Groove Deconstruction… Underneath any knuckle-busting groove is a pulse that provides a solid foundation for everything that happens on top of it.
But what do you do when your knuckles are already busted before the grooving starts?
One technique that is a big help in the practice room is to perform a little surgery on the bass line – to deconstruct the line until the only thing that remains is the pulse, or frame of the groove.
The method for the groove deconstruction is to start subtracting notes until you end up with those essential notes, which are the backbone of the line.
There’s always room for a different interpretation or two, but the point is to get those solid notes that define the bedrock of the groove and then find the “gotcha” note(s). And that note is typically an upbeat, or in the case of the groove in my video lesson, two 16th-notes directly before and then after the downbeat. Tricky!
Once you arrive at the deconstructed line you have an advantage that you might not have had before. Sometimes you can’t even play through the original line without falling off your chair. But now that you have a deconstructed line, which is actually the rhythmic foundation of the groove, you can play through, keep time and work on adding the notes that are giving you trouble.
The key to this process is patience and a willingness to break things down to their essential parts.
Before you are able to play the glitzy part of a groove you will need to be completely inside every turn and every gesture. Every slide, hammer-on, and dead note needs to be under your control.
Don’t be afraid to break your groove deconstruction lines down, to study them and find out what makes them work. I think that when you get right down to it you will find that working on your dynamics, especially the accents, and everything associated with a sensitive interpretation of your lines is the secret sauce that will help you put the whole groove back together and really make it pop.
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Best of luck to all of you in the practice room. And thanks for stopping in.