The X and Y Axes of Quad Drumming
by Bill Bachman
When watching students play quads, you will sometimes see mallets going this way and that way to the point that it makes you dizzy. This whole fiasco can actually be made very simple. Think about this - for a mallet to move at an angle, there are actually two things happening simultaneously: the mallet moving up and down and side to side. Quad drumming can thereby be separated into two distinct planes, the "X" and "Y" axes. The "X" axis is the horizontal axis. Upon this axis the forearms will move the hands around the drums from side to side.
The "Y" axis is the vertical axis. Upon this axis the forearms, wrists and fingers move the mallet straight up and down. Most quad drumming errors are caused by the confusion between these two planes and the lack of maintaining accuracy upon each axis. A quad player should be able to focus on the X and Y axes independently while playing through a phrase. The "Y" axis should be the first priority when playing around the drums. The way to manipulate this axis is by playing a passage on one drum. Some players rely on around patterns to get through certain passages. If you can't play it on one drum, then you certainly won't be able to play it around the drums with any accuracy. After mastering a passage on one drum, you will be able to play it around the drums with better sound quality, mallet heights and dynamics. A player should be able to focus on the hand's movement, heights and velocity through the drumheads while playing through any given passage around the quads. The "Y" axis must not get melded with the "X" axis in order to play with a consistent quality of sound, good mallet heights and dynamics.
The "X" axis should be the second priority when playing around the drums. A lack of accuracy within the "X" axis results in poor playing areas and the accidental hitting of the drum's rims. Whenever you hear an ugly bark sound from missing a drum's playing area or hitting a rim, go back and figure out exactly where you missed the playing area or hit the rim. Then adjust where your forearms are putting your hands along the "X" axis in order to contact the drum in the proper playing area.
Much practice will be required to fully understand and be able to mentally manipulate each of these two planes independently while playing a passage around the drums. It is best to work on understanding this concept while playing a familiar passage so that the mind is free for analysis. Once this concept is realized, it should be internalized through repetition and applied to everything played around the quads for great results.
Bill Bachman has studied percussion performance at the University of North Texas and is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. He has played quads in the University of North Texas indoor drumline, the Cadets of Bergen County Drum and Bugle Corps and has instructed with many award-winning groups including the Bluecoats and Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps. Bill is the author of the instructional books Quad Logic and Rudimental Logic which are available through LogicalPress at (909) 590-8119 or LogicalPress.com.
Check out Chapter 13 - "Scrapes" from Bill Bachman's new book "Quad Logic" on the next page! Bill gives us some insight into controlling the scrape motion and provides several exercises to work out the technique.
If you think you're all that, try your hand at Beatlicious a new tenor solo fresh out of Bill's book!