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spacerx img Syncopations

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What is a syncopation?
Webster's dictionary defines the word this way:

'To alter rhythm by accenting a usually unaccented note, or causing
the accent to fall on a rest, or silent beat.'

That is a very broad description. To keep it simple for our purposes here, just visualize a syncopation (sync) as throwing a snare or bass beat 'IN-BETWEEN' the steady flow of cymbal notes.

It is easier said than done but you will be doing it before this page is finished. Syncopations may prove to be difficult at first, so just go slow, concentrate, and think about what you are trying to do. Your success with these beat patterns will be directly related to your perseverance and determination. Syncs will put the 'fun' into 'funky' and they are definitely worth the effort. These will become your favorite licks when you finally have them mastered.

What's the secret?
Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat . . . .

We'll begin with the basic rock beat. You should be playing this one pretty well by now.

Basic 8th-Note 'Rock' Beat

As you repeat this beat at a very slow tempo, think about adding a quick snare (left hand) immediately after the bass note, just before the second cymbal. Do not strike the cymbal as you hit the snare. The snare note is played between the steady flow of cymbal notes ( see below).

Hearing it will help.

Now try adding a second bass drum as you strike the second cymbal note . . .

Hearing it will help.

VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the above snare syncopation, video. (This video is intended for Internet Explorer using Windows Media Player.)

Video: For almost all handheld devices and other browsers.

Now put it with the first FATBACK variation that we learned . . .

It is Fatback with an added snare sync.

VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the above snare syncopation, video. (IE w/Win Media Player.)

Video: For almost all handheld devices and other browsers.

This is a pretty funky 'Fatback' beat but there is much we can add to it. We may add syncs IN-BETWEEN any of the Cymbal (or hi hat) notes. Try adding still another sync just ahead of the first bass. When we write that one correctly, the syncopated-note will show up at the end of the measure. It is written that way just to confuse us. Arrrhhgh! Don't blame me, I'm only the messenger. I didn't invent the system.

I will not write all these possibilities because you are getting the idea aren't you? You may place syncopations between any of the cymbal notes in any beat. This includes bass drum syncopations that are very difficult but extremely funky. These techniques apply to any primary dance beat category as well. Think about that, it should keep you busy for quite some time, (like . . . forever).

HELPFUL HINT: You will be amazed at how easy and natural these are to master as we hear them within the music playing around us every day. The ears will teach us 10-times faster than the eyes, if only we'll learn to listen DEEP, for the drums. It is important to habitually analyze every song we hear.

We'll get into bass syncopations in a future lesson. They are a completely new challenge. Don't rush this stuff! We're looking at a lot of jam time here. It'll take a lot of jamming with music to get really comfortable with all this.

More Drum Set Lessons . . .

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