Finding Your Groove
By Tommy Igoe
The word itself is the lifeblood of what we do as drummers, but can you define what a groove is? A groove is simply a rhythmic figure that repeats. But, if it were that easy, everyone would be a great groove player. No, great drumming is so much more than just repeating a beat.
What is the secret to being a monster groover? Besides the obvious answers of “studying the greats” and “practice, practice, practice”, here are some tips that will sharpen what I call your, “groove awareness”.
First, understanding the anatomy of a groove, finding the “connective tissue” (that stuff that binds the groove together like the steady 1/8 notes in a rock beat), is crucial. Be sure that all the parts youíre playing (snare drum and bass drum, for example) line up with the connective tissue (hi-hat) to keep the groove tight and the pulse consistent.
Secondly, listening and manipulating the balance of your drumset and getting your limbs and the parts they play at exactly the right volume makes the focus of the groove stand out.
Playing with a click can help you develop your sense of time. But, more importantly, playing without a click forces you to interpret where the center of the groove is- and command that center with authority- so that the click doesnít become a crutch. Practicing with clicks and loops is essential in todayís musical environment, but be careful to not become enslaved by them. In a live band and situations where there is no click, you are the click.
To further cultivate your groove awareness, play along with your favorite songs and record yourself. Listen closely on playback and ask yourself the ultimate question: “Am I really, really grooving?”