Quick & Easy Drum 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.

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 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.

 

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.

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

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.

Movement & Mechanics Series: Developing Singles Around the Set

I notice a lot of great drummers who tend to play in a very small area of their drum set.  What I mean is, they may be a monster drummer, but they focus all of their attention on the left side of their set and play only the hihat, snare, and bass drum.  This isn’t necessarily a problem, because in many styles of music we drummers tend to keep time on the hihats and don’t need to move around the rest of the set much.  But, at the same time, there is so much real estate around the set, so if you can get used to playing freely in the rest of that space then you’ll open up so many great possibilities.  Plus, moving around your set a quickly provides an inherent visual effect that makes you a more interesting drummer to watch from the audience.

With that in mind, the exercises we’re covering today will help you develop the ability to effectively move around your set.  These exercises will:

  1. Enhance your balance and agility as you move from left to right (and vise versa);
  2. They will improve your speed as you increase the tempo;
  3. And, they will increase your hand and wrist strength in both hands because you’ll be playing on your toms and cymbals, which offer varying degrees of rebound and therefore force you to lift the stick off the drum head.

These exercises will also be useful for drummers who have trouble playing with their weak hands – they will really help you overcome your imbalances.

Example 1

In the first exercise I play eighth note triplet singles.  I play the first stroke of each triplet on either the floor tom to my right or the floor tom to my left.  If you don’t have a floor tom on your left – don’t worry – you can use your hihat instead.  Once you get comfortable, you can begin to move the accents around your set like I do in the video.

Lesson: Movement & Mechanics Series - Singles Around the Set

Just because this is a fairly simple exercise on paper, that doesn’t mean it will be easy.  I still find it to be a great exercise for building my grip, testing my endurance and perfecting my accuracy – particularly at higher tempos, but even at low ones too.

Example 2
The next exercise follows the same idea, except this time we’re going to play paradiddles and move the first stroke of each paradiddle around the set.  I begin by playing the accents on my floor toms and then I move them around the rest of the set.
Lesson: Movement & Mechanics Series - Singles Around the Set
Example 3
This last exercise is great fun and it will really limber you up as you start moving around your set.  It incorporates cross sticking, which is a technique in which you cross one of your hands over the other as you play.  Cross sticking is an awesome visual effect, but sometimes it can also be the most effective way to get from point A to point B as you’re playing.
Lesson: Movement & Mechanics Series - Singles Around the Set
All we’re doing here is playing alternating singles, so you can move them around the drums however you want after you become comfortable with the pattern.  The basic sticking for this exercise is as follows.
Lesson: Movement & Mechanics Series - Singles Around the Set
I hope you all enjoyed this lesson.  As with all things drumming-related, the possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment.  Once you understand the concept, you can create your own exercises, which can also be used as fills or patterns in your normal playing.  Remember, practice exercises don’t have to remain rigid practice exercises.  Instead, they can be used in your real playing however you want.  Last, I’ll come back to this topic in future videos too, so if you enjoyed this video please stay tuned.

Independence Series: Mirroring Double Bass Technique Lesson

In this lesson I discuss a fun and valuable practice concept I like to call “Mirroring.” This concept is a lot like “Call and Response”, which essentially is when two musicians take turns playing musical phrases that interact with one another. First, one musician plays a melody or a rhythm and then another musician plays the same thing or something similar that goes along with it. This interplay can go back and forth for a while as the musicians improvise – or it can be a one time thing.
You may never have considered it, but this concept can also be applied to the drums. And, one of the most interesting ways we can apply it is by using our limbs to “call” back and forth to one another. You can do this with any pair of limbs, but I most often do so between my hands and feet. This is most natural for me and I find that it’s also very effective musically.

Example 1

I start by playing a funky rock beat in 4/4 time. In the fourth measure, I play a fill that incorporates flurries of 32nd notes that I begin on the snare and rack toms and then move down to my feet on the bass drum. Next, I play another three measures before I begin a triplet-based fill that starts on the third count of the third measure. Again, I purposefully play back and forth between my hands and feet – first between the snare and bass drum and then between the floor tom and bass drum.
Mirroring Example 1
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2015-07-28_22-24-532015-07-28_22-25-092015-07-28_22-28-05
Alright, so what if your feet aren’t quite up to the same ability level as your hands? No problem. There are plenty of cool things you can do with mirroring. And, simply by playing around with this idea, you’ll be surprised by how fast your feet tend to pick up the pace.

Example 2

This example is a little more manageable if you’re not used to playing with your feet. I hear fills like this all the time. Although it may not seem like anything special, once you get used to it and can speed it up, it becomes a great fill for hard rock or heavy metal.  It’s also a great example of mirroring because your feet are copying what your hands play exactly.  As you can see in the notation below, I play four 16th notes with my hands, followed by four 16th notes with my feet.  Then, I repeat that pattern back and forth for the whole fill (see the 4th and 8th measures).

Mirroring Example 2

Mirroring Example 2Mirroring Example 2

Mirroring Example 2

Example 3

In addition to being fun for fills, mirroring can also be a great way to practice improving your double bass drum technique. I see a lot of people who practice their foot technique by playing long drawn out patterns with their feet. Although there’s nothing wrong with that approach, it can get boring. Instead, playing patterns back and forth between your hands and feet can be a great way to mix things up and reduce the monotony.

For example. say you want to practice your rudiments. Well, why not try playing them with your hands and your feet! The next time you work on your flam taps, give them a try on the bass drum!

Flam Taps

You don’t have to think too much about what you’re playing. Instead, just have fun with the ideas that pop into your head. Much of the time, I like to turn on music, a loop, or a metronome and solo over top playing ideas back and forth between my hands and feet. This is a great way to get comfortable with everything while letting your creativity run wild.  Ultimately, this approach will help if you want to use this concept in a live solo in the future, because you’ll already be primed to improvise.

I hope you all enjoyed this video. Mirroring is lots of fun and is a great way to quickly improve your hand and foot technique at the same time. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Mind-Spun Drum Lesson

This is a lesson for “Mind-Spun” by Animals as Leaders. You can follow along with my notation, available on the Transcriptions page.

VIDEO INDEX:

1:23 – Section A: Intro Groove
3:40 – Section B: Intro Groove Continued
5:12 – Section C: Measures in 11/8, 13/8, and 5/4
8:47 – Section E: The Second Set of Measures in 11/8, 13/8 and 5/4
9:45 – Section D: 7/8 Groove with Heavy Ghosting
11:02 – Sections G & H: Measures in 7/4
12:39 – Section K&L: THE DRUM SOLO