Groove discussion

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My son were having a discussion on what groove is. He played a rather choppy but repetitive beat on his body. I said that IMO a groove is smooth, not choppy. It's fluid-like.

I related that I think of a groove as at least one element remaining more or less static, non-changing basically, while at least one more element weaves in and out of the steady time line. The more elements, the more the possibilities of complexity. Rhythms are simple, complex, and somewhere in the middle.

Then he posed me the question...can you make a groove with just one voice, like say a snare drum. Well of course you can. A 2nd line snare part for example. However, we came to the conclusion that the more interesting grooves, in our opinion, involve at least 2 voices, bass and snare for example. What we consider a simple D&B groove, actually has at least 4 elements going on, kick, snare, hat, bass guitar.

We were just trying to get a mental handle of the elements that go into the making of a good groove, so I thought I'd hand it off here, to see what this community's thoughts are.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
This reminds me of an old I Love Lucy episode, when little Ricky got a set of drums and kept playing Bam...Bam...Bam,Bam, Bam... on the snare. Lucy and Ricky got into a grove doing everything to the beat. Then little Ricky suddenly stopped and everyone’s stride was broken!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist, but it reminded me of how simple a groove can be.

Does anyone remember those episodes or have I just antiquated myself? LOL!!!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
There's a YT video, the premise is that groove and good time can be mutually exclusive. This goes counter to what I have always thought. The video doesn't really explain it much. I don't know man. Someone educate me.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I always thought of the "groove" as that underlying rhythm that no matter what else is going on musically with all other instruments is always present-alone or separate there is a groove. How you approach it per instrument maybe different so it can be grooves within a larger groove-so instruments playing different grooves come together as an emergent property to create a whole new larger groove that captivates an audience. If that makes any sense ROFL??? On drum kit I need a hh, snare, bass to do much grooving but that is more my limitations I think.


"I related that I think of a groove as at least one element remaining more or less static, non-changing basically, while at least one more element weaves in and out of the steady time line. The more elements, the more the possibilities of complexity. Rhythms are simple, complex, and somewhere in the middle." Yeah that's what I'm saying come think of it. There is an underlying groove-and the elegance, to me, is when simple parts come together and emerge as something even groovier than the individual grooves. That subtle thing you're contrasting as smooth I think. Sounds less confusing the way you said it though-dagnabit.
 
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beatdat

Senior Member
There's a YT video, the premise is that groove and good time can be mutually exclusive. This goes counter to what I have always thought. The video doesn't really explain it much. I don't know man. Someone educate me.
I think the premise is valid. Take early Black Sabbath, for instance. I'd be hard pressed to say that Bill Ward had "good time", but, man, he (along with the band) sure does groove. Led Zeppelin could also be consider in an example, although not as glaringly obvious as Black Sabbath.

So, if a band is able to weave in and around each other, they can groove, but it's not always a given.

On the other hand, there are drummers in bands with good time who, in my opinion, don't really groove much at all (eg. mid-period Rush).

As far as grooving on just one voice, sure, it's possible. Take the intro to Wipeout, for instance, or what a lot of drummers can do on a hand drum like a djembe.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I related that I think of a groove as at least one element remaining more or less static, non-changing basically, while at least one more element weaves in and out of the steady time line.

Then he posed me the question...can you make a groove with just one voice, like say a snare drum. Well of course you can.
I Agree with the first part. One voice steady while another voice weaves in and out. Or in some manner follows the first voice.

But I'm not sure I agree that one voice can groove by itself. If I turn on my metronome all by itself; is it grooving by itself?
I can't imagine listening to a click track all by itself and thinking, wow, that click is really in the groove.


.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I Agree with the first part. One voice steady while another voice weaves in and out. Or in some manner follows the first voice.

But I'm not sure I agree that one voice can groove by itself. If I turn on my metronome all by itself; is it grooving by itself?
I can't imagine listening to a click track all by itself and thinking, wow, that click is really in the groove.


.
In my mind, you can dance to a metronome, so it's a groove. I think that the more voices involved, the more satisfying the groove sounds...to a point. Most people in dance clubs are moving in relation to the relentless bass drum pounding out quarter notes. That's as basic as it gets. And it's not just the drums. Groove is time. You can have a groove without drums. So it's not just a drum-centric thing, it's a time/feel thing. I think. I'm thinking out loud.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
This reminds me of an old I Love Lucy episode, when little Ricky got a set of drums and kept playing Bam...Bam...Bam,Bam, Bam... on the snare. Lucy and Ricky got into a grove doing everything to the beat. Then little Ricky suddenly stopped and everyone’s stride was broken!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist, but it reminded me of how simple a groove can be.

Does anyone remember those episodes or have I just antiquated myself? LOL!!!
"Fred, Fred, Fred Fred Fred"
- Ethel
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
That helps, thanks Brent.

Can a whole song be "off" and still groove?

I'm guessing yes, it's possible.

But is it used on a regular basis?

My guess is no, but I'm just guessing.
This type of thing is all over so many classic albums, in so many different ways. Before clicks were the norm, it was just about creating a vibe as a band. If you jammed along with Sinatra, P Funk, James Brown, Stax, Motown, Muscle Shoals as a kid, you probably picked up some of it. For drummers, it's about feeling where the other instruments "sit" in relation to the drums. The horns are going to lay back a lot more on a Sinatra or Aretha Franklin track, than on a Michael Jackson track.

Do I hear it on a regular basis these days in bar cover band land? Probably not that often, but not never. Many times in pop and modern RnB bands, I see tracks being used, and the goal is just to lock in with that. But, if you go to the right wine bar on a school night in Detroit, you can hear some very tasty, conscious, deliberate groove friction. It's very much in vogue right now, as the jazz community expresses its love for hip hop producer J Dilla.

It's great if the musicians can consciously think of "oh I need to specifically lay these notes back/forward/whatever" like Benny and his bass player do in that video. But, often, it's just about listening to the whole band, and adjusting to fit in until it sounds "right" or "like the record". If you can consciously know and think about being ahead or behind, and realize who is supposed to be ahead, behind, or right with you, you can more quickly diagnose what's going wrong, and fix it.

Overall, togetherness can certainly be valid, even if it's not lining up with a grid. But so many players struggle to play well together, that adjusting a groove usually doesn't happen, if something is going wrong. Easier to replace the player, or play a different tune.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I think groove is about being together and sounding comfortable while doing it.

It isn't about simple or complex rhythms, or slow or fast tempo, though simple rhythms at a medium tempo tend to lock together more easily, which I think is why many equate "groove" with "simple" or at least straightforward. But for me groove is more about feeling locked in, literally in a groove together.

Groove can apply to a band context, or just a drummer by themselves. I've heard plenty of young (and not so young) drummers that can't quite seem to get all four limbs really locked together.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Groove, is feel. It's repetitive, it's solid, doesn't have to be fancy. Makes people move, bop their head, bang their head, whatever it may be. IMO
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
The Benny Greb example explains FEEL and not groove. Two players feeling the subdivisions in the same way and then feeling the subdivisions differently.

Just listen to the last thing he says in that video example.

I will restrain from any further comments about feel or groove based on past experiences here. LOL
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
All the other musicians I play with refer to "the groove" of a song. They call the grooves shuffles, swings, "rhumba" (a NOLA sorta clave), and rock. That's how the hear the basic rhythms of each song we play. If it's a new song I don't know that's how they guide me, "It's a shuffle groove" etc.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Groove? Man, like they say, if you hafta ask......

Like looking at a sunset and saying "why is it beautiful?" or Mount Everest and asking "why is it awesome?"

Here is one of my favorite definitions of groove-and it only takes THREE NOTES-

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IvmeEyVd5w8

Sincerely, THE INVISIBLE MAN....
 
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No Way Jose

Silver Member
I didn't know a groove from a grape until I started playing a plastic bucket as a hand drum at the beach. About 300 feet away three girls got out of their car and started dancing to my rhythm. It was just my drumming and they were dancing. That's when I learned what a groove was.
 
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