Groove Of The Week #15

It’s groove of the week time! Let’s get to number 15:

MORE COWBELL! Gotta love grooves with cowbell in them. I figured that after 14 grooves of the week, it was about time that I hit the cowbell.

There have been many great songs with cowbell parts over the years, some of the the most notable ones being “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones, “Good Times, Bad Times” by Led Zepplin and of course “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. That last one was the subject of a Saturday Night Live sketch which spawned the “MORE COWBELL!” shout that you’ll hear anytime a drummer plays a cowbell.

This groove was more inspired by the groove Pat Torpey played on the song “Temperamental” by Mr Big; check out the groove in the introduction and about 2 minutes 24 seconds into the song. I always loved how the cowbell plays a rather irregular pattern. This is my attempt to create something with a similar irregular cowbell pattern.

Get The Groove

This is a complex groove with 4-way co-ordination, but we can break it down into smaller parts and piece it together. The first piece of the puzzle is the pattern the hands are playing. We don’t need to worry about which instruments they are playing yet, just what the pattern is. Most of the groove – from beat 1 up until beat 4 – is just a three note grouping repeated 4 times over 16th notes. The three note grouping is RLR. Here it is played on the snare:

Hand pattern for first 3 beats
Count as you play

Practice that at 50 – 60 bpm until you are comfortable.

Now lets fill in the last beat of the bar. Beat 4 is the only time in the groove that the hands actually play together. We’ll represent that by a flam on the snare drum for now, don’t flam it when we play the groove though. Then we have a Left on the “&” of 4 and a Right on the “ah” of four. Here’s the complete hand pattern.

full hand pattern
Keep counting!

Practice the hand pattern slowly until you are confident with it.

Now lets move the right hand onto the ride cymbal & keep the left on the snare.

hands split between snare and ride

Now the groove is starting to take shape. The next element to add is the bell of the Ride Cymbal. This is played on the first Right of each RLR group. Thinking “Bell-Snare-Ride-Bell-Snare-Ride etc…” might help you with this.

adding the ride-bell

Take your time getting comfortable with that, you may not be able to learn this groove in one sitting. Our final step for the hands is the moment you’ve been waiting for – adding the COWBELL.

Have a look at where my cowbell is on my kit, you may need to reposition your cowbell to make it accessible to the left hand (or buy another one, you can never have too many cowbells!) If you’re on an electronic kit, then assign tom 1 to the cowbell sound or, if you have multiple zones on your snare drum, then assign the outer edge to the cowbell sound, whichever makes it easier for you. Here’s the full hand pattern:

adding the cowbell

Now we’ve got the hands working, it’s time to add the feet. The first 4 notes with the feet coincide with the Right hand playing the bell of the ride cymbal. Let’s add those first:

adding the feet
Adding the feet.

The last two notes on the feet are a little trickier; the bass drum on the “ah” of 3, and the pedalled hi-hat on the “e” of 4. Here’s the whole groove:

the whole groove
The Whole Groove.

Take your time learning this groove, it is challenging. Take it as slow as you need to, 30 – 40bpm. It’s better to go slow and get it right than go fast and get it wrong.

Take It Further

There are a couple of ways we can vary this groove. We can alter the foot pattern and we can alter the ending. Let’s look at changing the foot pattern first.

We’ll keep all the notes in the same place, we’ll just change all the hi-hat notes to bass drum:

more bass
Give me more bass

I like the pedalled hi-hat on the “e” of 4 in the original groove, so we can add that back in to break up the bass a bit and create another variation:

less bass, one hi-hat
Give me back my hi-hat.

Moving the bass drum on to beat 4, so it plays with the Bell of the Ride cymbal every time, is also an useful variation:

Bass n Bell together
The Bass N’ Bell connection

As with any groove, we want to be able to add fills to it. The most natural place to add fills to this groove is on beat 4. We’ll stop the groove on the cowbell on the “&” of 3 and then fill beat 4. Here’s 3 ideas:

adding fills
Fill it up!

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #15. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, let us know on the Contact Us page.