The core principles

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Let’s go through the core principles that need to be followed in order to benefit from this course:

  • Instead of assigning sixteen kit pieces or sounds to the available sixteen pads on our pad controller – which, by the way, is the standard pad controller layout for finger drumming that you will find worldwide – we have assigned only eight kit pieces and have mapped them by imagining a mirror that separates the eight left-hand pads from the eight right-hand pads. This makes visual and ergonomic sense.
  • Each pad on the pad controller is small and touch-sensitive, ideally designed for single finger hits. Playing rolls with two fingers on one single pad is possible if this pad is the only one you want to play at one time. In contrast, it is very hard, if not impossible, to play rolls with two fingers on one pad when you start to add rhythmic elements with your other available fingers. However, this is what you typically need to do if you want to play realistic finger drum grooves. The velocities of your hits and the placement of your fingers are very hard to control in this traditional setup. Over time you would probably get a hand cramp instead of a grooving, pulsing beat. By setting the rule that no pad will ever be played by two alternating fingers, we help our brains to simplify, therefore making the whole exercise much easier.

One finger on one pad

  • The index finger and the middle finger are each assigned to one specific vertical row of pads. There are only very few exceptions to this rule.

Right middle finger

Right index finger

Left index finger

Left middle finger

  • In our standard pad controller layout, we use the two lower horizontal pad rows for an arrangement of bass drum, snare drum, and closed and open hi-hat sounds. These kit pieces make or break the pulse of our beats, no matter what musical styles we play. They are the essentials – the fundamental rhythm section. That’s why the two lower horizontal pad row arrangements MUST be consistent throughout all the standard applications we use when we play grooves. We need them as a reference point on which we can always rely.

Lower horizontal pad rows

  • The two upper horizontal pad rows will be used for less important groove elements. In our standard pad controller setup, this will be two toms and two cymbals. Those are the elements that you should customize if you want to use specific alternative setups in the future.

Higher horizontal pad rows

  • The thumb can be used more freely. The right thumb can hit any of the four pads in the lower right pad corner. The same thing applies to the left-hand side for the left thumb.

Right thumb

Left thumb

  • You will always play with an alternating motion of the hands. It is always right-left-right-left, … (or left-right-left-right, … for left-handed people). Any intentional breaking of this rule that you will learn throughout the course will lead back into the alternating hands motion.

Alternating motion 1

Alternating motion 2

Alternating motion 3

Alternating motion 4

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