5 Minute-Lesson

A good place to start when beginning the Linear Drumming concept would be to first work with beats you already know (and can play). Beginning at this point will definitely help with gaining a deeper understanding of the style/technique and future progress. Take a simple groove that only involves hi-hat, snare and kick drum, like this "traditional" slow funk beat. (see Fig. 1)

Basic Funk Beat
One hand (ie. Right) on the hihat, the other (ie. Left) on the snare drum.

The original funk groove in Fig.1 is horizontal in nature because there are two surfaces, the hihat and snare drum, which sound at the same time. This unison stroke is often referred to as a "double stop" or "flat flam". NOTE: Be sure you can play Fig.1 before moving on.

Play Fig.1 again ... MINUS the hihat part. Once you can do this, fill in the gaps that you hear between the snare and kick drum by using the hihat. The idea being that only one instrument plays at a time; you never strike two surfaces at once. By definition, linear means "to draw a line" or "move across", so if done correctly it would look like Fig. 2.

Basic Linear Groove
One hand (ie. Right) on the hihat, the other (ie. Left) on the snare drum.

Now this is just a basic way to begin learning how to apply Linear Drumming to your playing. If you can take all the beats you already know, apply the linear concept to them, you'd be surprised just how many cool grooves you have at your disposal.

Listening suggestions: Steve Gadd
Dave Weckl
Vinnie Colautia
Dave Garibaldi
and others!

The concept behind Linear Drumming is nothing new really. Twentieth century composers in the 1950's used a technique called "serialism" which gave rise to "pointillism" (or linear). Points of sound where displaced throughout the orchestra creating a linear motion. Think of taking the tune "Mary Had A Little Lamb", assigning a different note of the melody to a different instrument in the orchestra. When performed, the melody line would be bouncing all over the place, from instrument to instrument ... moving across the orchestra ... linear.