Learn how to make a groove inspired by the captivating rhythms of new UK Jazz, using a music theory hack from “Free My Skin” by London collective Steam Down.
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The theory hack in this lesson is from the new single “Free My Skin” by the inspirational London collective, Steam Down. But, the music in this lesson (which you’ll hear at the end), is actually our music that we wrote using their theory. On that note, we could definitely make lessons on their melodies, chords and bass as well, cos there’s so much interesting theory going on in those, but this lesson is all about rhythm, so we’ll focus on their drum groove. Right, so start by setting your tempo to 146 BPM, then make two bars of 4/4, with your grid set to 1/16 notes.
Now, the first standout feature you’ll notice is that tempo. That ain’t a tempo for sitting on your ass and listening, that’s a tempo for dancing! This is just one of the many refreshing aspects of this new UK Jazz movement. And this isn’t really Jazz, this is the sound of London. You see, London, which is my hometown, is a melting pot of cultures, so its music is a reflection of that. This is why you’ll hear elements from homegrown grime, Jamaican dancehall, West African afrobeat, and more, all coming together in this new sound. And this musical melting pot is perfectly captured by Steam Down. By the way, big shoutout to Gary Crosby and all the other heroes at the Tomorrow’s Warriors charity for their life-changing educational work behind this movement.
STEP 1. FOUR-ON-THE-FLOOR (ALMOST)
The driving force behind this awesome groove is an almost four-on-the-floor pattern on the kick. The drummer plays beat 1, 3 and 4, but not beat 2. This creates a super dancey groove, but leaves space for something more interesting.
STEP 2. MORE SYNCOPATION!
Next, in that space left open by not playing a kick on beat 2, the drummer plays a couple syncopated snare hits on beats 1a and 2+. Then in the second bar, there’s even more syncopation, as there are three syncopated snare hits on beats 1a, 2e and 2a.
STEP 3. IRREGULAR HATS
Now, there’s only one rule when it comes to the hats in this groove: don’t play beat 2. By leaving that beat totally open, the drummer ensures that the super funky groove created from all those syncopated snares is not watered down, cos this is Steam Down, not water down! Also, by having some rests on the hats, it creates an irregular pattern, which keeps the groove unpredictable. And lastly, there’s a 1/32 note thrown in for extra spice.
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Alright, now let’s have a listen to this melting pot of rhythms from around the world, but just before the playthrough, if there’s an artist you’d like us to hack, please let us know by commenting on the video in YouTube. And don’t forget, today is the last day of our epic sale, so get involved now for 40% off everything, including our bestsellers: the Songwriting & Producing PDF (click & scroll down) and the Apprenticeship #1 Online Course (SAVE $60). Thanks for reading/watching/listening, and we’ll see you next time!
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
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Hack Music Theory is a pioneering DAW method for making great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! Taught by multi-award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé wife Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, Hack Music Theory teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, songwriters, DAW users, and all other music makers (guitarists, bassists, singers, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).
© 2019 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony
Thumbnail photo of Steam Down from SteamDown.co.uk