Groove Of The Week #22

It’s time for groove of the week #22, lets get to it!

For groove of the week #22 I thought I’d try to take a classic groove – the Bossa Nova – and put a little funky bass drum twist on it. A kind of bossa nova for the 21st century. Let’s take a look at it.

Get The Groove

Let’s take a look at the groove that inspired this one. Here’s a standard Bossa Nova:

The standard bossa nova
Ladies & Gentlemen, The Bossa Nova

The main features of a Bossa Nova are the rim clicks that give it the melody and the heartbeat like bass drum that keeps it moving along. For groove of the week #22 I thought I’d take the rim click melody and try to re-work the bass drum to make it sound funky.

Lets start with the hands. The first step is to be able to play the rim click pattern consistently against the hi-hat and to be able to count it and sing along with it. Play until it is easy to do and you don’t need to think about it. Here’s the hi-hat and rim click

bossa nova rimclick pattern
Click those rims and count along

Now lets add the bass drum into the first bar.

The first half of the groove
Play that funky bass drum

The first thing to note is the bass drum on beat one, just as it is in the standard Bossa Nova. Take care not to flam the bass drum, rim click and hi-hat. Be precise in your playing, get all 3 happening together.

The next 3 bass drums all happen on 16th notes between the hi-hat 8th notes. Play this slowly at first and make sure the spacing is even between the bass and the hi-hats. Count out loud as you’re doing it and work with a metronome.

Now lets look at the second bar.

The second half of the groove
Look ma, no bass drum on beat one!

The second bar has no bass drum on beat one, just a hi-hat. You may feel uncomfortable not playing the bass drum on beat one; the majority of rock/pop beats have the bass drum on beat one & if you haven’t explored outside of that genre yet then this may feel strange to you. With practice you’ll get used to it. Go slow and count. Our first bass drum in this bar occurs on the “&” of one and gives a nice syncopated feel to the groove.

The next 3 bass drums happen on the 16th notes between the hi-hat 8th notes and echo the pattern from the first bar; they just happen slightly earlier in the bar. Again be careful with your note spacing.

The final bass drum hits on the “&” of 4. Once we join the two bars together and repeat the pattern the bass drums at the start and the end will mimic the heartbeat bass drum pattern from the original Bossa Nova.

Now lets join the two bars together.

Putting the two halves together
Did someone order 2 bars of Funk Bossa Nova?

Again, go slow and count, don’t panic when you get to the middle of the groove and there is nothing happening except hi-hats. Enjoy the space and count.

Our final step is to add in the open hi-hat at the end of the 2nd bar. The open hi-hat is on beat 4 and I leave it open all the way until beat one. I don’t hit the hi-hat on the “&” of 4 on the last bar, so the final bass drum will have to go solo.

Funky bossa nova complete
Open that hat up

For me, the open hi-hat completes the groove and it’s like taking a big breath of fresh air before diving back into the complex business of the groove. It provides a moment of musical space – relief that the tough part is done. You may want to experiment with the open hi-hat though. When I originally developed the groove I was closing it on the “&” of 4 with the bass drum, but it didn’t quite sound right to me. You could also try opening it on the “&” of 4 on the second bar and closing it on the 1. This whole groove is an experiment, so play with it yourself and see what you can come up with.

Taking It Further

The standard Bossa Nova can be played in two ways. Note that in the example I gave above of a standard Bossa Nova, the first bar has 3 rim clicks and the second bar has 2. We can call this a 3:2 Bossa Nova. It’s possible to reverse the order of the bars you get a 2:3 Bossa Nova. This creates a different feel and rim click melody. We can try that with our groove.

2:3 bossa nova
Now I’m confused

Ok… I’m guessing that isn’t going to sound great. Why? Well, we’ve got no bass drum on beat 1 of the first bar, so nothing is really centering the groove. The open hi-hat is now in the middle of the pattern, so our deep breath is in the middle of the chaos rather than providing a moment of calm at the end. So… I think we might need to re-jig it just a little.

Rearranged 2:3 bossa nova
Funky Bossa Nova, Baby!

The bass drum has moved back on to beat one of the first bar. The open hi-hat has moved to the “&” of 4 of the first bar, providing a little gulp of air before continuing with the complex groove at hand. This groove isn’t quite as funky as the previous version because it lacks the syncopated bass drum on the “&” of 1 on the second bar, but it is quite a cool groove and definitely usable.

Have a play around the Bossa Nova yourself and see if you can create your own version.

I hope this groove of the week inspires you to take a groove you already know & come up with your own version of it.

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