From Drum Magazine’s November 2017 Issue | Text, Music, And Video By Joe Smyth

For my first lesson in Drum, I’d like to show you how I use a simple rhythm to create a groove, and then how I morph that groove to create other useful grooves.

Ex. 1 is my basic starting rhythm. For those of you familiar with Cuban music and clave, you may recognize this figure as the “2-side” of the cascara rhythm.

Ex. 2 is the groove that I created from this rhythm. The right hand plays the rhythm on the snare hoop, while the left hand plays rim-click (cross-stick) on the snare with the bass drum playing on beats 1 and 3.

Actually, I like to play this groove in double time, as a quasi-train beat (Ex. 3). I will discuss this in greater detail in future lessons.

Playing Ex. 2 with a swing feel using brushes, with both hands on the snare, provides the basis for a nice shuffle groove (Ex. 4).

In Ex. 5, moving the right hand to the ride bell or cowbell and moving the left hand between snare and toms will create a nice Latin-flavored groove.

Try taking a favorite rhythm of your own and build a groove that you can morph into still more grooves!

Joe Smyth is a founding member of the award-winning Sawyer Brown band, touring the world for the past 37 years. He also teaches drums and percussion at Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.