Beat Breakdown #28- Badbadnotgood - Confessions Pt II

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown we’ll be breaking down the beat to Badbadnotgood’s groover, Confessions Pt II. The track is in 5/4 which means that you have 5 quarter notes in a bar, or in simple terms, you need to count up to 5 instead of the usual 4! Alexander Sowinski on drums.

Break it down.
The groove is a back beat pattern with snare drums on beats ‘2’ and ‘4’ and a four on the floor pattern on the bass drum (bass drums on all quarter notes). Where you really get the groove is in the syncopated, 16th note hi-hat pattern. I have broken down both the counting and sticking pattern for this below, K: Kick, R: Right, L: Left. Sowinski improvises variations of this throughout the track so although I’ve written out the main groove, start here and see what variations of your own you can come up with , as well as listening out to the variations in the track!

The rhythm is counted: 1+ 2+a 3e+ 4+a 5e+
The sticking is: KR - RRL - KLR - RRL - KLR

Download the sheet music for free below:

Notation: Beat Breakdown #28 - Badbadnotgood - Confessions Pt II

Beat Breakdown #27 - Richard Spaven - Spin

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, we’re going to be looking at the drums to the live version of Richard Spaven and Jordan Rakei- Spin, played for Spaven’s performance on Vic Firth. This one is a 160 bpm banger with a super fast hi-hat ostinato and a lot of syncopated snare and kick patterns. The concept behind this groove is pretty simple in theory but it’s definitely one of the most difficult things I’ve learnt in ages and getting it up to speed was a real challenge. Start slow and get used to the groove before you gradually increase your tempo!

Break it down.
The hi hat ostinato is 2 16th notes followed by an 8th note, counted 1e+ 2e+ 3e+ 4e+. Within this pattern Spaven plays some super creative phrasing ideas between his snare and bass drum, follow through the notation and work out each bar one at a time really nice and slow, paying particular attention to which notes are played with or against the hi hat rhythm. Some of the bass drum phrases are really fast so again, it’s all about going slowly at first to build up some muscle memory and then gradually pushing it up there. Something that took me a little while to get used to is that the hi hat is accented on the ‘and’, this is subtle but helps to tie the groove together, this is more difficult to play than it appears so learning this will be a great exercise for your dynamic control! I have notated the main 8 bar phrase twice (the second time has the repeat symbol) with the only difference being the snare drum on the ‘1e’ of the very first bar. The first time round you don’t need to play it, but every other time it’s important to put it in their to finish off the snare phrase going over the bar line!

Download the notation below for free and have a go for yourself!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #27 - Richard Spaven - Spin

Beat Breakdown #26 - Theon Cross - Activate

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, we’ll be looking at the groove to the A section of London based Tuba player Theon Cross’s Activate. The drummer on the track is Moses Boyd, one of my favourite players on the UK jazz scene. If you dig the playing in this song, make sure to go and check out Learning Licks #6 on this blog to check out some more Moses Boyd notations!

Break it down.
I think of this groove as a call and response. The first bar (call) is a back beat groove with a syncopated hi hat pattern that repeats throughout the song and the second bar (response) continues the groove with a variation on the second half of each bar. One you have the main groove down, it’s just about learning each fill variation and then piecing it all together. All of the fills are based out of 16th notes and are mostly based off of singles or a KRLK linear lick. If this is new for you, just practice the KRLK pattern nice and slow and loop it until you have built the muscle memory to put it back into the groove!

One thing that took me a little while to get used to is that Moses Boyd has a super laid back feel, often playing right back behind the beat. For me, I tend to play right on the click or sometimes like to push ahead to really drive a groove forward, so it took some time to get used to locking in with Boyd’s flow. Pocket is something that everybody feels differently and playing behind, on and in front of the beat all have their place in music of all styles - as long as you’re feeling the groove and it sounds good then you are good to go!

Download the sheet music for free below:

Notation: Learning Licks #26 - Theon Cross - Activate

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Learning Licks #14- Yussef Dayes - Yesterday Princess Cross Stick

What are we learning?
In this episode of Learning Licks, we’ll be looking at a super fast 32nd note lick played by Yussef Dayes in his latest youtube upload with Rocco Palladino - Yesterday Princess. Dayes is really driving the UK jazz scene forward with his playing and there is always something to be learnt from watching his performances. This lick really struck out to me so I had to work out what was going on! If you dig his playing, check out some of my other Yussef Dayes notations on the Drum Hub blog!

What is he playing?
The main groove to the song is a 16th note backbeat pattern, 16ths on the hats with your right hand, ‘2’ and ‘4’ cross stick on the snare, with variations throughout. The lick is played between the snare with your right hand and a cross stick with your left, using 32nd notes from ‘2e’ into 2 accents on beats ‘3’ and ‘3e’. The sticking for the most part is RRL RRL RR played as 32nd notes (although this is an even group of 8 notes, I found the sticking easier to think of in 3 sections- RRL- RRL -RR). The final RR is where you’ll play your accents. The first 2 times Dayes plays the lick, he drops out the second left hand, leaving you with the sticking RRL RR RR and then brings in the second left hand cross stick every other time!

Things to watch out for!
I would start off by just learning the sticking pattern between your snare and cross stick, focus on getting this up to speed and sounding super clean. Once you’ve got it down, try to get used to the placement of the lick, it starts on ‘2e’ so straight after your backbeat on beat ‘2’ of the bar. This took me a few tries to get used to so just be ready to bring your right hand straight down to the snare! Once you’re comfortable with the lick, chuck it into your own grooves and see what variations you can come up with!

Download the sheet music here for free:
Learning Licks #14 - Yussef Dayes - Tomorrow Princess Cross Stick

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Beat Breakdown #25 - Ezra Collective - Mace Windu Riddim

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, I’ll be breaking down the intro groove to Ezra Collective- Mace Windu Riddim. The drummer on the track, Femi Kolioso, is killing the jazz scene in London at the moment and this groove perfectly demonstrates why.

Break it down.
This beat takes influence from drum and bass grooves, such as the classic ‘Amen Break’, and puts it into an uptempo, jazz setting. There is a snare back beat on ‘2’ and ‘4’ and 8th notes on the hats with some fast doubles on the bass drum and a lot of ghost note variations!

To get this beat down, I’d focus on playing ghost note variations on the snare, particularly focusing on playing pull out stokes (ghost notes leading into the back beat). Books such as ‘The Break Beat Bible’ and ‘Groove Alchemy’ are filled with wicked exercises focused on this and would be great resources for any drummers looking to improve on this style of playing!

Some things to watch out for are the 32nd notes on the snare at the end of most bars, this can be played as a double stroke with your left hand, leading into the next bar. There is also an extra hi hat played on the ‘a of 1’ during the groove, to get this down, practise playing similar grooves and matching your hi hat to your bass drum pattern. Whilst it can sound quite subtle, it can be difficult to get the coordination down if it’s a new concept for you!

Once you’ve got the groove down, also have a go at improvising with the ideas and creating your own grooves based on the playing of Femi Kolioso! Notation below!

Noatation: Beat Breakdown #25 - Ezra Collective - Mace Windu Riddim

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Beat Breakdown #24 - Parcels - Gamesofluck

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, we’ll be learning to play the groove to Gamesofluck by Parcels. This one is a disco influenced groover with a super simple beat, perfect for beginners. There is a stop or 2 in the track but overall the beat is the same from beginning to end - a great one for drummers just starting to get to grips with 2 handed 16th note grooves or looking for alternative ways of practising a steady single stroke roll (RLRL).

Break it down.
The beat to Gamesofluck is a classic 16th note groove. Play a single stroke roll on the hi-hat, starting with your right hand, and count 16th notes (1e+a 2e+a 3e+a 4e+a). Next, bring you right hand down to the snare drum on beats ‘2’ and ‘4’, continue with your RLRL sticking and play the rest of your 16th notes on the hats. This will give you your back beat pattern, all you need to do now is play your bass drum on beats ‘1’ and ‘3’ (at the same time as your right stick on the hats) and you’re good to go! Loop it round a few times nice and slow and until you’ve got it, then take it up to your goal tempo of 105bpm, then you’re good to go!

Download the sheet music for this beat for free below!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #24 - Parcels - Gamesofluck

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Beat Breakdown #23- Ishmael Ensemble - Tunnels

What are we learning?
In this Beat Breakdown, I have notated the groove to Bristol’s Ishmael Ensemble - Tunnels. I heard this band through Gilles Peterson’s BBC 6 radio show and have had them on regular rotation since! With song that blend together features of modern jazz, bass music and live drums, you can see why!

Break it down.
The groove has an offbeat hi-hat throughout and a snare accent on beat ‘4’ of the bar. Each bar starts with the bass drum placed on ‘1’ and the ‘a of 1’, followed by a different 16th note phrase between the bass drum, snare and hats, depending on the bar. The dynamics between ghost notes and accents are what really make this groove pop, so really spend some time on getting that down! Watch out for the 1st/ 2nd time bar at the end of the 8 bar phrase and you’re good to go!

Download the notation for free below!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #23 - Ishmael Ensemble - Tunnels

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Beat Breakdown #22- Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei - Wake Up This Day

What are we learning?
I’ve been uploading a lot of complex modern jazz notations recently, but this one is a super good beat for a beginner to jump straight into (or any drummer that wants to sit back in the pocket). Tom Misch featuring Jordan Rakei- Wake Up This Day.

Break it down.
The beat for Wake Up This Day is a snare back beat on ‘2’ and ‘4’ with 8th notes on the hi-hat and a bass drum on beat ‘1’ and ‘2+’ and THAT’S IT! The groove is the same all the way through the track, except for some stops here and there to lead into a new section, so once you are able to play through one bar, it’s just a case of growing in confidence with looping it and really trying to lock in with that hip hop feel!

Download the sheet music for this beat for free below and have a go!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #22 - Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei - Wake Up This Day

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Beat Breakdown #21 - Soweto Kinch - The Healing

What are we learning?
I’m going to be breaking down the main groove to Soweto Kinch - The Healing. This hip hop inspired, back beat groove has been a go to for me when warming up for years so it was fun to notate exactly what the drummer was playing!

Break it down.
This one is a 2 bar call and response phrase, with a snare back beat on ‘2’ and ‘4’ and a one-handed 16th note groove on the hats throughout. The call bar has a pull out stroke (a ghost note followed by an accent) leading into the snare on beat ‘4’ and an open hi-hat with a bass drum on ‘3e’ and ‘4’, creating much of the feel for this pattern. Watch out for the left hand double stroke at the end leading into the response bar. The phrasing of the response bar varies slightly throughout the track but follows the rule of playing through to beat ‘4’ of the bar, leaving you with a quarter note beat to improvise with. Simple tends to sound better, whether it’s leaving space until an open hi-hat on the ‘4+’ or playing a hi-hat phrase over the quarter note pulse. Once you’ve got it down, improvise and see what you like the sound of!

As always, download the sheet music for this beat for free below!

Notation: Beat Breakdown - Soweto Kinch - The Healing

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Beat Breakdown #20 - Yussef Kammal - Calligraphy (Yussef Dayes)

What are we learning?
I have posted a lot of Yussef Dayes notations so far on this blog, but his drumming really is changing the game and pushing the envelope of the typical role of the drummer in a band. In my opinion, he’s the most exciting drummer to have broken through for the last few years. I first heard of Yussef Kamaal (the now split band, headed up by Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams) when the live video for Calligraphy was dropped by Brownswood in 2016, so it was super fun to go back to learn and notate it!

What is he playing?
This one is pretty wild! I personally preferred to learn this in 2 sections, as an A and a B, and then piece them together once I felt confident. I also learned it by ear first and notated after, so admittedly, I did miss out a couple of notes on my play through. The dots are accurate though so have a little read through before playing! I’ve put a rough estimate of 140 bpm to help as a goal tempo, although they are not playing to a click!

A section:
The A section is all about a straight 4’s rim click pushing the groove forward and then fast 8th and 16th note patterns on the hi-hat! There are a few little variations throughout, such as adding an extra rim click to the ‘e of beat 3’ and open hi-hats on the ‘4+’ but overall it stays pretty consistent. There is a wicked little fill leading into the B section with a syncopated rhythm played between the snare and rim click, leading into a classic 16th note fill around the toms!

B section:
The B section is played between the ride and hats, with a lot of fast 16th notes throughout. The phrasing of this groove is super unique and has a pattern that resolves on the ‘1’ with an open hi-hat, ride and bass drum all played at the same time. It took me a little bit of time to get the muscle memory to be able to play the bass drum pattern underneath, so go really slowly and feel where each limb either plays together or separately to create this complex rhythm! Watch out for the little variations throughout, such as extra ghost notes played after the downbeat or the buzz stroke (notated with a z on the stem) followed by an accent!

This one was a lot of fun to learn, download the sheet music for free below!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #20 - Yussef Kamaal - Calligraphy

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Beat Breakdown #19 - Horsey - Arms and Legs

What are we learning?
A few of my students have asked me to teach them more about time signatures recently and this groove is a great example of how effective it can be to play outside of 4/4 time. The groove to Horsey - Arms and Legs is in 5/4. When looking at a time signature, the top number tells you what number to count up to and the bottom number tells you what type of note you are counting, so in 5/4 you have 5 quarter notes in a bar.

Break it down.
This groove is a half time shuffle with the back beat on beat ‘4’ of the bar. For me, I think of it as a call and response between the first and second 2 bars; with the ‘call’ remaining the same and the ‘response’ varying slightly. There are the classic shuffle ghost notes in the middle of the triplet, helping to drive the groove forward and a bass drum pattern primarily hitting the upbeats, giving it that swung, shuffle feel.

This is a really original take on a classic shuffle groove, download the sheet music below for free and have a go!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #19 - Horsey - Arms and Legs

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Beat Breakdown - #18 - The Roots - The Seed (2.0)

What are we learning?
Usually I like to notate relatively new music, but after doing a Karriem Riggins episode of Learning Licks, I felt like it made sense to notate something played by Questlove. Questlove and Riggins (as well as Chris Dave) helped to push a whole new sound for drummers and have influenced so many of today’s players with their approach to hip hop drumming. The Seed (2.0) is a classic banger by The Roots released in 2002, Questlove on drums.

Break it down.
The beat to The Seed (2.0) is nice and simple, an easy one for drummers at any level to jump straight into. I have notated the first 8 bars of the track (including the anacrusis 2/4 bar at the beginning) and although there are variations throughout, this is the main groove that the track is based around. The fill leading into the track alternates between a flam on the snare drum and a bass drum, playing 8th notes (1+ 2+) and then you’re straight in with a hard hitting backbeat, snares on ‘2’ and ‘4’, 8th notes on a slightly open hi-hat and a simple bass drum pattern driving the song forward. In the 8th bar there is a simple fill playing consistent 8th notes on the hi-hat and snare followed by a flam on beat ‘4’ and a bass drum on ‘4+’, from here you can continue with the groove and listen out for occasional variations throughout!

Download the sheet music for free below!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #18 - The Roots - The Seed (2.0)

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Beat Breakdown #17 - Kamaal Williams - New Heights

What are we learning?
Kamaal Williams has just dropped an absolute banger of a video for his track New Heights. This track has a laid back, 2 bar groove with a lot of feel, leaving space for Williams to improvise solo ideas on piano on top. Kamaal Williams album The Return is worth checking out for more drum heavy grooves and interesting phrasing ideas.

Break it down.
This groove is all about the off-beats, with the bass and snare pattern frequently being played on the ‘e’, ‘+’ and ‘a’ throughout. The hi hat pattern is playing one handed 16th notes throughout with open hats on ‘2e’ in bar 1 and ‘2e’ and ‘4’ in bar 2. The beat to New Heights is 2 bars long, repeated throughout, so it’s all about getting the right feel and then you’re good to go!

Download the sheet music for free below!

Notation: Beat Breakdown - Kamaal Williams - New Heights

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Beat Breakdown #16 - Slowthai - Doorman

What are we learning?
In this episode of beat breakdown we’ll be looking at the beat to Slowthai - Doorman. This tune takes influence from old school punk bangers with a fast, straight ahead, heavy hitting groove. Everything that Slowthai has put out so far hits hard, but this tune naturally lends itself to being played on an acoustic drum kit, making it an obvious choice for me to notate!

Break it down.
The beat to this track is actually super simple, 8th notes on the hi hat, snare on ‘2’ and ‘4’ and every other note has a bass drum played with the hats. Where this groove can be tricky is getting it up to the goal tempo of 175bpm to play along with the track! 170bpm+ is really fast so start slow with the groove until you feel like you’ve got it down and then speed up gradually, I’d always recommend playing with a metronome and stopping and restarting at a new speed each time!

Download the notation for free below and have a go!

Notation: Beat Breakdown #16 - Slowthai - Doorman

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Learning Licks #13 - Karriem Riggins - Zildjian Underground

What are we learning?
In this episode of Learning Licks, we’ll be learning a drum break from Karriem Riggins’ performance at Zildjian Underground. Karriem Riggins is right at the forefront of hip hop drumming and is one of the pioneers of taking the J Dilla feel from the decks to the drum kit; pushing the boundaries between straight and swing feel, alongside drummers such as Chris Dave and Questlove. The Zildjian Underground series is worth checking out for some hard hitting hip hop grooves, so far featuring Karriem Riggins, Mark Collenburg and Adam Deitch and with Nate Smith coming soon.

What is he playing?
The main groove is a perfect example of that swung/ straight feel. I’ve notated it as 16th note triplets to be as accurate as possible, but it really will just be a case of locking in with Riggins and getting comfortable with the feel! The lick is notated in the fourth bar and is made up of fast 16th note triplets, between the hi hat, snare and bass drum. The lick is primarily based on double strokes and RLL stickings, with a lot of ghost notes and a crash cymbal accent on the last 16th note triplet of beat ‘2’ and an open hi hat on the third 16th note triplet of beat ‘3’ (3+a).

Things to watch out for!
This lick is really fast, so start really nice and slow and get used to the phrasing to begin. Really focus on the dynamics between your ghost notes and accents to get the feel sounding right. Practise playing control strokes (an accent followed by a ghost note) in simple grooves for a while if this is new for you!

Check out the full video of Karriem Riggins killing it on Youtube and download the PDF for free below!

Notation: Learning Licks - #13 - Karriem Riggins - Zildjian Underground

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Beat Breakdown #15 - Jamie Isaac - Maybe

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, we’ll be looking at the verse groove to Jamie Isaac’s 2018 single, Maybe. Jamie Isaac makes tunes that blend a mix of jazz chords with laid back vocals and consistently interesting drum patterns and this groove is one of my favourites from the (04.30) Idler album.

Break it down.
The groove to Maybe was made on a computer, so I have done my best to notate it in a way that’s playable for a drummer and realistic to the feel of the song. The snare is played as a rim click (notated with an ‘x’ in the second space) and has an accent pattern on beats ‘2+’ and ‘4’, giving it a displaced feel. After each snare accent there is also a ghost note, often known as a control stroke, creating a delay effect. The bass drum pattern stays consistent throughout the section, whilst the hi-hat pattern varies slightly between combinations of 8th and 16th notes. Watch out for the 32nd note double stroke lick between the hi-hat and snare at the end of the 4th bar, leading into a stop until the ‘2+’ of the next bar. I have just notated the verse section to the song but the chorus has a similar feel but with a snare drum replacing the rim click sound!

Download the notation for free below!

Notation: Beat Breakdown - Jamie Isaac - Maybe

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Beat Breakdown #14 - Yussef Kamaal - Joint 17

What are we learning?
Yussef Kamaal changed the game when they brought out their album Black Focus in 2016. Although the band have now split to pursue their own projects, this album still kills it in every way! Yussef Dayes is one of my favourite drummers and it’s always fun to notate some of his grooves- Joint 17 goes in!

Break it down.
This one is a development of a rhythmic motif, with snares on ‘2’ and ‘4’ and an implied dotted 8th note hi-hat feel giving it an almost staggered, shuffle like groove. Yussef Dayes is improvising around this theme throughout so I have notate 16 bars of the groove for you to learn! A lot of the licks are repeated and reused in different ways, so once you get this down, you can either improvise around the ideas or follow the track as you continue to play through! Some features that make a big impact on the groove are the varying hi-hat patterns, the 16th note ghost notes leading into the back beat on ‘2’ and the buzz strokes that occasionally replace ghost notes. All of these things played together create a beat with a pallet of textural options and a deep groove!

Download the sheet music for free below and have a go!

Notation: Beat Breakdown - Yussef Kamaal - Joint 17

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Beat Breakdown #13- Babeheaven

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, we’ll be looking at the beat to Babeheaven’s November, from their recent EP Circles. Babeheaven have been putting out wicked drum tracks with elements of both acoustic and electronic drumming since their first single Heaven/ Friday Sky in 2016, and November is no different. Some of my students have been looking at ghost notes and buzz strokes in their drum lessons and this track is the perfect play along for combining those different techniques in a musical setting!

Break it down.
The beat to November is a hip hop inspired backbeat with snares on ‘2’ and ‘4’. Where this groove really comes to life is in the ghost note pattern! Things to watch out for are the buzz stroke on the ‘a of 2’ (buzz strokes are represented with a ‘z’ on the snare drum stem) and the pull out stroke into beat ‘4’. A pull out stroke is a ghost note followed by a non-ghost or accent, this is a common sound heard in hip hop and funk drum breaks. If you flip this and play an accent followed by a ghost note, it’s known as a control stroke- have a practise of including both of these into your grooves!

Download the sheet music for free below:

Notation: Beat Breakdown- Babeheaven - November

Beat Breakdown #12- Richard Spaven - Show Me What You Got (feat. Jordan Rakei)

What are we learning?
In this episode of Beat Breakdown, we’ll be looking at the groove to one of Richard Spaven’s latest collaborations with Jordan Rakei- Show Me What You Got, from the album Real Time. Richard Spaven is one of the best drummers to come out of London and has been a firm favourite of mine for a long time, so I’m always stoked to notate one of his grooves!

Break it down.
I’ve been teaching a lot of students recently about using ghost notes in grooves and really mastering the different dynamics between ghost notes and accents. This tune is the perfect example of where those subtle differences can make a big impact on the feel of what you are playing! The beat to Show Me What You Got is a classic back beat pattern with snares on ‘2’ and ‘4’ and hip hop inspired ghost notes filling in the space between the ride cymbal 8th notes. The groove remains the same throughout, with the addition of an occasional extra accent to highlight section changes, so this ones all about really locking in with Spaven and focusing on your time, feel and dynamics.

Download the sheet music to this beat below for free!

Notation: Beat Breakdown - Richard Spaven - Show Me What You Got (feat. Jordan Rakei)

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Learning Licks #12 - Grizzly Bear

What are we learning?
Grizzly Bear are one of my all time favourite bands so I was stoked to notate this one! Chris Bear plays like no other drummer with an almost orchestral approach to his grooves and fills, drawing upon all the different textures that the kit has to offer. This is demonstrated brilliantly in the ender to their ‘Shields’ album, ‘Sun In Your Eyes’. I have notated the album version of the track but when played live, Chris Bear improvises his fills differently each time- check out the video above!

What is he playing?
These licks are based around 16th note triplets with a combination of RLL and RLRL stickings with a lot of different ghost note and accent combinations! My advice for this one would be to listen to the track a few times and just lock in with Chris Bears loose and fluid way of playing, it’s all about the feel! Once you have learnt the first 4 bars of the chorus, you’re almost there! The following bars repeat the same rhythmic ideas but with a few variations along the way!

Things to watch out for!
Throughout all of the 16th note triplet fills, Chris Bear is keeping time with an 8th note stepped hi-hat, this coordination can be quite difficult if you’re not used to it. A good exercise to help with this is playing an 8th note stepped hi-hat and going between 8th notes, 8th note triplets, 16th notes and 16th note triplets as a single stroke roll (RLRL) over the top. This will help you to get familiar with the way that the different note values work together.

Download the notation below and have a go!

Notation: Learning Licks - Grizzly Bear

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