From DRUM! Magazine’s July 2017 Issue  | Text By Andy Ziker | Video Lesson By Wally Schnalle

Virgil Donati is a force of nature with an unbelievably diverse list of credits. His album with IceFish hadn’t yet been mixed and mastered at press time, but he was nice enough to send us audio clips and his own transcriptions from two of the songs. It turns out Donati loves to transcribe and notates his own parts to develop and keep a record of his playing.

“Revolution” (Post-Chorus; Subject Of Video Lesson)

2. GrooveAnalysis-Revolution-Post Chorus-Virgil Donati

Continuing with the half-time vibe established in the chorus, Donati keeps the snare on beat 3. In the first three measures, he matches the intensity of a rapid-fire guitar/bass riff with sixteenths played contrapuntally between kick, snare, and hi-hat. The quirky fill in measure four begins with a six-stroke roll on beat 1 — including thirty-seconds on the hi-hat — and a herta (with added bass hit) on beat 3.

“Revolution” (Verse)

1. GrooveAnalysis-Revolution-Verse-Virgil Donati

Donati makes phrases of 2/4 and 5/16 (could be thought of as one measure of 13/16) sound like a walk in the park. Eighth-note accenting on the hi-hat within a sixteenth-note flow keeps us tapping our toes until the last three notes of each 5/16 bar suddenly make us feel off balance. Donati uses ghosted notes, funky bass drum, and open hi-hat to further the intrigue.

“Revolution” (Solo Section)

3. GrooveAnalysis-Revolution-Solo Section-Virgil Donati

The way Donati splits up eighth-notes (3 + 3 + 2 + 4 + 4) in each two-measure phrase disguises the fact that he’s really playing in 4/4. Sloshy hi-hat in the first six measures builds tension until a huge fill in the last two measures provides the release.

“Solitude” (Chorus)

4. GrooveAnalysis-Solitude-Virgil Donati

In “Solitude,” Donati delves into the concept of metric modulation. The song moves back and forth between an eighth-sixteenth feel at 113 bpm (transcribed here) and an eighth-note triplet feel at 150 bpm. The relationship between these two feels is revealed when you tap out every other note in the triplet sections.

For more about Donati and IceFish, read DRUM! Magazine’s July 2017 cover story.

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