The “Blush-Da” is a lick I’ve heard the great drummers use on many occasions. Drummers such as Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl and Gary Novak have been using it for years and have found ways of incorporating it into their playing that still blows me away.
It gets its name from the way it sounds when played and, as you’ll see later on, is a hybrid of a drum rudiment. It’s a difficult lick to master and play at speed because it contains Flams and doubles and if one of these techniques isn’t up to speed then the whole pattern suffers.
The pattern is three notes long and contains one Flam followed by a double stroke and one single. The pattern doesn’t alternate hands so, depending on which hand you start it with, one hand will be leading. This makes it a great pattern to work with when moving around the drums.
Blush-Da – Right And Left Handed
Here’s the Blush-Da written out with alternating hands. When I use this lick I tend to stay with just the one hand leading but its well worth practising both right and left handed in order to build your technique.
You may have spotted that the Blush-Da is actually the “Flam Accent” rudiment but with a double after the Flam. Here’s the Flam Accent rudiment in case you haven’t seen it before…
If you are having difficulty in learning the Blush-Da then try mastering the Flam Accent rudiment first to build up your technique for alternating Flams. It’s then just a case of inserting the double when you’re ready.
The Blush-Da is just one half of the Flam Accent without the double and so, unlike the Flam Accent, can be easier to play if alternating Flams are an issue for you.
If you really want to have control over this lick then you need to learn how to start the Blush-Da at different points within the three notes.
When I’m using this lick in my playing I will often accidentally start the pattern away from the downbeat but because I have practiced the following variations I am able to resolve the pattern and get back to the downbeat without any issues…or anyone spotting!
Let me show you the original pattern and the other two variations now.
Variation 1 (Original Pattern)
Each variation offers a different position for the accented Flam and so each creates its own interesting and varied rhythm.
Practice all three variations as a bar of triplets with a simple drum beat. As you move from variation to variation you’ll here how each version moves the accent to a different position. You’ll find some are more natural than others and feel free to choose your favourite and master them first.
Here’s just the first variation written out as a bar of triplets with a groove. Try all three variations to find out which you prefer.
Due to a lack of space within this lesson I’m only going to be taking a quick look at playing this lick through sixteenth notes but really it deserves its own lesson.
Because the lick is three notes long it doesn’t quite fit into a bar of sixteenth notes exactly. It moves over the beat and creates a polyrhythm.
This is the template I use to practice playing groups of three’s through sixteenths.
As you can see, the Blush-Da is played four times with the last beat of the bar filled with whatever you wish. In this case, four accented sixteenths were used to end the bar.
All of the ideas in this lesson can be applied to this bar of sixteenths. It’s up to you whether you choose to work this lick through more awkward subdivisions such as this.
OK, this is the cool bit. Played on one drum the Blush-Da sounds impressive but it really comes alive when moving parts of it around the drums.
The following orchestrations are written out using just the first variation (original pattern).
These are my favourite ways of moving the pattern around the drums and on paper don’t look like much but moved to the drums sound really cool.
The ideas are written for both right and left hand lead, the first group of three notes is left handed and the second is right handed. Most of the orchestrations work for both right and left lead but some can’t be played both ways round because of crossing arms and other difficulties. For the patterns that have this issue both groups within the bar will have different drum choices. Orchestration Idea 4 is an example of this.
I highly recommend that you try all three variations, previously shown, with the following orchestrations but once you’ve found a few that work for you then focus on those.
By the way, I really like playing the lick left handed because my right hand can play faster doubles and has better technique. This means that I can play the lick faster when I lead with my left hand. If your lead hand is stronger (and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t!) then try starting the lick with your weaker hand.
Orchestration Idea 1
It might be difficult for you to read this but its the grace note of the Flam that plays on the High Tom while the rest is played on the snare. When I play this variation I tend to accent both hands of the Flam.
Orchestration Idea 2
Now move the accent hand within the Flam to the High Tom (or whatever drum you wish, the choice of drum isn’t the important thing here)
Orchestration Idea 3
The left hand is actually playing a “Shuffle” pattern on the High Tom.
Orchestration Idea 4
This is an orchestration that doesn’t really work both ways round. The second group (right handed) moves the left hand to the Hi-Hat rather than crossing over the right arm to get to the floor tom.
Orchestration Idea 5
Orchestration Idea 6
Orchestration Idea 7
Orchestration Idea 8
Moving parts of the lick to the crash cymbal adds a new dimension. I always play the crash and bass drum in unison.
Orchestration Idea 9
This a great pattern to work with if wanting to improve your bass drum technique at the same time.
The Blush-Da is an advanced lick but doesn’t have to be played at lighting speeds for it to sound great. Keep the doubling hand loose and relaxed and you’ll find that the speed will come eventually.
As I’ve already mentioned, you don’t have to learn all of the variations. I use just a few of these on a regular basis and am happy with that. Find which stickings or orchestration ideas you prefer and work on those. You can treat this lesson as just a hand work out rather than worrying about using the idea in your playing…either is great.
One final idea that I didn’t get time to go into involves adding an extra Flam note, played with the same hand, in order to move the three note pattern to a different position. I’ve heard some amazing drummers use this idea to great effect. I find it easiest to add the Flam either before or straight after the original Flam and although this is harder in triplets, when playing through sixteenths creates all kinds of cool rhythmic patterns.
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