Alright, so we have all heard funk bass players; they slap, they tap, and they make the seemingly impossible, well, possible. As drummers just how do we play along to such skillful licks? And how to we create grooves that will make listeners take note?
Although you don’t know it yet, if you are dedicated, practicing drums, you’ve already won half the battle. However, if you are a slacker, then this section applies to you.
The most important way to play along to any complex rhythm is to practice. Now, you may think this is an easy answer, and it is, but it’s easy because it is so obviously true.
When you play, play along to a click, otherwise known as a metronome. Being able to play along to a metronome, believe it or not, helps you to be able to play along to funky, outrageous lines.
It teaches you to be able to properly time your own runs, and more importantly, teaches you to play along to the rhythm of what you are hearing. You may not consider a metronome to have rhythm, but it does. A steady pulse is a rhythm, and the most blatant example of this is our own hearts, the rhythmic center of our entire bodies.
After you are able to play a along to a steady rhythm, analyze your favorite funk drummers. Chances are, they all have spent thousands and thousands of hours practicing. Quite obviously, once again you will need to do the same.
Don’t just listen to their music, however; use your ears. You need to hear what it is they are doing that makes it so interesting. Chances are, the parts you notice are the points that other musicians notice.
To be able to make your own groove, you need to hear and understand what works, and just as importantly, what doesn’t. Listen to some bad drummers, and instead of making fun of them, take note what it is they do that makes their style so unappealing to listen to. You may be surprised to find that you unknowingly fall into some of those same patterns that they do.
Be sure you know your rudiments, as having them ingrained into your muscle memory will help you to be able to improvise. Improvisation is the key to being able to play along with funky patterns and being able to create your own grooves. These are lessons that cannot be taught, only learned through countless hours of practice. You can, however, use guidance.
Learn which voices fit best with the instrumentation you are hearing.
This is extremely crucial when creating your own grooves. If you are playing with a bass player and a guitarist, learn which voices best highlight those instruments. This will help you to be tasteful, and more than anything will help you to properly improvise, as not all voices work all together.
If you follow these steps, being sure to critically analyze the music you listen to, there is no doubt that soon you too will be able to play along to funky bass patterns.
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