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Double Bass Workshop pt.

1
By Jeff Bowders
Greetings Double Bass Champions of the World!! In this first of a series of lessons we are going to explore the fundamental concepts of developing equally strong and well balanced double bass technique. The most challenging area of double bass is the ability to play consistently even (in balance and sound) right and left foot bass drum strokes. Through a series of various warm-up, groove, and coordination exercises we will be spending equal time on each foot so that we may achive a well balanced double bass technique; which will eventually allow you to play any bludgeoning bombastic bass drum idea you can imagine!

As in any physical activity, warming up is essential; and double bass is no exception! One of the most effecitive warm ups I've discovered is also conveniently a great "control" exercise. But what is "control"? And how do we develop and work on this "control"? Control is the ability to play at any tempo in any dynamic volume: slow to fast; soft to loud-all without comprimising the note values. This is developed by first, practicing various patterns from soft to loud then loud to soft; all at a slow tempo and then gradually speeding up-only when earned! These first few exercises are "controled warm-up" patterns. Focus on using more of an ankle technique and as little upper leg as possible. Really try to make the ankle the focus of the stroke. If your knee is "bobbing" up and down a lot, you're using more upper leg/hip than necessary.
*Play this exercise with RIGHT foot then LEFT foot 1
RIGHT BD LEFT BD

! " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "
pp ff pp

2a
RIGHT BD LEFT BD

! """ """"" """"" """ """ """"" """"" """ """ """"" """"" """ """ """"" """"" """
pp ff

pp

2b
RIGHT BD LEFT BD

! """ """"" """"" """ """ """"" """"" """ """ """"" """"" """ """ """"" """"" """
pp ff

pp

3a

! " " " " " "


pp

" " " " " "


ff

" " " " " "

" " " " " "


pp

3b

! """"" """""
pp

""""" """""
ff

""""" """""

""""" """""
pp

Most drummers usually feel time and proper subdivisions better with their hands than they do with their feet. The following exercises are designed for the hands to help "guide" your feet in developing even subdivisions. The accents apply only to the hands. Keep the dynamic consistent with your feet. Make sure no flamming is occurring between your bass drum(s) and snare!

4
SNARE

# # # # # # # # # " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " ! " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " # # # # # # # # # " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " ! " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "
The next exercise is a "linear" pattern. Linear means no limbs play at the same time. The goal for the exercise is to keep all of the 16th notes as equally subdivided as possible. The tendency sometimes is to "swing" the 16th notes when using the weaker limbs. If this begins to happen, SLOW DOWN and start over!
*Play all RIGHT hand on the snare first, then repeat with your LEFT hand. Repeat, repeat, repeat!!!

! " " " " " " " " ! " " " " " " " "

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " ""!

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

This final exercise is one of my favorites! Hands are playing alternating 16th notes on the snare. Feet are playing one bar of alternating 8th notes and one bar of alternating 16th notes. On beat "4" in measures two and four, the last 16th note has been omitted thus switching the lead foot from right to left and so on with each repeat. Once again, make sure no flamming is occuring between the snare and bass drum(s).

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " ! " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " ""! ! " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "
R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L R L

The goal for all of these exercises is quality. Practicing these ideas at a slow, focused tempo will help develop the control you're seeking. Speed is a byproduct of control. Get the control, then you'll have the speed-guaranteed! Next lesson we'll begin developing a double bass groove vocabulary that will even impress your grandma!

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