19 Mar, 2016

7 Variations To Play On The Verse Of “Sir Duke”


Do you sometimes find it hard to incorporate language from a transcription into your every day playing? A great way to overcome this problem is to take a particular phrase from your transcription and turn it into an exercise you can play around with. In doing this you are looking for the idea behind WHY the drummer played what they played. What did that drummer practice in order to come up with this? What was their source of inspiration? Once you understand this you can use the new language from the transcription in an authentic way in your own playing.

If we apply this principle to the verse of “Sir Duke” we can analyse all the variations of the groove played by drummer Raymond Pounds and see if there is a method behind how he came up with what he played. Its clear he is freely adding hi-hat strokes to the “ahs” of the beat, giving the groove a lovely improvised shuffle feel. However, the basis for the groove is always the same four-on-the-floor disco groove with off-beat accents. Each time he just adds the shuffle stroke to a different place in the bar. Mathematically there are a total of 15 variations he could have chosen from, but I’ve just notated the 7 he uses on the song (for all 15 click here).

Look at the #chartscription I’ve made for “Sir Duke”. Notice I’ve used slash notation throughout the verse except for the fourth bar which has a written bass drum rhythm to hook up with the bass player. The use of slash notation indicates for the drummer to improvise their own groove in a similar style. To practice this try switching between each variation on the sheet. Even better, try using all 15 variations to come up with your own grooves as well. By learning the variations as an exercise you’ll sound much more authentic than if you were reading straight off a transcription!

Next time you are transcribing a drummer try to note how he or she changes the groove around. Is there a pattern to it? You'll learn so much more this way than if you just merely repeat what they play.

I hope this has helped you understand how to approach this section of the song in an authentic way and gives you some ideas for how you can use this language elsewhere. Leave a comment below if you’ve found this helpful, it would be great to hear from you.

Happy practicing!