Blue Devils Quad Line
THE TENOR DRUMMER Advanced 2017 Blue Devils Tenor Solo – Learn This Lick

2017 Blue Devils Tenor Solo – Learn This Lick

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Blue Devils Quad Line

After getting request after request for the 2017 Blue Devils Tenor Solo, I knew it must be pretty special. Boy, was I right! The Blue Devils always have ridiculously good players, and 2017 is no exception. After doing a video on the drum feature that year, I knew these guys had monster chops, but this quad feature takes it up another notch.

Any lack of technique on your sweeps or stiffness in your singles will prove fatal. At a show tempo of 180bpm, there’s no room for error. So, like always, we’ll take it one measure, or count, at a time, nice and slow. Once we get all of the movement and metric modulation in our hands, then we’ll focus on tempo.

First, let’s grab the 2017 Blue Devils Tenor Solo music from I’m going to use the “Quad Feature” version rather than the “Finals” music, since there’s a little bit more motion and I like how they write out the septuplet.

A couple things I want to point out. The crosses have a + sign above them rather than the usual circle or () around crossed notes. Also, theabove notes indicate slight accents.

Alright, let’s jump in.

Eighth Note to Triplet modulation

This Blue Devils tenor solo starts off deceivingly easy with some drags on eighth notes. It’s nice being able to get some confidence early on, because things will change quickly.

Measure 2 switches to a triplet feel with some sweeps thrown in. Make sure that you approach the sweeps with a downward motion to avoid hitting rims. The left cross on count 2 is slightly uncomfortable, so don’t hesitate to slow down and focus on shifting your right hand up to drum 1 quickly.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 1-2

Measure 3 reverts back to eighth note drags before bringing the right hand over for some triplet sweeps. Play the check pattern (no drags) on one drum to ensure the metric change is perfectly in time with your metronome.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 3

Once the rhythms and voicings are in your hands, let’s try the first three measures with the metronome. Start around 100bpm and resist the urge to increase the tempo until you can consistently play through it with no mistakes.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 1-3

Bring on the Ninelets

If you haven’t already gone through my How to Play Ninelets lesson, you might want to check it out before moving on. But, this lick actually sets you up for success and is a nice supplement to the other ninelet lesson.

Here, we have half-note triplets in measure 4 that give us a check pattern for the ninelet accents. Each of the double stops in measure 4 line up with the slight accents (-) in measure 5. Do you see that? If you removed the inner beats, you’d have the exact same pattern.

One checkpoint to focus on is the downbeat of count 3 in measure 5. That right hand note on count 3 should line up perfectly with your metronome. If it isn’t, then figure out if you are playing too fast or slow.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 4-5

It’s important to stay nice and relaxed on these 9let singles. They get pretty fast as the tempo increases. Also, the crosses should have the same wrist rotation as the uncrossed strokes. It’s just a matter of moving your hand to the proper cross position (see my CROSSES course for more information).

The ninelets continue into measure 6 with a lot of work on drums 2 and 4. Of course, we get a curve ball with the last four notes of the measure. I could show you the math, but I have an easier way to think about them. If the 9lets were triplets, then the last four notes would be 16th notes. You’re basically squeezing in 4 notes where 3 would normally go. Actually not too bad once you get used to it.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 6

Now, practice the whole line 2 until it gets nice and comfortable.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 4-6

Dotted Quarter Note Septuplet

Yep, you read that right. We now get to figure out how to play a septuplet over 3 eighth notes. If you haven’t played a septuplet before, be sure to check out my post on How to Play Septuplets.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 7

For this measure, it’s useful to just completely remove the septuplet and instead play only the attack (downbeat of count 2). We then play a paradiddlediddle starting on the + of count 3. Once we get a feel for the space from count 2 to the + of 3, we can then try to add in the septuplet. DO THIS ON ONE DRUM FIRST!

You’ll probably have to play around with the speed of the notes, but be sure to keep them all evenly spaced and try to land on the paradiddlediddle at exactly the + of count 3. I find alternating reps with and without the septuplet helps quite a bit. The around pattern isn’t too bad, so focus on getting everything perfectly in time before you start moving it around.

Back to Duple/Triple with Sweeps

For the last line, we come full circle back to our eighth note/triplet modulations. This time though, it’s a little more intense.

In measure 8, each count changes subdivision. To make sure you are getting the changes, play this pattern on one drum, starting without any diddles. Once it’s lining up with your metronome, add in the doubles.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 8

Getting butterflies?

Now that you are comfortable with that, let’s add in all these sweeps. It’s pretty much just a butterfly motion, shifting from the left to the right side of the drums. Any lack of technique in your sweeps will not go well for you here.

In order to not hit rims, you MUST attack all of these sweeps with a downward motion. Any slicing (coming down at an angle) is a sure way to make this a rim fest. If this muscle memory is not in your hands yet, then please take some time to work on it, slowly.

Hey, great job so far! We’re almost done. Measure 9 continues where measure 8 left off, but we stick with a triplet/sixtuplet feel. I found that when transitioned to the paradiddlediddle, I had a tendency to crush the first two notes. Use your ears to make sure you can’t “hear” the sticking.

Side note about the crosses in these last two measures (all of the crosses, really), make sure you are keeping them nice and low. These notes are very fast and any extra movement, like crossing too high, is really going to slow you down. Keep all of your movement as efficient as possible.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 9

Just as before, once you get these two measure in your hands, try the whole line.

Blue Devils Tenor Solo measure 8-9

That’s it! Well, of course it’s not that easy. Go through line by line, measure by measure, or even count by count until you can consistently play it perfectly with your metronome. You should still have your met set at around 100bpm. Don’t worry about speeding it up until you can play through this without even thinking about it, when it is completely in your hands.

One thing we haven’t practiced yet, is the transition from each line. Isolate those measures to make sure you can accurately navigate from line to line.

Another note, at about 130-140bpm, the drags start getting pretty fast. Make sure you are still keeping them open with strong diddle quality and not crushed.

As always, take this one nice and slow, have fun, and be your own worst critic! You’ll be playing a crazy BD lick in no time.

Hey, thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed my post on 2017 Blue Devils Tenor Solo!

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