Linear Phrases: Part 1

The word “Linear” refers to the fact that each note is played by itself — the hands and feet don't play at the same time. 

The lesson below introduces eight linear phrases (the ‘A’ patterns) and then puts them into 4/4 as 16th notes (the ‘B’ patterns). 

Make sure you practice the ‘B’ patterns to a metronome. This will help to train your ears (and brain) to hear how pattern relates to the beat.

  1. Start by looping the ‘A’ pattern, using the sticking written underneath the exercise. 1-4 have one bass drum at the end of the phrase, 5-8 have two bass drums. Playing two bass drums right next to each other is quite difficult, so take it slow and pay close attention to how you are playing each stroke. Regardless of tempo, they should sound the same!

  2. Once you can comfortably play ‘A’, move to the corresponding ‘B’ exercise using the same sticking. Beware that when you loop the ‘B’ exercises the ‘A’ pattern will cut short at the end.

  3. Once you can play the ‘B’ exercises try adding a left foot hi-hat on every beat (the beginning of each group of four 16th notes). Coordination-wise, this is pretty tough at first, so start slow!

  4. Now it's time to have a bit of fun! Try playing the ‘B’ exercises around the kit. Some ideas using ‘1B’ as an example:
    i) Play the first R L on the snare, the next R L on the high tom, the next on the low tom etc.
    ii) Move the R around the kit, leaving the L on the snare.
    iii) Combine the two ideas above. For the first R L use idea ‘i’, for the next R L idea ‘ii’ etc.
    iv) Reverse the sticking and try ideas a-c.

  5. Now try using the ‘B’ patterns you've practiced as fills. For example, three bars of groove with one bar of fill (the ‘B’ pattern). Do this with a metronome, you don't want to speed up during the fill!

  6. The next step is to try combining the ‘A’ patterns to make more complex phrases that we can use as fills or as solos. We look at this in Part 2.