I’ve been doing the same drumset warm up for the past 5 years and probably will continue for as long as I can hold sticks. I figure, don’t mess with a good thing!
My initial interest in this particular exercise came from my decision to learn the drumset solo Ti-Re-Ti-Ke-Dha (1979) by James Dillon (check out my performance here). At this early stage of my doctoral studies (2011) I realized my ability to perform excessive polyrhythmic variations was in serious need of improvement.
Enter Marc Atkinson’s The UnReel Drum Book. While the book is packed with grooves and charts featuring the drumming of the great Vinnie Colaiuta, the real draw for me are the Rhythm Scale exercises featured in my video below. From the basic approach found in the book, I have been able to shape the exercise to meet my various technical needs (which have been many!) over the years, helping with not only polyrhythms and independence but also hand and feet speed.
In this video I first play the basic rhythm scales from eight notes (2) to thirty-second notes (8) over one of the ostinatos (#5) recommended in the UnReel Drum Book. I then do two of the many possible variations that I have come up with. There are so many possibilities for these and it really depends on what I am focusing on from one day to the next.
The Rhythm Scales really changed everything for me and opened up so many possibilities in my performance. I highly recommend checking them out.