ROCK ‘N’ JAZZ CLINIC
Part 1: Cookin’ With 16th
by Mike Johnston
In this article we are going to explore a single measure of unaltered 16th notes. On the surface, it looks mundane. But a plethora of patterns—from world rhythms to odd groupings—is waiting to be found inside those notes.
Now let’s explore. Imagine that the 16th notes are broth for a soup. We’ll play them on the snare at mezzo piano (moderately soft) and add a few vegetables (accents). The soup also needs some protein, so we’ll add some chicken (odd groupings like threes, fives, and sevens). The soup is still bland, so we’ll spice it up with flams, buzz strokes, and diddles. Although we started with a dull broth of flat 16ths, it was the perfect base for us to build upon.
This lesson focuses on seven common Cuban and Brazilian rhythms. The exercises use alternating single strokes, but I encourage you to try different sticking patterns after you’ve mastered them as written.
Once the exercises are comfortable on a practice pad or a snare drum, add some four-way independence. Try playing each hand pattern over samba, baiaó, and tumbaó foot ostinatos.
Mike Johnston runs the educational website mikeslessons.com, where he offers prerecorded videos as well as real-time online lessons. He also hosts weeklong drum camps at the mikeslessons.com facility each year.