Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Drumslingers, "Hep Cat Street Beat."

The Drumslingers play traditional and modern style snare drum and drum line ensemble compositions. They also write many of their own exercises, solos and ensemble pieces. Among their original material is a cadence beat they call, “Hep Cat.”

“Hep Cat” was composed in 2007, by Drumslingers snare drummer, Wayne Stambaugh. He never actually “wrote” anything down on this. “Hep Cat” came about in the traditional way that has been common between field drummers going back a few hundred years. Stambaugh concepted and worked-up this cadence, playing it over until he was satisfied with the arrangement. He then shared it with the rest of the Drumslingers using the old school “narrative” method. Meaning he taught it by showing – playing it and explaining it, drummer to drummer.

On YouTube, I have posted a narrative explanation of how to play the “Hep Cat Street Beat.” The written notation of “Hep Cat” is posted with this article.

To play “Hep Cat” there are a few
essential techniques that are prerequisites. In addition to properly controlling single strokes, double strokes, and grace note strokes, you will need to know these lessons: Flams, Flamaque, Flam Taps, Pata-fla-fla, Hertas, Open Double Stroke Rolls, Single Stroke Seven, Rimshot (Gawk/Gok).

A word about tempo: "Hep Cat" lives well at any tempo you like between about 112 bpm to around 118 bpm. You may of course play it faster than 118 if you wish, but as the tempo increases, the rhythms begin to compress, all the oxygen gets sucked away, and it loses it's groove. Conversely, it is an excellent beat at 112 bpm and maybe a bit slower, but once it gets too slow, the Herta rudiments start to fall apart. It's up to you to make it work for your personal playing style.

The following link will take you to the "Hep Cat" video on YouTube:

Thank you and have fun learning “Hep Cat!”

The Drumslingers, Who Are Those Guys?

The Drumslingers from Cedar Falls, Iowa, is a group of drummers who practice and perform the time-honored art of American ancient, and American modern style field drumming.

It started in 2005 when this group of former drum and bugle corps players got together at the request of instigator/ringleader, Rick Dunlevy, in order to help him “get his chops up” to march with The Madison Scouts Reunion Corps.

Their drum corps background has given them the benefit of receiving training from some notable instructors of the golden age of drum corps during the 1970s and ‘80s. These teachers include three DCI (Drum Corps International) Hall Of Fame members – Larry McCormick, Fred Sanford and Tom Float.

Other esteemed teachers in the ‘Slingers collective background include Don Porter Jr. of The Anaheim Kingsmen, Ron Hermann and Gary Moore of The Cavaliers, Bruce Lages of The Madison Scouts, Tim Boland of The Dubuque Colts, Bill Staudts of The Norwood Park Imperials, Terry Therion of the Blue Stars and UNI Associate Professor of Percussion, Randy Hogancamp.

Their collective experiences and mutual sharing of information and techniques has proven a valuable asset in the development of their style. They write much of their own material, combining American traditional and modern techniques with European influences and contemporary rudimental hybrid concepts.

From 2006-2009, the Drumslingers were a regular attraction at many NE Iowa community events, by marching in parades and performing “stand still” sets. They no longer perform publicly but maintain strong friendships and get together from time-to-time to “throw down some diddles” on their practice pads while tossing-back a few beers and reminiscing on good times. These jam sessions can run three or four hours until they’ve either spent their chops or run out of beer.

The “Drumslingers” name is derived from a play on words – drawing on the outlaw mystique of the word “gunslinger” while referencing the traditional method of using a “sling” to carry drums.

The Drumslingers members and some of their drum line experience:
Tom Blankenship, Waterloo Chevaliers and The Cedar Glen Pipes and Drums Band.
Rick Dunlevy, Waterloo Chevaliers and the Madison Scouts.
Kevin Faber,The Concord Blue Devils.
Ed Flack, Chevaliers, UNI Panther Marching Band, Cedar Glen Pipes and Drums Band.
Mike Flack, Osage Precisionnaires.
Randy Kauffman, Tripoli and Decorah High School Marching Bands.
Dave “Mo” Moyer, The Dubuque Colts.
Dave “Wags” Nicholas, Waterloo Chevaliers, Waterloo Royals, The Dubuque Colts.
Tim Nicholas, Waterloo Chevaliers, Waterloo Royals, The La Crosse Blue Stars.
Wayne Stambaugh, Waterloo Chevaliers.

Follow this link to a video example of a cadence beat played by the Drumslingers: 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Ed Flack ©2018

Why are there so many different ways of writing identical sounding snare drum rhythms? The audible life of an individual note played on a snare drum, whether it is written as a sixteenth note, an eighth note, or a quarter note is in effect exactly equal to every other note played on the snare drum. This means that what the written notes actually represent is not the audible duration of drum beats but the amount of time separation between them.

The duration of notes played on brass, woodwind and string instruments can be controlled by the player’s breath or by the bowing of strings. Because those instrumentalists (and vocalists) can sustain their sound, the ability to write rhythms which indicate a note’s time duration is essential. There are certain notation symbols that are specific to drums but beyond those exceptions, drum rhythms are written using the same notations as other instruments.

In some orchestral snare drum parts, there can be passages with notes marked staccato. Likewise, drummers often speak of using legato strokes. For snare drumming these terms cannot be literally interpreted in the same way that brass or woodwind instrumentalists understand them. What drummers can do is to adjust the way the strokes are played, using a staccato or legato manner. Staccato snare drum strokes are played using a slightly more firm grip with a little more forearm weight (relative to the other notes played in the same musical passage.) A snare drum staccato beat is basically just a small accent. When we talk about playing legato it means that the sequence of strokes are played in a flowing, continuous hand-to-hand manner.

The way a drum rhythm is written may be because it is intended to match the notation of a corresponding melody played by other instruments or it may simply be a matter of the composer’s personal writing preference. Snare drum scores written for concert band and orchestra commonly incorporate abbreviated roll notations and because standard orchestral sticking is based on the natural, Straight system, hand-to-hand sticking sequences are usually not specified.

Classical composers and conductors are rarely concerned with how a snare part is technically executed as long as it is well performed and achieves the desired effect. On the other hand, scores written for drum lines are more explicit regarding the actual sticking sequence and are less likely to incorporate abbreviated notation because it is extremely important that all drum parts be precisely unified.

Drum method books often include reading exercises with alternative notation examples. A classic specimen of a drum book that is completely dedicated to explaining alternative notation is the Dodge Drum Chart For Reading Drum Music, by Frank E. Dodge (1908). More about the Dodge Drum Chart to follow but first, a bit of background history about Frank E. Dodge.

Frank Dodge was the founder and proprietor of the F. E. Dodge Company, a manufacturer of drums in Boston, Massachusetts (1868-1912). An accomplished rudimental snare drummer as well as a schooled concert percussionist, Dodge performed with the Boston Opera Orchestra and the Boston Festival Orchestra. The year after publication of the Dodge Drum Chart, he authored a comprehensive drum method book titled, The Dodge Drum School (1909).1

In addition to his work as a business man, a drum maker, performing percussionist and author, Frank Dodge was a teacher. One of his students was George Lawrence Stone, who became famous in the world of drumming for his book, Stick Control for the Snare Drummer (1935). Evidence of Stone’s respect for Frank Dodge is conveyed by his use of the iconic “Continental Drummer” graphic on the cover of Stick Control. That artwork is extracted from an original F. E. Dodge Company logo and had also been used by Dodge on the cover, The Dodge Drum School.

The original publication of the Dodge Drum Chart is long out of print. In 1928, George L. Stone re-arranged and published a new edition which was marketed with the claim, “This book is a veritable dictionary of orchestral drumbeats.”

Stone’s revision of Dodge’s work illustrates 400 rhythmic notations displayed in rows and columns for easy cross referencing. The first 207 examples are duple meter rhythms based upon the flam-a-cue rudiment in 2/4 time; the remaining 197 examples are triple meter rhythms based on the flam-accent rudiment in 6/8 time. Stone said that these “well known rudimentary beats were selected ... so that the right hand is always on the first of the measure with the bass drum beat.”2

Stone explains, and musically notates how the drum chart rhythms written in 2/4 can be adapted to 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4. He offers similar explanations of how chart rhythms written in 6/8 can be adapted to 3/8, 9/8, and 12/8.

It has been over 100 years since the original publication of the Dodge Drum Chart, but it remains a useful resource for students who need help interpreting written rhythms and it serves as a handy reference aid for writing. The book is meticulously and logically arranged and its compact size makes it travel-friendly.

Click on images to enlarge.


The Boston Drum Builders, F. E. Dodge Co. From: (accessed February, 2013).

Stone, George L. The Dodge Drum Chart For Reading Drum Music. By Frank E. Dodge. 1908. (Randolf: George B. Stone & Son, Inc., 1928).