21 Mar, 2016

Open wide, say “ahh”


Improvising a groove can feel a lot like pulling teeth for beginners. It’s a daunting task, so where do you start? I like to give myself a framework to begin, so in this lesson I'll show you 15 variations of a four-on-the-floor groove with off-beat accents and a way to use these to improvise your own groove. All we are doing is adding stokes to the “ahs” of the beat. Before you know it you’ll have complete freedom to embellish your basic groove as you wish. I made this lesson to accompany the 7 Variations To Play On The Verse Of “Sir Duke”, however these can be used in any other playing context where it's appropriate.

Raymond Pounds plays 6 of these variations on the verse of "Sir Duke" (the 7th variation adds an open hi-hat). I'm the sort of guy who likes to be thorough, and if I know there are more possibilities out there I always want to give them a try. Mathematically there are 15 possible variations (the 16th doesn’t add any extra strokes at all, making it the same as the "check" pattern).

I recommend beginning by playing a bar of the check pattern (the basic groove) followed by a bar of each variation. Once you can comfortably do this, try going straight from one variation to the other. Then do the same without music and freely switch them up as you wish. Now you are truly improvising your own groove! And there's no doctor in sight!

What’s your favourite variation? I’d love to hear how you gave got on with these, and if you have any questions add a comment below or drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter.