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Thread: Drum/rhythm knowledge rolling thread

  1. #1
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    Default Drum/rhythm knowledge rolling thread

    Blackdown and dHarry were having a discussion about beat structure in dubstep/reggae/soca etc, over on another thread that set me thinking: maybe it would be useful to have a separate thread for people to share their knowledge/questions in this area?

    As most people on here who make beats probably know already, Wayne and Wax's website is amazingly useful for this: (click 'lessons') ; he also did an amazing explanation of his Blogariddims contribution, and the 3+3+2 structure connecting most of the Caribbean tunes there.


    As a starter to discussion, Blackdown raised a very interesting question on the other thread (talking about a dubstep record):

    given the cyclical nature of bars, how would a snare on the first and the snare on the third sound different to the reverse? i had Benny Ill explain a similar thing about the soca beat (it's snare kick kick, not kick kick snare) but, due to cycles, they appear indistinguishable in a tune.

    I've always wondered how, in reggae, the listener can 'tell' that the guitar/organ chords are on the offbeat, producing the trademark skank. Surely this would depend upon there being an incontrovertible 'marker' of the beginning of the bar? Do we simply attribute the bass drum (which may be felt more than heard in many contexts) to the beginning of the bar automatically? And would someone who had never heard any music before automatically do the same?

  2. #2

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    maybe if the drums were just playing solo we wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but when all the other instruments are playing too you get a picture built up i guess - the bass doesn't play the offbeat in reggae does it?

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    Yeah, there will be other cues in the music which indicate where the emphasis falls - human players will usually do this naturally but with electronic beats you can't always easily tell where the bars start, if at all.

    I like the little pun in the thread title.

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    With only the drum track playing you might not be able to tell where the bars start (and this can be exploited by producers - opening a track with a rhythm part on an off-beat, only to wrong-foot you when the music or beat proper comes in), but you can always tell with a full musical track - there is always a countable 1-2-3-4; and just because bars cycle doesn't mean that this isn't apparent - they just cycle back around to 1 after the 4, and this isn't the same as starting the count at say 2-3-4-1 (if this were the case musicians/singers wouldn't be able to play together!)

    Or am I not getting something about the question (I didn't understand Blackdown's original point either)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dHarry View Post
    With only the drum track playing you might not be able to tell where the bars start (and this can be exploited by producers - opening a track with a rhythm part on an off-beat, only to wrong-foot you when the music or beat proper comes in), but you can always tell with a full musical track - there is always a countable 1-2-3-4; and just because bars cycle doesn't mean that this isn't apparent - they just cycle back around to 1 after the 4, and this isn't the same as starting the count at say 2-3-4-1 (if this were the case musicians/singers wouldn't be able to play together!)

    Or am I not getting something about the question (I didn't understand Blackdown's original point either)?
    Now I'm getting confused!

    I understand your point about singers, so taking the instrumental track on its own...what is it that means that, as a listener, one can identify the '1'? Is it that the bass drum always falls on that beat?

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    Yeah, the bass drum usually falls on the 1-beat, which makes it easier to hear/feel.

    I've always wondered how, in reggae, the listener can 'tell' that the guitar/organ chords are on the offbeat, producing the trademark skank. Surely this would depend upon there being an incontrovertible 'marker' of the beginning of the bar? Do we simply attribute the bass drum (which may be felt more than heard in many contexts) to the beginning of the bar automatically? And would someone who had never heard any music before automatically do the same?
    I'd say "yes", "yes (although even if there's not kick drum on the 1-beat, the 1-beat is still there, in time - see below)" and "probably".

    Also reggae sometimes leaves out a strong beat on the 1 and hits the kick drum on the 3 (i.e. on what's usually the snare beat), which is what can give it a lop-sided feel (but of course the time is still counting away whatever the instrumentation/arrangement).

    My original point to Blackdown was that this reggae rhythm has AFAIK never been used in dubstep and could sound/feel great in that context - his response that "it doesn't matter, given that bars cycle around" isn't valid to this point, so maybe he misunderstood me (due to my poor explanation possibly!).

    So again (sorry if this is boring to many)! Instead of a typical rock/funk/hip hop/dubstep beat (they all do the same thing typically) with the Kick & Snare on the 1 & 3:

    1-2-3-4-
    K---S---

    why not try the reggae variation:

    1-2-3-4-
    ----K---

  7. #7

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    no, it varies with the style of music where the bass drum falls (one drop reggae riddims miss out the bass drum on the first beat), it's just that i think the point people are making is that you can always tell where the 1-2-3-4 falls in music, if there's two or more instruments playing together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dHarry View Post
    1-2-3-4-
    K---S---
    [/FONT]

    [/FONT]
    that's dubstep but not rock surely? Where halfstep broke with 2 step was placing the snare on the 3rd beat instead of on the one and two.

    Sorry, minor quibble.

    I guess the only way to prove this is for someone to make the drum tracks on something, post them up and see if we can tell the difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dHarry View Post
    (sorry if this is boring to many)!
    This is a thread where we can be as nerdy and tedious as we like!

    Seriously, I find this kind of stuff fascinating. Must consult with my friend who's into Cuban music, who had really interesting things to say on the way in which the clave rhythm has become so embedded into the minds of Cuban riddim followers, that sometimes it can simply be implied and the listener will hear it.

    This seems to me to have parallels with a point that Kode9 (?possibly?) made in an interview about how the jungle/Amen rhythm was so instantiated in the minds of those who followed the 'hardcore continuum'/London pirate radio, that many of his tracks suggested this rhythm (perhaps through such things as ghost notes? I'm out of my musical depth here ) without actually employing it.

    As well as possibly having parallels with what we're discussing about reggae, of course.

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    There's nothing special about the Amen though. It's pretty much the same rhythm as "Funky Drummer" and a bunch of other funk beats.

    Kick on the 1, snare on the 2 and 4.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sodiumnightlife View Post
    that's dubstep but not rock surely? Where halfstep broke with 2 step was placing the snare on the 3rd beat instead of on the one and two.

    Sorry, minor quibble.

    I guess the only way to prove this is for someone to make the drum tracks on something, post them up and see if we can tell the difference.
    It's true, take away the swing and triplet figures and many simple halfstep rhythms are pretty much the same as plodding rock.

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    Wait...I thought halfstep was accused of not having any swing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DigitalDjigit View Post
    Wait...I thought halfstep was accused of not having any swing.
    No reason why it can't have swing at all, good halfstep tracks have a definite groove, but without it it is going to seem pretty stiff. Sometimes people use the word 'swing' to mean the extremely swung rhythms of 2step.

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    From the little I know, seems like (aside from 2-step) quite a lot of genres use a generous amount of swing. My memory is possibly failing me, but doesn't southern hip hop typically use a lot of swing on the hi-hat pattern? (It may be reggaeton that i'm thinking of....)

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    Definitely. Hip hop will nearly always have swing, especially apparent on the hi-hats, and reggaeton uses loads I imagine.

    I suppose with halfstep if you just have a kick on the 1 and a snare on the 3 you won't hear the effect of the swung beats until you have some other elements going on that fall on the alternate 8ths or 16ths.

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