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New Orleans Displaced Linear And Ghost Note Funk History And Development Drummers Guide

The primary components of a New Orleans Funk pattern are the repetitive accents derived from the "3" side of a clave rhythm mixed with the march style characteristics of a Second Line groove. The distinguishing feature of this style is the cyclical rhythm defined by the drums and augmented by the other instruments. Notable drummers include Earl Palmer who incorporated street parade drumming into Funk), ldris Muhammad, James Black, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, Willie Green, John Boudreaux, Johnny Vidacovich, Herlin Riley, Ricky Sebastian, and Chris Lacinak. Though easily interpreted in double time, the feel tends to be laid back and relaxed (with the eighth notes often played "in the crack"). The tempo range is quarter note = 152-208 beats per minute. "Displaced" refers to playing primary snare drum notes on counts other than the customary strong 2 & 4 back beats.

Though creative and sometimes unusual, "displaced" patterns usually retain the repetitive feature of most drumming grooves. An innovative and complimentary pattern may not only be appropriate to a particular song, but can stand as a defining element of the song itself Songs such as "Cold Sweat" (by James Brown), "People Say" (by the Meters), and "Chameleon" and "Actual Proof" (both by Herbie Hancock and Headhunters) are good examples of arrangements containing memorable Displaced Funk drumming grooves. Drummers of the classic James Brown era, such as Clayton Fillyau, Clyde Stubblefield and John "Jabo" Starks, the Meters Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeleste, Bernard Purdie, Harvey Mason, Mike Clark (especially on Herbie Hancock's "Thrust" album) and drummers from the Neville Brothers, Stevie Wonder, and the Average White Band all explored the use of "displaced" rhythms.

There is no standard Displaced Funk groove. Endless Displaced Funk variations are possible. However, it's good to play at least one snare drum note on a standard back beat (2 or 4) so as not to lose the beat.

Whereas New Orleans Funk is usually felt and counted in double time, the patterns in Displaced Funk are felt in 4/4. The tempo is medium at quarter note = 100-138 beats per minute. "Linear" describes notes that occur one after another in a "line," with no notes being played simultaneously (that is, no limbs striking at the same time). This creates a lighter sound than the layered approach of Displaced Funk. The Linear approach tends to be quite busy, usually featuring 16th notes throughout an entire measure.

Though these patterns can be found in standard Funk (early Meters recordings featuring Zigaboo Modeleste), they tend to be more prominent in the Fusion genre. Prominent Linear drummers include Billy Cobham, Alphonse Mouzon, Rod Morgenstein, Tony Williams, Mike Clark, and Dennis Chambers. As with Displaced Funk, there is no standard Linear Funk groove. The practical tempo range for Linear Funk is similar to that of Displaced Funk with quarter note = 100-138 beats per minute.

"Ghost Note" refers to any note that is played very lightly, usually on the snare drum, and is indicated by parenthesis surrounding a note. The desired effect is that the ghost notes be heard under the main sound of the groove. This produces a subtle 16th note feel around a strong back beat or certain accents. As opposed to Linear Funk, the notes of these patterns fall in sync with one another to create a "layering" effect. Prominent Ghost Note drummers include Harvey Mason, Mike Clark, Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd, and most notably David Garibaldi of Tower of Power.

As with the previous styles, there is no standard Ghost Note Funk groove, though the patterns are common. Ghost Note Funk patterns are most practical at a slightly slower tempo than those of the above Funk styles with quarter note = 92-126 beats per minute.

By Eric Starg. Eric recommends checking out Drum News, and Drummers Wanted sections of Drum Solo Artist, portal that covers all topics related to the Drum.

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