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Rythm - Part #1 / Creating the Rythm

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You were many people to answer to my proposition about the publising of this series of articles. Here is the first one.

For a long time, rythm was only about some low and high beats, some syncopations, etc. Jazz, Rock, afro rythms and their derivatives brought an undeniable richness. They opened the doors towards some new horizons. It is certain that the coming years will assist to the birth of new rythms and styles which are still sleeping in the drummers' sticks and the fingers of bassists and guitarists (and many other ones).

This is the first article of a series based on a workshop I've directed some years ago at Amsterdam, to which have participated some musicians coming from Great Britain, Germany, United States and from some Scandinavian countries.

Cubase with its Drum Edit brings to us a priceless tool that we didn't have before. Now that we can count with it, I think that we can go further. Those articles must be, before all, useful. I will avoid to you the hardest theoratical aspects. Let's pass thus immediately to work.


Note : the following exercises suppose that you master well the main Cubase controls. If it is not the case, please report to the paper-made manual or to the online help available on the CD-Rom...

In Cubase, create a part from the position 1.1.1. to 2.1.1 (one measure).

If it is not already done, create a rythmic signature at 4/4 and keep the tempo at 120.

Place the locators between both indicated positions and make a loop.

Open the Drum Edit.

Quantize at 16.

Move upyard, if it is not already done, both instruments indicated into the scheme below (or a bass drum and a snare on your choice).

With the stick (left-click - toolbox), let's create a rythm of Bassdrum on the beats 1, 2, 3, 4.

Let's playback. Till now, nothing new, but this gives to us the metronomic starting point.

Let's stop looking at the screen and let's forget a little bit the rythm. After a lapse of time, we don't know where is located the first beat (the Ground).

Now, let's place a Beat on the position 1.4.3.

The Ground is found again. This is restoring the rythm reference. because this new Beat has the particularity to create an attraction towards the Ground (it's a Whip).

Now, let's erase the Beat 1.4.3 let's place a new Beat 1.2.3.

The new Ground is located on the fourth beat. THIS IS AN ERROR OF METHOD !

First rule : never let the Ground moving.

It will be possible to move it later but this corresponds to some more elaborate work. We know that if we loose the Ground, we loose the control of our work.

If it happens, it is possible to correct within two ways.

  1. Place a Fall (rythmic reference) in the place of the true Ground (first beat). For the moment, a snare is good enough.
  2. Do a copy-paste and put the things in place by moving all the Beats. This is possible but it is a way to reset our work to an other step.

Let's return to our primary rythm. Lets erase all and let's leave our four Beats of bassdrum 1 - 2 - 3 - 4.

Now, let's place two new Beats on the two last sixteenth notes from the measure : Beat 1.4.3 - 1.4.4.

We created a Double-Whip.

Let's erase the Beat 1.4.3, the one corresponding to the eight note (Long Whip) in order to keep the Beat 1.4.4 only, the one corresponding to the sixteenth note (Short Whip).

It is still very primary and this gives a rythm always carré, rater mechanical. Now, we will create a Gap. That is to say putting a silence where you wait for a Beat.

Our rythm is still primary but we can notice that it begins to become much interesting. Our Short Whip, the Beat 1.4.4 becomes thus a Swing. A Swing is a Whip without a Fall. Usually named a syncopation. And then, we are meeting again some jazz concepts : a rythmic anticipation. Although this is sounding a little bit as a "conga"" rythm, and this would be more jazzy in triple rythm.

The Gap changed the nature of the previous Beat. GAPS HAVE A GREAT IMPORTANCE IN RYTHM CREATION, as we will see in the next articles.

Now, let's have a look to what would happen if we have kept the Long Whip, Beat 1.4.3, instead of keeping the Short Whip Beat 1.4.4. This one is not felt like an anticipation of the first beat, but like a continuation of the third one. This should have been a Tail.

That's all for the moment. Soon, we will see how the rythmic playing is mainly a dialog between two elements. An element which could be defined as male (Boomer) and which gives the reference, and an other element which could be defined as female (Flyer) and turns around the first one.

The bassdrum, the bass, the left hand on a piano create some Booms. The hi-hat, the maracas, the sticks create some Flys.

To end. Rythm appears on three degrees only of rythmic vicinity. If you work at a tempo based on the quarter note value, you will use some eight notes and sixteenth notes only. A half note would be considered as a quarter note with a Gap and a thirty-second note as an error of rythm playing or as a grace note. Do the test !


  • Beat : rythmic shot
  • Ground : first beat of the measure
  • Fall : a Beat giving the rythmic reference (often on the beats)
  • Whip : Beat preceding a Fall
  • Short Whip : in 4/4 a Whip placed on the sixteenth note preceding the Fall
  • Long Whip : in 4/4 a Whip placed on the eight note preceding the Fall
  • Double triple or quadruple Whip : two, three or four Beats preceding a Fall
  • Gap : Silence where you were waiting for a Beat
  • Swing : A Whip without the following Fall (in fact a syncopation or a rythmic anticipation)
  • Tail : a Beat after a Fall
  • Double, ou triple Tail : two or three Beats after the Fall
  • Boom : the sound produced by an instrument classé Boomer (often low)
  • Fly or Bee : the sound producede by an instrument classé Flyer
  • Boomer : instrument (often low) able to produce a Boom. Rythmic drawning produced by a Boomer.
  • Flyer : instrument (often treble) able to produce a Flyer. Rythmic drawning produced by a.

There are some many other ones. They will be explained in the next articles.

Mario LITWIN, on the 26-03-2000

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