A Handy Guide To Developing Independence

The following 15 measures represent all combinations of 16th notes with rests. This article will explain how to use this chart to improve rhythmic independence for the drumset.

Step 1. Start With The Hands
 

The right hand is most often used to provide the ostinato beat. Play measure one repeatedly with the right hand, and read through the entire 15 measures with the left hand. Then play measure two with the right hand while reading the chart from beginning to end with the left. Continue through all measures until the right hand is on measure 15.

 

Once all measures of right hand ostinato is complete, reverse the hands by having the left hand play the ostinato patterns while the right hand reads the chart.

 

Step 2. Play All Other Two Limb Permutations*
 

 

Ostinato

Chart

R.Hand

L. Hand

L. Hand

R. Hand

R. Hand

R. Foot

R. Hand

L. Foot

L. Hand

R. Foot

L. Hand

L. Foot

R. Foot

R. Hand

R. Foot

L. Hand

R. Foot

L. Foot

L. Foot

R. Hand

L. Foot

L. Hand

L. Foot

R. Foot

 
TABLE 1

While only two limbs are used at a time in this step, much independence can be gained by attempting all twelve permutations, even if some of the limb parings seem awkward, unnatural, or not useful in your everyday playing.

 

*The two permutations from step 1 have been added for completeness.

 

 

Step 3. Adding The Other Two Limbs
 

Select one of the twelve possible two limb permutations above. Select any two measures from the chart, one measure for each of the remaining limbs, to play as an ostinato pattern. Three limbs will now be playing separate ostinato patterns while the 4th limb reads the chart. As an example consider the case where the first right hand ostinato/left hand chart permutation, while the right foot continuously plays measure 10 and the left foot repeatedly plays measure 3.

 

The following table is a small snapshot of the number of possibilities, shown to illustrate how one might proceed in a logical fashion. Measure numbers are represented in the individual boxes. As an example, Row 1 represents 13 different ostinato patterns for Limb D while Limb’s A & C repeatedly playing measures 1 & 2 respectively and Limb B plays the 15-measure chart.

 

Limb A

Limb B

Limb C

Limb D

1

Chart

2

3-15

3

2, 4-15

4

2-3, 5-15

5

2-4, 6-15

6

2-5, 7-15

7

2-6, 8-15

8

2-7, 9-15

9

2-8, 10-15

10

2-9, 11-15

11

2-10, 12-15

12

2-11, 13-15

13

2-12, 14-15

14

2-13, 15

15

2-14

2

Chart

1

3-15

3

1, 4-15

4

1, 3, 5-15

etc

etc

 
TABLE 2

Although Table 2 is incomplete, there are a total of 2,730 permutations where three separate distinct ostinatos are taken from the 15 measures of 16th note patterns. When adding the number of ways Limbs A-D can be interchanged (see Table 3), the number of permutations jumps to 65,520. Don’t let the number of possibilities daunt you; a person doesn’t have to play all 65k permutations.[1] Intelligent selective samplings based on your personal level of experience[2] will help cull any redundant combinations thereby maximizing practice time while furthering the goal of reaching independent 4-limb coordination.

 

Limb A

Limb B

Limb C

Limb D

RH

LH

RF

LF

RH

LH

LF

RF

RH

RF

LH

RF

RH

RF

LF

LH

RH

LF

LH

RF

RH

LF

RF

LH

LH

RH

RF

LF

LH

RH

LF

RF

LH

RF

RH

LF

LH

RF

LF

RH

LH

LF

RH

RF

LH

LF

RF

RH

RF

LH

RH

LF

RF

LH

LF

RH

RF

RH

LH

LF

RF

RH

LF

LH

RF

LF

RH

LH

RF

LF

LH

RH

LF

LH

RH

RF

LF

LH

RF

RH

LF

RH

LH

RF

LF

RH

RF

LH

LF

RF

RH

LH

LF

RF

LH

RH

 
TABLE 3

 

Table 3 shows that each row of Table 2 can be played with 24 different limb arrangements. Since each row of Table 2 represented 13 different combinations of how the chart could be played, combining Table’s 2 and 3 yields 312 permutations for each row of Table 2.

 

Imagine how many more permutations exist if other rhythms are considered. Fortunately, the outlined steps with the 16th note chart are more than sufficient to help vastly improve independence. Using this guide wisely, and as a supplement to other practice methods, will greatly improve your capabilities on the drumset.
 

 

 

[1] The 65k possibilities are mentioned for the completists who will be compelled to try them all.

[2] While players can be selective with the 4-limb permutations of Step 3 based on personal skill level, it should be stressed that all permutations of Step 2 should be attempted.