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More About Syncopation

Back in part 1 – The Revelation Of Syncopation, I talked about what syncopation is, looked at a variety of definitions for the term and then discussed one specific type of it extensively. In this second installment, I hope to widen the scope of our discussion a bit. The examples I’m going to explore here, deal specifically with these aspects of our earlier attempted definition:

1)the absence of the expected

2)the placement of stresses or accents where they would not normally occur

These beat patterns still utilize 16th notes, but in different ways. The first pattern employs them in the high-hat line in combination with a commonly used, alternate right-hand rhythm. The last 2 examples place them in the bass drum lines, but combine them with less traditional beat structures than were discussed in the The Revelation Of Syncopation tutorial. All three show practical applications of syncopation in action and produce much of their effect by leaving out expected strokes.

 

Pattern 1

The one characteristic of this pattern that is immediately noticeable is the absence of right-hand strokes on the main counts (1,2,3 & 4). That's also what creates it's distinctive feel. This right-hand technique of skipping the primary beats and playing just the '&' counts, is commonly utilized & can appear in combination with many different patterns. For the purpose of this demonstration, I'm going to focus on just one. In an effort to make it a little more interesting, I added an extra 16th note to the right hand line at the end of each measure. Also, as I mentioned back in the Fundamental Beat Building tutorial, I do have a personal preference for 2-measure patterns. For that reason, I made this a 2-measure example. Here's an idea of how it looks on paper, followed by a brief video example.

 

4/4 time Measure 1
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
Hi Hat & & & & a
Snare Drum 2 4
Bass Drum 1 & 3
4/4 time Measure 2
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
Hi Hat & & & & a
Snare Drum 2 4
Bass Drum 1 & 3 &

 

Pattern 2

I borrowed this beat from one of my favorite tunes - 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' by Sting.

As is common practice, variations of this pattern are used within the song. But the basic form I've chosen for this example, captures the essence of the primary beat used in the verses. It was a perfect choice for use in this song & has a really nice feel to it. Here it is in written form, followed by a video demonstration. The first 2 measures of the video example show just the fundamental beat. The remainder of it has some minor embellishments added. Forgive me.....I got a little carried away.

 

4/4 time Measure 1
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 2 4
Bass Drum 1 a & &

 

Pattern 3

This final pattern is taken from Adam Lambert's song -'Whataya Want From Me'. Once again, this is the primary beat utilized for the verse sections. However, the extremely syncopated feel of this drum track, continues throughout the remainder of this tune. This type of beat pattern is being used more & more in contemporary material. A written example is shown below, followed by the usual video demonstration.

 

4/4 time Measure 1
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 2 4
Bass Drum 1 a e &

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About Tom Hoffman

Tom Hoffman currently lives in the Midwestern section of the USA. He started playing drums at the age of 13. That began the first phase of his musical journey. Seven months later he joined his first band. From that moment on, he was hooked! By age 15, he was functioning as both a drummer & a singer. At 16, like many other aspiring musicians, he began teaching in conjunction with local drum shop programs. From age 20 to age 23, he was one of the founding members of a band called "Nickels". During that period, Nickels was a common fixture throughout the local club circuit. The band was also given the opportunity to serve as opening act for a number of national groups appearing at local concert venues. At age 23, for various reasons, he decided to end the first part of his musical journey. He left Nickels, sold all his equipment and stopped playing altogether.

.....anyway, onward & upward into Phase #2. Apparently, Tom never lost the itch to play an active part in music. At age 40, he was looking to scratch that itch. He had something different in mind this time though......not performance.....writing. He'd always wanted to become more involved in the creative end of things, so that was the goal this time. One small problem though.....he lacked all of the skills, knowledge and equipment necessary to make it happen. That didn't turn out to be an insurmountable obstacle though. Over the next 2 years, he went about the task of addressing his musical shortcomings. By age 42 he had achieved a reasonable level of competency as a drummer, guitarist and bass player. He had also managed to acquire a fundamental knowledge of both music theory & home recording.

Tom is now 56. For the past 14 years he's been primarily an amateur singer-songwriter, but has never lost the passion for his first love....drums. He's still an active drummer and intends to continue in that capacity. In recent years, many of his songs have achieved various levels of recognition in international writing contests. He's been a finalist, a 6-time semi-finalist and a runner-up. He has also received a number of honorable mentions, but has yet to win. "Winning" is still a work-in-progress. For anyone interested, the following link contains a detailed breakdown of the award results. Tunesmith Awards.

www.reverbnation/tomhoffman

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