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This great odd-meter groove by legendary drummer/singer, Phil Collins, appears on the tune "Dance on a Volcano" from the Genesis 1976 album, A Trick of the Trail. The groove in the 7/8 time signature sections can be a little tricky to master at first, but don't be intimidated.

Phil Collins - Dance On A Volcano

There are several ways to tackle this kind of groove, so let's take a look.

First, don't worry about the open HiHat parts right now, instead take a look at the first half of this groove. This is just a simple two-beat rhythm; something that we've all played too many times to even count, so you've got that down.

Next, look at the middle of measure beginning on the AND of 2 (or on the fourth beat if you are counting to 7). Playing the HiHat and Snare drum at this point in the measure outlines a rudiment called a Double Paradiddle (RLRLRR).

Now that we've broken down the measure visually, we're ready to begin putting it all together. Again, ignoring the open HiHat and left foot on the HiHat parts will allow you to get the core rhythm happening. You can either work on one eighth-note at a time, building the rhythm pulse by pulse, or group the rhythm by limbs. Taking the latter approach, you could first play all of the HiHat and Snare drum parts together, then work the HiHat and Kick drum together. When you put all three voices together (Kick, Snare, HiHat), you'll notice that the Kick drum follows the HiHat part.

Once you get the skeleton rhythm down, and it's feeling good at a moderate tempo, start adding in the open HiHat. Take it slow, listening to what you are playing, and go for evenness of feel and sound. The end of the measure (beat 7) may be one of the toughest parts for you, not only because of the break in the rhythm, but also because this is an odd meter.

The final tempo is around 250 bpm to the eighth-note, which isn't quite as fast as one might think.

Enjoy ... and keep it cookin'.

Bart Elliott

Bart Elliott is a degreed professional musician with a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance, and Master of Music post-graduate work. His 40+ years in the music and entertainment industry, over 100 album recordings to his credit, as well as an exhaustive understanding of contemporary and classical music makes him a complete and skilled master musician.

Bart continues to work as an active drummer, percussionist, composer, producer, music arranger, director, comedian, MC, educator, writer and visual artist. He is the owner and creator of DrummerCafe.com, which he founded in December of 1996.