Rhythm is King, Groove is Boss

Hello folks,

I’m Toby Ahrens and this is Blog #1 coming to you out of “Booty Shaker” land at www.tnrproducts.com. For you fellow drummers, you obviously get that rhythm is king over any other aspect of music. No matter what music you listen to, one of the reasons you like it is because it makes you feel motion in time and you dig the heartbeat of that music. Without rhythm, music would sound like it often does coming out of some of those lame piano bars – absolutely groove-less. Maybe that’s why James Brown didn’t frequent those dives.

Let’s talk about groove. How about The Meter’s Funky Miracle, Stevie Wonder’s Superstitious, Tower of Power’s What is Hip, James Brown’s Funky Drummer, or any song that makes you want to dance or tap your foot? When we get down to using our musical microscopes we find that all rhythms in time and grooves sit on an even flow of subdivisions. If everyone in the band is feeling the same subdivided beat, then chances are they are going to make the time feel good and the groove is going to be monstrous. I tell you, if you were to go check out music at a black church vs. music at a white church, you might find that at one place everyone is feeling the groove, and at the other … not so much. You do the research.

The challenge for you and me while playing is to listen to that internal subdivision within your mind. One way to practice this is to get out your trusty metronome and set it to play 8th notes while practicing an 8th note groove, or set it to 16ths and practice a 16th note groove. Then just try playing a groove to the quarter note pulse. I even go so far as to use a metronome during rehearsal with a band just to get everyone feeling a near-perfect and consistent subdivision and tempo. Practicing with the metronome will definitely keep you honest, give you a better sense of pulse, and help prepare you for studio work and live gigs that involve playing along to sequencers.

Everyone will not have the same interpretation of rhythm, groove, and tempo, so sometimes it’s  important to have discussions about it with your band mates.  Sometimes understanding how another musician is internally hearing the subdivision, rhythm, and groove can help you play with them better … and better is good!

So go out there and feel the subdivision, play like you believe Rhythm is King and Groove is Boss and play some mean rhythmic grooves. Oh yeah, don’t forget to get some Booties Shakin’ while you’re at it, and please – stay out of piano bars. It’s hazardous to your groove.

Toby Ahrens (co-creator of Booty Shakers)



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