Groove Of The Week #70

It’s a 12/8 kinda week…

This week’s groove is in the 12/8 time signature. That means we’re gonna have to count to 12… yikes! I don’t have that many fingers! Normally, when playing in 12/8 we still imply a 4/4 pulse. It’s like we’re playing 8th note triplets in 4/4. We use the 12/8 time signature instead of 4/4 because it makes it easier to write and count these patterns – in 4/4 you’d have to write a whole bunch of 3s over the top of the triplets and trying to count rhythms combining 8th and 16th note triplets isn’t easy. With 12/8, as you’ll see, counting is a lot easier and it’ s faster to write.

Get The Groove

Let’s look at the basic 12/8 groove we’re going to modify to create this groove.

The basic 12/8 groove

Note the counting on the groove. When I count “7” I actually say “sev” and when I count “11” I actually say “lev”. This helps to avoid playing on extra syllables in those words and also shortens them for faster counting.

We’re going to modify this basic groove by adding in some 16th note bass drums, snare drums and hi-hats. We’ll start with the bass drum. The great thing about playing in 12/8 is that 16th notes simply get counted as “and” (&). This makes counting them really easy. Here’s the basic groove with the 16th note bass drums added.

16th note bass drums coming in hot

Play this groove slowly at first. Work with a metronome. To play this groove, I used a metronome counting in 4/4 set to 76bpm. I play three 8th notes per beat, so beats 1, 4, 7 and 10 all line up with the beat on the metronome. You might want to start at 60bpm.

Now lets finish the groove off with some ghost notes and extra hi-hats all played by the left hand.

Left hand getting busy

The left hand is adding ghost notes on the “&” of 5 and 6 and then addition hi-hat notes on the “&” of 11 and 12. Hopefully you’ll find those easy to add in.

Now lets take a look at the groove if it was written in 4/4 using triplets.

It’s so ugly… get it away from me… no no no no no!

Does that look as user friendly to you? I added the standard 8th note triplet count underneath, but how you’d count the notes in between “puh” and “let” I don’t know!

Take It Further

If playing in 12/8 is new to you then you might want to spend some time adding fills to the groove. Drum fill of the week #70 will be a 12/8 drum fill but, here’s some to get you started.

Fills fills fills

Our first drum fill just plays simple 8ths notes in unison on the snare and floor tom starting on beat 10. A classic drum fill that always sounds good. Try extending it back to start on beat 7.

The second drum fill starts on beat 10 again but this time we move 16th notes around the kit.

The third drum fill starts on beat seven and kind of combines the previous two drum fills but modifies both. We play the second drum fill but starting on beat 7 and on the “&” of 9 we play a bass drum instead of a floor tom. This sets us up to play the first drum fill starting on beat 10 but I’ve modified it by putting the bass drum on the & between the unison notes. Give it a go – slowly.

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #70. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.