Inner Drumming – Reviews

Ed Soph’s Review – Modern Drummer, Vol 8, #7

I didn’t know what to make of this book when I first saw it. There are no standard-notation exercises but pages of diagrams representing “Inner Drumming Rudiments and Pendulums.” Perhaps Chapin’s Advanced Techniques was met with the same sort of skepticism when it first came out in the late ’40s. At that time, who had ever heard of a drum book that was not based on the 13 standard rudiments? And now a drumset book without standard notation? Without transcriptions? A drumset book which transcends styles? Which makes us think? George Marsh’s book contains studies dealing with the paths of motion between the four limbs. The exercises are beautifully represented by diagrams symbolizing the flow of energy-of motion-between the four limbs.

The approach is logical, progressing from single-limb, to two-, three-, and four-limb studies (making it important that you start at the beginning of the book-not the middle or end). The simplicity is overwhelming. Marsh provides basic rhythmic progressions that apply to the diagrams, but the student can also apply rhythms of his or her own creation, giving added value to the book. After all. playing drumset is about improvisation, not transcribed mimicry.

What is Mr. Marsh’s premise? Most of us need not think about the movement of our legs when we walk or run. Similarly, we don’t have to concentrate on the motion and coordination required to brush our teeth or open doors. The coordination required for such everyday tasks has become internalized-become part of our psycho-physical memory. It should be the same way with drumming. Through simplicity and repetition, we can train our brains so that the path of motion required for a particular rhythm, pattern, or technique is no longer objective (outside of us), but subjective (subconsciously part of us) providing a foundation on which to build our own musical vocabularies. The visualization of Marsh’s diagrams facilitates the internalization of patterns of movement of coordination.

The book constantly stresses virtues which are necessary for playing the drumset musically in any style: listening/concentration, a sense of form and structure, melodic development, physical and mental relaxation, and freedom with benign discipline. Don’t make the mistake I almost did. Get this book and live with it for a while. The only limitations of Mr. Marsh’s book are the imagination and patience of the person studying it.


Jim Chapin’s Review – Drum Tracks Vol.4 #3

Writing a drum book is no trick for present day drummer-authors, many of us shuck them out like peas from a pod. In varying degrees however most books seem to be competent “rewrites”, or extensions of ideas already in general use, valuable perhaps but far from eye-opening. The formidable challenge of course, (comparable perhaps of the legendary labors of Hercules in Greek mythology) is to develop something unique, a trailblazer concept, a touch of true originality.

Originality? Thy name is George Marsh. The challenge is no problem for George, he accepts it boldly. Open up a copy of INNER DRUMMING and leaf through it without reading the text. I hope you are partial to puzzles and surprises. After several glances you may feel that you are dealing with some sort of alien, other worldly forms of communication.

The note patterns of INNER DRUMMING, if they were expressed in the ordinary way are not that revolutionary. It is in the George Marsh concepts that the art and magic lie.

As a beginning he proposes that we open up a channel between one hand and one foot, perceived not just as a single stroke but “experienced” as a power flow. To emphasize this transfer, he uses directional lines between points. As the concept snowballs to include three, and then all four limbs, the diagrams increase in complexity and sophistication. It is not easy, but the pictorial representation puts it all on a new and different plane and soon one will begin to experience a new freedom – you are learning to “dance on the drums”.

If you have also been privileged to hear George in action as I have on several too brief occasions, sitting in with strange groups, it immediately becomes obvious that we mere mortals have a lot to aspire to.

INNER DRUMMING is to other drum books as flying is to walking.