-Evolution of the Drum Solo
-Developing the Ability to Play Musical Drum Solos
-Bass - Snare Combinations
-Snare - Tom Tom Combinations

I really enjoyed the "Evolution of the Drum Solo" by Don DeMicheal in part III. Don covers and gives his perspective on drum solos starting with Baby Dodds and Chick Webb, then moves through other renowned drummers such as Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Sid Catlett, Max Roach, Shelly Manne, Art Blakey and others. Don features a short solo transcription with each drummer and shows how military drumming influenced drum soloing in the beginning, and to a lesser degree as time passed and we entered the Bebop era. I think it important that any aspiring drum student keep in mind that military drumming stresses rudiments, which are the tools and building blocks for many of our earlier and current drum set players.

The book is well organized as it starts out stating that it is for the "intermediate" drummer who has some command of reading drum parts and has had some marching-band experience. However, it is my opinion that the professional drummer will find lots of valuable exercises to improve their skills and that, with the guidance of a good drum instructor, the beginning student will gain much insight and development of coordination.

I give this book 5 stars.

Figure 1


Figure 2


Buy the book now on Amazon!


© Copyright 2009 - 2011 by Mark Pryor