I just realized I’ve posted 116 different loops on this site but not a single one has been a shuffle. What the hell is wrong with me? Some of my favorite songs are shuffles. Pride And Joy, Sweet Home Chicago, Moanin’…. I could go on and on. From jazz, to blues to rock, the shuffle is one of the few grooves that can find a home in almost any genre (except for Viking metal or perhaps Psychobilly).
A. No, they are not all awesome (well, three out of four are). But they are all from Des Moines. I’m about to head back to the capital of Iowa (and my hometown) to visit family and celebrate the holidays. Most of my time will be spent drinking spiked eggnog and taking long naps, but I’ll also have an external drive full of sessions, so stay tuned for some festive loops. And if you happen to live within stumbling distance of Court Avenue, I’m playing a gig with some old friends on Saturday night. So, come on down and say hi. If it turns out that you’re one of my loyal subscribers, drinks are on me. Until the next loop, Happy Holidays everyone!
I had intended to spend most of today locked in my studio, laying down all kinds of new loops, guzzling a few gallons of coffee and writing my usual “top-notch” commentary… but that didn’t happen. Boston’s first blizzard of the year had other plans for me. Like shoveling snow all afternoon. Awesome.
I did manage to crank out one quick session before the day was over. While I was breaking my back, digging out my driveway, I was listening to Radiohead’s classic album, “The Bends”. I forgot how much I loved the drum sound of “High and Dry”. Specifically, the slapback type reverb that sits so tastefully in the drum mix. With a much more angular groove, I took this same approach when mixing down today’s session… if even a bit more indulgent in the delay.
Chaircrusher! He was the first reader to correctly identify the meter of my last loop as 27/16. Since he cheated by using Sound Forge and some complex mathematics, I’m withholding 2 of the 3 prizes; the cooler full of yellow snow and the meet and greet with Dream Theater. However, he will still receive a three month subscription to the coveted “member’s only” area of ryangruss.com
Thanks to everyone who played along at home. It sure was an intense and geeky contest. And for those who are curious as to the rhythmic structure of the groove, it’s essentially a bar of 7/8 followed by a bar 13/16…. resulting in the 27/16 meter.
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.
Those of you who have ever toured or played your share of local gigs will probably be able to relate with the topic of today’s post – the soundcheck. A horribly mundane, necessary evil of live performing, it’s one of the least glamorous and exciting parts of being a musician. Between the piercing feedback in the monitors, the jaded soundguy who is still pissed about getting dropped from Metal Blade back in ’89, and the stale stench of beer and puke wafting throughout an empty venue, it’s an hour of my life that I’d rather spend watching T.J. Hooker reruns.
After slowly and repeatedly hitting each individual part of my kit for 15 minutes, this is one of my “go to” grooves for a typical rock/pop soundcheck. A driving, straightforward beat that utilizes every drum (along with some eighth notes on the hi hat) it gives the engineer a chance to dial in and balance the entire kit. It also sounds a lot like the intro to “Unskinny Bop”.
This morning, while eating a delicious bowl of oatmeal and listening to Billy Cobham’s classic album, “Spectrum”, I realized that I haven’t posted an odd meter loop in quite awhile. The whole intent of this blog is to record and write about as many musical genres as my baby soft hands can handle. I can’t just cater to the pop songwriters and dance producers… I also need to show the fusion crowd a little love as well. As the final few measures of “Red Baron” faded out, I pounded my third cup of coffee and went into the studio to lay down some tracks for those of you looking for something outside the world of 4/4.
When most people think about odd meter music, it’s typically one measure of a certain meter, repeated over and over (7/8, 5/8 etc). While this is great, and I’ve spent hours upon hours wanking some serious fusion jams in 9/8, I like to mix up odd meters alongside more straight ahead time signatures. In this case, I take a 4/4 groove and place it next to a bar of 7/8. Now, you can look at this phrasing in a lot of different ways. One could call it 15/8, or you can think about it smaller rhythmic chunks (4+4+4+3). Whatever floats your boat. These types of grooves allow the average listener to grasp on to a back beat while, at the same time, contains enough rhythmic complexity to satisfy even the most jaded of fusion musicians.