'Gorilla' Multi Layered Groove

A complex groove that combines two hi hats with some extra tom decoration.

In this lesson I will be talking about the chorus groove from the Bruno Mars song Gorilla. The pattern can first be heard around 1 minute into the song, which is the first chorus. The groove used here is quite complicated, it is built from a standard offbeat kick style groove using a second hi hat with a lot of decorative toms added in that are all played on one hand. On top of that a normal hi hat is also used to decorate the part.

The intention of this lesson is to give some ideas for decorating a groove that come away from the more standard ideas used previously. To help learn this part I will be showing it in a step by step manner. If you'd just like to jump into the deep end scroll down towards the bottom of the page to see the full groove.

Fortunately the full song is only played at a tempo of 70bpm, so while it is very complicated it is also very slow.

Step 1

I'll start by giving you the groove that you will be decorating. The hi hat in bold is a second hi hat, this is intended to be positioned on the left hand side of the kit as you sit at it. If you don't have this on your kit a ride will work just as well, the important thing is that you are playing open handed.

Building up the Gorilla chorus groove

Step 2

Next you'll start adding in some decorative toms. In the second half of the bar you wil be playing a high tom and a mid tom of those two kicks on the 'e' and '+' after beat 3 and a further high tom on the '+' after beat 4. The first set of toms can be quite difficult to add in, make sure they fall at exactly the same time as those two kicks. Use counting to help with timing and make sure you start slowly then build up tempo.

Building up the Gorilla chorus groove

Step 3

The second half of the bar is going end up being very demanding on your hand stamina as it will be playing a constant run of sixteenth notes spread over snare, toms and hi hats. In the next couple of steps I will be adding in an extra 16th note each time. Here there is an extra mid tom before the snare on beat 4. The important thing here is to keep your hands relaxed and start the part slowly. Don't let the extra mid tom throw off the kicks.

Building up the Gorilla chorus groove

Step 4

This time there is another high tom added just after the last snare.

Building up the Gorilla chorus groove

Step 5

Finally there is a standard open hi hat on the very last 'a' count of the bar.

Building up the Gorilla chorus groove

Simplifying Slightly

If you are really struggling to get all the left hand notes into the groove it can be simplified slightly at the cost of keeping the right hand going throughout the bar. This will allow you to play that run of drums as a single stroke roll, this is shown below with sticking underneath.

Building up the Gorilla chorus groove


  1. Learn all steps upto a tempo of at least 70bpm, which is the tempo of the original song.
  2. Experiment with orchestration and construct your own grooves and fills using this idea.
  3. Construct phrase type patterns using the ideas.