Developing Coordination With Afrobeat Drumming

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time working on my Afrobeat chops. I’ve been listening to a lot of Fela Kuti and his artistic descendants such as Antibalas and Abayomi Afrobeat Orquestra. I am slowly starting to grasp the complex style of Tony Allen’s drumming in particular and it’s a lot like developing jazz chops.

Anyway, I wrote myself a sheet of exercises I wrote based on Tony Allen’s first groove of Afrobeat. There’s a bunch of tricky stuff I wanted to work on. First, I wanted to be able to vary the right hand ostinatos spontaneously. A characteristic of Allen’s drumming is that he often plays an ostinato with his left foot, like you’d do playing straight ahead jazz, even while he’s riding the hi hat. Whenever he’s playing 8ths or an 8th and two 16ths, the stepped on hats just thicken up the &’s. Changing the right hand pattern or the velocity of the left foot stroke can yield a large number of rhythmically interesting open hi hat sounds.

So I’ve written up the original groove and applied another three right-hand ostinatos to work on. On page two the ostinatos have been mixed up. Once you get the hang of these, I would then work on playing them on the ride and then improvising the different hand patterns. Obviously, there are many more right hand patterns you could apply to this as well.

Download the PDF – Variations On The First Afrobeat Groove – Ride Patterns

Right Hand Variationa on The First Afrobeat Drum Groove Pt1

Right Hand Variationa on The First Afrobeat Drum Groove Pt2
I will post some more exercises based on this groove dealing with left hand variations and left foot variations too.

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Mike Dolbear Announces Ultimate Drum Experience 2016

I just saw Mike’s video explaining what UDE is. I attended the course a couple of years back and it was a brilliant learning experience. It was well organised, the teachers were amazing and I got to learn about a bunch of stuff that I wouldn’t have normally thought about.

I really enjoyed my time on the course and would highly recommend it to any advanced drummers including teachers.

For more info go to:

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That Mark Guiliana Is Quite Good And Why Do I Still Want Another Ride?

Mark Guiliana

Actually, Mark Guiliana is bloody incredible. I hadn’t paid all that much attention to him until this random solo happened to catch my eye in the YouTube recommendations. I first stumbled upon Guiliana while letching at the Sabian HHX Groove Ride in this video:

Then I searched for more. This solo came up, I was flabbergasted! The dude’s coordination is amazing. His compositional skills, the dynamics, the tension and release and sense of humour are all evident here. Later on I plan to go sit at my drums and just weep…

Here’s a fantastic example of his playing with his band:

And with Donny McCaslin:

Turns out these cats are the band on Bowie’s final release, Blackstar. I’ll be giving that a listen as well as some of Guiliana’s “proper” music, daddy-o.

I should spend some time getting to know some of the young upstarts they’ve got these days.

Sabian Groove Ride

Meanwhile, I came across the HHX 21″ Groove Ride somehow and find myself wondering if this is the elusive perfect ride that is articulate at a range of volumes, has a shimmering wash and a usable crash sound that would work for the various styles I tend to play. Listen, it sounds great:

Here it is, played by the regular geezer at Memphis Drum Shop:

I feel tempted to break my rule of never buying anything new to get my hands on one of these (If you got one to sell, let me know), although I’m aware that no cymbal sounds the same as it does in a video or even in the shop when you try it out.

Here’s another demo by a famous drummer, Zoro, dig his face when he crashes it the first time…

If I bought this I’d have to get a new bag.

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Tony Allen Interview On The Trap Set Podcast – “My Drumming Is Complicated”

Tony AllenCheck out The Trap Set podcast and this great interview with Tony Allen –

There isn’t all that much by way of Tony Allen talking about stuff, drum related or otherwise out yonder in the cyber-ether-netverse so I greatly enjoyed listening to him talk to Joe Wong about his musical background, his inspiration, influences and outlook.

Allen is kind enough to point out his drumming is complicated. I am entirely inclined to agree and am working on assimilating some of his unique, funky and backbeat-light style of musicianship.

I highly recommend checking out past episodes too, there are conversations with such luminaries of the drumming world as Bernard Purdie, James Gadson and Mike Clark.

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Cruise Ship Drummer’s Book Of The Blog 2015

Cruise Ship Drummer2015 Book of the BlogTodd Bishop of the Cruise Ship Drummer Blog has released his Book Of The Blog 2015 which is a dead trees compilation of drumming exercises and transcriptions from the past year’s blog output. Todd is a prolific blog poster and I really enjoy reading the blog and learning the exercises and concepts he writes about.

Buying the book is a great way to support the blog and get a diverse bunch of exercises in one handy volume.

Go to for the 2015 Book of the Blog

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It’s Half Way Through January And I haven’t Blogged Anything In Yonks

This is the perfect opportunity to do one of those compilation type posts where I list a bunch of interesting things that have come to my awareness.

Mark Kelso

Recently I watched Adam Hay’s interview of a drummer named Mark Kelso, a very interesting bloke I never heard of. Suddenly Mark Kelso is all over the place. He’s has fantastic technique and great feel. His DVD is due out and the title alone makes me want to check it out – Musician First, Drummer Second.

This is the teaser, although it doesn’t tell us much about what will be in it (some info is here –

Check out his metronome session on Drumeo (yes, them again), it’s all about improving your time and is well worth watching:

And this is Adam Hay’s Interview with him:

Adam Hay

Meanwhile, Adam Hay, who led me to Kelso is a Canadian drummer who puts out loads of interesting videos. He has a lot of great stuff about Cuban drumming including footage of his lessons with percussionists in Cuba. His videos are quite unique and his approach is really engaging. I like the fact that he covers a very broad range of subjects in an original style. His YouTube channel is here –

This is one of my faves – a conversation with drummer Al Cross about the Gladstone and Moeller approaches to hitting things with sticks:

Here’s some of the Cuban stuff, an Abakua for drum kit. I love watching people practice:

Rob Brown Demonstrates Gadd’s Shuffle

Rob Brown’s recent video demonstrating a shuffle that Steve Gadd plays as shown to Rob by Dave Weckl is cool. Worth learning:


I’m planning to put out some more Afrobeat related stuff, meanwhile this guy does a nice explanation of Tony Allen’s first Afrobeat groove. He’s got the feel just right:

I am aiming to get back into regular posts. I’ll be writing about some of Joel Rothman’s new books which are interesting as always and more drumming exercises, reviews and ranty stuff as it comes up.

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The Groove For I Want You Back By The Jackson Five

Just a quick demonstration of the groove for the very funky I Want You Back by the Jackson Five. I think the rhythm is provided by Benny Benjamin and James Jamerson here but not really sure, internet doesn’t provide the info.

The Drum Groove to I Want You BackDrum Groove - I Want You Back, Jackson Five

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The Drum Bits For James Brown’s I Got You

Here’s a quick guide to the main drum grooves for James Brown’s I Got You which should be in any drummer’s repertoire, if you ask me. Melvin Parker played drums on this classic soul number.

Download the sheet music PDF here – Essential Components of I Got You by James Brown

And here’s a video with me doing each bit nice and slow:

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The Groove Bits For James Brown’s Cold Sweat

Here’s the main groove bits for James Brown’s Cold Sweat played originally by Clyde Stubblefield.

Download the sheet music PDF here: James Brown – Cold Sweat Bits.

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UK National Drum Fair Is This Weekend

UK National Drum FairThis looks like a great event wot I have never been to. It takes place this coming weekend, Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th of September. If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Birmingham, it looks like a hoot. On both days there’s Jeff Davenport’s tuning workshop which is one of the best drum clinics I’ve ever seen, dense it is with information. If you saw nothing else it would be worth the price of admission.

The event includes stalls selling vintage drums and I’m told Bill Sanders will be there launching a new product. There will be live performances and clinics. Check it out.

This is the website –

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