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!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

 

 

 

Pearl Jam – Alive – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

Oh I, oh, I’m still alive… and playing drums…. let’s play Alive by Pearl Jam from the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Syllabus.

Pearl Jam – Alive – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 drums

Full disclosure is necessary here… I love this song! The first Pearl Jam Album, Ten, totally blew my mind & I spent many hours, days, weeks, years doing my best impersonation of original Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krushen. If I ever want to remind myself of why I love playing drums, I just put this song on and jam along… nothing beats drumming along to your favourite songs!

Is Your Bass Drum Alive?

One of the main areas under examination with this song is the bass drum. Specifically playing the bass drum cleanly and consistently on the 16th notes in between the 8th note hi-hat. Hopefully you’ve been working on this in the lead up to grade 5 & should be comfortable with it before approaching this song. There was a little bit of 16th note bass drum at grade 4, but this is the first time where it’s happening all the way through a song. As always, if you’re in any doubt, slow down the tempo to around 50bpm and work on the grooves slowly until you find them easy to play & then bring them up to speed & beyond.

It’s always good to learn to play things  faster than you actually need to play them so that you are relaxed when you playing them at the necessary speed… playing at your top speed all the time is really taxing!

Are Complex Fills Keeping You Awake At Night?

A number of more complex fills are featured throughout the song. These fills include items such as the drag rudiment, the bass drum,  8th & 16th note rests & 32nd notes. Let’s not panic….

The drags… you’ve been playing drags in songs since grade 3, back then they were mostly stand alone, now we’re just putting them on the front of 16th note fills. All of these can be played using your preferred sticking; for right handed drummers, that probably means your left hand will play the 2 grace notes and your right hand will land the main note on the beat. Make sure that your timing of the 16th notes is accurate, the first note after the 2 grace notes must be smack on time, don’t delay it to make room for the grace notes.

The 32nd notes… there is only one fill with 32nd notes – unless you decide to add an extra one as I did. Moving up & down the subdivisions from 8ths to 32nd notes & from 16th notes to 32nd notes takes a bit of getting used to. Here’s three exercises, to be performed with a metronome, to help out with your timing. Count the 16th note throughout & try with both stickings (left handed drummers can reverse the sticking… and right handed drummers should try that too… work that weaker hand!)

pearl jam - alive - trinity rock & pop
Oh I, Oh, I love playing 32nd notes

Note that I prefer to count 16th notes when I’m playing 32nd notes… you can count all the 32nd notes if you want, but at higher speeds it’s not practical.  I prefer to count the 16th note & feel the 32nd notes between them… if it’s a more complicated 32nd note pattern then I may count all the 32nd notes while learning it & I’d be going really slowly.

The Complexity… When I’m learning a complex fill the first thing I learn to do is play the rhythm of the fill on one surface, normally the snare drum. When I can count it & play it accurately then I’ll start worrying about any sticking patterns or flams & drags or bass drums that need to be applied & then moving it around the kit.

If we break down the big 32nd note fill from the end of the 2nd verse in this manner, then it looks like this:

pearl jam - alive - trinity rock & pop grade 5
Oh I, Oh, I can play this fill!

Step 1:  Just play the rhythm of the fill on the snare and count it out. I don’t tend to count beat 2 when I play this fill, which is why I indicated it in parentheses. You may want to count it. Don’t move on until you’ve nailed this step!

Step 2: Add in the drag at the start. Make sure beat one stays on beat one.

Step 3: Substitute the snare drum on the e of 2 for a bass drum and add the crash to the snare on the & of 2.

Step 4: Add in the Tom-Toms to beats 3 & 4.

Wasn’t so bad was it?

Is It 7/8 O’Clock Yet?

The instrumental portion of the song features 3 bars in 7/8 interspersed with bars of 4/4. You can choose to count these bars either in 7/8 or continute your regular 4/4 counting as follows.

Pearl Jam = Alive - Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5
Oh I, Oh, I can play 7/8!

If you decide to keep counting in 4/4, don’t venture past the e of 4! If I am going to count this in 7/8, then I will usually count the 4/4 bars surrounding the measure as bars of 8/8. I find this helps smooth the transition to the 7/8 bars. Rather than counting:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 2 3 4 5 6 sev

I count:

1 2 3 4 5 6 sev 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 sev

You might find it helps you to make that move smoother too.

When I was practicing this song, I noticed that I was rushing on the last 2 notes of this figure. I think it was because we play a similar figure just before hand as a bar of 4/4. The rest between the last 2 groups of notes is only a 16th note in that figure and not an 8th note.

To remedy this problem of rushing, I start bouncing the heel of my left foot up and down on the hi-hat stand in time with the 8th notes on the bar before the 7/8 figure starts. I then used the physical feedback from my foot to help me keep my timing while playing this figure; hitting the first of the last 2 sixteenth notes at the same time as my left foot heel hits the floor on beat 7 (or 4, if you’re counting that way). It actually helps with the spacing of all 3 groups of 16th notes as you’ll have 1 heel hit between each group & the next group starts on the next heel hit. Try it, you may find it a useful time keeping tool.

A Bridge Too Far?

Now to the part of the song I don’t like… but only for the Trinity version.

The suggested groove for the bridge just feels wrong to me and clashes with what the rest of the band are playing. Now in my video. I played it as suggested and how it’s played in the demo version of the song that trinity supply. I struggled with it though, it just didn’t feel right to me, my body just wanted to play something different.

What should it be?

Alive - Pearl Jam - Trinity
Oh I, Oh, think this groove is better for the bridge!

This is similar to the groove that Dave Krushen played on the original & it meshes much better with the backing track. I don’t know how strict Trinity are when marking the exams. Will you lose points if you ignore their grooves and play something more suitable? During the bridge section you are told to continue in a similar fashion, hopefully this is similar enough that you don’t lose marks for it… if in doubt, force yourself to play the wrong sounding groove they suggested.

Are You Still Alive?

Hopefully you’ll enjoy playing this song as much as I do. For the guitar solo at the end of this song I decided to let go and enjoy myself. Lots of bass drum, crashes, & that extra 32nd note fill – yours  big fill doesn’t have to be 32nd notes. I was just feeding off the energy of the song and I know the original version gets real noisy at the end with lots of crashes, snare drums on all four beats and bass drums on all the 16ths in between… I didn’t go that far… if I record it again I might!

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!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

Here comes a video of me playing Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles from the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Syllabus.

The Beatles – Here comes the sun – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

This is one of the Beatles most well known songs & is surprisingly complex. On the surface it sounds like a nice simple tune but underneath that simple sounding melody there are some tricky figures and some odd time signatures to contend with.

Let’s Figure It Out

The main figure you’ll have to get comfortable with hits us right as the drums are introduced into the fray & occurs every time the singer sings “it’s alright.” The idea behind the figure is to make it sound like we’ve briefly dropped into 3/8 time by accenting every third eighth note on the snare.

This was not the first song to use this idea, and it certainly wasn’t the last. It’s a very common figure that you should become familiar with. Here it is with 2 forms of counting included.

Here Comes The Sun - Trinty Rock & Pop Grade 5 - Rhythm House Music
Here comes a tricky figure!

Try counting it both ways and see what works for you. Practice with a variety of drum fills at the end of the bar & not just the ones written in the book to help build you’re facility with this figure. Be sure to work with a metronome & make sure you’re ending on beat 1 of the next bar.

What Time Is It? It’s Odd Time!

The bridge of the song features a sequence of bars all in different time signatures. The sequence is 6/8, 5/8, 4/4 and finally 7/8. You get to repeat this phrase 5 times followed by a bar each of 6/8, 5/8 and then back to 4/4.

To help get used to this phrase I suggest listening to the song and counting through this section. It starts at 01:30 in the video. I count the bar of 4/4 as a bar of 8/8 as I find this makes the counting smoother. So rather than counting this:

1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5, 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I count this:

1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I also always count “7” as “sev” as the extra syllable can cause trouble.

The last two bars of the chorus before the bridge are in 4/4 and 7/8. You may want to count that last bar of 4/4 before the bridge as a bar of 8/8 also.

When you can count along with the song and clap the snare hits then you are ready to try playing it with the song. Listening to the song a lot will help you play this passage more naturally.

Any Clouds On The Horizon?

The rest of the song is fairly simple but the 3/8 figure and the odd time  sequence should give you enough to get your teeth into. Getting this song correct is very rewarding and will give you confidence to tackle more songs featuring odd time signatures in the future – they aren’t so scary once you can count them!

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!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

“I ain’t scared of no ghosts!” Oops!.. wrong song… but this song does feature a lot of ghosts – ghost notes that is. By the time you master this song you’ll be a true ghost (note) buster! See how many ghosts you can spot in the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 version of Amy Winehouse’s “You know I’m no good.”

Amy Winehouse – You Know I'm No Good – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

SPOOKY!

Did you spot all the ghost notes? Not sure what a ghost note is? As far as drumming goes, it’s simply a note that is played softly. They are often added to a groove, normally on the snare, to add texture and give a certain feel to the beat. Generally you want to them to blend in to the background of the song & are normally played around the same volume as the hi-hat.

PAradiddle, paRAdiddle, paraDIDdle, paradidDLE

A great way to work on getting the control need to play ghost notes is by working on the following accented paradiddle exercise slowly and carefully. How slowly? I’d suggest starting at 30 or 40bpm. How carefully? You want two distinct sound levels; a loud level for the accented notes and a  very soft level for the ghost notes. Nothing in between. Really exaggerate the difference in the sound levels; it’ll will help you to reproduce it in action.

Accented Paradiddles - Drum Lessons Singapore
Accented Paradiddles

You’ll have noticed that the 3rd and 4th bars are particularly tricky. You won’t need that level of control for grade 5; but for later grades you’ll need to be able to play an accented note immediately followed by a ghost note on the same hand & vice-versa. It’s good to start work on it now. Whilst we mainly play ghost notes with the left hand it won’t harm you to develop the necessary control with your right hand too. The more control we have over the sticks, the more control we have over the whole instrument, the better we sound.

Groovin’ Ghosts

Once you start to gain control over the above exercise, you can practice applying ghost notes to grooves. Pick a groove with some 16th notes on the snare and try different permutations of accented and ghost notes, as in the following exercise (The ghosted notes are the ones with the smaller note head.) :

Ghost Notes - Drum Lessons Singapore
Get Control Of Your Ghosts!

Are YOU any good?

The main focus of this song is on the ghost notes, the rest of the song is fairly straight forward. Time spent developing your ghost notes is always time well spent. Record yourself playing ghost note  grooves and see if you can get the hi-hat and snare drum to really blend together. Check out ghost note masters such as:

  • Bernard Purdie – Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, B.B King, Joe Cocker and many more.
  • Chad Smith – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chicken Foot & Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats.
  • Steve Gadd – Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Chick Corea, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney and many more.
  • Jeff Pocaro – Toto, Cher, Steely Dan, 10cc, America, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin & many more.

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!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

Musicology – Prince – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

It’s time to get schooled! Prince is here to educate you about Musicology.

Prince – Musicology – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

Get Funky

This track is in the James Brown style of funk. It features a syncopated funk groove with a fairly busy snare drum part. The chart provided for the song provides no real indication of dynamics for the snare part. I elected to accent beat two and then play the other notes softer, but not really ghosting them. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the buzzed snare notes, they are easy to miss while you’re grooving along.

Shuffle Along

The feel of this song has a 16th note shuffle feel. To get a feel of the snare drum note placements you may want to try playing the groove slowly like this to get used to the swung 16th note feel:

Drum Lessons Singapore
Practice Groove For Musicology

Keep the tempo slow, around 50-60bpm to start, as playing this  groove at the speed of the song is not easy, we’re just doing this to get a feel of the swung triplets. You may be able to reach speeds of around 80bpm playing the groove this way. Try playing the groove as written above for 8 bars & then switch to a straight 8th note hi-hat pattern without stopping for another 8 bars; keep the snare drum hitting on the 16th note triplets. Record yourself playing it and compare the snare drum feel between the 2 versions. Did you keep the swung 16th note snare feel?

Another idea is to play the song’s actual groove and try playing 8 bars with a straight feel and 8 bars with a swung feel. Record it. Can you hear a difference in the snare placements?

Woof Woof Woof – Barking Hi-Hats

The song also features a classic funk fill with the Bernard Purdie style hi-hat barks. Having a fast left foot is essential here as you need to close it in between each opening. Practicing the following exercise slowly and cleanly will help you to play this fill.

Drum Lessons Singapore Rhythm House Music
Open Hat Bark Practice

Going Solo

The solo section of the song shouldn’t cause too much trouble as it’s just the one bar played 3 times. However, if you are having trouble with it, try playing it with additional ghost notes on the snare with the left hand to get a feel for the timing of the tom tom part in the right hand like so:

Drum Lessons Singapore
16th Note Timing Exercise

Once you can play it accurately that way, then you can try recording yourself playing it with & with out the ghost notes – do the tom toms fall in the same place?

Did you get your diploma?

In conclusion, this is a funky song to play that gets you working on essential elements of funk such as synocopated snare parts, the swung 16th note feel and hi-hat barks. Mastering all the above will improve your funk playing no end. Have fun getting schooled in funk with Prince & Musicology!

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!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!