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LINEAR RHYTHM CONCEPT

Part 3: Orchestrating Linear for the trap set


In Linear Rhythm Concept, groupings of events (like drum patterns) are used to create grooves and accent lines where the beginning and/or end of the groupings define the rhythmic areas. These groupings consist of a certain number of events, the number of which is used to identify the grouping in relationship to the others, as in 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Linear groupings must be designed to be heard and perceived coherently. This includes the way the grouping is expressed,  the choice of instrument, the dynamic of the group elements, and the rhythmic resolution. In order to show how this works, we will use the number set 5 5 3 3 to create a variety of orchestrations or expressions on the drum kit.

First, we will look at designing our groupings. In order to play groupings with different numbers of events and define them, we must encapsulate them. The way this is typically done is by enclosing the groupings with the same sound events, and using like elements in similar ways. The typical Linear trap set groupings demonstrate this:

3: r-l-k
4: r-l-k-k
5: r-l-r-l-k
6: r-l-r-l-k-k
7: r-l-r-l-r-l-k

As do the typical sticking groupings:

3: r-l-l
4: r-r-l-l
5: r-l-r-l-l
6: r-l-r-r-l-l
7: r-l-r-l-r-l-l

Notice that the trap set groupings all begin with a right stroke and end with a kick, and the sticking groupings all begin with a right stroke and end with a double-left stroke. There are also internal similarities, which become more apparent as you play them.

Definition also includes sounding each event in the grouping within the boundaries of the rhythmic area. What this basically means is that the first grouping must complete itself before beginning the next. While it may be obvious now, this will become important when we create Linear Fatback with the 5 5 3 3.

In many ways, the instrumentation is an integral part of defining the groupings. In the trap set groupings above, each begins and ends on the same drum as part of the expression of the number. While work on the sticking groupings typically begins on the snare, placing the strokes on different drums to get different lines is a very common use of this technique.

Dynamics can also be used to define the similar nature of groupings. One can accent the first left stroke in each trap set grouping or sticking grouping for example. Often, the first stroke is accented by the player, although in trap set Linear that first right can be placed on a high hat, which is not a loud accent. This creates a funkier feel to a great deal of Linear drumming. Ghosting (playing very lightly) the snare is another way of getting a more spacious running-sixteenth note feel. Very often, accents are used to create a more conventional fatback or stylistic feel, producing multiple accent layers.

Finally, using the number groupings to create measures means using an even number of events which break up the measure. In order to do this, knowing the rhythmic resolution is required. To find this, take the time signature and multiply it times the number of sub-divisions of each beat. A very fast rock beat might have a rhythmic resolution of 8 (eight eighth-notes), while a blues shuffle typically uses a rhythmic resolution of 12 (12 eighth-note triplets). For our 5 5 3 3, we are creating one measure in 4/4 time with a sixteenth-note subdivision. This gives us a rhythmic resolution of sixteen (5 + 5 + 3 + 3).

example 3: 5-5-3-3  [ top ]
 

1) Sticking:

R-l-r-l-l R-l-r-l-l R-l-l R-l-l

[by beat:]

R-l-r-l-
l R-l-r-
l-l R-l-
l R-l-l

2) Linear:

rh(r) on hh, ride, sn or toms
lh(l)
on sn or rack toms

R-l-r-l-k R-l-r-l-k R-l-k R-l-k

[by beat:]

R-l-r-l-
k R-l-r-
l-k R-l-
k R-l-k

After breaking down the Linear rhythm into the two orchestrations of 5-5-3-3 and playing them, you will see that there is a strong relationship between the two, but the overall sound is different. If you switch drums with the same pattern, the overall effect changes again. This shows the combination of a simple idea with the experience of expressing music in different ways on your instrument, which can be applied to any instrument. Guitarists can play rhythm strokes in Linear groupings or create arpeggios with the same numbers. Pianists can do the same with rhythm hits and arpeggios. Melody players can use the rhythms in similar ways.

In order to see this flexibility on the drums, we will create two more grooves with the same numbers. In order to do so, we must first learn a little about Fatback.

Fatback

Fatback may or may not be a new term to you, but I guarantee that you have heard it, probably every day of your life. Fatback in drum-speak means playing a beat in 4/4 time with the snare drum accenting the second and fourth beats (the backbeats of the measure - hence the name).  In case it's new to you, here's a couple of examples:

[use the left hand on the snare, and play one hh stroke in the right for each event | count 1 2 3 4:]

k L k L

[use the left hand on the snare, and play one hh stroke in the right for each event and each dash | count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and:]

k - L - k - L -

The Classic: [same instructions as above:]

k - L - k k L k

Now that you have played a little Fatback, let's apply it to the Linear number set 5-5-3-3, and create a sound called Linear Fatback. One thing we must look for immediately is being able to play the snare on the second and fourth beats. This can be a right or left stroke which can be moved to the snare if necessary, but it can't be a kick. Take another look at the Linear groove, and you will see that we have a problem!

R-l-r-l-
k R-l-r-
l-k R-l-
k R-l-k

If you are viewing this on a graphic browser you will see that I have highlighted the kicks that begin the second and fourth groupings. These positions represent the downbeats of the second and fourth beats, and both begin with a kick!

In order to resolve this, we will have to exchange the kicks on two and four for other events. When we do this, we must remember that each grouping must be completed before beginning the next one. This means we will exchange the kicks with the left stroke that falls immediately before it. Our new pattern looks like this:

R-l-r-k-
l R-l-r-
l-k R-k-
l R-l-k

In order to make the groove sound like Fatback, we need to change the accents:

r-l-r-k-
L r-l-r-
l-k r-k-
L r-l-k

Now we have the sound called Linear Fatback. Typically a drummer will keep the high hat foot on the beat, which you can try with your left foot as you play the pattern.

Finally, we can use the Linear Fatback groove to create a more standard Fatback groove by applying a few rules and some conversions. Our Linear groupings never start with a kick, and typically Fatback grooves have a kick on the downbeat of each measure or the downbeat of the first of two measures, as in a two-measure groove pattern. We will add a kick on the downbeat to accommodate this. Fatback also typically consists of three or four layers, as follows:

Right hand: Ride - high hat or ride cymbal, possibly cowbell or tom - typically plays an eighth-note rhythm
Left hand: Snare - plays the accent on two and four and occasional ghost notes and accents
Right foot: Kick - the kick line is the place where each Fatback groove is unique - this can fall on any sixteenth note except two and four [1-e-&-a  2-e-&-a  3-e-&-a  4-e-&-a]
Left foot: High Hat - the pedal for the high hat opens and closes the cymbals - this is typically played on the beats

What the Linear Fatback groove gives us for Fatback is the kick line. If we take that from our 5-5-3-3, we get the following:

[use the left hand on the snare, and play one hh stroke in the right for every other event (k, L or dash), highlighted in blue | count 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a:]

k - - k L - - - - k - k L - - k

Here is the groove beat by beat:

k - - k
L
- - -
- k - k
L
- - k

Here is how the Linear Fatback and the Fatback compare:

r-l-r-k- | L r-l-r- | l-k r-k- | L r-l-k [Linear Fatback]
k - - k | L - - - | - k - k | L - - k [Fatback]

Notice how all of the kicks (highlighted in red) occur in the same event location in both lines, except the kick on one (highlighted in green) which we added to accommodate the Fatback feel.

Play these grooves until you can feel them both ways, and then include the Sticking and Linear lines in your rotation. If you are lucky enough to have a drumming partner, play both parts together, switching off, to see how each feels in relation to the other. Note the similarities and subtle differences between them.

These ideas can be applied to melodic instruments in scale practice, arpeggio practice, and melodic interpretation, and to harmonic comping in rhythmic placement and accent. As usual, experimentation is the key to learning how to incorporate this into your own language.

Good luck, and have fun!

 

*GUITARISTS:
The accent lines created in the examples above can be translated easily into guitar strumming. Play a sixteenth-note strum where the downstrokes fall on the beats and the ands, and the upstrokes fall on the e's and the ta's.

Play the accents with a harder, louder stroke, and play the remainder of the strokes softly or not at all (by missing the guitar strings) and you will hear the line formed by the number set.

*ADVANCED:
If you are working on these ideas on a trap set or with four limbs, you can do some footwork along with the stickings. To begin with, keep both feet playing on the beat-pulse, which is the beginning of each four-event-grouping. After you have mastered this, use the right-foot or kick-foot to play the ta of each beat (one-e-and-ta, two-e-and-ta, etc.) while continuing to play the beat-pulse with both feet.
example where each line is one event-cluster (happens at once) showing one beat of sixteenth notes:
r/k/hh_foot
r
l
l/k

Article by Frank Singer ©2005 All Rights Reserved  [ top ]  
[ 001 ]    [ 002 ]

Linear Rhythm Concept
Article Index

1. Linear Drumming
2. Linear Drums and more
3. Orchestrating Linear for the Trap Set

Resources and Definitions

Resources_Definitions.htm
001 Handout: Cells
002 Handout: Groove Examples
003 Resources and Definitions (document in pdf form)
Linear Picking 1 (guitar)
Linear Picking 2 (guitar)
Time Drill (piano)

 

 

 

 

Linear Rhythm Concept
Article Index

1. Linear Drumming
2. Linear Drums and more
3. Orchestrating Linear for the Trap Set

Resources and Definitions

Resources_Definitions.htm
001 Handout: Cells
002 Handout: Groove Examples
003 Resources and Definitions (document in pdf form)
Linear Picking 1 (guitar)
Linear Picking 2 (guitar)
Time Drill (piano)


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