In the Pocket

Funk Drumming Training Camp

Part 4: Snare and Bass Drum Interaction

by Mike Adamo

In the first three parts of this series (May, June, and July 2013), we focused on techniques that develop a tighter groove, deeper pocket, and better feel. The lessons featured exercises containing intricate snare and hi-hat patterns played over steady bass drum rhythms. This month we’ll work on developing the interaction between the bass drum and snare, while the right hand holds down a steady rhythm.This lesson will also increase your awareness of the various 16th-note subdivisions of the measure, while improving the flow of your groove. Again, we’ll use the paradiddle and its three inversions as the foundation. Here’s what the paradiddles look like when split between the bass drum and snare.

Funk Drumming Training Camp 1

Be sure to pay attention to the accents and ghost notes within the snare pattern. This dynamic contrast adds more depth and flavor to the grooves. You don’t have to play the hi-hat with the left foot at first, but keeping quarters going can help you lock into a solid groove.

Now let’s start adding the right hand. For this lesson I like to play the right-hand patterns on the ride cymbal, which opens up the sound and feel of the groove and allows you to eventually add the hi-hat with the left foot. We’ll start simply. Here’s the first set of right-hand patterns.

Funk Drumming Training Camp 2

As you start adding the paradiddles underneath, strive for an even dynamic level in the right hand. Don’t let the accents and ghost notes in the snare patterns influence the dynamics of the ride.

Begin with the basic paradiddle, and apply it to each right-hand pattern. Practice each combination twenty times, and then move on to the next one. After you’ve practiced the basic paradiddle with the four hand patterns, move on to the other paradiddle variations. It may help to write out the ride patterns with the bass and snare exercises so you can see how everything lines up.

Here’s what the basic paradiddle looks like with each of the right-hand patterns.

Funk Drumming Training Camp 3

After you’ve mastered the paradiddle exercises with the first set of right-hand patterns, you can move on to the second set. These are based on instances of three 16th notes in a row.

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Practice those patterns in conjunction with the paradiddle variations in the same manner as before. Remember to start slowly and gradually build up your speed. If you have trouble with any of these, break down the right-hand part by starting with the first note and then adding one note at a time. Once you have the coordination under control, practice with a metronome.

After you’ve mastered the second set of right-hand patterns, move on to the third set, which is based on instances of two 16th notes in a row. Practice these in the same manner as before.

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After you’ve mastered the third set of right-hand patterns, move on to the fourth set. These consist of single notes placed on the “e” and “a” of the beat. Practice these in the same manner as before.

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Being able to play steady 16th notes on the hi-hat or ride is a very important aspect of funk drumming. It creates a nice driving feel for slow to mid-tempo funk (75–95 bpm). It also gives the band something to lock in with, so it’s very useful in keeping everyone together. Practice the four paradiddle variations in conjunction with the following right-hand pattern in order to develop a steady 16th-note ride.

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Our funk drumming training session wouldn’t be complete without a few bonus patterns. Make sure you’ve mastered the previous exercises before moving on. You probably won’t end up playing these parts too often on gigs, but perfecting them will make everything else you play seem that much easier, which will translate into a deeper groove and a more relaxed feel.

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Don’t forget that you can get an extra coordination workout by playing steady 8th notes or upbeat 8ths (on the “&”) with the left foot on the hi-hat. You should also record and analyze your practice sessions so you can make the necessary adjustments to tighten up your playing. Until next time—have fun!

Mike Adamo is the author of the critically acclaimed instructional book The Breakbeat Bible (Hudson Music). For more info, including how to sign up for lessons via Skype, visit mikeadamo.com and thebreakbeatbible.com.