The snare drum is a prime tool in funk music. Not only is it the most common tempo marker, but it also can be used to create abstract patterns and rhythms.
In this article, we will discuss some different snare drum techniques for use in funk drumming.
Our first technique is the grace note. The grace note is a note that, as the name implies, graces the drum head. These notes are extremely quiet, and are meant to highlight other notes. In many cases, they are used to ‘build up’ and upcoming note.
Grace notes are easy, but to master them is hard. When playing a grace note, your stick should be no more than three inches above the drum head. In most cases, if you can help it, don’t even let it get three inches away. This is because the farther the stick falls, the more power it generates.
The grace note should literally be a tap. When done correctly, the grace note should produce a barely audible ‘rippling’ effect.
If your grace notes are extremely quiet, don’t feel the need to add any extra power; chances are, they are perfect just the way they are. Grace notes aren’t meant to be heard; they’re meant to be felt.
Next up is the accent note. Accented notes are the polar opposite of grace notes; they’re loud and proud and in charge.
When playing an accent note, your stick should be roughly eight to ten inches from the drum. In some cases, more distance may be needed. This distance is used to generate more power, to really bring light to the note.
Accented notes should be heard, not felt. When you drive an accented note, keep in mind that you are highlighting a note. This means that the notes which you accent should be chosen carefully.
Another great snare drum technique for funk drumming is the drag. A drag is a note that, simply, drags.
Drag notes on drums are doubled notes that are played in quick succession so that they create an almost seamless note. This creates the ‘dragging’ effect, and it also adds a tone of texture to a piece. Drag notes can be difficult to learn, but the easiest way to play them is by using your pinky and ring finger.
Using these two fingers, simply tip the butt of your stick the moment after your initial stroke. This, when done properly, should cause the stick to immediately bounce back down and strike the head once again.
All of these are great snare drum techniques when playing funk, but the only true way to pay them is by practicing. Take some time out each day to practice each of these techniques. Try playing other rudiments as well, as they will be a large part of the foundation of creating a dynamic drumming style.
When you practice, be sure to pay attention to form and stick height, and in the case of the latter, be sure that your stick height coincides with your technique. Good luck, and more than anything, have fun with your playing.
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