AC/DC – Riff Raff – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

It’s noise making time! Here’s AC/DC’s Riff Raff from the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 exam syllabus.

AC/DC – Riff Raff – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

Time To Crash!

The first challenge this song presents is crashes during the introduction. The crashes are on the & of 2, & of 3 and the & of 4. Getting these tight with guitars is essential. At 182 BPM that’s no easy task though. Work with a metronome that counts 8th notes and start slow.

All Tied Up

The crashes continue throughout the main guitar riff and are played in sync with the guitar. Be careful with the tied notes during this section; It looks as though the crash and and bass drum are playing the same rhythm but sometimes both the crash and bass drum are tied over the bar line, other times it’s just the crash that is tied, so you’ll have to play the bass drum without a crash.

You Will Be Syncopated

In addition to all the syncopated crashes with the main riff, the verse also features a 2 bar syncopated groove. The unusual part of this groove is that hi-hat and snare drum play the syncopated hits together on the & of 3 and & of 4 every two bars and then there is no hi-hat on the following beat 1. It’s not so hard to execute but if you’re used to keeping a steady quarter note pulse on your hi-hats while playing this kind of groove, it may throw you off a little.

Let’s Go Solo

At the end of the guitar solo we get the chance to throw in a short drum solo. However, we’re not free to play exactly as we want, we need to hit some crashes every 2 bars. If you haven’t attempted this kind of solo before, I suggest starting with some simple 8th note rhythms & getting used to hitting the crashes in time with the band. Then orchestrate those simple rhythms around the kit. Once comfortable with the simple rhythms then try it with more complex rhythms.

Riff Raff Solo Ideas
Create your solo here!

Finally try stringing your ideas together. Here’s some examples, start slow, work with a metronome until you can hit the target tempo of 182 (or even a little faster).

As directed in the score, don’t make your solo too busy, make sure to leave some space – you don’t need to play anything faster than 8th notes really, but a few 16th notes sprinkled here and there can add a bit more excitement. Also, note that on last bar of the solo there is a rest on beat 3 & no crash on the & of 3.

Rock till you drop!

The rest of the song is just a repeat of things you’ve already played and shouldn’t present any problems. Just make sure you can keep your energy up throughout the whole song.

This song is very satisfying to play & offers a chance to really rock out whilst working on your syncopation. Learning how to solo while hitting crashes with the rest of the band is a really valuable skill that you can develop while playing this track.

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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Drum Solo: How to create your own. Example 1.

The thought of having to play a drum solo creates panic in many drummers. We’re quite happy playing along with songs, learning grooves and fills and practicing our rudiments; but solos are a different beast entirely. A solo challenges us to create something.

It needn’t be such a stressful task though. Drum solos can be thought of and prepared ahead of time, and most drummers have a library of ideas in their head that they choose from when putting a solo together.

I fully encourage you to spend some time at your kit just banging around looking for ideas that could go into a drum solo; put the books / youtube videos away, stop playing to songs & just try to create a drum solo and see what comes out. You’ll find over time you’ll create your own library of ideas that you can use.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams

Drum great, Gavin Harrison records all of his practice sessions and listens back for anything he played that he thinks may be useful in the future. He’ll then make a note of anything he likes and files it away for use and further development at a later time. He’s easily one of the most creative drummers out there (I’ll wait while you go look him up on youtube – don’t forget to come back!)

Look For Inspiration

To get started though, you may need some inspiration. The solo in the video below was inspired by 1 drummer and 2 drum duets. The first duet was this one  by Godsmack. The second duet was this one by Phil Collins and Chester Thompson. Both of these duets have a very tribal feel to them, and that’s what I was going for in this solo. You can even hear the tom tom rhythm of my solo in the Godsmack one, or something very similar to it, from around the 15 second mark. All drummers steal from each other and it’s ok as long as you make it your own & give credit where credit is due.

The drummer that inspires my approach to drum solos is the jazz legend Max Roach. If you listen to solos by Max Roach you’ll hear a very song oriented approach to soloing. Like a song has sections such as Verse, Chorus & Bridge, Max Roach’s solos also have definite sections and themes that you hear repeated throughout his solos. Check out his Drums Unlimited album or try to find his “Big Sid” or “Five for Paul” solos for an example.

My Drum Solo

Here’s my short drum solo that was used in the promotional video on the home page of this website – minus the promotional material – just the drums.

Rhythm House Drum Solo For Promo Film June 2018

Putting Together A Drum Solo

This a very simply constructed solo. The form of the solo is ABAA. Each section is a four bar phrase except for the last A which has an extra bar for the finale. You can download the transcription here: Rhythm House Drum Solo Example June 2018

The A section of the solo is variations on this theme:

All of the variations come after beat 3 of the bar. So, to make this your own, I suggest you practice playing the first 2 beats and then thinking of something else to do for the second 2 beats. Here’s some suggestions:

Drum Lessons Singapore Drum Solo Examples
Examples for variations on drum solo theme A

I suggest practicing by playing one bar of the main theme and then one bar with your variation and repeating the 2 bar pattern over and over again.

The B Section of the solo is a more energetic 16th note phrase as I wanted to increase the energy of the piece at that point and it also introduces 16th note triplets into the solo for the first time. I don’t vary this theme very much as it’s only in the solo for a short time & I want it to be memorable. The sixteenth note triplet fill on the 4th bar helps to increase the energy again.

On returning to the A section I now hit a crash on every beat 1, again with the intention of increasing the energy – more noise and more energy. I also bring the 16th note triplet into the main theme to add yet more energy. The last 2 bars see me playing a 16th note triplet fill followed by 8th note triplets. The 8th note triplets just slow things down and put a definite end to the piece.

If you’re struggling with the 8th note foot pattern on this solo, try playing just quarter notes on either the bass drum or the hi-hat. Having some kind of foot pattern running underneath the drum solo anchors it and gives it a sense of forward motion.

Taking It Further

The next step, try adding a C section to the piece and play it in the form ABAC or ABCA or maybe AABACAB. Here’s an idea for an 8 bar C section I was contemplating putting into this solo. I left it out as it slowed the feel down too much for what I wanted for this solo. But I might use it in another solo or if I was playing an extended version of this solo.

drum lesson singapore drum solo ideas
Idea for a C-section

Again, you can take the basic theme from this idea and create your own variations.

What’s next? Try adding a D Section too – make it four or 8 bars long and then slot it into the solo… you can go ABACAD ABCD  or AABA BBCB CCDC DDAD… The combinations are endless… Experiment and have fun!

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