Rock ‘N’ Jazz Clinic

Grooving in Form


by Mike Johnston

In our previous lesson (July 2015), we learned how to use the simple song form AABA to create some hip triplet-based grooves. This month we’re going to push the concept further by using three components in our four-beat form. Beats 1 and 2 will serve as the A section, beat 3 will be the B section, and beat 4 will be the C section, which gives us an AABC form.

The purpose of learning grooves this way is to give you 75 percent structure with 25 percent left over for improvisation and creativity. When working on this, I think to myself, Okay, it’s a one-measure groove built out of 16th-note triplets, so that gives me a total of twenty-four notes. If I predetermine beats 1, 2, and 4, then I need to create only six notes to fill beat 3. Spontane-ously creating a twenty-four-note groove can be a daunting task, but six notes? We can all do that.

For the A section on beats 1 and 2, play a paradiddle-diddle between the hi-hat and snare, making sure to bring the right hand down to the snare on 2 and 4 to create the backbeats. The B section of the groove is the variable—this is where you get to be creative. I’ve given you six options, but make sure you push yourself to create new B sections once you’ve tried these. The C section is back to a predetermined set of notes, which in this case is the sticking LRLLRL.

Here are the six B-section options.

These grooves work best in situations where you would typically play a half-time shuffle. If you feel that a normal half-time shuffle just isn’t spicy enough, plug in one of these bad boys to bring a bit more creativity and texture to the music.

Here are the complete patterns.

Mike Johnston runs the educational website, where he offers prerecorded videos as well as real-time online lessons. He also hosts weeklong drum camps at the facility each year.