This ability to maintain one or more repeating patterns with one or more limbs while varying a third limb is called independence"

Pillar #3: Mastering Independence: Unlock Your Drumming Potential with Multi-Limbed Coordination

The best way to explain independence (also known as “multi-limbed independence”) is to give you an example. Let’s say that a drummer is playing two repeating patterns, one with her right hand on the hi-hat and one with her left hand on the snare drum. The right hand is playing all eighth notes—simply eight notes per measure—and those notes are spaced equidistant from one another. The left hand is playing the snare drum on beats “two” and “four.” In drum notation, that looks like this: What’s described and shown above is the basic hand pattern for rock and pop drumming.

Now, here’s where the independence part comes in. The next logical step for a drummer playing that repeating hand pattern is to be able to play anything with her bass drum that she wants within that framework— without changing what her hands are doing. This ability to maintain one or more repeating patterns with one or more limbs while varying a third (or third and fourth) limb is called independence or multi– limbed independence.

There are unlimited possibilities for independence. You can choose any rhythm you want and apply it to one limb and then develop independence with your other limbs against that original pattern. Different styles of music will require different kinds of independence to be developed in order to play the types of beats or grooves that are traditionally associated with those styles.

Often, “beats” and “grooves” are used as synonymous terms that mean a repetitive drum set pattern that establishes a pulse to be built upon by other musicians. “Groove,” though, can also refer to the feeling that a beat evokes. For example, if a drummer is playing a beat and it sounds and feels good to others (a good measurement of this is the involuntary tapping of one’s feet or nodding of one’s head) then musicians might say that this drummer has a great “groove.” Independence is the skill that allows you to play grooves/beats with freedom. Without it, a drummer cannot function in her primary role as a timekeeper for the band. What this means is that independence is critical to your drumming—and building your groove.

You must spend time working on it. Developing independence means achieving comfort and ease in your drumming. Drumming with comfort and ease means you play with mastery. And mastery is freedom. Now, all the independence in the world will not mean much if the beats you play don’t feel good. That is where “groove” comes in.

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