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 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 pattens 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
I will post some more exercises based on this groove dealing with left hand variations and left foot variations too.