Groove Of The Week #31

This week’s groove is from the late, great, Ginger Baker.

Groove of the week #31 is based on the groove that Ginger Baker played on “Born Under A Bad Sign” by Cream. The song was a cover of Albert King’s original recorded just a year earlier; Ginger’s groove really makes the cover stand out from the original.

The groove features some tricky 4-way co-ordination with the hi-hat playing on the off beats and 16th notes on the bass drum. In addition, in order to get Ginger’s feel all the 16th notes need to be swung. Ginger Baker had a very unique voice behind the drums and imitating his style is not easily done.

Learn The Groove

Let’s take out the complication of the pedalled hi-hat for now and focus on the main meat of the groove. Note that I play the ride cymbal bell with the tip of my stick for this groove – that’s how it sounds to me on the original Cream recording of this song.

The basic pattern

The groove is written straight but it’s played with swung 16th notes. This a style that Ginger Baker brought to a lot of his playing. That means that you need to imagine that all the 16th note bass and snare notes are on a 16th note triplet grid and are played with a shuffle feel. If we wrote it out, it would look something like this:

Swing it baby!

Writing it this way makes it look extremely busy and complicated, which is why we prefer to write it as regular 16th notes and just give a directive to swing the 16th notes. The best way to get the correct feel is to play along with the original song and try and copy Ginger’s feel.

The final cherry on top of this groove is the off beat pedalled hi-hat. If you’re not already comfortable playing the off-beats with your hi-hat foot then I suggest you practice it with some simple grooves first and then gradually introduce 16th note bass drums into the mix. Here’s the full final groove.

Groovin’ under a bad sign

Take It Further

If you have a listen to the song this groove is from – “Born Under a Bad Sign” by Cream – you’ll hear that Ginger Baker doesn’t just sit on this groove, his bass drum pattern changes very slightly throughout the song depending on how he wanted it to feel. Here’s a couple of those variations that he uses throughout the song. Remember to swing all of those 16th notes!

Change it up

I suggest you have a listen to the original version of this song by Albert King and then listen to how Ginger Baker really changed up the groove to create this unique version. Also listen for how that bass drum changes throughout the song to change the feel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this groove of the week in tribute to the great Ginger Baker. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on the contact us page.