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Old 08-28-2006, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by gyutae
malletjazz, how did you speed the transition to making things more comfortable?
Well, I'm far from an authority (or "standard bearer") when it comes to open-handed playing, but there are a couple of things that have helped me including:

- taking beats that I already know "crossed-hand," and learning them open-handed. At that point, I've already gotten a handle on how to coordinate the different parts, and it's just a matter of playing different parts with different limbs (within reason! I'm not going to play a fast cowbell pattern with my left foot, for instance).

I'm finding that once I know a certain groove - something that has numerous parts, like a samba groove, or many Afro-Cuban grooves - that if I really have a good handle on it, I can switch parts between limbs and the basic coordination is still there. I'm still limited by the fact that my left hand can't always do what my right hand does (i.e., keep an Afro-Cuban cowbell pattern going at fast tempos), but in terms of the basic rhythms, if I can play something "bell part in right hand, toms in left hand, clave in left foot," etc, I can do something like move the clave rhythm to my left hand, or play the bell part in my left hand and the toms in my right hand. I also find that switching parts around a bit, makes me that much more comfortable with the rhythms if I return to how I learned to play them in the first place.

- isolate certain technical challenges. It's one thing to be able to play a certain groove open-handed; it's another thing to be able to play it in the context of a song, adding fills, adding crashes, or changing from one groove to another in the middle of the tune. So, I'll practice those transitions - for example, keep looping a two-measure phrase, with a short fill at the end of each phrase leading to a crash, transitioning back to the groove. That helps me to play fills and crashes in a song without disrupting the groove.

I'm still getting there, in terms of being "comfortable" - it goes without saying that I'm still light years behind the Simon Phillipses, Billy Cobhams, and Carter Beaufords of the world.

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Old 08-28-2006, 11:11 PM
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gyutae gyutae is offline
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Thanks, those are really helpful.
Does it ever get to the point where it distracts your "regular" playing though? Because I'd rather play one way really well than be able to play both mediocre.

Old 08-28-2006, 11:36 PM
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Open-handed playing, like any technique, is only a distraction if I consciously try and force it into a performance situation. If I'm comfortable playing a certain beat cross-hand, I'll play it that way. The practice room is where I'll do most of my experimenting, in terms of trying to add new techniques into my playing. In my experience, when I'm performing, if I'm focused on the musical issues at hand, the technical execution will basically take care of itself. If I'm onstage and I start thinking, "Gee, I should play this open-handed," that's when I start to get into trouble.

Actually, when working on these "extended techniques" (like open-handed playing, or playing clave rhythms on cowbell or wood block with my left foot), that it actually strengthens my ability to play in more traditional fashions. I'm still not great at playing Afro-Cuban grooves with clave in the left foot, but the time I've spent practicing that aspect of my playing definitely has strengthened my left foot's overall capabilities.

Old 09-07-2007, 11:22 AM
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Re: Will open handed playing become standard?

Originally Posted by malletjazz View Post
Open-handed playing is something I've been working on as well. The big hurdle keeping me from switching all the way is my left hand's current (in-)ability to play up-tempo ride cymbal patterns (jazz, samba, etc.). However, I've worked up a bunch of Afro-Cuban and Caribbean grooves, incorporating my toms and/or cowbell(s), grooves which really wouldn't have been available to me playing a more traditional crossed-hands style.

And I'm still working on that left hand of mine.

However, I seriously doubt that the open-handed style of playing is going to "become standard," or even something that the majority of drummers will incorporate into their playing. Drummers can be a really conservative lot, especially when it comes to setups and techniques. Players like Carter Beauford have given open-handed playing a lot of visibility in recent years, but it's not anything new - Billy Cobham has used that approach for decades. I agree that open-handed playing offers a great deal of flexibility that isn't available when playing crossed-hand style, but the crossed-hand style has been entrenched for decades. An open-handed approach strikes me as being a much more logical approach to moving around the kit, but that obviously doesn't mean that all drummers will see it that way.

Consider this: a quick look at various drum forums will find many drummers who have opted for traditional grip because (in their words) "it looks cool," which I think is a silly reason to adopt any technique. (BTW, please don't misunderstand what I'm saying, folks - I'm not saying that traditional grip isn't a valid technique, I'm saying that "because it looks cool" probably isn't the best basis for using any particular technique.)

Some drummers will see what open-handed playing can offer, and they'll give it a try (and possible adapt it into their playing). Others (rightly or wrongly) won't see any benefit to it, and still others simply won't care to even consider a change. That's pretty much the way it is with any particular technique, or any approach to playing a musical instrument.
hi there malletjazzman, i am kind of new in the game of drumming but i have this question, i mean i play on an electronic kit i am right handed and i like the idea of open hand playing.The thing is that not wanting to sacrifice my right hand dexterity by playing the hihat with my left hand i figured out that i can set the kit like a leftie and also keep my feet like a rightie( thanks to electronics)so the thing is that i can play open handed with my right hand on the hihat....as i told you i am new in the game and i would like some feedback in my experiment from someone obviously experienced...and for sure if you are not up to electronic drums i can understand...cheers

Old 09-25-2007, 07:34 AM
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Re: Will open handed playing become standard?

I have started back to using it, and it is getting to be very natural, I lke playing that way,but I keep a ride on both sides of the kit because I switch back and forth and like doing it that way. Now Billy Cobham told me that he used to play sometimes with the reverse trad grip, now this I don't like. Lenny White still plays that way sometimes, but that is not for me. But I'll tell you playing everyday open handed and using your left hand to do more than just plying drums will help you to get it much faster.


Old 09-25-2007, 01:16 PM
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Re: Will open handed playing become standard?

I dont think open handed playing really even improves your playing. I can play match grip and traditional grip, and they are a ton easier than open handed. I can still play my fills and play solos and whatever else i need to play.

Old 09-25-2007, 05:18 PM
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Re: Will open handed playing become standard?

I do not think it will become a standard, nothing in drumming will ever be "standard" anyway, it is too wide an area, and even amorph (undefined) for drummers to adopt a standard, it could become a trend maybe.

While it is of course beneficial when you can play in that style (more variations available) it also depends on the size of the kit and the kind of music you play.

For compact kits there is not all that much advantage, but on the opposite side of the scale, for instant Simon Phillips could not perform the way he does if he would not be able to play open handed.
I think however that by practising the open hand style a lot you will greatly enhance your overall drumming ability.

Cheers, Harry

Old 09-27-2007, 01:36 AM
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Re: Will open handed playing become standard?

hey i play both ways open hand and close hand and i say that people will play the way they are tought, or the way they feel comfortable. but if wat you mean is that we are gonna have a lot more open hand players than close hand, you are mistaken, close hand players will always dominate

Old 10-01-2007, 12:16 PM
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Re: Will open handed playing become standard?

It's a cool way playing and some really talented/gifted players can switch back and forth but for me, investing in a hihat extension pedal and setting up the hihat on my right accomplished the same thing.

Old 10-01-2007, 06:17 PM
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Re: Will open handed playing become standard?

Iono, I switch between the 2 ways. I play all over the set now instead of constraining myself, right hand's for cymbals, left for snare, and both for toms. My right's on teh ride, my left switching between hat and snare lol whatever feels right happens I guess.

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