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 we will discuss today are what I call “Slow Motion” and “Fast Forward” grooves. These concepts are inspired by something I’ve heard Marco 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, 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 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 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 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 multiplied by 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 multiplied by 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 first count 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”, 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 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 ideas. 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 note 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.