Donny Gruendler

July 2012

Jobbing Drummer

Popular Play-Alongs
Part 1: Timber Grooves

by Donny Gruendler

Pop music is all over the airwaves. Drummers need to realize that the music on the radio is vital and deserves our attention as aspiring working musicians. Today’s radio hits will be tomorrow’s standards and will likely show up on our future gigs.

This play-along series is designed to help you understand popular song forms, rhythmic figures, transitions, and drumset sounds. Practicing these songs will not only expand your groove vocabulary and widen your feel but will also increase your odds of getting work.

 Genre: Top 40

“Top 40” is industry shorthand for the most popular, best-selling, and frequently broadcast songs within a given week, month, or year. Over time, it has also come to represent any popular song from a particular era. This “Timber Grooves” play-along is a Top 40 dance/pop tune in the tradition of Justin Timberlake, the Neptunes, and Timbaland.

 Structure: AABA 32-Bar Form

This chart employs the traditional AABA thirty-two-bar form. It consists of two sections, with each assigned a letter (A and B). Each section has three key musical attributes: a different rhythm, an eight-bar phrase, and a particular riff and chord structure. Let’s examine these elements individually.

There are two grooves present within this chart. The A section is a two-bar phrase that features a straight-8th closed hi-hat over a syncopated 16th-note bass drum pattern.

The B section is a one-bar phrase and features a quarter-note hi-hat and bass drum pattern with an open hi-hat on the “&” of beat 4.

Here’s a demo mix of the complete tune with drums.

Download MP3

Here’s a mix minus drums for you to play along with.

Download MP3

Here’s the drum chart to the tune “Timber Grooves.”

Timber Grooves CHART.pdf

Be sure to check out the complete article in the July 2012 issue of Modern Drummer for additional tips on how to play this tune to get the most authentic pop/R&B sound and feel as possible.