RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

R!Solo: "Everything" for Solo Drumset by Michael Varner

Jun 1, 2019, 00:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

“Everything” is a solo for drumset that demonstrates ideas to incorporate into your own drumming style. The inspiration for this solo is the jazz classic “Take Five” by Paul Desmond, recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet with the incomparable Joe Morello on drums. It is worth noting, however, that “Everything” is not a transcription of the original Morello solo in any way. 

This solo displays a number of elements of the jazz language that are important to point out:
• Broken ride patterns: Instead of the constant ride that many young players use, this piece incorporates “breaks” or changes in the constant ride pattern. As you look through the piece, you’ll see three distinct pattern variations.
• Time/solo trading: Instances of “trading 4s” (four bars of ride pattern followed by four bars of free solo), “trading 2s” (two bars of ride pattern followed by two bars of solo), and “trading 1s” (one bar of ride pattern followed by one bar of solo) are all included in this solo.
• Swung eighth notes: The jazz tradition often interprets eighth notes written in conventional notation as the first and third note of an eighth-note triplet to give the music a “swing” or “rounded” feel.
• Straight eighth notes: As distinct from the swung eighths, these are played exactly even (and are marked by –2– above the notes).
• Open and closed hi-hat sounds (with feet and hands).
• A wide range of expressive dynamic volumes.
• Alternating sticking (unless marked).
• The 5/4 time signature that made “Take Five” so unique at the time.
Take a look at the accompanying video to understand the “swing” style of the eighth notes, and definitely listen to the original recordings of Joe Morello! I hope you enjoy “Everything”!

Everything Notation


Everything Drumset Solo

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Michael VarnerDr. Michael Varner
recently retired after 36 years as Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington. Previously he was Director of Percussion at Western Michigan University. He holds a degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University, a Master’s in Performance from the University of Michigan, and a Doctorate in Performance from the University of North Texas. With a long history as a performer, he presents new and time-honored repertoire to the highest standards. He has presented percussion clinics in every state, Europe, and Japan. He has written for nationally recognized DCI and WGI marching groups including the Chicago Cavaliers and the Toledo Glassmen. Under his leadership the University of Texas at Arlington Drumline performed with consistently top rankings at many Percussive Arts Society events. His interest in world music led to research in Nigeria and Ghana. His article “Skin That Speaks” was published in Percussive Notes. His interest in composing has led to many commissions with over 20 works published. He is a member of the PAS Composition Committee. For more information, visit

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