In this lesson, we’re going to use the nine-stroke pattern we’ve been working with, in the previous nine-stroke lessons: Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3 – and we’re going to turn it into a groove using double-kick. This is going to be similar to the style of beats you’ll hear throughout a number of TesseracT songs. Of Matter: Proxy uses this kind of idea, Concealing Fate Part 2, Juno – all of these songs use this concept to construct a repeating kick drum groove.
The concept I’d like you to realize having worked through this lesson is that you can design your own beats in this way – you can take any number, choose where the accents are going to be, or which 16th notes you’re going to accent within that number, and then repeat it to a 3 or 4 count (or any other count!).
To realize these types of patterns and grooves, I often have to first write them using a computer – and I have a lesson covering this part of the process too.
Transcription and Guitar Pro file
This is the repeating pattern we’re going to learn. Above each of the kick drum strikes, I’ve made a note of which number they represent within the nine-count:
So let’s start out with a nine-count and borrow the 1, 2, 3, and the 5, 6, 7 of that nine-count to construct a repeating pattern. The 4, 8, and 9 are rests. With a pattern this complex, there are a number of different ways we can choose to learn it. The first is simply by looping the pattern and listening to it until it’s no longer a mystery – for some of us, that will work. Not everyone has this ability though so we need to take a few steps and in this lesson, I’ll take you through those steps.
Step 1 – Start with a slow 8th note metronome
Let’s start by simply isolating the kick drum pattern to a metronome. I recommend setting up a 60bpm metronome that accents the quarter notes but plays a quieter click on the 8th note subdivisions. I use Metronome Online when practicing – it’s free and simple to use. By placing those 8th note subdivisions, we’re taking some of the timing guesswork out of a relatively slow metronome – it can help us stay locked into the grid.
So, if we’re lucky and our current abilities allow, we end up playing this:
What is likely to happen though is that after nine quarter-note metronome clicks (or one bar of 9/4), or another way of thinking about it, after you’ve played the nine-stroke pattern four times, it will feel as though the pattern is repeating. Below, I’ve highlighted the note on which it will feel as though it’s repeating:
So let’s step back and work out exactly what we’re playing but on our hands first, super slow:
It’s during this stage that you should work on increasing the tempo of the beat gradually. Set yourself a goal each day, or each week you’re practicing this to realize a new goal BPM.
Step 2 – Realize the nine-stroke to a 4/4 count
Without the context of a 4/4 backbeat, the kick pattern DOES repeat here, so you’re not wrong in feeling this. However, the goal we’re trying to reach is to be able to play this nine pattern underneath a 4/4 count – not just over one bar of 9/4, so we need to work on placing this in context. To do this, I’d normally program the beat into my computer using Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 and Cubase.
This is a fantastic way to realize a backbeat against a longer repeating pattern, however, I realize not everyone working through this lesson will have access to software like this so what I’d like you to do is to play JUST the kicks, or toms if you’re still working the pattern out, along with my performance, and try to work on your awareness of where the snares are landing while you’re playing – after a while, it will start to feel like a beat.
Step 3 – Introduce the right hand
After the previous exercise, you may be at a stage where you can simply play both hands along with the feet – in which case, huge congrats and step ahead to the advanced exercise.
If it’s still feeling a little challenging, let’s take things just one step further by introducing our right hand on the metronome clicks.
Step 4 – Introduce the snare accent
If you weren’t able to jump straight into using both hands in step 2, the final step you need to take to include the snare accent is to simply slow this exercise down and play along. It may not happen in a single practice session, it may not happen in a single week, but with repeated listens and repeated attempts, you will get this ‘feel’ down.
Advanced Exercise – Left hand freedom and cymbal accents
Once we’re at a stage of comfort with a groove like this, the next thing I like to work on is adding in some cymbal accents – something you’ll no doubt have heard in pretty much every TesseracT song. The best way I know to do this is to simply jam around over the beat and attempt to place my left hand on a cymbal, to align with any of the kick drum beats. One way to achieve this freedom is to isolate one beat at a time that you’re going to target, for example: within the nine-count, try to accent every 3rd kick drum hit with a cymbal:
This can present an interesting additional rhythm that is worth exploring but my preferred way to place these cymbals is to feel it out musically – I play the groove a few times and listen to what feels right to play as an accent – this is a skill you’ll learn to develop the more you do it.
The first repeat of the exercise below is accurate to the transcription – the second and third repeat are examples of me jamming around with this idea, placing the cymbals in new random places.