What Reggae Rhythm?

romicsteve

Member
I've been asked to play Johnny Nash's "There Are More Questions Than Answers" (
) in church next Sunday. I'm primarily a jazz drummer, so my ear is not tuned very well to reggae. What reggae rhythm would you suggest to accompany this song?
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I love playing drums to a reggae groove.

Here is something I learned about drumming to reggae music.
A few years ago the band I was in wanted to play a reggae tune. Well, the bass player was not playing the correct bass line. And more importantly the guitar player was not doing the chicka chicka chicka on the upbeats. So no matter what I played on the drums, the song did not sound like a reggae song.
The reggae drum beat is pretty simple. Usually a snare hit or a cross stick on the 3 or for faster reggae on the 2 and 4. Kind of a Latin feel to it.
But if the bass player and guitar player are not playing a reggae groove then no matter what you play on the drums it will never sound like a reggae song.
Listen to some reggae songs on YouTube. Play along with the songs. You'll get it. It's fairly simple.

.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't hear the one drop rhythm.

I feel it as...1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and...with the rimclick on 2 and 4, and the kick on 1 and 3. A money beat variation. Except for the reggae hi hat phrasing and the cross stick tone, the kick and the snare is a slowed down Billie Jean. I understand one drop to be just what it says, the one isn't played. I'm open for correction there.

Listen to the bass guitar part. It's a regular feel, meaning the 1 is definitely there, with your rimclick on 2 and 4. That's the basic groove, not including any embellishments. The closed hi hat does the 2 - 16th notes "and a" reggae pattern every quarter note, and there can and should be (if you're comfy doing so) interplay between the kick snare and hat, but the basic groove I hear (not counting the hi hat) is a slowed down "Billie Jean"

There's wood blocks in that song too, and they sound a lot like rimclicks, so if there are no woodblocks onstage, then you have a bit more latitude with your interplay and rimclick patterns. Or you could not do that stuff and keep it more straight. Either way works. Woodblocks there, I'd just rimclick on 2 and 4 and let them do most of the offbeat stuff for less clutter.
 
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brady

Platinum Member
Yeah... What lar said.

I hear 1 and-a-2 and-a-3 and-a 4 and-a.... on the hats. Other than that simple 2 and 4 on the snare (rim) and the 1 and 3 on the kick.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
So glad you guys said that!

I held back for fear of being wrong....

The accent beat is definately on the "3".
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
So glad you guys said that!

I held back for fear of being wrong....

The accent beat is definitely on the "3".
I'm not too sure about what 1 drop really is, but I know what my ears say. I played and heard my share of reggae songs where the clicks/backbeat are on 2 and 4, not reversed. This sounds like one of them to me. Reggae doesn't automatically mean one drop or reversed backbeats from my observations
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Not sure why the confusion is caused here, but Gruntersdad and ineedaclutch are right..

The only clear bass drum on 1, is basically the first 1 of the song and maybe a few times after a fill, but the totally clear pattern and feel is bass drum/rimclick on 3 plus that hi-hat part to make the groove swing..

Mandatory thing (!), hi-hat part has to have a sort of in between swing feel..

But, if you would play this song with the bass drum on 1 and 3 and snare on 2 and 4, in my opinion you would get a pretty lame beat..

Sort of like how bad wedding bands would play this..
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I also hear a triplet feel. "And-ah" on the hats click on 2 n 4, though it changes up a bit through hat wise.
 

romicsteve

Member
Thanks, all. I'll work on these ideas. But, Hollywood Jim's point is one I'm concerned about - I don't think any of my fellow musicians are well-versed in Reggae. So, until I get a chance to rehearse with them (on Sunday morning, unfortunately), I won't really know the best way to approach the song.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Definetly just your standars One Drop.

Accented 2& 4& on the hats, side stick and BD together on 3.


You can play this both swung or straight depending on the song.
 
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trommel

Junior Member
Thanks, all. I'll work on these ideas. But, Hollywood Jim's point is one I'm concerned about - I don't think any of my fellow musicians are well-versed in Reggae. So, until I get a chance to rehearse with them (on Sunday morning, unfortunately), I won't really know the best way to approach the song.
Maybe they need to do more research and practice themselves. Tempo, dynamics, "feel" is every player's responsibility.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
I'm not too sure about what 1 drop really is, but I know what my ears say. I played and heard my share of reggae songs where the clicks/backbeat are on 2 and 4, not reversed. This sounds like one of them to me. Reggae doesn't automatically mean one drop or reversed backbeats from my observations

I think the section where the drummer does a rim click on quarter notes gives it away that the snare is on 2 and 4.
 
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