Linear drumming for dummies.

Steve Gadd - Linear Lifetime Achievement Award
Steve Gadd - Linear Lifetime Achievement Award

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:

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

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.

David Garibaldi - Linear fo' Life
David Garibaldi - Linear fo' Life

Loop #18

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.

Preview Here:


Download the Logic session here. (40MB)

Non-Logic fools, get your .wav files here.

83 BPM

10 thoughts on “Linear drumming for dummies.

  1. Tell me more about this style of drumming. My boy is getting quite good (really) for a 7 year old. Can you give me some references or some patterns he can walk through? I don’t read perc notation. Can you translate somehow?

  2. Hey Moober,

    Along with the albums listed above, another ‘pop’ linear drummer to check out is Carter Beauford (w/ the Dave Mathews band). Lots of linear stuff happening on a few of their hits like “Too Much” & “Ants Marching”. Basically, he stays away from constant 8th note riding patterns (though he often lines up the kick and hi hat) and breaks the grooves up amongst all of his limbs.

    Check it out:

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