“A-B-A” by J3PO (Feat. Ross Pederson) Transcribed by Stephen Bigelow
“A-B-A” features three distinct sections, as the title suggests. Each “A” section consists of synth based lo-fi grooves, complete with programmed drums. In these sections, the transcription represents a loose approximation of the drum groove and is intended to help the performer visualize the locations of the notes.
Here are some tips to help you learn the beats presented in the “A” sections. Start by listening to the hi-hat spacing. These eighth notes are not straight, nor are they swung in the traditional sense. The phrasing lies somewhere between these two interpretations.
Once you have tackled the eighth-note phrasing, turn your attention to the bass drum rhythms. The bass drum notes on count “a” have been pushed towards the following downbeat, such that they almost behave as flams for the notes that follow. I recommend practicing with the recording in one-measure loops. This simplifies the process of learning the individual micro spacings within the drum groove.
Here is another way to represent the “A” section (measures 4–5). This is a more accurate representation of the programmed drums, but is significantly more cumbersome to read in a performance setting.
In this case, the hi-hat is played on the first and fourth quintuplet, which creates the partially swung feel. The last two quintuplets are re-subdivided into three notes, allowing the bass drum to be pushed towards the following downbeat.
The “B” section features a performance by Ross Pederson, and is an excellent example of dense half-time drumming at a fast tempo. Pederson incorporates a combination of single strokes, double strokes, paradiddle inversions, and up-tempo jazz phrases to create a steady stream of intricate phrases. He rearranges a few key stickings throughout the performance, which creates both variety and cohesiveness.
This performance combines both speed and groove. Pederson’s hands are almost always playing sixteenth notes, but the emphasis is on the half-time backbeat. Furthermore, the bass drum part remains relatively simple, emphasizing eighth-note rhythms. The simple bass drum rhythms work in tandem with the consistent backbeat to create an underlying groove that grounds the “B” section, despite the constant whirlwind of notes.
This grounding effect allows these phrases to be repurposed for use in many other musical situations. By combining fast playing with a slow groove, drummers gain the ability to increase musical tension without altering the underlying pulse. A simple half time groove can be embellished to complement a rapid solo or to lead a band towards the climax of a song.
Stephen Bigelow holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance and is the drummer for Acacia Ridge. He stays busy as a freelance performer and studio drummer, and is currently working as a data analyst for Overstock.com while finishing a Master of Science in Business Analytics degree alongside his MBA. Contact Stephen at [email protected] or connect with him on Instagram @bigelowdrums.
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