Over the years I’ve had to come up with some street beats that fit into a funk context. The following are grooves that I’ve found to work well in both New Orleans street beat and funk situations. While playing these, remember to experiment between playing straight and swinging – and then find that magic spot in between. Don’t forget to accent the and of beat 4. Experiment with moving the hands around the snare drum, getting different sounds out of the various regions of the head. You can also try omitting the buzz rolls.
Ex. 1 has a backbeat on beat 2 while the rest of the measure is a street beat figure borrowed from Johnny Vidacovich. Ex. 2 can be used as a variation, fill or a street beat in its own right. Ex. 3 works great as fills or variations. Ex. 4 works especially well as a groove with the right hand on the ride cymbal, hi-hat, cowbell or any other voice you can come up with. Note the backbeat on beat 4. Ex. 5 is a variation of the first example, but check out the tail end. It’s slightly altered. Try playing this one with the right hand on the cowbell, ride cymbal, floor tom, the side of the floor tom or hi-hat.
All of these grooves can also be used as fills in a funk context. Practice them until they get comfortable, then mix them all together. Once all of these get really comfortable, stop thinking and let your hands go. You’ll eventually come up with your own variations to fit your own style and playing situations.
Stanton Moore is the founding drummer for New Orleans-based funk band Galactic, and has played with Garage A Trois, Corrosion Of Conformity, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Skerik, Irma Thomas, and Robert Walter, among many others. Moore has also enjoyed a prolific solo career, performs clinics, and published drumming books and DVDs.