Still trying to get my blog habits back up to speed here, so how about another installment in the Terminology Series.  I’ve already covered “Pocket” and “Beat,” and up today is the term “Groove.”

Now, the point again is to get specific definitions for specific words.  Drummers use the word “groove,” (as well as beat/pocket) all the time, except often with very different (even interchangeable) intentions and meanings.  As a drum teacher, I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s maybe not very helpful to my students when I use all these different words in an indiscriminate way.  Enter the Terminology Series, where I’m doing my best to nail down terms and definitions once and for all.  I certainly don’t claim to be “right” about these definitions, so please come back at me with disagreements or clarifications that you think I should consider.

So… “groove”… what is it?  I definitely use the term a lot when what I really mean is how I’ve already defined “pocket.”  The word “feel” can also be swapped out for “groove” in many instances.  However, I’m deciding to lock the term down in my own speech as a synonym for “pattern.”  I suppose, if it’s a synonym, then I should just use “pattern” and be done with it, but I like groove better because it implies musicality and physical influence.  Calling a particular groove a “pattern” just sounds too stiff and mechanical to me.

Example sentences:
“What groove are you playing there?”
“I’m having trouble learning this groove for the gig on saturday.”
“The best way to learn linear funk lines is to transcribe a bunch of David Garibaldi grooves.”

There it is.  Pretty simple and straight-forward.  Everybody knows what a pattern is, so what I’m getting at should be clear.  But I’m dropping “pattern” from my vocab in favor of “groove,” and the benefit is having the overtone of actual MUSIC behind the word instead of just math.  Anybody have any thoughts?

Terminology Series review:

Beat = a count in the measure, like “beat 1” or the “e of 3.”
Pocket = an ability to assess and perform a groove consistently
Groove = a pattern of notes on the drumset