technical difficulties… layered cowbell grooves
Challenging open-handed cowbell grooves
The examples in this issue’s Technical Difficulties require a cowbell to be placed on the opposite side of the kit to the hi-hat, perhaps mounted on the bass drum or above the floor tom. The basic concept is to maintain an eighth-note groove between the hi-hats and snare in the left hand while the right hand plays a different rhythm on the cowbell. David Garibaldi’s excellent book FutureSounds features a similar principle, as does this issue’s performance of ‘Honky Tonk Women’.
The first two exercises are mainly intended to develop the initial independence with Example 1 playing a 4 over 3 rhythm between the right and left hand, with the right playing dotted eighth-notes, which move over the beat. Example 2 is based around this same rhythm only now adding a ‘pick-up’ note to each cowbell note, essentially creating a shuffle rhythm played through the 16th-notes.
The remaining examples then used this independence to create three Latin-style grooves with the first in Example 3 featuring a cascara rhythm in the right hand. Next Example 4 changes the right hand pattern to a Mozambique with the left hand now conveying a half-time feel, hitting the snare just on the first beat of bar two.
Finally, Example 5 features a Bembe/ Afro-Cuban 6/8 bell pattern in the right hand while the left plays a half-time shuffle. In order to avoid the quick movement between the hi-hat and snare backbeat an open hi-hat is placed on beat 2.
This concept offers an interesting alternative to simply playing a regular ride line on the cowbell; it’s also dependant upon the hi-hats remaining tight. If they’re not, the missing 2 and 4 will become more apparent, creating holes within the eighth-note pulse and destroying the illusion of two parts being played simultaneously.
your tutor Pete riley email@example.com