Groove Construction

Part 3: Linear Patterns

by Jost Nickel

In this lesson, we’ll create linear grooves by following three simple rules. Linear grooves never have more than one voice played at the same time. In general, I feel that the two most important elements of a groove are the bass drum figure and the snare accents. We’ll start building linear patterns using a skeleton groove that consists of these two components.Groove Constructions 1The goal is to fill the gaps in the skeleton groove with either hi-hat strokes or ghost notes. We do that by following three simple rules:
1. The right hand plays either single or double strokes.
2. The left hand plays only single strokes.
3. Ghost notes won’t immediately precede or follow
snare accents.
The application of these three rules can produce a variety of results. Here are a few possibilities.Groove Constructions 2There are virtually no rules without exceptions, and breaking rules in music has often led to new developments. In the following exercises, we’ll change the second rule and add double strokes with the left hand on the snare drum. Occasionally playing two ghost notes in a row can be a nice variation for your phrases. Exercises 6 and 7 demonstrate two grooves where the left hand plays singles and doubles.

Groove Constructions 3Groove Constructions 4Next we’ll disregard the third rule, which stated not to play ghost notes before or after snare accents. When you’re starting out with these concepts, following that rule makes the patterns easier to play. Although it can be technically demanding to play ghost notes directly before or after snare accents, it can also sound great once mastered.

Groove Constructions 5All of the exercises in this lesson use the same skeleton groove. If you feel like creating more linear patterns, choose a different groove from Exercises 10–13 and continue
as described.

I am aware that creating grooves is highly dependent on individual taste. Do not be put off by the fact that there are so many different choices. The aim is to explore one great-sounding phrase and not get lost among all of the possible options.

Groove Constructions 6

Groove Constructions 7

It’s imperative to adhere to the three rules for a long enough period of time to discover patterns that you enjoy playing. You should have the feeling that you’re still creating exciting grooves and shouldn’t become bored. After that, you’re free to break the rules.

If you’re interested in these concepts and want more linear 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.