What can one say when a great like Jim Chapin passes away? For those of us familiar with Jim and his role in documenting, defining, and directing the concept of modern drum set playing there is little we can add other than, Jim, you were a great musician, a great man, a very fine friend, and someone we cared about very much. Thank you for all you brought to the world… We will miss you.Robert ZildjianFounder SABIAN Ltd
Legend Defined Drumming as We Know It Today
Jim Chapin was a drummer. And he was a teacher. With his book Techniques for the Modern Drummer Vol. I – Coordinated Independence as Applied to Jazz and Be-Bop he documented and defined the art of drum set playing. Sitting night after night watching various great drummers playing the clubs around New York, Jim noticed they all approached playing from a different perspective, with many having very unique strengths and highly personalized hand and foot techniques. A noted drummer himself, he set out to unite these ideas around the concept of four-way coordinated limb independence. "My approach was to start with the shuffle rhythm in the left hand and then leave notes out of it while the right hand maintained the standard swing ride-cymbal pattern." Released in 1948, Techniques for the Modern Drummer Vol. I was the result. Initially rejected by many as ‘impossible’ to play, once the concept of independence was better understood, Jim’s book became – and continues to be – the bible for drum set independence, with virtually every major drummer citing Techniques for the Modern Drummer as an inspiration and ongoing source of reference. Although ‘the Chapin Book’ is challenging ("It was the first frustrating thing I’d encountered," said Dave Weckl), Jim was always keen for drummers to understand that the book was about independence, not technique.While highly regarded within jazz drumming circles, it was his books and teaching methods that would bring Jim the global recognition he enjoyed. With a pair of sticks and a practice pad tucked under his arm, he was a familiar presence at drumming events and trade shows, where he – a former student of Sanford Moeller – would happily show anyone and everyone who asked – from curious kids to legends eager to learn from the master – his sticking routines and the Moeller Technique. Jim introduced to drummers around the world, most notably through students and disciples including Dom Famularo, Jojo Mayer, and Claus Hessler.In 1971, his second book, Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer, Volume II, Independence – The Open End, a massive binder-style publication, reminded drummers that drumming was a never-ending lesson in learning. As Famularo, noted: "Jim was the teacher… that special one who – whether we realize it or not – defined modern drum set playing as we know it today. Every drummer in the world owes a debt of gratitude to this great man."Jim was very special to all of us at SABIAN, and we will miss the smile and enthusiasm that were his trademark. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.Born July 23, 1919, Jim Chapin passed away on July 4, 2009. "How ironic," noted Famularo, "that the Father of Independence leaves us on July 4th, the American Day of Independence."
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