Funk Lessons

Jazz Coordination and Funky Ghost Note Grooves

Here's another jazz groove which will work on your coordination. I believe that his type of groove has worked it's way into funk playing, as a beginning to ghost note playing. As you work through this groove, you'll hear what I mean. For those of you who "don't care" about jazz, just use this groove as a challenge. Try and work your way through it and make it sound musical.

jazz groove

Some Basic Rhythms with a Funky Twist

Here's a relatively basic lesson using some tried and true grooves. For some of you these may be very basic, or relatively basic. Just let your imagination flow a little with these grooves and you'll find some new and useful grooves here. We will just be combining some 16th note rhythms together, for some very usable grooves. I'm providing you with three ride patterns. For now, they're on the hi hat line of the staff. Of course, you're free to place them wherever you want: ride cymbal, X-hat, china, floor tom (hmmm...that would be cool!). The first ride pattern is a basic one, found in many different styles of music.

funk drums

This second pattern is not as common as number one. It can be heard in music from Brasil and, in a somewhat lesser extent, from Cuba and other Caribbean countries. Combining this pattern with bass drum and snare will provide some nice work for interdependence (or independence, depending on how you conceive of the concept). It1Ú4ll also give you some new inspirations for different sounding grooves and patterns.

The third pattern comes to me from the drum called chico, from Uruguay. Yu'oll notice an accent above the first 16th note. When practicing at first, leave this accent out. This pattern is difficult enough without adding an accent. The accent does give this pattern a real different swing.

Now, your job is to mesh the ride patterns with some bass/snare patterns. I'm providing just three with which to begin. Of course, there are thousands more. These will get you started.

Give it Up or Turnita Loose (Studio Version)

OK, here is DA FUNK! If you haven't heard this song, the original by James Brown, go and find it, put it on the CD player, let it ride a few thousand times, get up, get into it, get involved. Here's the lesson in three different versions, Basic, Intermediate, and Original Recipe. It's a baaaaaaaad groove! The groove is in 4/4 or Common Time.




Two Ghost Note Patterns

These two patterns are quite common, and I feel, very important to "understand" and play well, with a good feel. The first groove is from John Bonham and When the Levee Breaks. No bass drum is included yet! That'll be for the next lesson. The second groove is a very typical groove that's played by many drummers. I was first made aware of this groove by drummer Bernard Purdie The ghost notes are to be played softly, in comparison to the louder accented backbeats (2 & 4).

ghost notes
If you'd like to add a BD, try it first on 1 & 3. Now, this might sound simplistic to some of you, but, the most important thing is the groove. I could add a bunch of more intricate BD parts (maybe I will for the next lesson!) but, for now, let's stick to the ride and snare pattern and the BD on 1 & 3. As always, enjoy!

Lessons from "The Hit Maker" Bernard "Pretty" Purdie

Bernard Purdie is arguably one of the most recorded drummers of all time. His grooves have been heard with Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, James Brown, and hundreds if not thousands of other artists. You may have heard that he recorded with the Beatles. well, Bernard says he did. I believe him! Memphis Soul Stew, by King Curtis, is a baaad groove. Please find the album entitled "King Curtis Live at the Fillmore West". Buy It! Listen to the live version of Memphis Soul Stew. There is no way that written music can convey the masterful groove that Bernard Purdie lays down. Enjoy and hear from you soon!!

This first groove is a basic look at Bernard's pattern. Practice this lsowly to make sure that all the notes "line up" correctly. Only get some tempo and make it groove when the coordination is right.

Purdie groove

Now add a different hihat pattern.

purdie groove

And now the fun begins. This pattern on the hihat provides a great motion and feel to the groove. Honestly, you have to hear Bernard play this to really appreciate how this all fits together.

When we play, most drummers "learn" to keep time with their left or hihat foot, pumping eigth notes or some subdivision of the beat. That's how the sound of this pattern is achieved. By pumping eighths and playing the hand pattern, the hihat opens on the last 16th of the groove. It makes for such a sweet sound! Just try this.

purdie groove

Now, of course, you must add this hihat pattern to the groove. Good luck!!

Bernard Purdie's groove from Memphis Soul Stew!

If you're a drummer, you have to have these two CDs:

  • King Curtis Live at the Fillmore West
  • Aretha Franklin Live at the Fillmore West

It's very important for you to understand the basic patterns which underlies this wonderful groove. Just scroll up and you'll find these patterns.

purdie groove


Bernard Purdie's Groove from Memphis Soul Stew (continued)

This is a continuation of a groove I covered on the site a while ago. Here is is. It's the great drummer, Bernard Purdie playing wit King Curtis, on King Curtis Live at the Fillmore West. It's such a great groove and so important in many respects.

In the first groove, you're playing eighth notes in the HH, accenting on the downbeat. And....all the ghost notes as well. And...making it groove. Your main gig is to make this thing swing! Groove two adds another ride pattern for the HH. An added level of independence will now be attempted and hopefully successfully achieved! As always, take your time to make sure this all works to make a smooth groove.

purdie groove

Purdie Reggae Groove

This groove came into my drumming from a couple of resources, both with Bernard Purdie on drums. One song was Daydreamin', the other was Love the One You're With, both sung my the great Aretha Franklin. Love the One is from the amazing record, Aretha Franklin Live at the Fillmore West. Check this out if you need a nice reggae feel. Play cross stick on the snare and open HH on 1 and 3, as noted.

purdie reggae

Chad Smith Groove

At the Musicians Institute, where I teach, students play in what are called Live Performance Workshops (LPWs). This past week, Tell Me Baby was the song to be performed. So....I worked on it with some students. Here's how I heard Chad Smith's part.

First, here's the (relatively) basic groove.

Now, adding an accent on the downbeat, in the hi hat

And lastly, the open sound in the HH, on the downbeats. I think that Chad's getting this sound by playing 8th notes with his HH foot and really smashing the HH to get the open sound. This is reminiscent of Harvey Mason's HH on Chameleon by Herbie Hancock, although Harvey's sound was much more subtle. Chad's is more smashing of a sound! Anyone have other ideas??

Chad Smith

Rock Steady - Aretha Franklin with Bernard Purdie on drums

This is one baaad groove. I'm not 100% of the BD part. Maybe one of my web visitors can check out this great song by Aretha Franklin, and see if they can transcribe this any better.

rock steady

Now, adding a 16th note in the hi hat in beat 2.

rock steady

Opening the HH on the "ands" of 1 and 3

rock steady

Now, one more open sound on the last 16th note of beat 2.

rock steady

Spank-a-Lee, Herbie Hancock from the album Thrust.

This is a must have CD. If you don't own this CD, get it! I've been trying to transcribe the drum intro from Spank-a-Lee. This is close. Anyone want to try?? Come on :-) Give it a shot and email it to me.

Mike Clark