What Is Groove?
Fusar
Jan 10 2017, 07:52 PM
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A question that has accompanied me for quite some time now: what is groove? Can we define it? Is it intentional? Can we learn and teach it?
Also, could you recommend any good reading / interviews about groove with or from musicians?

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AK Rich
Jan 10 2017, 09:07 PM
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Groove is all about rhythm, internal timing, accents and feeling the flow of the beat rather than just hearing it. To some it just comes naturally but it can be taught and exercised by experimentation in the subdivisions of beats within a measure. It has nothing at all to do with notes and the best way to understand it I think is to listen to drummers and bass players (Rhythm sections).
Here is a good video on how to develop a good sense of internal timing from a bass players perspective. And below that a video on groove from a drummers perspective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX1UM9oH5ss


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP3o84bMduE

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Mertay
Jan 10 2017, 09:36 PM
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I'm one of the late learners, Ak Rich's "feeling the flow of the beat" is exactly how I would describe it.

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Kristofer Dahl
Jan 10 2017, 10:40 PM
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Very interesting topic!

To me - cool groove means that you play in a "human" way. In other words not with too much precision like machine would - but still solid enough to sound good.

Put simple: play in time but be relaxed!

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klasaine
Jan 11 2017, 12:36 AM
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This is 'groove' ...


Groove can have a lot of precision.
Precision in the sense that every player always knows and feels exactly where the downbeat is and where it's going to be. And they all feel it in the same place at the same time - no questions asked.

It can be taught or demonstrated to some degree but it's more of an experiential type of thing. I can tell you what it is - "having good feel". And I can tell you how to get it - "play with musicians better than you and do it a lot". But you have to do the work. Talking about groove is like reading a book about playing billiards. There are techniques one can employ but you learn by doing.

Groove is different with different players. Sometimes (many times) even a good musician can ruin a great groove because they're not locking with the other players. This happens constantly at jam sessions. Especially 'celebrity' jams.

The best 'groove' players play live with other musicians constantly - all styles, all genres, all eras.

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Wyverex
Jan 11 2017, 01:11 PM
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I think the most universal sign of groove is when people (you included) start rhythmically moving their heads while the music plays. If you're not listening because you are absorbed in your own playing, you will seldomly "groove" aka "move your head" because you are "in" your head. Once two or more players get that specific feel of being interlocked with each other (because they are listening), this tendency comes out very naturally.

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Kristofer Dahl
Jan 11 2017, 02:27 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Jan 11 2017, 12:36 AM) *
Groove can have a lot of precision.
Precision in the sense that every player always knows and feels exactly where the downbeat is and where it's going to be. And they all feel it in the same place at the same time - no questions asked.


Makes sense. But would you say they need to play exactly on the downbeat, or just feel where it is?

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This post has been edited by Kristofer Dahl: Jan 11 2017, 03:31 PM
Reason for edit: added "you" and "?"


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klasaine
Jan 11 2017, 04:09 PM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Jan 11 2017, 06:27 AM) *
Makes sense. But would you say they need to play exactly on the downbeat, or just feel where it is?


That's where it gets difficult to 'explain'. Not everybody has to play it but everybody does have to feel it.
The concept of the downbeat is different with different players ... top of the beat, bottom of the beat, dead in the middle - ? When you're in a band, everyone has to have the same conception.

The video I embedded is a perfect example of 5 or 6 players totally 'locked' but probably only one of them (bass) is emphasizing the down beat. The rest are either playing straight through (acoustic guitar and drums) and the keys and electric guitar are generally playing around it.

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Caelumamittendum
Jan 11 2017, 04:12 PM
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You know, I find it interesting that you all seem to consider it a human thing. I've often felt that something that was just programmed was grooving.

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Kristofer Dahl
Jan 11 2017, 04:18 PM
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Ken that makes sense to me. Here is a groovy favorite of mine starting at 00:47



I doubt Sco is ever really on the beat, but man does it groove!

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Caelumamittendum
Jan 11 2017, 04:19 PM
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Also amongst many there seems to be an idea that grooving can only happen in 4/4.

For me things like this can be considering grooving too:

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Kristofer Dahl
Jan 11 2017, 04:20 PM
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QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Jan 11 2017, 04:12 PM) *
You know, I find it interesting that you all seem to consider it a human thing. I've often felt that something that was just programmed was grooving.


Yes there are lots of super groovy programmed music, but then the whole trick is usually to make the programming sound 'human': timing inconsistencies, volumes differences, many different samples etc. Otherwise it won't groove!

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Caelumamittendum
Jan 11 2017, 04:22 PM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Jan 11 2017, 04:20 PM) *
Yes there are lots of super groovy programmed music, but then the whole trick is usually to make the programming sound 'human': timing inconsistencies, volumes differences, many different samples etc. Otherwise it won't groove!


You know, maybe I'm perceiving it wrong then, cause I can often even hear the... let's call it intended groove while listening to a midi file in Guitar Pro for instance.

Also, as said in my above post, for me groove is not necesarily 4/4, just to add to the debate.

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klasaine
Jan 11 2017, 05:31 PM
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There's a lot of 'programmed' music that grooves. In my opinion it doesn't have to be exclusively human. Even in the late 60s, Sly and the Family Stone used an early version of a drum machine (rhythm box) and they grooved like crazy.
Also, time signature has nothing to do with it. Lotsa music all over the world that isn't in 4/4 time.

Here's a Sly Stone track with a drum machine from probably 1971. I would say it 'grooves' ...



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AK Rich
Jan 11 2017, 05:53 PM
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What a great topic this is. Way to go Fusar! cool.gif

I am happy that we have Ken around to add to this discussion. His experience and knowledge has been extremely valuable to GMC. Thanks Ken! cool.gif

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Kristofer Dahl
Jan 11 2017, 06:04 PM
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We should probably also add that the notion of groove is somewhat subjective. So what I perceive as groovy might not feel groovy to you. Hence the different perspectives.

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klasaine
Jan 11 2017, 06:29 PM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Jan 11 2017, 10:04 AM) *
We should probably also add that the notion of groove is somewhat subjective. So what I perceive as groovy might not feel groovy to you. Hence the different perspectives.


Absolutely! Groove or time feel is one the most elusive elements in music. It's probably one of the things that keeps the art form fresh.

We talk 'around' it but never really get there. "I don't what it is and I can't explain it but I know it when it's there". I'm certainly not one to shy away from analyzing and codifying elements of music (or art in general) but sometimes when discussing musicians I just shake my head and say, "I don't know, they just have that thing".
*I will note that in my experience the ones that 'get it', besides playing a lot, they also listen to music constantly. As the main activity. Not while they're doing something else.


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AK Rich
Jan 13 2017, 05:17 PM
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Groovy! cool.gif

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN8pWdZhVaM


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trHaA_oMZTA

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klasaine
Jan 13 2017, 06:57 PM
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