About (Groove Vocabulary)

“Groove Vocabulary” is a term that I first heard Gregg Bissonette use. The number of different grooves he knows from various genres of music is awe-inspiring. While knowing lots of grooves is important, it is equally important that you also understand the context of each groove you learn, which will give you the proper instincts to know when to use it. Here is an analogy I like to use to illustrate this: Imagine you didn’t know english, and someone gave you some awesome sentences to use. If you practiced those sentences until you had them perfect, you would still sound like an idiot if you just started using them in conversations. In order to not sound like an idiot in our musical conversations, we need to listen to recordings that use the grooves we learn, so that we know when to use them.

All of the grooves in “Groove Camp”  have an associated recording suggested, in which the groove is used, or in some cases is the right song to practice that groove with to try and mimic an entire percussion section (most drumset latin grooves are designed to emulate a percussion section).

One other important thing to realize, is that some composers/artists/producers don’t always know the difference between all of these grooves that we should know as professional drummers. I have had some people ask me for a mozambique when they really wanted a songo, and the most commonly confused grooves are the cha-cha, bolero, beguine and rhumba. Many jazz drummers often create unique grooves that borrow from these and other grooves with afro-cuban origins.  The last 3 grooves of Misc. Groove Vocabulary 2 (found in the Groove Camp section) are examples of such Afro-Cuban Jazz grooves.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we call some of these grooves in a jazz setting, we just need to learn a lot of grooves and listen to/play along with the recordings that they were used on.  That way we have some context, and can make the right decision on the gig so that we get hired again.  If you aspire to play in legit afro-cuban style bands, you need to do your homework and really study the differences between the various afro-cuban grooves.  A great place to start is Frank Malabe and Bob Weiner’s book Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Drumset. (Click link to see on Amazon)