It’s time to get schooled! Prince is here to educate you about Musicology.
This track is in the James Brown style of funk. It features a syncopated funk groove with a fairly busy snare drum part. The chart provided for the song provides no real indication of dynamics for the snare part. I elected to accent beat two and then play the other notes softer, but not really ghosting them. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the buzzed snare notes, they are easy to miss while you’re grooving along.
The feel of this song has a 16th note shuffle feel. To get a feel of the snare drum note placements you may want to try playing the groove slowly like this to get used to the swung 16th note feel:
Keep the tempo slow, around 50-60bpm to start, as playing this groove at the speed of the song is not easy, we’re just doing this to get a feel of the swung triplets. You may be able to reach speeds of around 80bpm playing the groove this way. Try playing the groove as written above for 8 bars & then switch to a straight 8th note hi-hat pattern without stopping for another 8 bars; keep the snare drum hitting on the 16th note triplets. Record yourself playing it and compare the snare drum feel between the 2 versions. Did you keep the swung 16th note snare feel?
Another idea is to play the song’s actual groove and try playing 8 bars with a straight feel and 8 bars with a swung feel. Record it. Can you hear a difference in the snare placements?
Woof Woof Woof – Barking Hi-Hats
The song also features a classic funk fill with the Bernard Purdie style hi-hat barks. Having a fast left foot is essential here as you need to close it in between each opening. Practicing the following exercise slowly and cleanly will help you to play this fill.
The solo section of the song shouldn’t cause too much trouble as it’s just the one bar played 3 times. However, if you are having trouble with it, try playing it with additional ghost notes on the snare with the left hand to get a feel for the timing of the tom tom part in the right hand like so:
Once you can play it accurately that way, then you can try recording yourself playing it with & with out the ghost notes – do the tom toms fall in the same place?
Did you get your diploma?
In conclusion, this is a funky song to play that gets you working on essential elements of funk such as synocopated snare parts, the swung 16th note feel and hi-hat barks. Mastering all the above will improve your funk playing no end. Have fun getting schooled in funk with Prince & Musicology!
The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 5 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 3 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!
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