Groove Analysis: Anderson Paak

Groove Analysis: Anderson Paak

Like ?uestlove (another drummer whose name includes superfluous punctuation), Anderson Paak manipulates tension in the music by his placement of notes, such as putting the snare ahead or behind the beat. He also makes us feel uncomfortable (to just the right degree) by using displacements, polyrhythms, articulations, space, and sitting between swung and straight. If you’re not familiar with this genre, do yourself a favor and buy Paak’s newest album Malibu. The notation here will be helpful, but the only way to dip your toe in the water is to listen and play along.

Paak confounds us by leaving out the downbeat to the first measure, making it a scramble to find beat 1. Once we get our bearings, we’re treated to a barrage of off-beat bass drum, which helps us feel even more disoriented. Paak includes just the right touch of spices: accented hi-hat, barely perceptible hi-hat chicks, ghosted snares, open hi-hat, and snares in unlikely locations.

A drum intro with crashes on 1 and 3 and sextuplet runs down the toms pulls us in a jazzy direction. Paak establishes a funky sixteenth-note-based groove in measure two — with snare on 2, 3, and (4) e, and bass drum on 1 and (3) ah — followed immediately by another sextuplet combination. This back and forth continues through the entire eight-bar segment, and check out the 4:3 polyrhythm in measure seven.

Paak plays a rim-click/hand clap (notated here as a rim-click) on 2 and 4, which lays behind the beat. This is in stark contrast to the forward lean of the bass drum line, which is calypso influenced and rarely repeats itself.

Ambiguity flows again as the tune begins with a three-note pick-up (two snares and a bass drum) into an unaccented hi-hat. Once we realize that the keyboard part is playing downbeats, not off-beats, finding beat 1 becomes crystal clear.

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