Rock ‘N’ Jazz Clinic

Groove Construction

Part 13: Left-Handed Split Grooves

by Jost Nickel

In this workshop we’re expanding a groove concept that I introduced in the January 2017 issue, in which we split the right hand between two voices in various places throughout a phrase. This time we’ll focus on grooves that split the left hand between the snare and hi-hat.

This concept works particularly well within patterns that contain broken 16th notes, such as the groove in the following example.

When playing two strokes in a row on the hi-hat or ride, I often accent the second stroke. I’ll usually accent single strokes when riding as well. Exercise 2 demonstrates these accents.

Now let’s vary the orchestration. We’ll move the right hand to the ride and split up the left-hand figure. To get comfortable with the left hand’s orchestration, play only one of the six left-hand strokes from Exercise 2 on the snare and the rest on the hi-hat. Be sure to use the same sticking from the previous example. When I play these grooves with my right hand on the ride, I usually place accents on the bell and unaccented strokes about one or two inches to the left of it.

Once you’re comfortable with the previous examples, alternate the left hand between the hi-hat and snare.

In Exercise 10, the left-hand orchestration starts on the snare before alternating with the hi-hat.

Instead of working through tons of new grooves, try experimenting with dynamics and additional orchestrations of the examples in this article to find your own fresh ideas. If you’re interested in more groove concepts, check out my book, Jost Nickel’s Groove Book.


Jost Nickel is a top session and touring drummer in Germany, as well as an international clinician endorsing Sonor, Meinl, Aquarian, Vic Firth, and Beyerdynamic.