Drum & Percussion Lessons
Drummer Cafe 20th Anniversary
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This great odd-meter groove by legendary drummer/singer, Phil Collins, appears on the tune "Dance on a Volcano" from the Genesis 1976 album, A Trick of the Trail. The groove in the 7/8 time signature sections can be a little tricky to master at first, but don't be intimidated.

Phil Collins - Dance On A Volcano

There are several ways to tackle this kind of groove, so let's take a look.

First, don't worry about the open HiHat parts right now, instead take a look at the first half of this groove. This is just a simple two-beat rhythm; something that we've all played too many times to even count, so you've got that down.

Next, look at the middle of measure beginning on the AND of 2 (or on the fourth beat if you are counting to 7). Playing the HiHat and Snare drum at this point in the measure outlines a rudiment called a Double Paradiddle (RLRLRR).

Now that we've broken down the measure visually, we're ready to begin putting it all together. Again, ignoring the open HiHat and left foot on the HiHat parts will allow you to get the core rhythm happening. You can either work on one eighth-note at a time, building the rhythm pulse by pulse, or group the rhythm by limbs. Taking the latter approach, you could first play all of the HiHat and Snare drum parts together, then work the HiHat and Kick drum together. When you put all three voices together (Kick, Snare, HiHat), you'll notice that the Kick drum follows the HiHat part.

Once you get the skeleton rhythm down, and it's feeling good at a moderate tempo, start adding in the open HiHat. Take it slow, listening to what you are playing, and go for evenness of feel and sound. The end of the measure (beat 7) may be one of the toughest parts for you, not only because of the break in the rhythm, but also because this is an odd meter.

The final tempo is around 250 bpm to the eighth-note, which isn't quite as fast as one might think.

Enjoy ... and keep it cookin'.


Bart Elliott

Bart Elliott is a degreed professional musician currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. His 37+ years in the music industry, over 100 albums to his credit, as well as his understanding of contemporary and classical music, makes him a complete and skilled master musician. A highly sought after drummer and percussionist, both live and in the studio, Bart is widely known as a top music educator, consultant and gifted teacher, appearing as a guest artist and clinician throughout the USA and abroad.

Bart Elliott is the founder and sole proprietor of DrummerCafe.com (f/k/a Drum Ring International) — established in December 1996.