4-Way Coordination vs. Drumming Patterns
4-Way Coordination by Marvin Dahlgren and Elliot Fine is a book that aims to develop the drummer’s independence on the drum-set in a manner very similar to how Stick Control aims to develop the drummer’s technical facility on the snare drum. Like Stick Control, it presents drumming patterns of various kinds that are plugged into various two-measure rhythmic grids, so that each pattern can be repeated indefinitely in order to gain mastery. And, like Stick Control, the particular patterns don’t seem to be intended to be applied directly to music-making, but rather to develop a generalized technical facility.
Predictably, the book suffers from many of the same issues as Stick Control since, like Stick Control, its patterns are chosen somewhat arbitrarily and restricted to a two-measure grid. But given the nature of drumset technique vs. snare drum technique, there are additional issues as well. For, as opposed to two-limb snare drum technique, four-limb drum-set technique is almost always associated with the repetitive rhythmic patterns that characterize various musical styles known as ostinato patterns. As a result, independence on the drum-set consists of developing the ability to play basic rhythms executed by some limbs against the ostinato patterns executed by other limbs. The ostinato rhythms themselves are essential: it is the ostinato rhythms that are the essence of each style.
By design, the exercises in 4-Way Coordination don't present any ostinato patterns: its aim is to enable the drummer to develop “pure” independence, i.e., the ability to play any single pattern against any other regardless of musical applicability. In contrast to 4-Way Coordination, Part II of Drumming Patterns teaches independence by taking as its starting point the ostinato patterns that are the essence of various musical styles, and then methodically juxtaposes every basic rhythm, from simple to complex, against them. In this way, it provides the shortest and simplest path to the development of practical, musical independence on the drum-set.
In addition, since the system's foundation is the discovery that there exists a group of patterns that underlie both the most fundamental snare drumming techniques and the most fundamental rhythms used by drummers, Part II of Drumming Patterns integrates drum-set independence with snare drum technique. It thereby integrates the various realms of drumming into a single intelligible whole, rather than disintegrating them into many unrelated parts.
In sum, while 4-Way Coordination seeks to present arbitrary combinations of the drummer’s four limbs for the sake of developing independence, the approach of Part Two of Drumming Patterns is the opposite of arbitrary: it is a systematic approach to gaining independence on the drum-set within the stylistic context of the idioms of popular music.