I’ve recently received a lot of requests for more reggae loops. Some via email, some via the comments section and some via the hippie who decided to camp out in front of my house and play his djembe all night. To prevent any sort of rogue drum circle from forming in my neighborhood, I spent the majority of today laying down new reggae infused loops.
I began by setting the click to 166 BPM and experimenting with different delays on the snare channel. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a trick I picked up from Stewart Copeland and can be heard on more than a few Police songs. The secret to making it really fit in the groove is to set the delay to a dotted eighth note and slightly filter the resulting notes. You can listen to Stewart explain this unique effect in this video (just forward to the 4:00 mark).
Today’s loop is a four bar phrase with one of Stewart’s signature tom fills leading into a crash on the “&” of beat four. And yes, you’ll be able to obtain the rest of the loops from this session when Volume III is released on August 1st.
I just realized my “Style” category was missing one crucial genre: Reggae. But then I also realized I have no clue how to play the real “roots” stuff. Apparently I forgot to take that “Reggae 101” class at Berklee (they still let me graduate) and Burning Spear hasn’t called me for any gigs lately.
To get in the right frame of mind for today’s loop, I trekked over to the nearest frat house, ate a few “brownies” and listened to Bob Marley’s“Legend” on repeat for three hours straight. I eventually wandered home (after stopping for another snack at Taco Bell) and recorded this beat.
I apologize for the recent lack of loops over the past week. As you know, there is lot of behind the scenes work going on at ryangruss.com in preparation for June 1st. Between the film crew in my house, the international press junkets and my fresh Botox injections, it’s been hard to keep up with the day to day administration of this site. Plus it’s Memorial Day weekend, so I’m also busy barbecuing and drinking beer.
To keep you entertained in the meantime, here’s a tour of Stewart Copeland’s kit from the recent Police reunion tour. Normally, I make fun of people with splash cymbals (especially six of them), but Stewart is one of the few who can get away with it.
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.
Linear drumming is a style of playing where no two limbs hit at the same time. These grooves are typically broken up between the snare, kick, hi hat and toms, creating a unique, lilting feel. One of the most popular examples of linear drumming is Steve Gadd’s performance on Paul Simon’s“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”. If you really want to impress the guy behind the counter at Guitar Center (the one with the phonytail) with your mad drumming skills, be sure to get this beat under your belt:
Pop music and Guitar Centers aren’t the only places you can utilize linear beats. They also lend themselves well to funk music. David Garibaldi made the 70’s funkier (is that even possible?) with his slick, intricate linear grooves. Just check out some of his albums with Tower of Power, especially “Bump City” and “East Bay Grease”. With songs titles like “Social Lubrication” and “You Got To Funkifize”, I don’t feel the need to explain any further.
This beat originally started off as a very basic, 8th note linear groove…. then I decided to start playing with delays while mixing. I timed the delay to occur a dotted eighth note after the original attack, which resulted in an interesting, syncopated feel. To take it one step further, I panned the delay left to right (à la Stewart Copeland) and inserted a low pass filter.