The Stand and Blocks:
As you will see from the following pictures, it is more stable if two cymbal stands are used for the base of the rack mount for the Blocks. It is possible with one but the stand will wobble and fast passages might not be as controlled...
When attaching the stands to the rack mount, try having the washer from the stand dome up! this will keep the rack a bit more flat. You will need to tighten the wing nut on the cymbal stand rather tight so that the rack will be relatively perpendicular to the ground (its also possible to compensate by tilting the cym. having the cymbal stand at an angle). Notice that the cym. stands are between the outer rods.
as opposed to:
Using a washer on top is also a bit more stable, I would suggest using a felt on top so there is an isolation between the rack and the cymbal stands. Try both and see which is best for you. Its also a good idea to try without any felt at all.
this works just as well as
To move and tighten the rack rods just twist the wingnuts opposite ways at the same time (this is the best way to get it tight and solid).
In terms of the Block clamps themselves, there is no need to overtighten. The Blocks should be solid with a snug tightening. I would suggest always loosening and retightening when making adjustments, this will prolong the life of the clamp.
You might also notice that this picture above has an extra wingnut between the clamp and the Block. This is an effective way to make the lips of each Block level. All you need is either two 1/4" washers or nuts and you can adjust the depth.
A few possible solutions for Rebonds:
Most of the 'difficulties' of Xenakis' Rebonds b are relatively easy to solve using these blocks.
The most tricky of these is playing a tremolo with one hand while playing the grace note rhythm in the other hand. With these blocks the tremelo is easy, just do a triangle type roll between the blocks. A dynamic change is then another difficult thing. A couple possibilities are:
1. interpret the dynamic change as a timbral change and use the different playing areas on the blocks (back-front or edge-middle)
2. you could try applying masking tape in increasing thicknesses away from the lip, this will create a more dampened and, in turn, quieter sound. I think this one is a bit to tricky but it might work for you.
3. play with the intensity of the roll and energy that you exert during the tremolo.
Grace-notes with one hand:
A really nice trick that works well for a one-handed grace-note figure (piano passage) goes as follows: drag the stick down from the top block to the bottom making sure that you strick BOTH lips of the top block. This requires very little pressure and can be played quietly with a light touch. You can continue with the single notes one the lower or the upper block.
I wouldn't suggest doing all the grace-notes this way as the lip might lose its shape (but if you opt for this then you can just trade the blocks if need be!!!). I use this technique sometime on the last page where the grace-notes need to be played intensely following the rolls on the drums.
Rolls (tremolos) on these blocks (and in the piece) can be played a variety of different ways and its a good idea to experiment around to see if you prefer just one type throughout the entire piece or different types to play with the intensity:
1. normal single-stroke rolls
2. double-stroke rolls
3. multiple bounce rolls
4. a double triangle roll in which BOTH hands are playing between the blocks. This is pictured below and takes a bit of practice, it can either be controlled from the wrist or from the forarm. It has a very nice quality when it works, I think of it as the arms are moving in the same way at the same time just a bit 'out of phase'. The pictures below show
Right hand, lower block
Left hand, lower block
Right hand, upper block
Left hand, upper block
The last lines:
The last two lines are very fast and loud, and thats difficult. The most important thing to think about is 'how does it sound'. Steve Schick does and accelerando (on the recording from his cd) and that sounds good. A collegue of mine, Yasuko Miamoto, just does it as fast as possible (controlled) and that also sounds cool. The rolls at the end are also very tricky because the go by so fast, and again, its up to your ears if you want to slow it down so that the everything sounds rolled or if you want the rhythm and tempo to continue on its course.
Grace notes on the Bongo when the drum also plays:
This has nothing to do with the blocks so you can ignore it if you want, I will just list three different interpretations of the grace note figure from the bongo to the other drums.
1. Grace into the other drum: two strokes on the bongo leading into the main note
2. multiple stroke on bongo: ending and coinciding with the main note
3. played as written: first grace-note with one hand, next two with the other hand (second louder), this second note coinciding with the drum note. There are other possibilities as well but this one give the first hand a chance to get the the correct drum.
If you have any additional questions/comments just write me: