Not only has it taught me so much about drumming, but it's also taught me about dedication, concentration, and patience in all aspects of my life.
I have been working on the rudimental ritual for over 10 years, and because i I have achieved leaps & bounds far beyond my expectations. A fluidity in my playing that was buried somewhere deep, and that the ritual has finally brought out.
Created by legendary teacher Alan Dawson, The Rudimental Ritual is a long series of rudiments and permutations strung together in a way that allows the practitioner to exercise a vast majority of commonly used (and not so commonly used) rudimental patterns. The entire exercise can take anywhere between 15 - 40 minutes, depending on the speed at which it is played.
Now, you might be thinking, "Anybody can string together a 30min rudiment exercise. What makes this one so special?". For me, after playing through the ritual thousands of times, I can definitely see that there is something magical about the way that Mr. Dawson chose to order the rudiments as they go logically from one to the next in an incredibly organic manner. Mr. Dawson used his deep drum wisdom to organize them in a way that gave Tony Williams, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith, Kenwood Dennard and many more the tools to become legendary drummers.
Even going between each rudiment can sometimes be a real challenge; the transition sometimes must be studied and logically thought out.
So, after years of playing the ritual and developing my abilities to a higher level, I thought to myself, "What else can I do with this exercise?". I realized that there were a couple of things that I could do that could potentially unlock new doors. The first realization was that I could change the foot ostinato. So, I tried a few different ones, and it felt great.
The second realization was that I could learn the ritual in a different time signature. This one helped me a ton with learning to play in different time signatures. I practiced it in 5/4 and with a new foot ostinato and it was like a new world to me.
The third realization I had was that I could permutate the patterns to learn to play them on different beats. This is where things got really intense because although I had worked on permutating some of the rudiments in the ritual, I had never worked on permutating ALL of the rudiments!
It took quite a while to do, but eventually I completed my first complete permutation of the ritual and began working on memorizing it.
Since my initial experimentation with permutating I have come up with a bunch of different ones.
The result is that the ritual takes on a completely new character. The patterns starting on different beats create completely new ideas for phrasing.
The idea presented above is very exciting, and I'm sure you will want to dive right into it. But don't. Not yet. Learn the original ritual. Master it. Put it into a deep place. And then start working through the permutations.
Below are a few examples of how to permutate the ritual.
The first page is several permutation possibilities for the first rudiment in the ritual, which is the Drag
The second page is an example of how to apply the concept of permutation directly to the ritual. I've used Page 1 as an example (See bottom of post for an audio example):
You may notice that I have changed the foot ostinato. For the first permutation variation I used a very simple bass drum ostinato so I could get comfortable playing the more difficult patterns. As I wrote new ritual variations I changed the foot ostinato, and sometimes the time signature, for each one.
Purchase a copy of Alan Dawson's book, which contains the rudimental ritual in its entirety by clicking on the link below.
As I often mention, there is no substitute for a good teacher. If you have questions, or perhaps need clarification then I strongly encourage you to find a teacher and work through these ideas with them. You will develop much more quickly and will eradicate any bad habits that could develop if practicing without guidance. You can always contact me about lessons at my studio in Montreal, or on Skype. But this isn’t about me, it’s about the art of drumming, so find the best teacher you can and stick with it.
Brandon has worked with renowned jazz musicians such as Braxton Cook, Grammy-award winning artists Delfeayo Marsalis, and Kebbi Williams, as well as some of Canada’s top talent, including Fraser Hollins, Al McLean, and Samuel Blais.
Brandon has studied with some of Canada’s top drummers, including, Nasyr Abdul Al-Kabyr (Dizzy Gillespie), Dave Laing, and Dave Robbins, and has also studied privately with internationally acclaimed drummers Ari Hoenig and Dan Weiss.
He has taught masterclasses at high schools and universities in Canada and the U.S. and is the owner/principal operator of Studio Drum MTL. Based out of Verdun QC, Brandon services Greater Montreal, Lasalle, Lachine, NDG, Westmount, and Cote St Luc with his high quality drum lessons.
Brandon’s group B’s Bees has performed concerts in North America and in Asia, at major jazz festivals and in some of the best jazz clubs in the world. The group has also performed masterclasses at high schools and in universities in Canada, the U.S. and in Asia.