Nocturne – Lesson 4: Chorus (Part 1) Copy

Lesson progress


In this lesson, we’re going to learn how to play the first section of the chorus in Nocturne. If you’ve worked through lessons 1 to 3, then I have great news for you – you already know how to play this. Well… nearly. The kick drum pattern in the chorus is the same as in the verse, so there’s nothing new that we need to learn here.

The things that we’re going to focus on are the cymbal accents and how to navigate them, and the right-hand movement to achieve the ghost note pattern between the quarter-note cymbal crashes and the snare.

Exercise 1 – Ghost note pattern

We’re playing the same exact ghost note pattern as the verse, except this time the right hand is keeping a quarter note count on the crash cymbal. This means we need to first get used to the movement required to play this pattern cleanly and with dynamic control. I play the quarter note count on my main crash, which is on my right-hand side. To do this efficiently, I bend my wrist back and forth between the snare and cymbal, causing the tip of the stick to strike the snare drum lightly, achieving the ghost note. Please check out this first video for detailed instructions on how to do this.

Loop exercise

Exercise 2 – Bar 1 (Bar 28)

Now we’re going to take that ghost note/crash cymbal pattern and add in the left foot on the pedal hat, the kick drum pattern and a cymbal accent on the 12th 16th-note. Loop this pattern at 100bpm and up to 130bpm if you can.

Loop exercise

Exercise 3 – Bar 2 (Bar 29)

There are three cymbal accents that we’re going to place in this bar, that coincide with the kick drum pattern. You’ll notice that I drop the steady ghost note pattern while playing these accents, opting instead to only play the ghost notes in between the cymbal accents. This helps to make the groove flow a lot more naturally and enables a smooth movement across the kit.

Loop exercise

Exercise 4 – Loop bars 1 and 2

Now let’s loop bars 1 and 2 at 100bpm. For me, it’s important to learn difficult sections of songs like this in stages, rather than trying to smash straight through the whole part. There’s a reason we learn to walk before we try to run.

Loop exercise

Exercise 5 – Bar 3 (Bar 30)

There’s only one cymbal accent in this bar, on the seventh 16th note. To play this efficiently, I use a hand movement that almost spins the stick around 360 degrees, swiping my middle crash cymbal in the process. Please check out this video for more detail on how I achieve this movement, and how to play this bar.

Loop exercise

Exercise 6 – Bar 4 (Bar 31)

This bar has some very interesting movements that we need to master in order to get the beat to flow. First off, we have a cymbal accent on the second 16th note of the bar, which we can achieve one of two ways: either with the left hand on a crash or as I personally choose to play it, by dropping the right hand down from my main crash, onto the stack cymbal below.

We also have the short run on the high tom, which I execute by playing L R R, then bringing my right hand up to the crash cymbal, and left hand down to the snare. Please watch this video for detailed instructions on how to play this section.

Loop exercise

Exercise 7 – four-bar loop

Now we’re going to loop the first four bars of the chorus. There’s a lot of different movements to get down here so progressing in stages, like this, is going to help us retain the movement memory.

Loop exercise

Exercise 8 – Bars 5 and 6 (32 and 33)

We’re going to combine these two bars into one exercise as there’s not too much to learn, and the groove flows nicely from bar 32 into 33.

Loop exercise

Exercise 9 – six-bar loop

Now, let’s loop the whole pattern so far. I recommend starting around 100bpm and increasing in tempo by 10bpm every time you become comfortable.

Loop exercise

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