Before we get started I just want to let those of you who like to know these things into the origin of these exercises. Back in the day at a gig I was talking with our regular drummer Roger and we were talking about rhythm and teaching and he had some teaching stuff with him and pulled out a book called It’s About Time by a guy called Fred Dinkins. The exercises we’re going to cover in this series are based on exercises in that book. It’s not necessary for you to get that book…but there are those of you who like to work on your domain knowledge and it’s interesting to read to see how a drummer – and a drumming teacher at that – ap-proaches time.So let’s get to it.
The first exercise we’re going to use is going to feature two of the sections in the style of Dance The Night Away by The Mavericks .The reason for using these two sections is that I want you to play some actual lines in the way we’re going to play them – and I want those lines to be both relatively easy and have a continuous quarter note pulse in the line.
We’re also going to slow the tempo for this first exercise down to 120 BPM. Again that’s because I want the line to be super easy for you – so you can focus on the time element.So the first exercise we’re going to work on is the introduction part – which is an 8 bar section. Here’s what we’re going to play for this exercise:
Now you might be looking at this musical example and thinking: what’s the big deal? I can already play this? And in fact I’m counting on that being your reaction. Because what we’re going to do in this lesson is play the section above and then a 16 bar section further below in the lesson with a harmonic metronome.
You probably just said: what’s a harmonic metronome?
So let me explain a harmonic metronome.
This is a style I created in Band In A Box.
Now a normal metronome has clicks at pre-ordained beats. (Usually with a metronome, clicks are on beats 1,2,3, and 4 in 4:4 time…though it doesn’t have to be). But what I wanted to do was work on time and have clicks only on Beats 2 and 4.
And that’s easy enough to program in Band In A Box…but I wanted a harmonic element too (a chord).The solution came from listening to reggae and Motown….in both of those styles of music they often have a guitar ‘skank’ (a staccato chord) played on Beats 2 and 4. And I thought: why don’t I just use a guitar skank….that way that gives me a rhythmic element on Beats 2 and 4 – but it also gives me a harmonic element too.
So I tried it out.
And was absolutely bowled over with the results – it worked even better than I anticipated.
So I get both rhythm and harmony – and both of the elements are tightly controlled and only sound for a short duration on beats 2 and 4. Here’s the above example played with that harmonic metronome: