By Kate Schellenbach Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s November 2000 Issue
Kate Schellenbach has played drums with Luscious Jackson, Kostars, Indigo Girls and the Beastie Boys.
Double it Up
As rock and pop drummers, we often resort to the same old trick when building dynamics: playing eighth-notes on the hi-hat during the verse and switching to eighths on the ride cymbal during the chorus. That’s all fine and dandy but it really gets boring after a while. I’ve noticed that funk drummers can effectively vary their dynamics by staying on the hi-hat
The first time I caught this was listening to the outro during the song “Stand” by Sly and the Family Stone (Ex. 1). The switch from eighth-notes to two-hand style sixteenths is super funky and energetic and lifts the song to another level. I noticed this concept again during the song “You’ve Got the Love” by another super funky outfit, Rufus, featuring Chaka Kahn. After discovering these ear-opening examples, I tried to cop this hi-hat maneuver during the song, “Alien Lover” by my band Luscious Jackson. One of my all-time favorite examples of this concept appears in the rocking song, “Eternal Life,” by Jeff Buckley, where the addition of sixteenth and open hi-hat accents really pumps up the groove.
In the following examples, the only change from one measure to the next is the addition of sixteenth-notes to the pattern. You can instantly hear the tension build and increase in movement in the groove without even really changing the core pattern. It may be seem like a subtle change but it can be really effective and an excellent addition to your repertoire.
When switching from eighths to sixteenths two-hand style, make sure not to rush, as the tendency can be when playing twice as many notes. Practice to a click or metronome if possible. Experiment with adding additional dynamics by opening the hi-hat in different spots in the pattern.