A Four-Step Process to Discovering New Grooves

Discovering New Grooves 1In this article I’ll show you how sticking patterns can be applied to the drumset to create various grooves. Each groove is built from the ground up, progressing through four easy-to-understand steps. The first step is to learn the basic sticking pattern by itself. This is the building block for the final groove. The second step is to apply accents to the sticking pattern. (I recommend practicing the first two steps on a practice pad.) Don’t concern yourself with playing these patterns at lightning speeds. Try to play them at tempos that feel comfortable, and focus on making them groove.

Once you’ve mastered the first two steps, you can move on to the third, which incorporates the bass drum. The final step is to apply the accented sticking pattern and the bass drum part to the drumset.

Our first groove is based on a 4/4 16th-note sticking that leads with the right hand. Note the three groups of five (RLRRL) followed by a right-hand stroke.

Here’s the pattern without accents.

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Here’s the pattern with accents added.

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Now let’s add the bass drum.

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Finally, we’ll apply the pattern to the drumset.

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For our second groove, we’ll start with a 4/4 16th-note sticking that leads with the left hand.

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Here’s the pattern with accents added.

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Now let’s add the bass drum.

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Finally, we’ll play the groove on the drumset. It’s important to note that playing the toms would be awkward if the sticking were reversed so that you were leading with the right hand.

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Our third groove will explore two-surface riding. Here’s the pattern without accents.

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Here’s the pattern with accents added.

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Now let’s add the bass drum.

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Finally, we’ll play the groove on the drumset.

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Our next groove incorporates 32nd notes. Here’s the pattern without accents.

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Here’s the pattern with accents added.

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Now let’s add the bass drum.

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Finally, we’ll play the groove on the drumset.

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The next groove is based on 16th-note triplets leading with the left hand. Here’s the pattern without accents.

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Here’s the pattern with accents added.

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Now let’s add the bass drum.

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Finally, we’ll play the groove on the drumset.

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Our final groove is in 7/4 and is based on a 16th-note sticking that leads with the right hand. Here’s the pattern without accents.

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Here’s the pattern with accents added.

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Now let’s add the bass drum.

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Finally, we’ll play the groove on the drumset.

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Once you’ve mastered these six grooves, you can experiment with different ways to interpret them. For example, you could combine two of the grooves to create two-bar patterns, you could substitute a cowbell for the hi-hat or ride cymbal parts, or you could incorporate open and closed hi-hat sounds. You could also play the accented sticking pattern as a fill.

These exercises are meant to be thought-provoking yet tangible enough that you can go on to come up with your own unique grooves based on your favorite sticking patterns. Have fun!