Stripping the Ghostly FunkNate Brown
This groove nails a host of embellishments, but what happens when you strip them away? Check it out!
The open hi-hat technique adds another layer to a groove. In other words, you can almost think of it as a groove on top of another groove. Here’s what the Ghostly Funk groove sounds like when we strip away the open hi-hat layer.
Ghost strokes give a groove a more “rhythmic” feel, filling it out but not drastically changing the feel. Usually, ghost strokes are used to emphasize a syncopated, sixteenth-note pulse. Let’s strip down Ghostly Funk even further by taking away the ghost strokes.
A lot of the beats we play use straight eighth-note ostinatos on the hi-hat. Embellishing this common ostinato with some sixteenth notes is a great way to break up the monotony. We’ll strip down the groove even further by stripping away the ostinato-embellishments on the hi-hat. Now, we have straight eighth notes.
Snare displacement is a keystone of funk drumming. Notice that Ghostly Funk strays from the common 2 and 4 snare drum backbeat. Instead, beat 2 is displaced to a sixteenth later, or in other words, the “e” of beat 2. This gives the groove its funky, “off” feel. What happens when we strip away the last embellishment technique used? Let’s strip it. Here’s the stripped Ghostly Funk … now with no snare displacement.
All of the grooves above sound good, and some versions will work better than others depending on the song and situation. Understanding the effect that these embellishments have on the feel of a groove is important when deciding what to play and when. Even though an embellishment may sound cool in the beat, it may not fit the song you’re playing. I’ll leave you with a famous quote from an unknown drummer: “To embellish, or not to embellish. That is the question.”
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