The Ride Cymbal – Jazz Bass lesson by Danny Ziemann


hi my name is Danny Ziemann and you’re
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it when working on the connection between bass and drums a lot of common
advice I’ve gotten is to listen to the ride cymbal like it’s the first thing
you do when you interact with the drummer put your ears there and I’ve
always wondered why like why is that the first piece of advice that I get when
working with drummers so I wanted to dive a little bit into that and have
more of an open conversation with Caroline about the relationship between
walking bass and right cymbal my own perception of why we focus on the ride
cymbal is because in the most basic level the ride cymbal closely relates to
the function of the bass to think about a jazz group let’s say a trio the
walking bass is four quarter notes per bar the ride cymbal is generally the
only other thing that consistently is playing some type of quarter note
subdivision throughout so that’s why we generally want to focus our ears towards
the ride cymbal now there’s a lot of defining features of the ride that make
it different from drummer to drummer the quarter notes will generally be in time
but the width of the the triplets or what we call the skip beats those are
all can be different and that’s where the drummer really gets to show their
musical personality and their influence and if you listen to drummers from Max
Roach to Billy Higgins to Bill Stewart and everything in between there’s gonna
be a lot of different ways of playing the ride cymbal beat so I was wondering
if you could actually just play some quarter notes for me just on the ride
cymbal if you keep doing that I’m gonna join
with you now when you’re playing you don’t do
that all the time there’s a lot of quarter notes it’s a lot of drummers
like I love Grady Tate for the fact that it’s quarter note central there yeah but
so I know you play a lot of skip beats so can you talk about that just for a
second like what how do you decide where to put them or if they’re like really
tripletey, or like what what makes you choose that okay so first of all I would
define so I’d say this song is starting when I start to play I’ll define the
feel probably from the four, just straight four because usually the default would be the
usual kind of normal swing pattern but the four really
is trying to link myself to the bass player trying to reach out to the
bass line we play the bass player doesn’t do that do you
don’t do that so the four has to be really defined and then maybe I might
kind of move into a more articulated or or slightly broken pattern yeah that
kind of sets up the whole vibe really yeah the piece so when you’re putting
those breaks in there the is there like like how do you define how
much space you put in there cuz there’s a bass playerl I have I’ve heard varying
lengths of those Skippy’s like like nice and wide and I know when you start playing shuffles and other
things there’s all these like that space is so sacred so how do you decide what
to do? It is, now again the personal thing so we will learn the basic ok well
can I just pay you this no basic kind of what they teach you, straight off this is what swing is okay okay what does that sound like yeah
I mean it’s it’s out I mean I know you’re super swinging so it sounds good
to me but but it sounds kind of like doo yeah slightly dotted though I think that I might play this instead okay now I’m thinking just total
triplets all the way through yeah I still want to define it so I might then click some of that so it’s kind of moving in between my
swing swing a more straight of even sound yeah as well
additionally yes traditionally you will have so it’s phrasing that’s phrasing yeah so
the the set up is the the default swing pattern but of course comping and
phrasing and to that and so we the the line might be broken because of that
yeah oh you’re following now I’m would be following in the base or the comping
line of the piano or guitar whatever yeah and now when you’re playing the
purpose of those skit beats and is to really sort of define define the space
between the quarter notes right and and either give it some forward momentum or
just kind of keep the music moving along because I know with piano or guitar like
they might be playing some up beats but they’re not playing all quarter notes in
a row so it’s kind of up to you to define that that buoyancy that’s space
in between the beats yeah so you’re kind of facilitating everyone else everyone
else is playing their little tiny things and then the drum the cymbals really
kind of skip around that they weave around all of those up and down beats
I’m phrasing the phrasing across the bar across the beat everything yeah and the
thing I like to to also mention just from a bass players perspective is all
of my favorite drummers all their quarter notes are generally in a similar
spot but it’s all the stuff in between that really has a lot of musical
personality like how they how they phrase that stuff as a bass player
that’s generally why I try not to put too much of that stuff in there because
I feel like sometimes in the I guess in the sort of tradition of bass playing
it’s a little more haphazard than where the place that we put the eighth notes
then we’re drummers are working on it because I have a lot of a lot of friends
and know a lot of drummers who will like really shed that stuff a lot exactly
where their skip notes are and the articulations and the accents yeah
they’re oh it’s kind of choreographed moves in a way when we play a full bar phrase you might
on the end will choreograph kind of like do all but do do but the donor would do
bad kind of thing so you’ll get that but you might choose that you don’t want to
do just for the hell of it or because you think I’m not hearing that I don’t
need kind of have such a sort of prescriptive way of playing yeah yeah
and with the ride cymbal – if you didn’t do any of that stuff and you just played
quarter notes it would still be swinging as heck and that’s again that’s the
foundation of all this stuff is a quarter note and the last thing that I
want to add just not to belabor the point but you’re not listening to me for
the tile you’re not listening for me to define the time feel like you’re playing
quarter notes there and I’m playing quarter notes here and it’s more like
two of these feels syncing up together instead of us kind of relying on the
other person to to define the time yeah it’s quite sophisticated isn’t it it is
it is it feels a little bit yeah it’s a little bit like surgery in some it’s
very delicate so spontaneous from the head from the start off which is we stop
and how do we know how do we know what to do yeah yeah absolutely well those
are those are the reasons I like having these conversations not just for the
course but in general I have these conversations with my drummer friends
all the time because the more I understand about what you do the more
informed it makes my bass playing I mean I had a drum set in my house for about
six months where I practiced out of John Reilly’s drumming book with a snare drum
and a hi-hat and a ride cymbal and I just tried to play quarter notes like I
said do a metronome for months just to try and get that feeling of what it’s
like and understand the physical process of moving through that space with the
ride cymbal because I thought if I can understand how the ride cymbal works and
what it’s like to create that pulse that’ll make my bass lines better and I
think having that awareness is definitely shaped of the way that I play
it I think you should set the metronome on the spaces so you play the quarter
notes but you listen to the space in-between yeah yeah absolutely that’s
that’s one of the one of the metronome exercises that I do in another part of
the the video you’re right like how to defy
that space that’s another recurring theme is like all of the momentum and
definition of time happens in between the beats like how much space you put in
there how much weight it has and that’s I think part of the reason why it’s so
important it’ll be listening to the ride cymbal not as the main focus of what we
do but just to understand the impact that it has consciously and
subconsciously on how we phrase our time thank you for watching the video and if
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