From Why I Became A Drummer

…I have also learned another interesting aspect of drumming which for years I had associated only with the 26 drum rudiments and technical exercises. I have recently come to believe that roll, and flam rudiments  are related to trills and appoggiatura. Measured rolls hold a note for an indicated number of beats as do trills; a flam’s grace note adds force to the beat it precedes as the grace note of an appoggiatura emphasizes the importance of the note it precedes.
So in talking about drumming and my impression of its  intimate relationship with the harpsichord I have to say both are probably my favourite instruments because both have a sound and feeling of immediacy that appeal to me. I also like the recorder perhaps because its melodic sounds are formed percussively by finger tips tapping open holes directly, unlike the flute or trumpet where keys and valves act as intermediaries to cover and open notes indirectly. Sometimes I’ve thought that Henry Purcell’s works played on a harpsichord are my favourite especially his cadences that conclude sections and entire pieces with unanticipated harmonic melodies. His tunes like J.P. Rameau’s are full of roll-like trills; most are constructed in dance forms as are many works by J.S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Corelli. Purcell’s works are unique I believe because they are full of syncopated rhythms with some sections expressed like marches; a few of his tunes are titled March. When I played trumpet I enjoyed the Souza marches we played for military inspections more than I did our symphonic performances at assemblies. I’ve recently concluded that solo snare drum playing for which drum rudiments were designed seems the basis of the march; in fact rudiment filled marching band solos may be the most stirring musical sound I can think of. I remember watching a parade on Toronto’s Yonge Street thinking that the drummers marching rhythms sounded like a jazz swing rhythm. I have since learned that the earliest jazz musicians came out of marching bands. To me the most obvious relationship between the march and jazz occurs in ragtime especially in the piano works of Scott Joplin with whom many of us are familiar…

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