While cleaning up my studio and preparing for the big move, I stumbled across a folder of notes and lesson materials from my Berklee days. Inside this folder was everything from Max Roach solo transcriptions, to South Indian rhythmic cycles, to 4-way independence studies. Flipping through the pages of sheet music was like stepping into a time machine and being transported back to the grimey, unventilated practice studios on Mass Ave. Awh, the good old days.
While taking a closer look at the contents of the folder, one page of handwritten transcriptions jumped out at me. Quintuplet based grooves?? It took me a few minutes, but I finally remembered the source of the music. It was from one of my lessons with the great, Casey Scheuerell. I studied with Casey during my last two years of college and learned a tremendous amount from him. Not just about drumming, but also about the music business as a whole. We spent just as much time talking during our lessons as we did playing on the two kits he had set up in his office.
You Zappa Heads and prog-rockers will enjoy today’s loop. It’s geek funk to the fullest and should probably never leave the confines of your own studio. Loosely based on the above transcription from my lessons with Casey, it’s a 4/4 groove with quintuplets on the hi-hat and a 2+3 rhythmic phrasing. To make things easier for tracking to a click, I actually recorded this as a halftime groove in 5/4… just listen to the shaker for the 8th note pulse. Anyway, I’d like to see someone try to dance to it. Let the math rock begin.
Ever have one of those days where you get a song stuck in your head and you can’t get it out… no matter what? You’re not even sure where or when you heard it. It might have been playing on the alarm radio when you woke up or maybe it was blasting from a car next to you at a red light. You can’t remember the source… but your brain seems to think that it’s a great idea to play it over and over and over. It can be a highly frustrating experience. One that I’ve been plagued with today.
Today’s loop is the result of having Oukast’s“Hey Ya!” stuck in my head for the past seven hours. It’s a great song the first nine times you hear it… but I’ll admit, it wears a bit thin after hour five. Much like holding your breath when you have the hiccups, I thought if I just played some drums it would eventually go away. No such luck…. All I ended up with was a beat that sounded just like it and some pissed off neighbors.
To be perfectly honest, I had no clue about what I was going to write today so I decided to attempt another death-defying round of the “car game”. For those of you just tuning in, the “car game” is when I get in my car (typically after my wife has driven it), start the engine, and then base my loop on whatever happens to be playing on the radio. Anything goes. Brooks and Dunn. Daughtry. Michael Bolton. You name it… I’ll make a loop that sounds like it.
Fortunately, I was spared once again. With a turn of the key, I heard a very familiar voice, some jangly yet driving guitar and some tasteful drumming. It was a new track from Death Cab for Cutie’s latest album. I’ve been a fan of the band since their early Barsuk years and have enjoyed Jason McGerr’s drumming since he joined in 2003. And coincidentially enough, McGerr is no stranger to the world of drum loops. He recently released a ReFill pack of loops for Propellerhead.
To help set the Death Cab “vibe” for tonight’s loop, I scrolled through the various guitar loops in Logic’s library until I found something that closely fit the bill and tuned the drums for a nice, open sound. I made the loop eight bars long in order to allow the crash cymbal to decay naturally and threw in a little Stewart Copeland hi hat lick to mix things up.