Groove Construction

Part 1: Snare Displacement

by Jost Nickel

In the first part of this series, we’ll create new grooves by displacing the snare drum. Our basic pattern consists of 8th notes on the hi-hat, snare on beats 2 and 4, and a specific bass drum phrase. Here’s the main groove and bass drum rhythm. 

Groove Construction 1

In measure 2, the snare and bass drum play simultaneously on the “&” of beat 1. If this happens in these variations, the bass drum can be omitted. This also occurs in measure 4 on the “e” of beat 2.

Groove Construction 2

These grooves are crying out for ghost notes. We’ll use two steps to find ghost-note patterns that go well with all of the grooves we have covered so far. First, we’ll play ghost notes on every offbeat 16th note. Here’s an example using measure 1 from Exercise 3.

Groove Construction 3

Next, we’ll omit the ghost notes that occur before and after the snare accents. Looking at Exercise 4, we’ll drop the ghost notes on the “a” of beat 3 and the “e” of beat 4. This makes the groove easier to play.

Groove Construction 4

In the following example, ghost notes are added to the patterns in Exercise 3.

Groove Construction 5

Groove Construction 6

All of the grooves in this lesson have the same bass drum pattern. If you feel like creating more variations, choose a different one-measure bass drum rhythm from Exercises 7 through 9 and continue as described. Each measure in the following examples can be used to create six displaced groove variations.

Groove Construction 7

If you’re interested in these ideas and want more groove concepts, check out my new 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.