The TONE

Welcome to the tone, or tonic as they say in Francophone Afrique. Quite often the first sound we all try to make and perhaps ironically the last sound we still try to perfect. The tone is warm and round and whilst it has a different frequency to the slap it should be no less prominent. Here are some tips on how to get it…

Get your thumb away from your fingers (by 45″ or more) so that you don’t hit it on the rim. Straighten your fingers and keep your wrist straight – relaxed but firm. The primary motion comes from the elbow as well as the shoulder (especially when playing slowly). When you play slowly your forearm and wrist almost move as one. As you speed up, your wrists do more work and your forearm and upper arm action become more efficient. When you lift your forearm, lift it vertically so that you make a clean connection with your hand flat (as opposed to a chopping action)… then your sounds will be phat!

The connection point is similar to the slap (top of the hand under the fingers) but the angle of the wrist is different. The forearm, wrist and fingers are relatively flat (straight) when we play a tone ( compared to a dipped wrist for slaps). Getting definition in your tones is the key, and looking for contrast between your tones and slaps is the goal.  Take it slow, don’t rush and build up your drumming muscles as you practice. Base tone slap, base tone slap

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