In the annals of Rock & Roll music there are countless guitar riffs, lyrics, hooks, and even drum parts that every musician should know. Whether it’s the introduction to this song, the bridge to that song, or the drum break that leads to a chorus, it’s memorable and sticks in the minds of musicians, and non-musicians alike. For example, every time I hear the drum break that Kenny Aronoff plays in John Cougar Mellencamp’s song “Jack And Diane”, I can’t help but to sing along. These musical statements stay with us and form some of the basis of our own compositional language as we develop. It’s with that in mind, and the fact that I make my living as a drum instructor, that I decided to put together this video and article showcasing some of what I call “Must-Know Grooves” that every drummer should spend time with. It’s just a small taste of the material out there that should be on this list, but you have to start somewhere. So without further ado, let me introduce to you the songs I’m covering in this article.
The first groove in the video, which begins at :32 seconds, is the main part to Led Zeppelin’s song “Fool In The Rain”. It’s a half time shuffle groove that undoubtedly influenced may shuffles that followed. What makes it a half time groove is that it’s snare resolution is on beat 3, and thus it feels like it’s slower than it is. As you practice this pattern, please try to keep the middle portion of the triplet played on the snare as quiet as possible. Those notes should be felt more than heard. If you watch closely, you’ll notice that my fingers on my left hand are gently moving, and that my hand hovers above the snare head as opposed to my entire arm lifting away. These are called “Ghost Notes” and are meant to be as quiet as you see and hear them. These notes are usually written in parentheses to highlight the importance of their volume. They make a huge difference in this pattern, and the groove just wouldn’t be the same without that volume.
The second groove in the video, which begins at 1:21, is the verse pattern to the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “We Believe”. It too is a half time time groove, but in this case the main snare note resolves on beat 4 instead of beat 3. Also like Fool In The Rain, you must play ghost notes on the snare drum until you finally get to beat 4, in which you’ll accent that note to provide resolution. The accent is written with the > symbol above the snare note. I can’t speak for Chad Smith, the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, when I say this, but it sounds like he was influenced by the great drumming of David Garibaldi during his time with Tower Of Power. The groove here is slick, and filled with ghost notes. During my demonstration I play a few different open hihat patterns. Some of the open hats are longer in duration than others, and sometimes I play two open hats instead of 3. I did that because Chad did that as well on the recording.
The third groove in the video, which begins at 2:24, is the verse pattern to Paul Simon’s song “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”. This is a completely linear groove – which means that there are no stacked notes. For example, you wouldn’t play a bass drum and a hihat at the same time. It’s all one note at a time – like a line if you will. (For those of you who wish to learn more about Linear drumming, please refer to my other video here on Musician You with the title “Linear Drumming”) The wonderful and amazing Steve Gadd played drums on this track. After listening back to my video, I noticed that I play a natural accent on the snare on the + of beat 2. I’d like you to take notice that Steve doesn’t play any accented snare notes. I also noted that accent in the written page as well – I did so because I played it that way on the video. However, all of the snare notes are ghosted as well in this groove. This is a must know groove for every drummer.
The final grooves in the video, which begin at 3:31, are the patterns to the verse and pre-chorus of Maroon 5′s song “If I Never See Your Face Again V & PC”. This is more of a straight forward rock and pop groove. Personally, I don’t really consider this to be a must-know groove, but I included it is because I like how the drummer embellishes the pre-chorus groove, which is exactly the same groove that he played for the verse, but with a different hihat pattern. (For more demonstrations on this kind of embellishing, please refer to my other video here on Musician You titled “Variation On Pickering”) He changes what was a straight 8th note pattern for the verse to a broken 16th note pattern for the pre-chorus, but he keeps the bass and snare exactly as they were. This creates the sensation of moving forward, but doesn’t completely change the feel of the song. The casual listener will notice that something changed, but might not be aware of exactly what it was that changed. Yet they’ll feel forward motion, as if it’s leading you somewhere.
So spend some time with these songs, and get to know the grooves that helped to shape them. I think you’ll find that they may influence you as well. Perhaps the next time you’re in the situation to write a drum part with your band mates, you’ll recall these patterns, and this advice, and you might just come up with the next “Must-Know” groove. Enjoy, and thanks for tuning in.