DVD review – Thomas Lang’s Creative Coordination
Thomas Lang is BACH! … I mean back, he’s back, back again with his second instructional DVD from Hudson Music. This time he’s the Thomas Lang that we think of when someone says “wacky Austrian drummer.” He’s much more personable in this DVD and he’s quite funny, unlike his last DVD that where he earned his reputation for being robot like.
The focus of this DVD is advanced foot PATTERNS and the coordination matrix that he recently developed. I capitalized “patterns” in the last sentence because the DVD says that it’s advanced foot technique. It’s not. Foot technique is the physical movements we make with our hips, legs, and feet to operate the pedals at our feet. There is very little talk of actual foot technique in this dvd. Much like his previous work he gives tons of exercises to increase your chops, coordination, and independence equally between your feet. If you are expecting something like the foot technique chapter in Steve Smith’s DVD you’re going to be disappointed. Not that there are no concepts of value to pickup in this section. One thing that he speaks about that I had never thought of doing is to play single foot patterns with two feet. You get a different texture and feel when you play something with two hands than if you played it with only one. The same should hold true for the feet, right? There are some really cool bass drum patterns in this DVD for you to explore, especially if you play metal or progressive music with allot double bass. I’d definitely prefer to hear some of these patterns in music where there would normally be just straight 16th or 32nd notes creating a head numbing badabdabababdadbadbadbadbadbadbadbadba in the background.
Thomas also expands on a concept from the last dvd; MPOs (mutipul pedal orchestrations.) Though Thomas has an ungodly amount of pedals (and uses all of them) the minimum you need to be able to practice the basic exercises is four pedals. It doesn’t matter if they are hi-hat or kick-drum pedals, nor does it matter what they are attached to. The patterns remain the same. There isn’t so much talk of pedal bridging as there was in the last DVD… instead, he covers pedal jumping. Pedal jumping is when you move your leg from one pedal to another. Anytime you move from your hi-hat to your second bass pedal, you are pedal jumping. Well, Thomas incorporates constant pedal jumping into many of the patterns found on this DVD. So you’re going to be doing allot more pedal jumping than usual if you decide to attempt the exercises on this DVD. Most people are going to need to make some significant changes in their setups if they are going to apply some of this stuff. For me, it wasn’t worth it. It was too expensive and I’m mostly a single bass kinda guy to begin with. However, there is a ton of potential for development by more double bass oriented guys, so if I just described you… you might wanna check this DVD out.
The second disk is the where Thomas Lang lays out his Creative Coordination Matrix. The matrix is probably the most effective way to stretch the limits of your coordination abilities. The matrix works by coordinating ostinatos and different number clusters on different limbs across different playing surfaces. You’ve really got to be able to digest the concept of the matrix in your head before you’re able to really start practicing with this system. The idea driving the matrix is to be able to run through as many different sticking permutations in the least amount of time as possible. It’s solely for strengthening your raw coordination abilities. You have to do something totally different to be able to put your new found coordination into music. For instance if you are learning to cover several percussion parts for a latin gig, you’re going to need to practice those specific rhythms and how you will use them in the context of music. You’re not going to just run through the matrix for 15 minuets and then go and try to play the rhythms for the first time. Hopefully this isn’t anything the average reader would need to be told, but just in case, you’ve been told.
I gotta say that the matrix is kinda disappointing because it treats music just as number clusters. I wouldn’t spend more time practicing the matrix then I would musically driven independence exercises. For Thomas it works but I just can’t see myself or most drummers practicing this way. If you think that learning this method is worth your time however… this DVD is the best (and only) guide.
The third disk is big old bonus features section. In addition to there being a really good full length commentary track by Thomas on the first two DVDs, there’s also a commentary track for the bonus footage! Not only that, but commentary track for the bonus footage contains special guest Gregg Bissonette! The bonus footage includes a tour of his home studio, the xray kit, and his v-drum kit. There is also a small section where he gives his thoughts on different topics such as: seat hight, more vs less, and technique in music. There are printable pdfs for all the exercises in the feature and if that’s not enough you can buy the new book that corresponds with the DVD.
In terms of content you could think of this dvd as Creative Control part 2, so if Creative Control left you hungry for more, here’s your second helping. Thomas is a better host this time around and the extras are even better than last time.
This one gets 4 mics.
Now i’m off to brush up on my psuedogerman… DASFLUGELHORNSHAFT!