A lot of drum and bass nowadays is pretty predictable. I would say probably 90 per cent of records I hear have just one pattern, or break, throughout the entire track. What’s the reason for this? Well, some tracks seem have a solid EQ-d break to enable the mid-range bass and the rest of the track to have impact. I understand that with the way production is going you have to have volume, and, mostly, beats are a major element in getting a solid foundation from where the producers will build a tune and focus more on the other parts. Do I agree with this… no. Simply because I’m a drummer, but also because I find it boring.
With this in mind, this issue I’ve built a one-bar/eight-bar break, depending on how you want to look at it. A lot of older jungle/drum and bass that I found really inspiring used to start simply, but then build and build into some amazing patterns. To me this is musical and rhythmical, and as drummers it’s always good to keep progressing your beats. For this month’s examples I’m using one of my favourite patterns and then developing it into amen grooves. The break on bar one starts as a militant steppa break and then ends up as an amen due to the added double kicks. All I’m doing is adding subtle things into each bar that don’t change the groove too much, but complement and enhance it instead. Now let’s take a look at the beats…
The simplest form of the beat. Aim to play this and all of the following variations at 172BPM.
Here comes the first ghost note on the ‘e’ of beat four. Make sure that it’s played dynamically at the correct volume.
Add a kick on the ‘&’ of four, which converts the beat into a solid, loopable pattern. This is important as it is something that any producer would be looking for from a studio session.
Now from a steppa to an amen. I’ve now added a kick on the ‘e’ of beat three. By doing so, the double on the kick changes the feel and style of the beat. Remember to play this with consistency and dynamics or it won’t sound as it’s designed to.