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Bill Powelson's School of Drums

Teaching 'YOU', (the teacher) to 'FEEL' the Backbeat flow of a song.

* LEARNING TO HEAR AND FEEL THE BACKBEATS *

The BACKBEAT is the key to everything rhythmic in music! My experience with thousands of young beginning drummers has taught me one thing. Some students seem to possess a natural feel for the backbeat, while others must be trained to feel it.

VERY IMPORTANT!
The ability to feel the backbeat of a song is crucial to becoming a drummer. If we feel the backbeat strongly enough, it is possible to become a drummer without formal instructions and lessons. Without a special sensitivity for the backbeat flow in a song, we may never become a drummer, no matter how many lessons we may take.

If you already know what I am talking about, and and if you possess this natural feel for the backbeat already, then you may be ready to move quickly to the next lesson, and begin teaching your pre-schooler or toddler, how to 'feel' the 'BACKBEAT FLOW', natuarally:

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NEXT LESSON: (Only if you think you are ready!)

Click below and learn to . . .
PLAY THE 'BACKBEAT', PATTY-CAKE GAME
with your preschooler or toddler, and do it often!

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IF YOU DO NOT YET UNDERSTAND
AND 'FEEL' THE BACKBEAT FLOW,
PLEASE CONTINUE READING . . .

I've found, in my 45 years as a teacher, that about 7 in 10 adults over age 12 will 'feel' this backbeat flow, naturally. This means that 70% of the population 'could' become working drummers, if they were to pursue drumming.

Oh my gosh! We're about to be up to our necks in working drummers! Because, the other 30% can easily learn to feel the backbeat flow . . . if only we can teach them to LISTEN DEEPER INTO THE MUSIC, FOR THE REPEATING 'SNARE DRUM' SOUNDS. It's actually a LISTENING HABIT, that is almost as contagious as the flu.

RHYTHMIC CREATIVITY . . . just happens naturally, as we learn to habitually FEEL this thing called, the 'BACKBEAT FLOW'.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE
STILL WITH ME, ON THIS LESSON:

This very special lesson is for those of you who do not know what I am talking about. It's for that 3 in 10 who do not instinctively 'feel' the backbeat flow of a song as it plays on the radio.

WHAT IS THE 'BACKBEAT'?
The backbeat in a song is usually the dominant repeating snare sound that flows through the music. In all forms of 4/4 the backbeats are on the counts of 2 & 4 in each bar.

The secret to 'feeling' the backbeat is in developing PATIENT LISTENING HABITS . . .

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NOTE:
ABOUT 99% OF ALL THE MUSIC PLAYING RIGHT
NOW ON YOUR RADIO, IS IN SOME FORM OF 4/4 . . .
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DO THIS, NOW . . .
Learn to 'feel' the backbeat . . .

  • 1. Let a 4/4 tune play on your stereo system or radio. (Almost every song you may hear will be in some form of 4/4.) Find something with a moderate tempo . . . Get a song with a solid but simple drum part . . . at a medium tempo (not too fast and not too slow.)

  • 2. Get one ear into the speaker system or headphones.

  • 3. Pick out the dominant, repeating, accented snare sound in the music. In some complex songs, you may hear additional snare notes that are falling around the backbeat. Ignore those!

* Listen DEEPLY to these two song clips *

These two links below include a couple of (30 second) .mp3 song files/clips that may be about the right speed. Give them a try . . .

  • The Ocean, by Brad Yates, (a good friend of mine in Daytona Beach.) Get in touch with him, and he'll sell you a copy. Just do a web-search for 'Brad Yates, Ocean'. :)

  • Love and Happiness, by Al Green. This song and CD is available in numerous places around the web. Just do a web search for 'Love and Happiness, by Al Green', if you would like to own of copy of this song.

Just listen for the strongest, loudest accented snare notes. Now clap your hands in-time with these 'BACKBEATS' as the drummer plays the song. YOU HAVE FOUND IT! Virtually every song you'll hear will be held together by this 'flowing' backbeat. The other musicians in the group tend to rely on the drummers backbeat to get their tempo and timing correct.

The drummer's job (when we do it correctly) is to maintain this 'backbeat flow' with 'swiss-watch' precision. If we can't hold it steady . . . the band usually disintegrates, and we get a thumbs down, 'raspberry', haha. (BAD DRUMMER!) But IF we can hold a SOLID backbeat through out ALL songs . . . we are considered a WINNER, and a candidate for MUCH praise & worship, haha.

THE TRUTH IS . . . If we can 'feel' and keep track of this backbeat flow, by smacking the snare drum, in perfect time with the music . . . it means we are playing drums! The band will care about little else! They do not care if we miss the cymbal notes. They don't really care if we hit the bass drum at all. The important thing is that BACKBEAT FLOW.

If we can lay the snare backbeats into the music, steadily and consistently, we automatically become the BACKBONE of the music. The other musicians in the band are clinging to that repetitious flow . . . as they play.

REMEMBER THIS, ALWAYS!
It really doesn't matter to the other band members how FANCY we play! They usually don't give a hoot about that. They want us to HELP THEM 'FEEL' THE BACKBEATS, while THEY impress and 'wow' the world with their own ingenious and masterful musical techniques. ;)

So . . . the DRUMMER IN DEMAND is the one who can lay that backbeat in there with no mistake . . . consistently . . . keeping it rock-solid-steady, throughout EVERY piece of music.

HOW TO 'FEEL' THE BACKBEAT . . .
How do we acquire this indisputable perfection with our time measurement, and 'FEEL' for the backbeat? It probably won't become a 'listening habit' by doing it with just one song. You'll need to develop the HABIT of listening to ALL music this way . . . for the remainder of your life. The more you do this, the more addictive it becomes! Soon you'll be compelled to bang on anything at hand, every time any song meets your ears!

Practice, Practice, Practice! Practice, staying with the backbeat flow of all recorded music! Just tap a finger along with each and every (snare) backbeat, in each and every song you'll hear, as you go through your day . . . every day of your life. Sometimes the flow eill be repeating very slowly, and on other songs it'll be repeating rapidly. All we have to do is listen deeply into the music, find the flow, lock on, and stay with it! That's what drumming is all about.

NOTE: Some of the UNDERLINED LINKS in this document (like the one below), lead to additional, 'relative' web pages (on the web) that help explain the various topics in greater detail. I encourage you to click those links and study that material too. JUST REMEMBER, you'll need to have an 'online connection' for those links to work, and you'll need to hit the 'Back Button' on your BROWSER, in order to RETURN TO THIS DOCUMENT. There won't be any 'links' leading back to this special course, if you click, and go outside of it.

NEXT . . .
While online; Memorize ALL the BASIC 4/4 Dancebeats first, then Jam with every conceivable type of recorded song. Listen for the recorded drummer, ALWAYS.

Strive to acquire an indisputable 'feel' for tempo and a solid 'backbeat', no matter how softly we may be required to play. This can prove to be a contradiction at times, with 'some' forms of very soft, laid-back, music. Sometimes we may not be able to hear the snare in the music, but the backbeats will always be consistent, or the song will fall apart, like a house of cards.

It's about listening to a lot of music! It's about habitually finding the flow, then taping along in-time as the music plays. After awhile, we'll begin to feel it so strongly that the drums could be removed from a recording . . . and we'll still know and 'FEEL', where those bacbeats belong.

Anyway, the secret to ALL drumming (and all rhythm in music) is buried in this backbeat concept. The 'backbeat' IS the quintessential 'BACKBONE' of the music . . . ALL MUSIC. If we feel the backbeat strongly, and learn to lay it in there dominantly . . . we can BE THE BEST!

This includes fancy fills, complex syncopations, and all of the intricate jazz techniques that any drummer might play. Those other incidental intricacies just CAN'T HAPPEN, until the backbeat has been established in a commanding way . . . (usually by the drummer.)

. . . BUT, * NOT ONLY * THE DRUMMER!
The other (rhythm) instruments in the band are normally working as a team WITH the drummer, to help establish a solid backbeat flow.

The rhythm guitarist will usually play a 'chucking' rhythm sound on the backbeats . . . Pianists and keyboard players will usually compliment the backbeats throughout a song with repetitious notes (normally played in the higher register) on the counts of 2 & 4 in 4/4 time . . . ACCENTING the 'backbeats'.

NOTE:
* 3/4 (WALTZ) time , usually consists of 2 backbeats
per bar on the counts 2 & 3 of every measure.

* 5/4 and other odd time signatures usually contain 3 or more backbeats per bar. These 'lop-sided' signatures are only used rarely in jazz, and other complex music styles . . . (Yes! 3/4 Waltzes can become VERY complex, if and when, we choose to make them that way.)

It is best to stick with common 4/4 music styles in the beginning until that unique 'feel' for the backbeat has been developed, then move into 3/4 grooves before progressing on to the really complex signatures.

ENCOURAGING NEWS!
We can miss cymbal notes . . . No problem!
We can blow it with our fancy bass drum licks . . . NO PROBLEM!
We can omit most of the intricate rhythmic variations! That's OK too.
The BACKBEAT is the important thing! If we lay it down PERFECTLY, we are OK! If we don't? Well, we had better enjoy slinging burgers or pumping gas!

You will find the above to be true in ALL professional situations. Remember it always!

If you can now find the backbeat and clap along in-time with most songs, you are ready to begin working with your pre-school child. We want to teach the child to find and feel it too. This next lesson will show you an easy way to do it.

NEXT LESSON:
PLAY THE 'BACKBEAT' PATTY-CAKE GAME WITH YOUR PRE-SCHOOLER . . . AND DO IT OFTEN.

Copyright Bill Powelson 1994 all rights reserved.