Coloring Your Grooves

July 12, 2012 9:37 am in Drumset by kevin fortunato

Hello Everyone, and thanks for tuning in today. Once again MusicianYOU Magazine has allowed insight into some great ideas, topics, discussions, and lessons. In today’s lesson I’ll discuss ways that drummers can color their groove. I guess you could think of it as adding the spice and pepper to your food. Only, in this situation, you should come away hungry – hungry for more that is. The accompanying video is just one example of a far reaching topic. The video just shows one groove with what I call coloring, or layering, your pattern. My hope is that you start to build these ideas into your playing. You could do it as easily as swapping one hihat note for a cowbell instead, and that might be just enough color for a given song. For those of you who are familiar with The Dave Matthews Band know that a drummer like Carter Beauford uses coloring to great extent, and with wonderful results. Even Charlie Watts does it in Honky Tonk Woman with his famous cowbell pattern. If you’re not familiar with this stuff, check it out, as the more you know the better equipped you’ll be going forward.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started: A good imagination, creativity, time, reckless abandon, or fearlessness if you will, and a good spice rack – or selection of alternative sound sources like a cowbell or two. Then, find any pattern or groove – be it one that you’ve made up, or found in a book like the example pattern from the video, and begin shifting the playing surfaces. It’s really that easy. However, keep in mind that making these movements will feel awkward at first, and some of the sounds might clash. But stick with it, as the body will get used to moving around the kit, and you’ll notice these movements, and sounds, start to creep into your everyday playing. Eventually it will become easier to get around the kit within your groove, and your soloing will benefit too.

I’ve included a link to the “Broken” pattern from Gary Chester & Chris Adams book The New Breed 2. This is a must have book in my humble opinion. (and I have at least 50 to 60 books) Keep in mind that I’m only playing the first example on the page – but I’m swapping out various ride cymbals and snare drums for other playing surfaces such as cowbells, cross-sticks, tom toms, and a tombeck. To this I’ve added the left foot cowbell to create even more coloring within the groove. If you decide to venture into this exact study, as opposed to, or in addition to, adding these concepts to your personal grooves, then you can be the master of your own destiny with the movements that you choose. Here’s where the creativity and reckless abandon come into play – don’t be afraid to try new stuff. You never know what you might come up with. Now obviously I wouldn’t think of these concepts as being this extreme, but remember that “The Rite Of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky caused rioting in the streets upon it’s opening. That’s because it was so different from the norm for those times. Now it’s considered one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, and highly influential to composers, and listeners, everywhere. So go out and buy a cowbell, pick up the New Breed 2 book, club a drumhead, switch to Vic Firth 5B’s, and change your name to Igor – you could be elected president.