Colin Woolway's Teasers

The Often Asked-About Ostinato

I have been asked about a figure that I always feature in my clinics. I've been using it as a central point in "the solo" for some years now, so maybe it's time I let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

First of all, hats off to Billy Cobham again, as he inspired this with something he demonstrated on TV many moons ago. Anyone who remembers that will see the connection here, which is that you send your hands in two different directions. But with Billy's idea you needs a snare and five toms, whereas the figure I arrived at needs only the three standard toms.

Anyway, here goes ...

Think of one bar of eighth note triplets:

We'll take the right hand first: play one note on the mid tom, one on the snare and one on the floor tom, anticlockwise:

The left hand plays the offbeats, moving backwards and forwards between high tom and snare:

Now, your starting position is right hand on mid tom, left hand on high tom - for best results, turn the snares off - and away you go! You should get a nice, dancey, Africanish rhythm, which I use as an ostinato to trade eight bar phrases against myself.