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  • Triangle, Cowbells, and Blocks

    More and more I have become intrigued with incorporating cowbells, triangle, and other percussion instruments into my setup, to explore new licks, fills, and musical transitions. It is proving to be very constructive because it gets away from just developing hand and foot rudiments and gets into free-form ideas and more subtle styles of building dynamics into drum parts. One of the toughest still for me is gong, that just has always been hard to introduce into playing.

    Is anyone out there putting any of these into your fills, solos, or songs?

  • #2
    It's tough to put a triangle in one's setup, because triangles don't sound "correct" when hit with a stick. Most triangle beaters are metal, and to get that sound, you'd have to switch a stick to a triangle beater...it's tough. Not impossible, but tough.

    As for cowbells, blocks, and tambourine, have at! Put them in various places to see where your imagination takes you. I know the traditional cowbell position is attached to the bass drum in between snare drum and floor tom, but for me I like my floor tom closer and there's no room for a bell there. So, I usually set up a bell to the right of my floor tom, or in between two floor toms, if you have two FTs. Blocks and tambourine I usually set up on the left by the hi-hat.

    Use it in practice, and eventually you'll hear it in tunes that you play with friends. Don't force it, though. Let it happen naturally. If you don't hear aux stuff in a song, well then, you don't hear it...yet.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by SRX View Post
      More and more I have become intrigued with incorporating cowbells, triangle, and other percussion instruments into my setup, to explore new licks, fills, and musical transitions. It is proving to be very constructive because it gets away from just developing hand and foot rudiments and gets into free-form ideas and more subtle styles of building dynamics into drum parts. One of the toughest still for me is gong, that just has always been hard to introduce into playing.

      Is anyone out there putting any of these into your fills, solos, or songs?
      Hi,

      Yes, cowbells and tambourines can add a lot to your sound. I play open-handed so I have a couple of cowbells and tambourine near my hi hat so I an easily add them with either hand.

      I also have a triangle attached to my windchimes, but that it needs to be hit with a metal striker so I usually only use it as an accent when there isn't a groove going on during a break or intro to the song.
      Last edited by MusicMan; 02-07-2015, 07:31 AM.
      2021 Masterworks / Matte Black Mist

      18x20 KD, 14x16 FT, 12x14 FT, 8x10 TT, 6.5x13 SD, 10x12 FSD

      2022 Masterworks Cocktail Kit / Bright Champagne Halo

      16x16 KD (verticle), 5x10 SD, 5x8 TT, 5x12 TT

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      • #4
        Originally posted by drummaman1 View Post
        It's tough to put a triangle in one's setup, because triangles don't sound "correct" when hit with a stick. Most triangle beaters are metal, and to get that sound, you'd have to switch a stick to a triangle beater...it's tough. Not impossible, but tough.

        As for cowbells, blocks, and tambourine, have at! Put them in various places to see where your imagination takes you. I know the traditional cowbell position is attached to the bass drum in between snare drum and floor tom, but for me I like my floor tom closer and there's no room for a bell there. So, I usually set up a bell to the right of my floor tom, or in between two floor toms, if you have two FTs. Blocks and tambourine I usually set up on the left by the hi-hat.

        Use it in practice, and eventually you'll hear it in tunes that you play with friends. Don't force it, though. Let it happen naturally. If you don't hear aux stuff in a song, well then, you don't hear it...yet.
        drummaman1, well said. I agree that there are certain places to introduce those sounds. I'm not much for the tambourine, but I do have the Sabian B8 5" triangle and beaters. "And You and I" is one fun example to incorporate the triangle. I have two FT's, and have a boom stand positioned to the right of the FT#2. On that stand hangs the triangle, a trap table, two cowbells, and a boom arm crash cymbal. Since my playing is mostly for my own enjoyment or for recording sessions with other musicians, the ability to use the triangle strikers instead of a stick isn't much of a problem. I agree though that in live situations, it would not be very practical. Also on the stand are two cowbells which are stacked and staggered, and a crash cymbal over the cowbells but not interfering with playing them. My other cowbell is between my 8" tom and highhats, close to the snare. That way I can either blend cowbell with snare, highhats, cymbals, and smaller toms, or on the right side, with large toms, snare, triangles, and cymbals.

        I constructed some ostinato type and poly breaks, and being able to use bells, triangles, chimes, cowbells are a nice alternative rather than always just relying on just cymbals for the high frequency contribution. I am working on original materials, short intro's or closings, and it just adds another sound choice to improvise with that can pull the listener's focus as a subtle transition to other verses or songs. One guy I think has been a real inspiration to my playing is Jerry Marotta on Pete Gabriel's albums. His use of percussion instruments to come in and out of the grooves is something he does so well. It sets mood and interest to compositions, and contributes to the success of many songs because of the touches he adds. I especially like trying to figure out ways to blend these breaks into traditional jazz stuff that hasn't been done before. I'm with you on the happen naturally part. It is that level of experimentation that leads to developing a signature style all your own.

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        • #5
          Jerry's great, but I love Manu more. Putting these type of side percussion in a kit takes a very delicate approach to where it feels part of the kit and not using something simply to be different. To me the cowbell & woodblocks been overused or simply used in the wrong fashion by many players that it's left somewhat a bad taste for me.
          dalewmiller.com my kits: 1 2 3

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dale w miller View Post
            Jerry's great, but I love Manu more. Putting these type of side percussion in a kit takes a very delicate approach to where it feels part of the kit and not using something simply to be different. To me the cowbell & woodblocks been overused or simply used in the wrong fashion by many players that it's left somewhat a bad taste for me.
            Dale,

            There's a great Steve Winwood concert out on DVD and Blu-Ray with Alfredo Reyes, Jr. on the drums where he does an amazing job of integrating percussion into his grooves and fills. It's well worth watching.
            2021 Masterworks / Matte Black Mist

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MusicMan View Post
              There's a great Steve Winwood concert out on DVD and Blu-Ray with Alfredo Reyes, Jr. on the drums where he does an amazing job of integrating percussion into his grooves and fills. It's well worth watching.
              I will look out for that MM. I saw Steve here a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the show with Cafe da Silva on percussion and Richard Bailey on drums.

              Out of necessity rather than desire I started on percussion before getting behind the drums, which influenced my playing as I transitioned to drums. Where I felt appropriate I would (and do) add blocks, chimes, bells, clave and the like into songs as there was no one else to do it. Challenging, but enjoyable. Manu has been an influence for me, as has Carter.

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              Originally posted by Mike Foreman
              Practice makes perfect. But ultimately, I am living proof that you don't need to play well to enjoy gear. You might be surprised how much enjoyment you can get while still sucking.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kiwi View Post
                I will look out for that MM. I saw Steve here a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the show with Cafe da Silva on percussion and Richard Bailey on drums.

                Out of necessity rather than desire I started on percussion before getting behind the drums, which influenced my playing as I transitioned to drums. Where I felt appropriate I would (and do) add blocks, chimes, bells, clave and the like into songs as there was no one else to do it. Challenging, but enjoyable. Manu has been an influence for me, as has Carter.
                Hi Kiwi,

                I saw Windwood live on that same tour too.

                Cafe is a great conga player, but I wasn't as impressed with Bailey. If you watch the DVD, you'll see how much better Reyes handled the same songs. Bailey didn't seem nearly as comfortable doing the latin infused drumming.

                P.S. I found the concert I'm referring to on YouTube (fast forward to 47:10 for the last track where Cafe and Reyes do amazing little solos and fills with the congas and drum/timbales throughout the song):

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKgvAtUL6Ww

                MM
                Last edited by MusicMan; 02-07-2015, 07:14 PM.
                2021 Masterworks / Matte Black Mist

                18x20 KD, 14x16 FT, 12x14 FT, 8x10 TT, 6.5x13 SD, 10x12 FSD

                2022 Masterworks Cocktail Kit / Bright Champagne Halo

                16x16 KD (verticle), 5x10 SD, 5x8 TT, 5x12 TT

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MusicMan View Post
                  Hi Kiwi, I saw Windwood live on that same tour too. Cafe is a great conga player, but I wasn't as impressed with Bailey. If you watch the DVD, you'll see how much better Reyes handled the same songs. Bailey didn't seem nearly as comfortable doing the latin infused drumming. P.S. I found the concert I'm referring to on YouTube (fast forward to 47:10 for the last track where Cafe and Reyes do amazing little solos and fills with the congas and drum/timbales throughout the song): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKgvAtUL6Ww MM
                  Thanks MM, yes I agree when comparing Bailey and Reyes. Was the tour you saw with Steely Dan? It was the first time I'd seen Keith Carlock too, who was great.

                  Pearl Masters MCX Bronze Glass
                  8x7 | 10x8 | 12x9 | 14x14 | 16x16 | 20x14G | 22x18

                  Originally posted by Mike Foreman
                  Practice makes perfect. But ultimately, I am living proof that you don't need to play well to enjoy gear. You might be surprised how much enjoyment you can get while still sucking.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kiwi View Post
                    Thanks MM, yes I agree when comparing Bailey and Reyes. Was the tour you saw with Steely Dan? It was the first time I'd seen Keith Carlock too, who was great.
                    Hi Kiwi,

                    No, it was Winwood a show he did on his own.

                    I haven't seen Carlock live, but I can't wait to hear him on the new Toto XIV album coming out at the end of March. I like his metronomic drumming with Steely Dan but I'm waiting to hear how he sounds in the more progressive style of Toto. It's too bad Carlock isn't doing the tour with Toto so we could hear him do some of the older songs too.

                    MM
                    2021 Masterworks / Matte Black Mist

                    18x20 KD, 14x16 FT, 12x14 FT, 8x10 TT, 6.5x13 SD, 10x12 FSD

                    2022 Masterworks Cocktail Kit / Bright Champagne Halo

                    16x16 KD (verticle), 5x10 SD, 5x8 TT, 5x12 TT

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                    • #11
                      I like how Stewart uses things here, but the album is still stronger. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWh5ilLBs-k
                      dalewmiller.com my kits: 1 2 3

                      GMS | Paiste|Evans|Kennedy Camden Auxiliary Percussion

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dale w miller View Post
                        I like how Stewart uses things here, but the album is still stronger. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWh5ilLBs-k
                        Nice I thought of SC too, I have and enjoy that DVD/CD.

                        Pearl Masters MCX Bronze Glass
                        8x7 | 10x8 | 12x9 | 14x14 | 16x16 | 20x14G | 22x18

                        Originally posted by Mike Foreman
                        Practice makes perfect. But ultimately, I am living proof that you don't need to play well to enjoy gear. You might be surprised how much enjoyment you can get while still sucking.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dale w miller View Post
                          I like how Stewart uses things here, but the album is still stronger. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWh5ilLBs-k
                          Wow thanks for reminding me of all those songs where he introduced some exotic sound to the final song. The guy is under-rated in the contribution he made to a three-piece band.

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