Quick & Easy Fills: Lesson One

In this video I will introduce you to an impressive sounding fill that’s actually quite simple to play.  This fill is based on a 16th note triplet pattern that descends around the toms.  I hope you enjoy using it!  Please refer to the notation on the transcription page.

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Grooves Series: Bending Time with Slow Motion & Fast Forward Grooves

 

In this series, I introduce you to my favorite grooves of all time and show you how to play them.  These grooves may be iconic; they may be grooves that are especially difficult; or they may simply be grooves that I find to be especially groovy.  No matter what, they’re grooves that I love and that I’ve spent a lot of time listening to.  Hopefully you will enjoy them too.

 

What I we will discuss today are what I call “Slow Motion” and “Fast Forward” grooves.  These concepts are inspired by something I’ve heardMarco Minnemann play numerous times in his videos and live performances.  If you’re a fan of Marco, you may recognize the idea.  There are many amazing things I could discuss from Marco’s performances, but one of my favorite things he does is when out of nowhere he jumps from a groove or solo into a new beat that sounds twice or three times as fast as what he was previously playing.  Then, while staying completely in time, he cuts the tempo back and resumes his original groove or solo.  The first time I heard it I was confused about what he was doing it, but I loved the way it sounded.  It was like someone had accidentally bumped into his metronome setting and he unwaveringly followed along until it was corrected.  The concept has stuck with me and over time and I’d like to explain my take on it in this video.

 

Fast Forward Grooves

 

The first concept is what I call a Fast Forward groove.  Lets break it down and look at what’s really going on.  The majority of what I played in the video was straight 4/4 time.  I won’t go into that in detail, but if you want to learn more about 4/4, you can watch my video on it here!  To play the fast forward portion, we need to work on counting 4/4 with a subdivision of eighth note triplets.  To count eighth note triplets in 4/4, we can say 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, 3-trip-let, 4-trip-let.  There are four quarter note counts in a measure (hence the 1, 2, 3, and 4) and there are three eighth note triplets per each of those four counts.

 

 

Next, we need to work on superimposing our original groove onto these 8th note triplets.  This groove is based on standard eighth notes and looks like this.

 

 

Last, if we take this groove and overlay it onto eighth note triplets, it looks like this.

 

 

Overlaying the our original groove onto eighth note triplets leads to a 3 against 2 polyrhythm.  It can definitely be a little weird to play,so just remember to take it slow until you get used to it.

 

As you may notice, when we overlay the our original groove over top of the eighth note triplets, we don’t fill up the same amount of time.  That is, the original groove fills the full 4/4 measure, but the fast forward groove only fills up part of that time.  The reason for this is that when we use eighth notes as our subdivision the total number of eighth notes in a single measure adds up to 8.  There are 4 quarter notes in the 4/4 measure and there are 2 eighth notes per quarter note.  4 times 2 is 8.  In contrast, when we use eighth note triplets as our subdivision, the total number of eighth note triplets is 12.  That’s because there are 4 quarter notes in the measure and there are 3 eighth note triplets per quarter note.  So, 4 times 3 is 12.  This isn’t necessarily a problem.  Instead, it simply means that we have to make a choice about what to do when we run out of groove, so to speak.  For example, we can stop abruptly at the end of the 8 eighth note triplets and resume our original groove there.  Or, as I tend to prefer, we can continue to play the fast forward groove until there’s a more natural stopping point, such as on the 1 of the next measure.

 

Example: Resuming the Original Groove Abruptly

 

 

Example: Resuming the Original Groove at the Beginning of the Next Measure

 

Once you get the hang of it you can extend the slow motion groove for as long as you want or you can start and stop them as you wish.

Slow Motion Grooves

 

The second, similar concept is what I call a Slow Motion groove.  Here’s an example.

 

 

Ok, lets break this down and look at what’s going on.  As with the fast forward groove, we again need to work on counting 4/4 with a triplet subdivision.  However, in this case, instead of counting eighth note triplets, we’re slowing our original groove down, so we will count quarter note triplets.  To count quarter note triplets in 4/4, we can continue using the same terminology of “1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, 3-trip-let, 4-trip-let”, which applies to eighth note triplets, but we need to realize that quarter note triplets account for double the amount of time that an eighth note triplet does.  Lets think about it another way: There are four quarter notes per measure in 4/4 time.  As with eighth note triplets, where three of them fill the same amount of time as two eighth notes, three quarter note triplets fill the same amount of time as two quarter notes.  For that reason, there are six quarter note triplets per measure of 4/4.

 

Next, we need to work on superimposing our original groove onto these quarter note triplets.  As with the Fast Forward groove, when we overlay the our original groove over top of the quarter note triplets, we don’t fill up the same amount of time.  We’re left with extra space in our second measure of 4/4.  So, it’s up to us to figure out what we want to do with that space.  We can immediately resume the original groove; we can continue the slow motion groove; or, we can play something else like a fill… or whatever.  Here’s an example of what I mean.

 

Example: Resuming the Original Groove AbruptlyExample: Resuming the Original Groove at the Beginning of the Next Measure

Once you get the hang of it you can extend the slow motion groove for as long as you want.

Combining Fast Forward and Slow Motion Grooves

 

Last, you can combine these grooves however you want.  Here’s an example of how you can use them to create weird and cool grooves.

 

Example: Combining Fast Forward and Slow Motion Grooves

 

 I hope you enjoyed this lesson.  Keep in mind that we used eighth not triplets to create our slow motion and fast forward grooves in this video, but those aren’t the only subdivisions you can use!  I plan to dissect additional subdivisions in future videos, so please stay tuned for more grooves in the future.  As always, if you have anything you would like to learn more about, please let me know in the comments on YouTube.  Thanks for watching.

 

Foot Rudiments: How to Play Double Strokes with Your Feet

I got my first double bass drum pedal when I was a teenager.  When I first started using it, I could barely string together a few sixteenth notes.  But, the option to use both feet to play the bass drum opened up a lot of new possibilities and I soon began playing around with any ideas I could think of.

One such idea was practicing the rudiments with my feet.  Up to that point, I had practiced them with my hands only, but having a double bass pedal meant that I could give them a try with my feet, too.  I wanted my feet to be as proficient as my hands – and I still do.

You might be wondering, why might someone even want to try practicing the rudiments with his feet?
First, it will reinforce your understanding of the rudiments overall, which will help you play them with your hands.  Simply thinking about a particular rudiment will help you improve your understanding and can help you apply it to your playing in unique ways.  Practicing a rudiment with your feet forces you to slow it down and feel and hear it differently.  You’ll likely find that you come up with new, creative ways to apply it in your playing.
Second, it forces you to use your feet in ways you may not naturally use them in your every day playing.  That’s a good thing, because in normal rock, pop, jazz, or whatever music style, you’re probably not going to test your footwork very often. So, adding rudiments to your footwork practice routine will help you improve drastically.  You’ll start to get used to how using both feet feels; you’ll build endurance with both feet; and you’ll improve your balance and posture simply by moving your legs and feet in complex patterns.  The same can be said even if you practice double bass a lot.  I know of a lot of drummers who practice fast single strokes.  I don’t know many who can play flams, drags, or doublestrokes.  Maybe it’s time to shift our focus.
Third, you’ll build your vocabulary for soloing.  If you don’t practice soloing often – or maybe if you don’t think you are very creative while soloing – practicing rudiments with your feet will help you build ideas.  You’ll begin to see your feet as viable options for creative expression and you will be able to mirror what your hands do with your feet.  Ultimately, it can help you create ostinatos and independence ideas.
I hope you enjoy this lesson.

Meshuggah – Born in Dissonance Cover

I love Meshuggah and Tomas Haake. So as soon as I heard this song, I told myself I had to cover it. In order to cover a song this complicated, I have to transcribe it first so I understand what’s going on. Lucky for you, you can now find that transcription on my transcriptions page!  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this one. It’s quite the toughie, but it’s a lot of fun to play. This is my first Meshuggah cover, so now that I’ve broken the ice I definitely plan to begin doing more.

For this recording, I’m using a set of CAD Touring 7 tom and overhead mics as well as an Audix D6 on the bass drum and an Audix D5 on the snare. I’m not using a trigger on the kick, so you may hear me get a bit ahead or behind the beat on some of the long double bass sections. I’m using a custom drum set made of Keller drum shells and Pearl lugs and rims. I worked with the maestros at Columbus Pro Percussion in Columbus, Ohio to build this set. For cymbals, I’m using pair of 14″ Meinl Byzance Dark Hats on my left, a Meinl 16″ Byzance Medium Crash on my left, a Meinl 18″ Benny Greb Signature Byzance Sand Medium Crash on my right, a pair of 13″ Meinl Byzance Brillant Fast Hats on my right, and an 18″ Paiste Signature Thin China on my right.

Lesson: The Faceless – The Spiraling Void

Please follow along with the notation, available on the Transcriptions page.

VIDEO INDEX:

1:07 – Section A
1:32 – Section A Example
2:03 – Sections B & C
2:44 – Sections B & C Example
3:36 – Section D
3:53 – Section D Example
4:25 – Sections H & I
5:37 – Sections H & I Example
6:29 – Section J
7:01 – Section J Example
7:46 – Section K
8:27 – Section K Example
9:16 – Conclusion

If you have questions about this song or have requests for future lessons, please say so in the comment section.

Thanks!

Geoff

The Faceless – The Spiraling Void Drum Cover

I love The Faceless.  In fact, this is the second time I have covered one of their songs.  Not only does this song have some tricky timing, the tempo is ridiculous.  I haven’t played double bass this fast in a while (if ever), so I really had to keep after it.  I worked up quite a sweat, so at the halfway point you’ll see me ripping off a blister that developed while playing!

For this recording, I’m using a set of CAD Touring 7 tom and overhead mics as well as an Audix D6 on the bass drum and an Audix D5 on the snare.  I’m not using a trigger on the kick, so you may hear me get a bit ahead or behind the beat on some of the long double bass sections.  I’m using a custom drum set made of Keller drum shells and Pearl lugs and rims.  I worked with the maestros at Columbus Pro Percussion in Columbus, Ohio to build this set.  For cymbals, I’m using pair of 14″ Meinl Byzance Dark Hats on my left, a Meinl 16″ Byzance Medium Crash on my left, a Meinl 18″ Benny Greb Signature Byzance Sand Medium Crash on my right, a pair of 13″ Meinl Byzance Brillant Fast Hats on my right, a 20″ Meinl B20 Heavy Ride on my right, and an 18″ Paiste Signature Thin China on my right.  I love Meinls, but I have had this Paiste china forever and I love it.

Check out my free notation for “The Spiraling Void” on my Transcriptions page: https://gattsdrums.com/transcriptions/

Ellie Goulding – Aftertaste Drum Cover

This is a cover of the song “Aftertaste” from Ellie Goulding’s 2015 album Delirium.  I’m really into this album and this is one of my favorite songs from it.  I didn’t intend to post a cover of this song, but I played it through a few times while recording other videos and later decided to use the footage.  I didn’t play the original drum part, but hopefully it’s still entertaining and sounds good.
For equipment, I’m using a set of CAD Touring 7 tom and overhead mics as well as an Audix D6 on the bass drum and an Audix D5 on the snare.  I’m using a custom drum set made of Keller drum shells and Pearl lugs and rims.  I worked with the maestros at Columbus Pro Percussion in Columbus, Ohio to build this bad boy.  I’m also using a Pearl Reference Brass 14 x 5 snare (my baby).  For cymbals, I’m using pair of 14″ Meinl Byzance Dark Hats on my left, a Meinl 16″ Byzance Medium Crash on my left, a Meinl 18″ Benny Greb Signature Byzance Sand Medium Crash on my right, and a Meinl Byzance Dark 21″ ride.  I also have a 8″ Byzance Brilliant Splash perched on top of the Sand Crash on my right.
I hope you enjoy!

The Black Keys – Strange Times Drum Cover

This is a cover of the song “Strange Times” from The Black Keys’ 2008 album Attack & Release.  You can grab the notation for this song on my Transcriptions page.

I love The Black Keys, so this song was a lot of fun to cover!  In this song I’m using CAD Touring 7 drum mics on the toms and for overheads; I’m using an Audix D6 on the bass drum and an Audix D5 on the snare.

I’m using a custom drum set made of Keller drum shells and Pearl lugs and rims.  I worked with the maestros at Columbus Pro Percussion in Columbus, Ohio to build this bad boy.  For cymbals, I’m using pair of 14″ Meinl Byzance Dark Hats on my left, a Meinl 16″ Byzance Medium Crash on my left, a Meinl 18″ Benny Greb Signature Byzance Sand Medium Crash on my right, and a Meinl Byzance Dark 21″ ride.

 

The Weeknd – As You Are Drum Cover

This is one of my favorite songs from The Weeknd’s 2015 album, Beauty Behind the Madness.  It’s so chill, groovy and delicate.  I was feeling inspired, so I sat down and recorded this song without much preparation.  The drums are minimal in the original track, so I simply decided to play what I felt like.  For that reason, it’s a bit more drum-centric than the original and I took the opportunity to throw in some extra fills and stick tricks.  Unfortunately, YouTube took down my original video due to copyright infringement, but the drums sound so good that I couldn’t waste the footage.  For that reason, this is the “drums only” video.  I hope you enjoy.
In this video I’m using CAD Touring 7 drum mics, with the exception of an Audix D6 on the bass drum and an Audix D5 on the Snare.  I’m using a custom drum set made of maple Keller drum shells with Pearl lugs and rims. I worked with the maestros at Columbus Pro Percussion in Columbus, Ohio to build it.  For cymbals, I’m using a pair of 14″ Meinl Byzance Dark Hats, a Meinl 16″ Byzance Medium Crash on my left, a Meinl 18″ Benny Greb Signature Byzance Sand Medium Crash on my right, and a 21″ Meinl Byzance Dark Ride.

Time Signatures: Common Beats in 4/4 Time

Today we are going to talk about how to maneuver in 4/4 time.  Now, if you don’t know much about time signatures, don’t worry.  You probably know more about 4/4 time than you realize.  In fact, if you’ve ever listened to the radio, or any popular song on iTunes, spotify, YouTube or wherever, then you’re pretty much already an expert because the vast majority of the songs that are popular western music are in 4/4.

Now, that’s great news, because if you can master this time signature, then you’ll have a head start on playing a bunch of your favorite songs and on creating popular music.

So, first lets talk about what a time signature is.  If you’re reading written music, the time signature appears at the beginning of each song and it tells you two very important things:

  1. It tells you the number of counts per measure.
  2. It tells you what type of note gets a single count.

Let’s check out the time signature symbol for 4/4.  The top number indicates the number of counts per measure, which is 4.  And, the bottom number tells you the type of note that receives a single count.  When I say “type” of note, I mean what note value, like quarter notes, eighth notes, whole notes, etc.

4/4 Time Signature

So, in 4/4 we can see that there are 4 counts per measure and that a quarter note gets a single count.  What that means if you’re counting along through each 4/4 measure is that you’ll count “1, 2, 3, 4” and in the next measure, again, you’ll count “1, 2, 3, 4.”  That will repeat until the end of the song or until the time signature changes.  Each of those counts is a quarter note.


Let’s go over a couple of common beats and take a look at how they appear when it’s written out in 4/4.

Rock

4/4 Basic Rock Beat

This is a common rock beat.  Throughout this beat, I played quarter notes between my snare and bass drum and eighth notes with my hi hat.  So, the snare and bass drum played 1, 2, 3, 4.  And the Hi hat played, 1+ 2 + 3 + 4 +.

Eighth Notes

This introduces a new method of counting for eighth notes that we haven’t seen yet.  When we count quarter notes in 4/4, we say “1, 2, 3, 4.”  But, because eighth notes are twice as fast as quarters (or in other words two eighth notes fit into the same amount of time as 1 quarter note), we need to add to our counting method.  Now, to account for the eighth notes we’ll keep “1, 2, 3, and 4” but between each of those counts we need to add the word “and.”  So, eighth notes are counted “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +.”

Jazz

Basic Jazz Beat

This is a very common jazz beat.  In this beat, the bass drum strikes on all 4 quarter notes and the snare drum strikes on the 2nd and 4th quarter notes.  In addition I also closed the hihat on the 2nd and 4th quarter and instead of playing straight eighth notes on the hihat, I switched to my ride cymbal and played quarters on counts 1 and 3 and a syncopated eighth note triplet pattern on 2 and 4.

Here’s the ride pattern by itself.

Jazz Ride Cymbal Pattern

Triplets

Counting triplets is slightly different than counting quarters or eighth notes.  The triplets I played were based on eighth notes, which means that 3 triplets fit into the same amount of time as 2 eighth notes.  I’m not going to go into too much detail in this lesson, but to count these, you would say “1 triplet, 2 triplet, 3 triplet, 4 triplet.”  Or, I’ve also heard “1 + a, 2 + a, 3 + a, 4 + a.”

Funk

Funky Drummer Funk Beat

Last, this beat is one of the best known funk beats of all time: the Funky Drummer beat.  Here, the bass drum is playing 1 +, and then strikes again on the + of 3 and the e of 4.

Sixteenth Notes

But wait, what’s an “e”?  Well, this is part of the way we count sixteenth notes.  So, if I were to count sixteenth notes all the way through a measure, I’d say “1e+a, 2e+a, 3e+a, 4e+a.”  Each of those counts is a sixteenth note.  Two sixteenth notes fit into the same amount of time as 1 eighth note.  And, because 2 eighth notes fit into the same amount of time as 1 quarter note, 4 sixteenth notes fit into the same amount of time as a quarter note.

So, back to the beat, my hihat is playing all sixteenth notes and I open the hats on the e and the a of the 2nd quarter note.  Last, I’m hitting the snare drum on the 2nd quarter note, on the e of the 3rd quarter note, on the 4th quarter note, and on the a of the 4th quarter note.