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Gavin Harrison - Rhythmic Designs DVD

Rhythmic Designs – A study of practical creativity
Gavin Harrison & Terry Branam

Hudson Ltd

This DVD and book set is a continuation of Gavin Harrison’s previous DVD tutorial work, namely Rhythmic Horizons and Rhythmic Visions, but with emphasis on how his ideas are placed in a musical context. This time round the focus is placed on his most recent project with bassist 05Ric, with the book offering a note-for-note transcription of both albums Drop and Circles courtesy of transcriber Terry Branam. The DVD part of the package features selected examples of each song, as well as plenty of extras and play-along MP3 versions of some of the tracks, with and without click.

With over two and a half hours worth of material there’s a wealth of information to watch and learn from. The bulk of the DVD deals with every song from both albums, giving examples of certain key grooves, intros, interesting time signatures and chorus breakdowns. While watching this it’s impossible not to get over-awed by Gavin’s playing; be it straight 4/4 grooves or horrendously complex parts, he always plays with such musicality, with the groove being the key element.

The parts in the songs are broken-down and explained very clearly, with the book being especially helpful when looking at parts that seem extremely difficult when just heard. For example, the very first intro on the song ‘Unsettled’ is demonstrated really well, with the tom pattern after it broken down to it’s simplest components and built up.

On top of this Gavin reveals some of the techniques and patterns he uses to come up with his drum parts on the albums. In the song ‘Okay’ he discusses one of his favourite sticking patterns that he uses in the middle, this being RLRRL. Though a rudimentary sticking pattern, it is used to great effect and demonstrates new possibilities for the aspiring drummer.

Time signatures are equally explained and examined in great detail, and it’s indeed heartening to know that he was also daunted by them when he first started. He reveals that all time signatures can be broken down into groups of twos and threes, so even the most challenging piece can be broken down into component parts rather than be counted all the way through.

The overall feel of the DVD is very relaxed and down to earth, with Gavin presenting the material in such a modest manner, especially when contrasted with the actual playing. I really like the anecdotal feel too, be it the mention of the borrowed Phil Gould groove on ‘Unsettled’, the influence of Steve Jansen and Steve Gadd on ‘Clock’ or the different rides he uses for the songs.

Along with all the tunes there’s a load of extra material, including a detailed look at the various techniques Gavin uses to achieve different sounds on hi-hats, snare, bass drum and cymbals. There’s also segments on the flam-triplet and excellent advice on tuning. On top of that the song ‘19 Days’ is included as well as the play-along tracks in the Extras folder.

Again, there’s so much to take and learn from this DVD and book that I think its appeal extends beyond Gavin/05Ric fans to all drummers who need some inspiration from one of the best drummers in the business. I can’t recommend this enough.

Gideon Letch

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