What Is A Groove?

A groove is a pattern that is built up of layers of rhythm. Its main purpose is to keep time, particularly when you're playing with a band, but it also contributes something musical to a song or piece. Different styles of music use different ideas for grooves. Some things you might notice in different styles (or 'Genres') are:

  • Use of different rhythms
  • Emphasis (accents) on different beats
  • More use of different parts of the drum kit
  • Differences in tempo

Grooves usually use three parts of the drum kit. The bass drum, snare drum and a riding instrument. A riding instrument tends to keep a constant, even pulse throughout your groove and is usually the hi hats or ride cymbal. In all Level 0 groove lessons the Hi Hat will be used as the riding instrument.

Your groove playing position when using the hi hats is to have you left hand on the snare drum and your right hand crossed over the top on the hi hat. Your technique should be the same as in your rudiment exercises, backs of the hands up, sticks moving straight up and down. (NOTE when hitting your snare drum in a groove, the right hand will lift up higher to give the left hand room to get a full 'straight up' movement). Playing in this manner is called 'closed position'. We also get 'open position' and this is where the hands don't cross. You will use this when playing on the ride.

You will notice that in nearly all of the grooves we learn during this guide the snare drum comes in the same place (on beats 2 and 4). This is described as a 'Back Beat'.

You have probably spotted me using the word 'usually' quite a lot so far. That's because in drumming, like most arts, there really are no rules. In any lessons we present on drumscore, the information is literally just that, a guide. You will soon learn that the saying 'rules are made to be broken' is very relevant in music!

Always remember, your job as a drummer is to KEEP TIME! Therefore when practising you should be thinking about keeping a steady even tempo as much as you are thinking about your technique. You should use a metronome wherever possible.

A list of other lessons you may find useful before studying this area.

  • Notation basicsIncluding basic note values, parts of the kit and repeat marks.
  • Rhythm basicsIncluding quarter and eighth notes.
  • The 2 minute ruleThis is a practice technique that I strongly recommend using.
  • CountingCounting is given in all exercises but you will need to know what it means.


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