Types of Double Bass Independence*

[This paper could alternately have been titled "Types of Drum Set Independence". In fact, some examples in this paper include the hi-hat rather than a second bass drum to show that development of the feet through each independence type is not restricted to double bass. Double bass however offers a wider scope of practical examples for each of the types discussed, especially for the last type rudimental.]

Double bass drumming has evolved through three periods or types of independence; linear, autonomous, and rudimental (4-limb coordination). This paper will explain all three, providing examples that illustrate the defining characteristics of each type.

- Linear: Best exemplified by the early days of double bass in rock drumming where each appendage plays separately. To put it another way rhythms are played as a linear progression of limbs playing one at a time. Linear drumming can either be played using four or three limbs. Four limb linear drumming is actually the absence of independence as any given limb can only play if no other limb is playing. Independence can be achieved via three limbs that play linearly against an ostinato pattern played by the fourth limb.

The value of linear drumming is twofold: 


- rhythms are subdivided via the limbs, and as rhythm patterns become more complicated, the player's rhythmic timing improves. 


- greater advancement of the mobility of the limbs, providing the drummer with more creative options. Many funk beats utilize linear independence to some degree. Fills and solos from the early days or rock double bass drummers were mainly "follow-the-leader" patterns, such as hand-hand foot-foot, or hand-hand-hand foot-foot-foot.

Linear Ex. 1: Hand-Hand Foot-Foot Tradeoffs

Linear Ex. 2: Triplets and Sextuplets
Linear Ex. 3: 2's, 4's, 8's
Asymmetric groupings of rhythms are also possible with linear independence, such as hand foot-foot (triplets) or hand-hand foot-foot-foot (duplet-triplet).

Linear Ex. 4: Right Lead, Then Left Lead w/Triplets

Linear Ex. 5: Examples of Duplet Triplet Tradeoffs
Linear Ex. 6: Alternating Linear Triplets
Here are some examples of three limb linear independence, the fourth limb providing a repeated pattern.

Linear Ex. 7: 3-Limb Linear with Cymbal Ride

Linear Ex. 8: Single 5's Between Bass and Snare w/Ride
Even though linear independence is a good starting point for developing independence, it should not be readily dismissed as easy. The following examples demonstrate linear patterns that are more complicated.

Linear Ex. 9: Singles Played By Hands, Doubles on Bass

Linear Ex. 10: Left Foot HiHat Ostinato Against a 3-3-2 Linear Pattern
Linear Ex. 11: Left Hand Plays Doubles
- Autonomous: The rhythms played by the feet are completely independent from what the hands play. Rhythms are not a succession of alternating limbs; the feet play rhythms layered over the rhythm(s) played by the hands. Thus autonomous independence is 2-way independence, the hands as a pair vs the feet as a pair. The easiest example to imagine is 16th note singles played on the bass drums while the hands play a beat or fill on top.

Here are a few simple autonomous examples that demonstrate the feet playing independently from the hands.

Autonomous Ex. 1: Alternating 8ths and 16ths with the Feet

Autonomous Ex. 2: Developing Rhythmic Independence with the Feet.
Autonomous Ex. 3: Triplet Patterns

Autonomous Ex. 4: Alternating Duplet/Triplet Rhythms with the Feet

A Faster Version of Autonomous Ex. 1
Autonomous Ex. 5: Feet Play in 7/8 Time While the Hands Keep Time in 4/4
Autonomous independence offers a higher degree of psychomotor coordination. With linear independence the brain can organize the rhythm or pattern based on how the limbs alternate. With autonomous independence, the brain must "think through" two separate patterns; what the hands play vs what the feet play.

Autonomous Ex. 6: 1st Measure, Snare Provides Backbeat - 2nd Measure, Snare & Ride Play Flam Taps

Autonomous Ex. 7: The Feet Play a 3/4 Pattern with a Changing Ride in 4/4
Autonomous Ex. 8: The Foot Pattern Alternates Between Right and Left Foot Lead with Changing Ride.
Starting at Measure 7 The Paradiddles Played by the Hands are in 3/4 time (Could be Played on 2 HiHats)

- Rudimental (4-limb coordination): This is a more advanced form of autonomous independence, where the goal of complete 4-limb independence is achieved by rudimental variations played by any combination of limbs. The feet are playing independent rudimental patterns in the following seven examples. [The first four could possibly be considered autonomous as the hands are playing an ostinato pattern while the feet play independently. I used them as a starting point for rudimental examples as the feet must first learn rudimental patterns (doubles strokes, left-foot leads) before introducing rudimental patterns with the hands layered on top, as in examples 5-7.]

Rudimental Ex. 1: Developing Doubles on Feet. Paradiddle on Count 4 Switches Lead Foot to Left

Rudimental Ex. 2: A Different Variation of Ex. 1, Slightly More Difficult
Rudimental Ex.3: Multiple Strokes Played by the Feet Using Triplets
Rudimental Ex. 4: 16th Note 3's in 3/4 Repeated with the Feet

Rudimental Ex. 5: Double Paradiddles Played by the Feet, Hands play Paradiddles in 4/4 Time
Rudimental Ex. 6: The Hands Play a Pattern of 10 Against Repeating 3's Played by the Feet.
Rudimental Ex. 7: Feet Play Paradiddles, the Hands Play a 3-Pattern
Rudimental independence is the complete opposite of linear drumming since each limb is trained to be completely independent. Complete independence is usually the ambition of drum set players. This type of independence is the highest form of independence. Consider the following examples.

Rudimental Ex. 8: The Bass Drum Plays a Modified Rhythm Played by the HiHat

Rudimental Ex. 9: HiHat Plays a Shuffle Beat, Right Hand on Cowbell
A flam tap can be played between the right hand and left foot, while the left hand provides a backbeat and the right foot fills.

Rudimental Ex. 10: Flam Taps Between Right Hand Ride and Left Foot HiHat

The right side of the body (right hand and foot) can play a rudiment or rhythm while the left side of the body (left hand and foot) plays a separate rhythm or rudiment.

Rudimental Ex. 11: Prep Rhythms for Learning Ex. 12

Rudimental Ex. 12: Flam Taps, Straight with the Feet, Offset by a Sixteenth with the Hands
Rudimental Ex. 13: Repeated Flam Accents with the Feet, Paradiddles with the Hands

Musicians are evaluated by their skill levels, how loud, soft, slow, fast they can play while maintaining rhythmic integrity. The more coordinated a drum set player, the higher their skill levels, which translates into more potential for music creativity. The above examples are just a small sample of what is possible with the three types of independence. Exploring the possibilities using 4 limbs opens the door to an unlimited variety of rhythms and sounds. The sky is the limit.

*Independence in drumming is defined as one or more limbs playing a repeated or ostinato pattern while the remaining limbs play rhythmic patterns independent of the ostinato.