This is one of the most important concepts that every worship team should learn. The rhythm section (primarily the drummer and bass player, but also piano and guitar) must learn to lock together in what is called a “groove.” The tighter the groove is locked, the more precise energy the song will have. Even if the song is a slow ballad, if there is a locked-in groove, energy will be there.
So how does this groove get created? Primarily, from the foundation of the rhythm section, the drums and bass. Last time we mentioned that it is essential that a bass player understand different styles of music. It is even more essential for the drummer. Last time we looked at how important it is for a bass player to know and understand music theory. While it is not necessarily vital that a drummer understand chords within a key, or key signatures, they must be able to have a basic understanding of notes and rhythms. The better the understanding of how notes and rhythms work, and the ability to read written-out drum parts, the better the drummer will be at locking in the groove with the bass player.
Now, so many times I have been at seminars where a drummer and a bass player will show people how to create a groove and try to explain it, which is well and good, but sometimes you need to see something. So with the fact in mind that having the ability to read notes is important, let’s figure this concept out in a few steps.
- Determine the style of the music. Is it rock? If so, is it light rock, hard rock, half-time rock? Is it blues? Is it funk? Is it swing?
- Determine if the drummer and bass player know how to play the style. If so, play it together and lock the groove in. Unfortunately, here is where the majority of today’s worship teams get stuck. They don’t know or understand style, and the music sounds the same song after song, week after week. So how do you fix this?
- Find out how to play the style. Below is a drum pattern for a simple rock beat:
Let’s look at it logically first of all, before we even worry about how to read the music. What is the lowest sounding drum on the drum set? The kick drum. So match the kick drum with the lowest note written out and you’ll see that the kick drum comes the beginning and middle of the first measure. The snare sounds higher than the kick drum, so we’ll match the middle note to the snare, which comes opposite the bass drum in every measure. Finally we have the hi-hat, which is every x at the the top of the music, basically playing all the way through except on the snare drum hits.
As far as the bass guitar goes, one of the easiest ways to remember where to play and how to lock into the groove is to match the bass note to the bass drum. So, the bass player would play every spot that the lowest note hits. Even if the bassline stays as simple as this, if it is locked with the bass drum, the groove will have a definite energy and glue that stays together. If it were written out, it would look like this, with the drums on top and bass on the bottom:
It would sound like this.
If you begin to understand the basics of reading notes and rhythms, begin to understand style, and begin to understand how to match the bass guitar to the bass drum, the groove will lock in and create a wonderful glue and energy to the music.
What tips can you give for locking the bass player and drummer together?