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Tiger Bill Reviews

Rick's Licks

An Updated Classic

Buy Rick's Licks Online

This book, written by Rick Gratton in collaboration with Ed Uribe, has been studied by the top player's of today, including Terry Bozzio, Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati, Kenny Aronoff, Carmine Appice, and Anton Fig. It contains exercises designed to increase your creativity (which is right up my alley), including lots of cool drum licks, grooves, fills, odd time exercises, and polyrhythmic ideas. It also comes with an audio CD of the exercises including some that have been recorded both with and without the drum track, so you can play along.

Although you may be familiar with the old version of the book, this new one has been updated with the addition of 32 pages and remixed audio. The updated book/audio CD package is available from Alfred Publishing. Let's look at it in detail.

Part 1: Warm-Ups
Each of the four main sections in this part of the book are structured as follows:

Basic Rhythm: This is a one-bar unaccented rhythmic pattern upon which the remainder of the section is based.

Hand-Foot Combinations: A specific accent pattern is added to the Basic Rhythmic pattern and you are shown various ways to apply the pattern to the drumset. For example: played on snare drum using hand to hand single stroke sticking; played on snare drum using flams for each of the accents; played on snare using alternate sticking patterns; played between the snare and bass drum using various combinations.

More Hand-Foot Combinations: This uses the same Basic Rhythmic pattern as those above but usually incorporates a more complicated bass drum part into the pattern.

The above format is applied to the three sets of patterns that make up each of the four sections: Three-Note Accents, Five-Note Accents, Six-Note Accents, and Seven-Note Accents. At the end of each set of patterns within a section, there are two multi-bar exercises. The first gives you an example of how you can combine each of the prior three patterns on the snare drum, and the second "Improvised Drum Set Application" is an example applying the same patterns to the drum set.

Warm-Up Solo: Part 1 of the book concludes with a 42-bar solo, which demonstrates the practical application of each of the previously learned patterns to the drum set.


Part 2: Rick's Licks
This section is the heart of the book. It contains 69 of Rick's Licks varying in both time signature and number of measures. Nine of the 69 licks incorporate various polyrhythms. All of these licks serve to expand upon the concepts and patterns learned in the previous Warm-Up section, and demonstrate their practical application to the entire drum set in a musical situation.


Part 3: Improvisational Concepts
The final section gives you lots of ideas for applying what you have already learned in a solo context, and includes the use of metric modulation and cymbal ostinato patterns in the drum solos.


The Bottom Line
Throughout the book Rick emphasizes the fact that learning these exercises "as is" will be helpful but his main purpose is to teach the overall concepts so that you can apply them in your creative ways. Those who know me, know I'm a big believer in creativity and I couldn't agree with Rick more.

I highly recommend this book to intermediate and advanced drummers alike, even to those who can't read music. (They will have little trouble following along, due to the excellent audio CD supplement provided.). And, at a retail price of $24.95 for the book and CD, the price is definitely right.

I believe that a thorough study of this book will provide any drummer with new ways to expand his or her creativity behind the drumset. And creativity, after all, is where it's at!

Purchase your copy online at:


Until next time: Stay loose.



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