'The Mirror' Chorus Groove

Using simple orchestration ideas and sixteenth kicks to create a complex sounding groove.

In this lesson you will be learning a groove inspired by the song The Mirror by Dream Theater. The groove in question is used through the first part of the chorus and can first be heard at around 2:59 in the video linked. The part is a one bar common time groove built up of an eighth note right hand orchestrated around several parts of the kit with the kick and snares playing a '1 +a' style rhythm underneath.

Through this page the groove will be built up step by step to make the learning process a little easier. The groove makes use of a type of cymbal generally reffered to as a stack. A stack is two or more cymbals placed on top of one another on the same stand and this has a very short and aggressive sound. These kind of cymbal is great for accenting and in this pattern it highlights the off beat eighth notes. If you don't have a stack a splash or a hi hat will work just as well. It will make some of the movements a little easier if the cymbal is postitioned near to the ride as your right hand will be moving between the stack and ride over eight notes.

Step 1

As with most step by step parts, we'll start with a level 0 style groove. Here the right hand is playing the ride bell with a crash on beat 1.

Building up the grove

Step 2

This step is all about getting the right hand moving. Through the bar the bell is playing on the numbered counts, giving a nice solid quarter note feel. Around that the stack is accenting all the '+' counts, adding a bit of rhythmic decoration. Don't forget to get the crash on beat 1 also.

Building up the grove

Step 3

In each of the last few steps you will be doubling up most of the eighth note kicks to create the '1 +a' rhythm. In the final groove a double sixteenth kick will always be played when the stack is hit. Because the tempo is nice and slow this can easily be done on a single kick pedal. The first of these will be the '+' after beat 1 by adding an extra kick on the 'a' count.

Building up the grove

Step 4

Next, apply the same idea on the '+' after two by adding another kick on the 'a' after beat 2.

Building up the grove

Step 5

Then exactly the same idea for beat 3, with a kick on the 'a' after beat 3.

Building up the grove

Step 6

Finally, to create the full groove add one more sixteenth note kick to the 'a' count after beat 4.

Building up the grove


  1. Learn the full groove upto a tempo of at least 85bpm, which is the speed of the song.
  2. Try playing a long to the full dream theatre song, there will be some challenging parts.
  3. Apply the groove to a four or eighth bar phrase.