Sunday, April 20, 2008

thoughts on repetitive drum beats

This post is not intended to be a bash on techno, though the title of this post might give that impressions.


1. In my high school years, Everclear was a band I heard a lot of, and after buying their albums and listening through, were indeed a very well liked band in my listening rotation. Some time later, when rocking out in a car with a friend and his new ipod, he pointed out to me (and then by playing each song), that the drummer from Everclear pretty much had one beat/loop that was used (to good effect) in many of their songs. After that was pointed out to me, I couldn't quite listen to them as earnestly as I did when I was in my late teenage years.
(still do like the band, however).

2. On the advice of one of my wife's colleagues, we were told to check out some reggaeton music; and as such we proceeded to check the work by Don Omar and in the process came across some other compliations. Was annoyed as hell by the fact that half of the tracks we downloaded had the exact same drum beat as "Gasolina" (apparently by "Daddy Yankee") which sure was played regularly in the clubs (per my hazy memory) in much of 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Per very brief initial research on wikipedia, however, it turns out that the extensive use of that one beat is very much a defining part of this genre:

Reggaeton’s most notably unique feature is a driving drum-machine track
which was derived from a popular Jamaican dancehall rhythm. As stated
previously this beat is called “Dem Bow,” from the Bobby Dixon-produced
Shabba Ranks song of the same title. The beat that can be heard throughout Reggaetonis an interplay of a steady kick drum and a syncopated snare. The kick
drum emphasizes a 4/4 beat, while the snare comes on the "and" of the
2nd 16th note and right on the 4th 16th.

I guess I need to pay more attention to the lyrics or listen more broadly in the genre before I dismiss it (as after all, I barely have been exposed to it) - but I think I'll be looking for artists' work where the beats used are more varied...

Not to say that that one beat is bad - it's actuallly very interesting rhythmically and good to dance to - but if I'm putting 50 new songs on my ipod, I tend to keep things varied.

- on the topic of beats -

There are some standard drum machine options that have been used extensively and frequently in many rap songs. Yet, to me, the repetition tends to be tempered by different bass-lines, choruses, breaks, and effects used with those beats.

Certainly within rock music there are many "stock" beats that most drummers have in their repitoire and use in various combinations.

Not sure what is making me write at this length about the few mainstream-ish Reggaeton songs that I've's just that one beat is so distinctive and is making many of those songs sound all the same to me.

Enough now, I guess I better putter back onto the porch and rest my tired, arthritic arms after effectively betaying my age and inability to "get it", so therefore telling the damn kids to get off my lawn...

No comments: