Groove Construction

Part 4: Linear Variations

by Jost Nickel

We’ll continue working with linear grooves by embellishing them using two separate concepts. First we’ll double select single strokes using the hi-hat, snare, and bass drum. Then we’ll incorporate the hi-hat foot into the groove. Remember that linear grooves never have more than one voice played at a time. 

All of the exercises in this lesson are based on the first groove from last month’s introduction to linear phrases. This pattern is notated in Exercise 1.

Linear Variations 1

First let’s play diddles on a few of the single strokes with the right hand. Doubled notes are marked with a slash. When you see a slash through the stem of a 16th note, it’s played as two 32nd notes. The strokes on the “e” of beats 1 and 2 are doubled.

Linear Variations 2

Exercise 3 demonstrates the same pattern written with 32nd notes instead of slashes.

Linear Variations 3

In Exercise 4 we’ll double the “&” of beat 2 and the “a” of beat 4 with the left hand.

Linear Variations 4

Next we’ll incorporate double strokes with both hands.

Linear Variations 5

Let’s try playing diddles with the bass drum. On the “a” of beat 1, we’ll play two 32nd notes instead of one 16th.

Linear Variations 6

Now we’ll bring it all together. In Exercise 7 we’ll play double strokes with the hi-hat, snare, and bass drum.

Linear Variations 7

For our second linear groove variation we’ll incorporate the hi-hat foot and use it to replace select bass drum strokes. In Exercise 8 the hi-hat replaces three bass drum notes from our original groove.

Linear Variations 8

Exercises 9–12 show variations of this idea. In these examples the hi-hat foot replaces select bass drum notes.

Linear Variations 9

Be sure to experiment with these ideas in other linear grooves as well. Applying doubled strokes can also work well in other contexts, such as non-linear grooves.

If you’re interested in these concepts and want more groove ideas, check out my book, Jost Nickel’s Groove Book.

Jost Nickel is a top session and touring drummer in Germany, and he endorses Sonor, Meinl, Aquarian, Vic Firth, and Beyerdynamic.