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Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation

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1 Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation on Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:28 am


I remember asking the question here (and elsewhere) about what exactly is 'gospel chops'? A great answer above from Chris Coleman, though I also wish he broke things down a little more. Still, the concept and a little history is abundantly clear.

I just love Chris Coleman.

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2 Re: Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation on Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:07 am

Hi, Asaph,

It's a bit more to the explanation than that, even though Chris is essentially on the money.
I don't know how familiar you are with gospel music or "black churches" per say but put
simply, gospel chops are a series of drum licks that are regularly used in gospel music by
nearly everyone who plays in that situation.

Lots of triplets, quads, 5's used in triplet form... Lots of closed hi hat injection using
crossovers and so on... lots of double bass drum riffs... The licks tend to be really
fast in many cases, almost spastic even.

Nearly all these gospel guys do them and they basically all sound alike. Check out the
clip below with Damien Schmitt on Alain Caron Septentrion CD It's the drum solo around

Gospel chops at their best if you like that sorta thing. For me it's okay for a short spell but
gets boring very quickly... Also, search "Eric Moore" on youtube. Tell me what you think.

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3 Re: Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation on Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:44 pm

Oh, yeah, Gerald Heyward, Eric, Aaron, all those guys ... Pridgen, Royster. And more come along all the time on YT. Some really wicked chopsmeisters.

I tend to agree they all begin to sound the same, especially with the marathon shed stuff. It kind of reminds me of a drum set falling down a flight of stairs after awhile. Although, I have seen young players do some very mature things with it. I guess the bar is raised quite high for them and many reach it with the older players all around them.

I have not listened to very much black gospel over the last 35 years but, that which I have heard I never heard drumming like that. Most of the demonstrations I have seen on video seem way over the top when they play to gospel tracks. I assumed they revved it up for drum festival audiences. Maybe not.

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4 Re: Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation on Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:51 pm

Yeah, A. It's a fairly new thing, probably within
the last 15, maybe 20 years as gospel music goes.

Kinda think of it as hip-hop on steroids. The chops
kept escalating and evolving and finally found their way
into the mainstream of pop with the likes of Beyonce
and Usher (Aaron Spears).

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5 Re: Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation on Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:07 am

I guess I'm too old school. When I was learning how to play my influences were players who believed in conservation of energy in movement. Everything was fingers and wrists, things stayed down low, unless you were reaching for things in the set. Somewhere along the line all this arm movement and flailing and stick height came in. It seems funny, actually, because so many of these players have everything in their sets very low in height.

I would actually like to see a breakdown of the style at slower speeds. Everything happens so fast in these patters it is difficult to discern exactly what is happening. This far I have not found anything of an instructional nature on the web. Even the gospel chops site is all about visual performance near as I could tell.

To certain degree, maybe to a large degree, I do not find this type of playing particularly musical. It is certainly percussive. The inclusion of so much bass drum work, for me, tends to lessen the melodic nature of fills, even if it is just a four piece set. The accolades talk about how boring 'typical' fills are and the extra inclusion of bass drum notes spices things up. I don't know. From Ginger Baker, to Palmer, to Billy, to Tony, and certainly Max and the older giants I just hear a lot more music in the fills. Some of these guys, like Pridgen and Boswell, are just wild and frenetic. And Boswell can play keys, apparently, so he has knowledge of phrasing to some degree. They all play fascinating s-k-h beats. Then the fills go all frenzied. A definite contrast of extremes, if nothing else.

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6 Re: Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation on Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:49 pm

Well, there you go, Asaph...  but here is gospel chops
however we feel about it. I like your description of a
drum set falling down the stairs. I can actually hear

Here, check out Jerohn Garnett and his youtube series:
"Building blocks for gospel chops."  He actually breaks
things down for his viewers.  Just a bit more insight if
you're interested.


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7 Re: Coleman - Gospel Chops explanation on Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:56 pm

Oh cool. Thanks, Don.

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