Using the Chaffee books effectively

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chrisdrums
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Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby chrisdrums » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:02 pm

Hi,

I was wondering if there might be some guys on this board who have studied with Gary Chaffee and who might be able to offer me some advice on how to get the most out of his books. I'd be interested to know how he taught from them and if there were any routines or concepts that he applied to the books that helped you get the most from them. Time limits? Tempo limits? Application ideas? Routines? When did he feel that something was mastered? Parallel study from several of his books? There's such an extensive amount of material contained within those texts that it can seem overwhelming without some kind of "map". Any thoughts or experiences gratefully appreciated.

Cheers,
Chris.

PS, I'd be especially interested to hear of any UK-based former pupils of Gary.
DSOP
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby DSOP » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:18 pm

The books themselves are very helpful as far as providing approaches to studying the material. Gary describes many concepts in detail, as well as suggesting different ways to play the material. He also did at least one DVD which you may find useful. I think there are some clips on YouTube too.

Like any book though, there will be some things that you really like and that you will find become part of your vocabulary. Other things will be exercises that you don't find musical and may not come out in your playing, but may still help you as a player.

Don't be overwhelmed though. Just start and enjoy the process.
MacDrum
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby MacDrum » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:07 pm

I only took one two hour lesson from Gary, but it was very instructive.

When talking about book 3, the Time Functioning one, he basically said, learn the 4 most common eighth/sixteenth note ostinatios and then pick 4 of the more unusual ones and learn them. He was also more interested in stickings as time patterns than he was in ostinatos and spent a lot of time explaining this, using inverted paradiddles as an example. He then talked about the linear stuff and how you should learn each hand/foot combination with a specific accent pattern in the hands and really work on getting them down, so they come out on an unconscious level when playing.
Josiah
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby Josiah » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:31 pm

ive never studied with Chaffee himself. but devored his books, the Pattern series is what I'm assuming your referring too. the others are much more self explanatory.

my suggestion would be to simply follow the instructions in each book, they have a cd with all the examples as well. they can be daunting in the volume and potency of the material. just take it all a page at a time. you will know when you have internailize a concept, and thats when you can really start shedding on the material. to a click, slow, counting out loud.

but as far as a map - what do you want to learn? metric modulation and polyrhythmic stuff, then hit up the polyrhythms books. Linear playing? hit that one up. just the stickings book alone must have infinite possibilities following the directions about combining the various stickings/orchestrations.

some of the best books out there though. "mastery" is a word that is hard, i just would just concentrate on internalizing the concepts and material.


i would recommend breaking your time up into module's of different things to practice, example if you have an hour to shed every day, then pick 5 or 6 things(books, concepts, etc) work on each for 15 minutes and randomly rotate the 6 'modules' in your routine so that you never repeat the same ones in the same order and always cover each one before repeating it again.
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deseipel
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby deseipel » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:33 pm

keep it simple: pick a page a week from each book. I wouldn't worry about mastering everything, just try to get through it. Certain things will stick with you. Theres so many ways to use these books and thats where the real challenge comes into play: how do you take these tools and build your own vocabulary? It's up to the reader. Find your own way through them.

I learned part of the time functioning patterns when I was just starting and it solidified a basic level of independence. I don't have a great opinion of the jazz independence section other than to say that it will improve your independence. What it lacks is covered in other books, such as Jim Chapin's.
Dave Capuzelo
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby Dave Capuzelo » Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:10 am

I was fortunate to study privately with Gary for quite some time, and working through his material absolutely changed everything for me. I have average natural talent on the drums; nothing above the ordinary for sure, but understanding his system really helped me to explore and CREATE new ideas and develop my own style, which is something that all his students say. Gary did the near-impossible; he taught creativity.

Having said that, Ive probably really worked through about 1/5 of his material, it runs that deep. He's got 6 books (one of them is very hard to find), which ones do you have?

If I can say what will likely give you the biggest, most noticeable return for your practice time, it would be the Time Functioning Patterns book, with the Fat Back exercises on page 11 (I think), as well as the linear section of that same book. Also, the sticking system is brilliant, and worth the effort it takes to work on it. I did well with those, and then started to apply the Rhythm and Meter material (lots of triplets, quintuplets and septuplets) to the linear system.

There really is no order you have to follow; you can very easily bounce around between different pages from different books; it all kind of seems to work together. As far as tempo, believe it or not, most groove oriented material (again, Fat Back) was to be practised and demonstrated fairly slow, goal tempo of about 100 BPM. The linear as 16ths goal was about 120, and stickings as 16th notes was again about 120. If you can comfortably work your way through the long exercises at that speed, its safe to say that if needed, you can crank it up another 30bpm or so.

When I was taking lessons with him, I had to practice at least 2 hours a day, every day, just to keep up. It kicked the snot out of me, but was worth it since I now make a living from drums. Also, interestingly, he never once told me how to hold the sticks or offered suggestions on how to improve my technique. He said "when you can play the material, safe to say you're using efficient technique", lol...

I know I havent answered all your questions. Im not sure if I CAN answer them all, but feel free to send me an email at Dave@DaveCapuzelo.com and Ill do my best. Also, if you (or anyone else on HOD) happen to be in south Florida, feel free to come by my studio to go over this material. No charge, just bring me a Pepsi and we're good :)
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chrisdrums
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby chrisdrums » Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:41 pm

Cheers for all the replies, guys.

Dave, I fear I've been a bit sneaky? unclear? about this as not only am I a pro drummer (well, I make my living from it anyway) but I've done Time Functioning Patterns to death. Probably the most important book I own! I have also come up with a whole load of ways to use the Fat Back exercises: ghost note studies, double bass drum studies, syncopation studies... you name it. I also combine them with reading pages to act like a more interesting New Breed. I'll probably get crucified for saying this but New Breed really bored the sh!t out of me. Maybe I never figured out how to use it properly?

I own the four Patterns books (Time Functioning, Sticking, Technique, Rhythm & Meter) as well as the Linear Time Playing book. I also have two videos that Gary did.

I think that Time Functioning Patterns and Linear Time Playing are quite intuitive and come with adequate instruction. However, if there are any things that you did with Gary/came up with that might help me/us get more out of them (if that's possible?!) then please let me know.

It's mainly the Sticking and Rhythm & Meter books I'm having issue with (and, to a lesser extent, Technique patterns), I think mainly because I'm probably trying to approach them as novels in that I'm trying to work from page one and get to the end. I'm just intrigued as to how he taught from the books and if there were any hints, tips or practice techniques he gave you that don't appear in the text.

What is the elusive sixth book?

I'd love to come hang in Florida but I fear that might have to wait until I go on "holiday". Obviously I'm saying "holiday" for the benefit of my other half whereas we all know that the real purpose would be to go get a bit more involved in all things drummy. I take it you were living nearer Gary when you were taking lessons? Or was it just one hell of a commute?

Cheers again,
Chris.
Dave Capuzelo
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby Dave Capuzelo » Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:07 pm

chrisdrums wrote:Cheers for all the replies, guys.

Dave, I fear I've been a bit sneaky? unclear? about this as not only am I a pro drummer (well, I make my living from it anyway) but I've done Time Functioning Patterns to death. Probably the most important book I own! I have also come up with a whole load of ways to use the Fat Back exercises: ghost note studies, double bass drum studies, syncopation studies... you name it. I also combine them with reading pages to act like a more interesting New Breed. I'll probably get crucified for saying this but New Breed really bored the sh!t out of me. Maybe I never figured out how to use it properly?

I own the four Patterns books (Time Functioning, Sticking, Technique, Rhythm & Meter) as well as the Linear Time Playing book. I also have two videos that Gary did.

I think that Time Functioning Patterns and Linear Time Playing are quite intuitive and come with adequate instruction. However, if there are any things that you did with Gary/came up with that might help me/us get more out of them (if that's possible?!) then please let me know.

It's mainly the Sticking and Rhythm & Meter books I'm having issue with (and, to a lesser extent, Technique patterns), I think mainly because I'm probably trying to approach them as novels in that I'm trying to work from page one and get to the end. I'm just intrigued as to how he taught from the books and if there were any hints, tips or practice techniques he gave you that don't appear in the text.

What is the elusive sixth book?

I'd love to come hang in Florida but I fear that might have to wait until I go on "holiday". Obviously I'm saying "holiday" for the benefit of my other half whereas we all know that the real purpose would be to go get a bit more involved in all things drummy. I take it you were living nearer Gary when you were taking lessons? Or was it just one hell of a commute?

Cheers again,
Chris.


Yes, youre quite a distance, but the offer stands so if your're ever here, let me know!

So you have 5 books, but youre missing "The Independent Drummer", which was published in (I believe) 1972 and is a great insight into his mindset while developing his ideas for the Patterns series. It occasionally shows up on eBay, if you keep an eye out for it. Also, he wrote "7th Heaven", which is a solo piece for 2 drummers (Vinnie and Steve) and that pops up fairly often on eBay.

When I was taking lessons with him I lived in The Bronx, New York and he was a 3 hour drive away in Boston. I saw him once a month and took a 4 hour lesson each time. It was a sacrifice in time, money, and certainly wear on my car (6 hours round trip...), but totally worth it. As I said before, I have average talent on the drums, but just learning his system taught me ways to do interesting things with what I already know.

The Fat Back page is pure genius. Sounds like you've already done a lot with it. If you're a Benny Greb fan, as I am, then you certainly realized that his instructional DVD is heavily based on this system. Also, John Favecchia's recent book is based off of it.

As far as other tips or practice routines, one thing that stands out was he always made sure you played all the exercises ALL the way through. Nothing groundbreaking there, but it does say a lot about not leaving out the 1 or 2 parts that really give trouble, and that I would just rather skip. While working on the stickings, I came up with a sticking pattern that was 5A/7C, which, since its 12 notes long, I chose to play as a sextuplet-based fill. He approved, but then suggested I add a 4B sticking to it, to make it a 16th note phrase, then double it and play it as a 32nd note groove. Very very cool. Of course by that point we would then change the order of the groupings from 5/7/4, to 4/5/7, to 7/4/5, etc. Open up all sorts of possibilities. We did a lot like that, and also combined linear with sticking, and then change the note value of them (a quintuplet based groove, perhaps?). Im not sure if Im telling making suggestions youre unaware of, if I am, I apologize. But I guess to sum it up Id say the biggest thing to do is combine systems from different books.

Hope this helps!

Dave
RLRRLL
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby RLRRLL » Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:04 am

Hi, I'm new to the HOD forum and this post caught my attention as I've been working on Chaffee stuff a bit lately - especially the sticking and linear ideas. I agree that the amount of material can be overwhelming and, although I do think the material is laid out vary well, I've also been thinking about additional ways to practice the ideas.

I found a summary on Drumhead magazine's website of Chaffee's sticking/linear ideas to be pretty helpful to focus practicing (available here - http://www.drumheadmag.com/web/v1_image ... tech_4.gif). One method I've used to practice is to pick a sticking (or linear idea) and loop it at a specific rate (say, the 5A sticking played at 8th note triplet rate), while figuring out different orchestrations, and paying attention to how the figure plays out over the barline (either by keeping a foot ostinato, by counting out loud, or by playing along with a metronome/song). This has helped me 1) get comfortable playing the stickings at different rates 2) hear over-the-barline phrases)

Another method I've used is to take a sheet of rhythms (I've used some of the New Breed reading sheets) and to interpret the rhythms as stickings. If playing stickings at 16th note rate, a series of four quarter notes would be interpreted as four 4B stickings. Dotted eighth notes would be interpreted as 3A stickings.

A similar idea (but using linear ideas instead of stickings) is sort of described at http://www.joemcdrum.com/PlayMaker-Part-2.htm - Joe takes Syncopation (pg 37 ) and applys hand/foot combinatinos to the rhythms. Although Joe doesn't strictly use the Chaffee linear phrases, I've found that the Chaffee ideas work really well for this interpretation. I've focused more on the variation where the LH plays doubles instead of the BD for even-note linear phrases (The "4-note" linear phrase becomes RLLF instead of RLFF and the "6-note" linear phrase becomes RLRLLF instead of RLRLFF). The one difference in Joe's approach is that he picks the BD to outline or "lead" the phrases, while Chaffee has the RH leading each phrase. I've tried to interpret rhythms both ways.

I'd love to hear feedback about any of this, as well as any additional ideas.

Chris - I'm also interested in some of the ideas you had for practicing the fat-back exercises, if you'd be willing to share.

James
Josiah
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Re: Using the Chaffee books effectively

Postby Josiah » Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:09 am

the Stickings Book is spelled out crystal clear and the examples of how to combine and orchestrate the stickings are just as clear, daunting book that it is though. running the stickings through additional note values/time frames is great idea. i used to do that with Stick Control

the idea imo is that you need to internalize the concepts and material, if you are consciously thinking "I want to use sticking 3A here!" you haven't worked it enough


Rhythm & Meter Patterns is just a beast of a book, there are lots of ways to apply it to drum set and combine it with the other books... but... im still working on internalizing the more brutal note values

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