Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheeran – Pre-chorus

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"Castle on the Hill" along with "Shape of You" were the lead singles from Ed Sheeran's 2017 album, Divide. In Castle on the Hill, Leo Taylor plays the quarter-note pulse on the bass drum throughout most of the song, adding tom-based grooves and cymbal swells for dramatic effect.

The above groove is heard in the pre-chorus sections of the song. The consistent elements are the floor tom (played in eighth notes) and the bass drum (playing four-on-the-floor). The rack tom part (played with the left hand) is quite dynamic, playing relatively quiet notes that blend with the floor tom, and accented notes that stand out. Although the rhythm of the rack tom changes constantly, it centers around beat 2 and the 'and of 3'.

Tip: try accenting different notes on the rack tom and listen for how it changes the feel. To play it like Leo, get the note-for-note transcription below.

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Steve Ley