Praised and endorsed by notable educational establishments and top-drawer players such as Peter Erskine, this new drum book from Bryan Bowman advances methods first introduced by the great Ted Reed and his Progressive Steps To Syncopation – a publication released in 1958 that came second in Modern Drummer magazine’s greatest instruction book poll in 1993.
Whereas Reed’s 65-page book addressed the study of syncopation in rich detail, primarily between snare drum and bass drum, Bowman’s 166 pager takes Reed’s concepts to another level. Of course, Bowman isn’t the first to advance Reed’s original ideas for studying syncopation, but his approach is unique.
From the opening section (focusing on the application of various drum rudiments), what is clear is Bowman’s intention to present all the exercises as ready musical statements and lift the given patterns from the snare or practice pad to the complete drum set.
Bowman also deems it essential to have a copy of Reed’s book to hand (to use simultaneously with this companion) and to have a basic grasp of rudiments to maximise the benefits of this one. He also maintains the importance of the individual’s imagination when taking the hand patterns throughout and laying them over the foldout etude of foot patterns at the back of the book, and then also over particular pages of Reed’s book.
Bowman’s book is beautifully presented throughout and a noticeably nice touch to help grasp the accents added to various patterns is Bowman’s idea of presenting a second stave above the exercise, highlighting just the accents. This also helps students not so proficient in reading rhythm develop their reading chops.
The second section also takes in odd-time metre reading, linear ideas, jazz comping, syncopation in straight rock situations and its application to Afro-Cuban grooves. As a drummer myself I’ve found Bowman’s book, like some of the others he references and recommends throughout, one hard to put down. It’s brimming with great content for drummers of every genre.
Bowman sells Syncopation Companion in the book’s introduction as a “a toolkit for musical expression” and “an avenue to reach your potential on the drums” and succeeds in what he sets out to do, namely help build strong technique, independence of limbs, reading and, above all, strong musicality. Drummers, go get this book.
Syncopation Companion by Bryan Bowman (Sher Music Co.)