Rudimental Multi-Tenors: Developing Movement Between The Drums

Rudimental drumming is the study of physiological coordination between the two hands. On a snare drum, the movement of the hands is mostly limited to an up-and-down motion. Rudimental multi-tenors require coordination between the hands for playing rudiments, and include the study of movement or motion of the hands between the drums. This paper will discuss the study of movement as the primary learning tool for developing multi-tenor playing skills. The featured examples are single stroke exercises that start on the right hand, and written for the quints. It is assumed the reader is familiar with the basic quint drum setup.

There are four basic movements for each hand: up-and-down, straight line, clockwise, and counter clockwise. Exercises can be developed that combine movements separately with each hand.

After a drummer learns to play in an up-an-down fashion, the next movement to learn is a straight line movement, where a hand plays a note on one drum or surface and then moves to another drum or surface to play the next note. In the first example the arms move forward from drum 1 (R and L) to drums 2 (R hand) and 3 (L hand), then back to drum 1 (R and L), followed by an out or side motion to drums 4 (R hand) and 5 (L hand). The forward and side motions are straight line motions.


Ex.1: Straight Motions of Forward, Back, Out, In
Moving to the clockwise and counter clockwise motions, consider the following example of sextuplet singles


Ex.2: R Hand Clockwise, L Hand Counter CW
Ex. 2A: Ex. 2 Isolated R Hand Playing Drums 1, 2, 4
Ex. 2B: Ex.2 Isolated L Hand Moves Counter CW Playing Drums 1, 3, 5
Notice the hand movements. The right hand moves in a clockwise motion 
while the left hand moves counter clockwise.
Now suppose we want to play sextuplets where both hands move clockwise. The result would be


Ex.3: R and L Hands Move CW
Similarly, if both hands move counter clockwise

Ex.4: R and L Hands Move CCW

And last, the right hand moves counter clockwise and the left rotates clockwise

Ex.5: R Hand CCW, L Hand CW

Here is where it starts to get interesting. Multi-tenor skill development increases by varying movements and the number of drums. Consider the following example, where the motion of the left hand is a straight line movement between drums 1 and 5 and the right hand is a clockwise motion around drums 1, 2, and 4.

Ex.6: R Hand Moves CW, L Hand Moves Out and In

Ex.6A: Ex. 6 Isolated R Hand, 3 Drums, CW Movement
Ex. 6B: Ex.6 Isolated L Hand Moves Out and In Between 2 Drums
Ex.6C: Ex.6 Both Hands Playing Together. R Hand =  Stems Up, L Hand = Stems Down
Here is an example of both hands playing four drums, but rotating in opposite directions (right hand moving clockwise on drums 1, 3, 2, 4 and left hand moving counter clockwise on drums 1, 2, 3, 5). Notice that this example requires cross-sticking.

Ex.7: CW/CCW Movements, 4 Drums

Let’s look at an example with the left hand rotating clockwise between drums 1, 5, and 3, while the right hand rotates counter clockwise between drums 1, 4, 2, and 3.

Ex.8: L Hand CW 3 Drums, R Hand CCW 4 Drums

Ex.8A: Ex.8 Isolated Right Hand CCW Motion, 4 Drums
Ex. 8B: Ex.8 Isolated L Hand, CW Motion, 3 Drums
Ex.8C: Graphic of Ex.8, Both Hands Playing Together
Now suppose one hand alternates between two movements while the motion of the other hand remains constant. The left hand in the following example will alternate between a counter clockwise and clockwise motion, first playing on drums 1, 3, and 5 and then reversing direction on drums 1, 5, and 3. Meanwhile, the right hand will constantly rotate clockwise around drums 1, 2, and 4.

Ex.9: Example of L Hand Alternating Motions

The last offered example has both hands alternating between clockwise and counter clockwise movements across three drums each; the left hand plays 1, 5, 3, 1, 3, 5 and the right hand plays 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2.

Ex.10: Alternating Motions, Both Hands

Those who wish to master the multi-tenors must master the movements from drum-to-drum. The examples covered in this paper are all single strokes, and don't even begin to scratch the surface of the possible number of variations*. Combining rhythmic and rudimental stickings with various movement patterns increase the number of possibilities to infinite.

*An entire section written by this author will be included in James Christian's upcoming soon to be released multi-tenor book. The section is devoted entirely to movement training around the drums first using one-handed exercises, and then combining movements with both hands.