- Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:21 am
hand-over-hand type handing simulates how a pattern is played if the hands were in constant motion, even during the gaps. however, it is not necessary to do ghosting to achieve it.
in fact, it is preferable to play many patterns in hand-over-hand without ghosting, as ghosting has three major drawbacks:
1. ghosting forces you to play patterns straight, without microtiming/swing. accomplished players may be able to ghost and still apply the appropriate swing at slow-moderate speeds, but even a master drummer can't do it at higher tempos. many rhythms are swung in a way that makes them "lean forward". when such a swing is achieved, the rhythms sound more lively and gain momentum, which makes it easy to play at high tempos. when ghosting is used, the rhythms tend to lack this kind of momentum, and certainly lose momentum when taken up to a decent tempo, which inevitably results in a gradual slowdown.
2. ghosting is intensive on the hands. they get tired playing at high speeds, causing a player to slow down. i have observed this with many djembe players many times, even in moderate tempos.
3. ghosting causes reliance on constant hand movement for timing. one should aim to develop one's inner metronome. this is achieved partly by listening and partly by playing: feeling patterns over a rhythm, not breaking them down into neat little units (e.g. sixteenth notes). the gaps between strokes can be internalised without ghosting. westerners have the most trouble applying this when the ghost note would fall on a downbeat (i.e the played notes are on the upbeats only). to be able to play such patterns with the correct feeling over a steady rhythm require the player to deal with the "rests" on the downbeats in different ways. to be able to do so without feeling compelled to play the downbeats in some way (ghosting, foot-tapping or head-bobbing) requires a certain maturity in one's playing.
alternate handing on the other hand, is one where the left hand follows the right, and the right follows the left. in other words, the played notes are always alternately right, left, right, etc. it feels more natural to play in this way when it's practical to do so. thing is, often it's not practical, often because there are an uneven number of played strokes, which would mean that you would have to lead with alternate hands. while it is good to be able to lead with both hands, one has to consider that the sound changes because the sounds made by the left hand are slightly different to those made by the right hand. also, changes in microtiming occur.
practicality of playing and the overall sound dictate the handing. there are times when other handings are called for. in other words, there are patterns where it's not practical to play them strictly alternate or strictly hand-over-hand. it might be necessary to combine a little of the two. these are the in-between handings i spoke of. sometimes, a unique handing might be necessary - one that doesn't conform to either of the two main handings.