Let’s put together a very simple beat: eighth notes on the Hi-Hat, Bass Drum on one and three and Snare on two and four. A basic rhythm and typically one of the first ones that we learn.
Now let’s imagine that we have some kind of groove box, with knobs that allow us to control and combine basic elements like tempo and volume, along with more unusual things like Hi-Hat articulations, swing levels or placing notes ahead or behind the beat.
Suddenly the fact that we can adjust and combine so many of these variables turns this once commonplace groove into something completely new, fresh and incredibly tweakable.
Literally, by having fun with these knobs and fine-tuning each parameter, we are going to hear amazingly interesting things which we would have never imagined could come out of such a straightforward pattern.
That’s exactly what we want to do in this lesson: explore these ideas and discover how to use and apply them to our grooves.
Here is a list of the parameters that can be included:
As usual it’s best to start by practicing them one at the time. The longer we do that, the easier it will be to put them together in countless combinations.
At that point we are going to be able to create, choose and play the solution that is more suited for the music we are making.
We are talking about pretty advanced aspects of drumming: the 8th Volume of the Altitude Drumming Series, ‘Groove Mastery & Formulas’ is all about understanding and practicing these variables, which are described and analyzed one at the time.
Here we want to focus on a lighter version, to quickly test the possibilities available and the astonishing rhythmic landscapes that come out of this approach, even while sticking to basic beats.
We are going to check out 12 variations, which simply showcase a method, a process that we can then extend to any combination we can think of (and of course to any beat beyond the basic one shown here).
Every groove has a description of the way each parameter involved is supposed to be played.
Here is the PDF with all transcriptions:
To get a taste of how they sound it’s important to check out the YouTube video demo, which can also be accessed by clicking on each example in the booklet.
We can think of these combinations as Groove Formulas, since they are actual recipes in which every parameter is an ingredient that can be used in different amounts. Want a certain feel? Trying to create a unique groove? All we need to do is apply the related formula.
As a result, even though such nuances happen to be part of what other musicians appreciate the most in drummers, few of us invest time studying them.
Now we understand why Steve Jordan, who always seems to play the simplest things while actually being a master of these details, is one of the greatest drummers alive.