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When I first created this lesson, I had never actually seen Zigaboo Modeliste play this groove; I only heard The Meters records. I now know that Zigaboo actually uses both hands on the hi-hat when playing the groove to "Cissy Strut"; in this video lesson, I demonstrated both the one-handed and two-handed approach in succession. My hope is that this drum lesson will help you learn and understand the "Cissy Strut" groove, and with the various performance methods I demonstrate in the video lesson, you will find what works best for you. Have fun and experiment!

Zigaboo Modeliste's linear drum groove from The Meters hit single "Cissy Strut", originally recorded in 1969, has really stood the test of time and has earned the status of being a legendary drum lick.

Here's a transcription of Zigaboo Modeliste performing the linear groove from the A section of the tune. If you listen carefully you can hear Zigaboo occasionally playing slight variations (e.g. the HiHat on beat 1 of the bar). Since these variations are random, inconsistent and in the moment, I chose to not include it in my notation used in this lesson. The performance tempo is 88 bpm.

Cissy Strut

Listen to the original recording of "Cissy Strut"

One thing to quickly mention is that this groove is all about feel. When you listen to Zigaboo's original performance, the sixteenth-notes lie somewhere between straight and swung, which is what gives this linear groove its uniqueness.

There are several ways to approach learning linear drum grooves. One way is note-by-note, playing the first note of the groove then gradually adding one note/beat at a time until the entire groove is completed. For this lesson, I've decided to demonstrate how you can disect the 4-way coordination aspects of the "Cissy Strut" groove by first isolating various limbs.

If you want to really own this groove, I highly suggest that you be able to count, sing and play each limb's individual part by itself (see original notation above). Then work on being able to play various groupings, such as two limbs at a time, working them in different combinations. Lastly, put all the limbs/parts together. Taking this approach will not only help you own the groove, but allow you to manipulate and apply the groove in numerous ways within your own performance.

To help you on your journey with learning the "Cissy Strut", here are three examples of what it would look like if we grouped two limbs together. There are only three limbs used in this groove, so there is only going to be three variations of the two-limb groupings.

HiHat & Snare

Cissy Strut ... hands only

Kick & HiHat

Cissy Strut ... kick and hihat

Kick & Snare

Cissy Strut ... kick and snare

If you find these two-limb-groupings difficult, try leaving out the accents until you get the coordination down first. Once everything is rhythmically precise, trying playing it again with the accents, adding one at a time if need be.

I'd like to invite you to watch my video lesson (see above) where I explain some of the concepts mentioned here, as well as how to establish the original feel of this groove and two different sticking options for playing the HiHat part.

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.

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