Groove Analysis: Dominic Howard Of Muse
Art rockers Muse create grandiose pop-rock songs that often sound like a blend of Queen and a moody B-movie soundtrack. Their new record, The 2nd Law, is certainly full of ear candy, adding dance-club keyboard sounds and heavy riffing guitars to their successful formula. Despite all the effort in creating drummer Dominic Howard’s blend of electronic and acoustic drum sounds, the drums still generally sound like rock drums, though his playing is simpler and more groove-oriented on this release.
This track shows off Howard’s best drumming on the record. The song is in 5/4 and he repeats his groove for the first couple of minutes of the tune punctuating the section changes with a cymbal crash. In the second line of the transcription we find there’s a brief break where he plays a quick single-stroke roll on his snare drum with his bass drum emphasizing 1 (2)& 4, and 5. This is followed by a polyrhythmic pattern with cymbal crashes falling on every other beat of the 5/4 pattern, creating a four-measure cycle. At 3:29 he plays a brief flam-and-bass-drum groove moving around his kit with flams falling on 1 (2)& (3)&, and 5. For the next pattern he plays a polymetric groove that has the snare and bass drum feeling like a slower half-time groove in four but the cymbal pattern stays in five. The song ends with a similar snare bass drum accent pattern but this time the accents are placed on his cymbals. Very creative drumming.
For the drum entrance to this song in 6/4, Howard plays a four-on-the-floor groove and gradually adds snare and tom fills as shown in the transcription. This section leads to an interesting tom tom groove that may be Howard’s homage to Ringo Starr, as it’s reminiscent of Starr’s groove on the Beatles classic “Ticket To Ride.”