Have you ever listened to jazz? Hopefully, if you play jazz, or want to learn how, then you have. You might notice that, unlike styles like rack and metal, jazz uses the snare as an accompaniment, underlining the soloist, whether that be the guitarist or keyboardist.
Snare drum comping is just short for accompaniment which, as explained above, means that the snare is used to help bring forth the solo instrument.
For drummers, the idea of not using your snare to drive the music may seem awkward at first. Learning snare drum comping can help you to improve your off hand coordination in drums playing greatly, as sometimes you need to learn odd patterns to successfully highlight the soloist.
If you are a drummer looking for an entirely directed, set in stone pattern to follow, then snare drum comping may not be for you as it entails improvisational skills. More accurately, it entails drumming improvisational skills dedicated to the moment’s instrumentation.
To accurately begin snare drum comping, the first thing you must do is listen to jazz. Notice how drummers more often than not play a steady beat using either the ride or hi-hat, and sometimes the bass drum, while the snare seems to pick up its own rhythm. This is a prime example of snare drum comping. Try to pick up on the separate rhythm of the snare. Note how the drummer is actually playing to completely different rhythmic patterns at the exact same time.
When snare drum comping, your main hand picks up its own rhythmic pulse, lending the soloist instrument a ground to build off of, as well as helping to highlight.
When you approach the concept of snare drum comping, start off slowly, as it will be difficult to play seemingly oddly placed notes. As with all exercises, begin with a metronome on set at a relaxed tempo. Stay loose and don’t allow yourself to become frustrated; this will take a lot of practice.
This exercise is very basic, but you will quickly see that the patterns of the hi-hat and the snare, while both following a definite pattern, are completely different from one another.
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Notice how the hi-hat joins the ride every other beat. Be sure to keep that in mind, as when the snare strikes on the same note, you will have to use your foot for the hi-hat. As I stated earlier, snare drum comping takes a lot of coordination and limb independence. If you have trouble with these two things, use a metronome and work on them before approaching snare drum comping.
Pay close attention the beat on which the snare lands; you don’t want to overcompensate accuracy and coordination with power. Before you attempt this pattern, it may be best to tap the rhythm out with your foot while patting the side of your thigh closest to your off hand with that hand. On the snare stroke notes, clap your main hand to your other thigh. This will help you get a feel for the rhythm, letting muscle memory work its magic before you even sit down at your kit.
Like all drumming techniques, this one will take a lot of patience, but the results will help bring your playing to a whole new level. Enjoy!
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