Review: Accents and Rebounds by George Lawrence Stone
Posted on November 13, 2022
Here’s a dumb joke from the drumming world: “Don’t you know who George Lawrence Stone is? He wrote page five from Stick Control!”
I’m seriously convinced most drummers never bother with the rest of the book. I saw a thread on r/Drums a while back where someone asked for help in making sense of some of the notation in the book (yet another reason why telling beginners to go through Stick Control is a terrible idea). A lot of people chimed in with speculation, and I was disturbed by how many people didn’t recognize the excerpt as being from Stick Control, which has a convenient explanation in the forward regarding the roll notation.
So with all that being said, I seriously doubt many drummers realize GL Stone has written other books, including today’s subject, Accents and Rebounds for the Snare Drummer. Published in 1961, you could view Accents and Rebounds as the unofficial sequel to Stick Control. GL Stone writes in the book’s forward that he wrote Accents and Rebounds at the request of drummers who wanted more practice material, but the reality is that the book addresses one key shortcoming of Stick Control — that book has no accents!
You could think of Accents and Rebounds as “Accent Control”. Most of the book takes the basic sticking drills of Stick Control and throws some accents on them:
What’s very interesting to me is that the accent patterns don’t follow much of a methodical route. Instead, it’s as if GL Stone took some common accent motifs a drummer might be likely to encounter in the wild. So rather than reading isolated measures over and over again (like Stick Control), it feels like you’re reading lines of music in Accents and Rebounds.
In the first section of the book, the typical formula for a page is a dozen exercises all with the same accent pattern but different stickings. After that, we start to get into rolls:
This is the “rebound” part of Accents and Rebounds. A huge chunk of the book (probably most of it) is about rolls, specifically the double stroke and the buzz roll. Unlike Stick Control, a good chunk of the exercises in Accents and Rebounds feature a mixture of rhythms, as well as time signatures like 5/8, 7/8, and 9/8. And aside from precision, endurance is a common theme in Accents and Rebounds.
First things first: this is a pretty challenging book. I personally think it’s more difficult than Stick Control, and some of the accent patterns here are just diabolical.
But it’s a worthy task. The key skill that the book tries to teach you is basically the tap–accent stroke: an unaccented note followed by an accented note, all on the same hand. A hard but important skill to master. If you’ve made it through stick control cover to cover, this is a must–have follow–up as a practice pad book.
I do have some reservations though. For one, Accents and Rebounds can feel very redundant. Often times I made it to an exercise only to think, wait a minute… haven’t I done this one before?
Stick Control has the same problem, but it felt much worse in Accents and Rebounds. Part of the reason why is that, all in all, the book makes use of only a few sticking patterns and accent patterns (to a very exhaustive degree). The book tries to get more mileage out of rhythmic variety, but it doesn’t get very far. Consider the following two drills:
They’re basically the same, it’s just that № 11 has the roll moved to beat two.
I really don’t think it’s necessary to be this thorough. Moving the roll to a different beat doesn’t do much to your technique — it’s more for counting practice than anything else, and the exercises tend to blur together thusly.
There’s no reason not to play them, though. That criticism applies to the heinous amount of buzz roll drills in the book.
Let’s be clear — this is no fault of GL Stone. He wrote the book in a different time. But as a kit player in the 21st century, there’s no need to practice buzz rolls to this degree. With the strokes being out of time, buzz rolls are fundamentally difficult to use on the kit. Even more outrageous are the exercises that want you to play both buzz strokes and doubles, alternating hand to hand:
(FYI, staccato dots means double, and the tenuto mark means buzz.)
They are thoroughly unpleasant to play. If I was a concert snare drummer in the 60s, I’d still have a hard time stomaching these, since I don’t know why I would ever need to get good at doing something like that. Trying to play buzzes and doubles at the same time honestly sounds like you’re just bad at both. I blew through most of these sections.
It’s an enduring issue with many older drum books: buzz rolls are on the way out for kit players, and they have been for a while (aside from niche situations that require zero stick control).*
But at the end of the day, it’s no doubt worth going through this book. Just be patient with it — if you made it through Stick Control, I suspect it will take you longer to do Accents and Rebounds. Take breaks, and don’t try to plow through long stretches at a time. You’ll go crazy.
* ↑ I swear one of these days, I’ll write a full post about this.