Drum Set Grooving: Make it Danceable

November 17, 2009 12:38 pm in Drumset by Brian Ferguson

One of the greatest compliments paid to a drummer goes unspoken. DANCERS! That’s right, a dance floor full of people says you are grooving! You are doing your job, keeping it steady with the right feel.

I was reminded of this recently while speaking to the steel guitarist in my band. He mentioned that his friends in the audience loved coming to see our band because they could dance to us. In particular: the shuffle. This was a huge compliment and something that in the past I haven’t paid enough attention to.

Many times as drummers, we are focused on coordination, hand technique and speed rather than making it groove and feel good for our band mates. If we can put the groove and time first, things will fall into place. In fact, you will find more work with this approach. Many of the styles we have to play as drummers revolve around the audience’s desire to dance. R&B, Hip Hop, Funk, Soul, Blues, Jump-Swing….the list goes on and on.

So how do we focus on this groove/dance first approach?

Listening! That’s right, listening. There are two forms for listening that will help us.

  1. Listening to the other band members on stage, focusing our ears more on what’s going on around us. Making the “big picture” happen. Find the other strong players in the group and focus our ears on them. Maybe the rhythm guitarist is really leading things…focus on his/her groove…jump on his/her train so to speak. Hopefully, all other musicians on stage will follow.
  2. Listening to the right drummers that preceded us, our recorded history on the instrument. Incredibly important!

So you want to find the right drummers to listen to….in particular the shuffle groove. Check out this video we produced outlining the shuffle feel. Be sure to follow it all the way to the end to get my listening recommendations.

So who is your favorite shuffle drummer? I would love to hear your questions or comments.

Until next time! Groove on people!

Brian