Between assembling baby furniture, raking leaves in the yard, and diligently working on a new ReFill for Propellerhead, I somehow managed to crank out another collection of beats and samples for The Loop Loft. I also managed to not update this blog in several weeks. So sorry.
Anyway, this particular collection consists entirely of odd meter grooves. And we’re not just talking geeky nü-metal stuff…. I’ve covered a gamut of genres with this one. Jazz, funk, rock, pop and folk… it’s all in this pack. Hot off the wires, here’s the official press release from The Loft:
The only thing odd about these loops are the time signatures. With a massive amount of loops, fills and samples recorded in everything BUT 4/4, The Loop Loft is happy to announce the release of Odd Meter Grooves Vol 2. Taking a natural and musical approach to live drum tracks ranging in time signatures like 3/4, 7/8, 5/4, and 9/8, this collection provides users with the articulate and fluid phrasing that programmed beats simply can’t provide.
We’ve also expanded The Platinum Pack to include the recent releases of The Art of Brushes 2and the Odd Meter 2 pack, bringing the total size of the collection to over 1.4 GB. Now’s your opportunity to instantly download every drum loop we’ve ever recorded (1,702 loops), and save 40%!
This past weekend, while clearing out one of the bedrooms in my house to make way for a nursery (yes folks, there’s a little Gruss set to drop in December), I stumbled upon an old shoebox containing dozens of old cassette tapes from my years at Berklee. A literal time capsule back to 1996-2000, these tapes captured everything from late night jam sessions in 150 Mass Ave, board tapes from various gigs with Jonah Smith, instrumental funk tracks featuring a classmate named John, and most importantly, recordings of my drum lessons with the legendary, Kenwood Dennard.
When I was in high school, Kenwood’s drumming on Maceo Parker’s “Life on Planet Groove” was without doubt, the most influential of all of the CDs I owned. I must have listened to that album thousands of times, learning every funky ghost note and fill that Kenwood laid down on that record. My love for that CD practically bordered on obsession, which is probably why I was so estatic when I found out that Kenwood would be joining the Berklee faculty during my freshman year of college. It’s not often that someone gets to meet one of their biggest musical heros, let alone be mentored by them.
During my junior year, I performed in Kenwood’s “Music of James Brown” ensemble as well as studied privately with him. This was a great combination because he would have the chance to hear me play every week in a live setting with other musicians, and then we would break it all down in my lessons and tweak certain elements of my drumming.
Kenwood always had two drum kits set up in his office, so the majority of lessons were spent with the two of us playing together, refining various grooves and bouncing rhythmic phrases back and forth. Not wanting to forget a single note of our sessions, I always had a tape recorder running so I could analyze everything afterwards. It was humbling enough just playing with Kenwood, it was even MORE humbling listening to a recording of yourself playing with Kenwood.
At the beginning of one particular lesson in 1998, I was showing Kenwood some grooves in 7/8 I was working on. Nothing fancy, just some vanilla funk groove with a lot of emphasis on the “1”. What Kenwood laid on me next was something that would forever change my playing:
You can totally reconstruct the entire DNA of a groove by NOT emphasising the “1”. And when doing this in an odd meter, things can get really interesting. Find the weak part of beats and try turning them into the dominate ones. And this doesn’t only apply to odd meters… it can be just as effective in 4/4.
A few of my favorite moments of this lesson:
– 1:30 Kenwood and I trying to find the “e” of 4
– 6:59 Kenwood asking ME how to play the groove to Super Bad
– 9:35 “You can do that for the next 10 years.” He was right.
Here’s a quick transcription I did of the concept we were working on in that lesson (pardon the unattached 8th note stems). Notice, there is nothing on the downbeat of 1 (other than the hi hat), with the kick drum anticipating each bar by falling on the “e” of 4. Any snare note that isn’t a back beat is to be ghosted.
I’m not even sure if Trent Reznor drinks coffee (he strikes me as the type that might consume it by the gallon), but assuming that he did, and that he happened to spill that coffee all over his console while mixing some drum tracks, I think the end result might sound something like this. Angry, yet precise, odd meter drumming crushed all of the way down to 5 bits. Black. No Sugar.
When most people think of loops, they often think of them as something only used in the production of songs. However, loops can also be used as great practice tools. To me, there is nothing more uninspiring than practicing to the traditional “tick, tick, tick, tick” of a metronome or click track.
Whenever possible, I’ll practice various drum beats along with guitar or bass loops, or record drum tracks on top of percussion loops. One exercise that I’ve found is great for accurately internalizing my time is playing to a 16 measure loop that has the last 8 measures muted. When the “1” of the loop comes around each time, you can easily tell if you’ve pushed or pulled too much on the time. I’ve even rigged up Logic, an old car battery, and some rusty clamps to send strong, electric shocks to my body anytime my tempo strays.
In the video below, Bob Reynolds takes the concept of practicing with loops and puts a twist on it. No, he doesn’t increase the voltage on his nipple clamps. In this case, he practices improvising over the jazz standard, “Out of Nowhere”, (a song normally performed in 4/4) using a drum loop in 7/8. The live drums provide a much more natural foundation to improvise over, while still supplying the consistent tempo of a metronome.
With Odd Meter Grooves Volume 1, we’ve produced a loop pack entirely focused on beats that go beyond the traditional framework of 4/4. Whileother loop sites only take these things as far as 7/8 (and charge twice as much!?), we’ve delved much deeper into the possibilities of space, feel and time. From Zappa-esque grooves in 27/16, to Mahavishnu influenced beats in 15/8, to (not so) straight ahead jazz in 5/4, to Muse-approved backbeats in 9/8, we’ve covered a wide spectrum of tempos and time signatures, all within one loop pack.
Due to the popularity and demand for our first edition of funk loops, we’ve been busy crafting a second edition of beats that will satisfy the needs of anyone producing music with a bit of soul. Funk Essentials Volume 2 mixes things up with loops ranging from old skool Motown vinyl, bounce-your-head-until-it-hurts Timbaland grooves, neo soul rimshots and heavy and aggressive Rage Against the Machine style funk.”
The Loop Loft is providing a sneak peak into the upcoming release of Odd Meter Grooves Volume 1. This is the first drum loop pack in the world to tackle some of the most twisted and complicated time signatures in existence, including 27/16, 15/8, 9/8, 7/8 and 142/11 (this one really swings). Look for the loops to be released this weekend. In the meantime, check out the audio preview below:
I know what you were thinking. “Ryan has been doing nothing the past two weeks but eating mashed potatoes, drinking his weight in Harpoon Winter Ale and taking extended naps. There’s no way he’ll have Volume VIII recorded, produced and edited by January 1st.” Well, you were wrong. Yes, I have been overindulging a bit this holiday season, but I’ve also been busy in the studio, putting together my finest Loop Pack to date. Ladies and Gentlemen of the distinguished member’s only section, I present to you, Gruss Loops Volume VIII!
91_Thicky – When I was in college, there was a certain girl that my friends and I used to pay extra special attention to while eating in the cafeteria. She was a natural beauty, with long black hair and an apparent appetite for frozen yogurt. Definitely not obese in anyway, and far from being stick-thin, she was dubbed with the highly un-pc nickname, “Thicky”. While I feel bad, looking back and remembering such misogynistic behavior, I still wanted to name a loop pack after her. Thicky, these beats (topped with chopped walnuts and extra sprinkles) are for you.
83_SlapBack – If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know I’m a fan of reverb (when done right). The 80’s wouldn’t have been the same without the 4 second long decay on the snare and I don’t want to imagine a world without gated reverb on Phil Collins’ toms. This set of loops is my nod to the often overlooked flavor of reverb, the “slapback”.
93_FifteenEight – While other loop sites consider 5/4 and 7/8 the ultimate in odd meters, I consider it just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve decided to raise the bar and record a series of loops that you’ll need all ten fingers and one foot (assuming you haven’t had any horrific lawnmower accidents) to count. Welcome to the wonderful world of 15/8.
106_Crunched – Would you believe me if I told you this set of grooves was inspired by Jesus Jones’ 1990 pop anthem, “Right Here, Right Now“? Well, it’s true. While stuck in holiday traffic last week, this song came over the car radio and instantly took me back to seventh grade. During that first year of junior high, I was 5′ 9″ and the tallest kid in my class. Fast forward nineteen years later and I’m still 5′ 9″… and I still act like a seventh grader. Not much has changed, other than my affinity for distorting dance grooves.
190_TwelveEight – Not to be confused with the aforementioned 15/8 loops, these 12/8 grooves are far from the world of odd meters. With a steady back beat and an easy to identify “one”, this is the time signature that blues legends, strippers and even Journey have turned to for years.
To become a subscriber and gain instant access to all of the 100+ loops (each as AIFF, WAV and REX2) in Volume VIII, just click the button below.
Since my last odd meter loop stirred up so much interest around the internets, I figured I’d step it up and get all kinds of crazy with another, more complex groove. And rather than tell you what meter it’s in, I decided to turn it into a contest of sorts. Here’s the deal. The first person to respond in the comments section with the correct time signature will be the lucky winner of:
– A meet and greet with Dream Theater the next time they play in your city (A quick game of D&D is also included).
So, here it is. The mystery odd meter loop. Don’t hurt yourself trying to figure it out.. and don’t try to dance along to it. That’s not going to work out. And most importantly, be sure to leave your answer in the comments section. The winner will be notified via carrier pigeon in the next few weeks.
Odd meters aren’t just for fusion jams and epic, prog rock instrumentals. They can even be used in hit songs, especially when the meter is in five. From Dave Brubeck to Radiohead, this odd meter has been working it’s way up the charts and into the public consciousness for decades.
Today’s loop is a groove in 5/4 (sans splash cymbals and octobans). To keep it from falling into the hands of someone holding a seven string Ibanez, I downsampled the output and made sure it didn’t live in its parents’ basement.