SDM Lesson: Linear Drumming In a Death Metal Context
Saturday, 22 January 2011 18:35

Linear Drumming in a Death Metal Context

By: Mike Heller
 
This lesson was from issue 2 of Sick Drummer Magazine... Enjoy!
 
As most of you may know, linear drumming is the concept of using two or more of your limbs, with no two limbs playing at the same time.  That means that even closing the hi-hat with your left foot cannot happen at the same time as any other hit.  Here is a quick example of linear playing in some odd times:
 
Example 1:

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Playing strictly in the linear style can sometimes feel a bit limiting, so the most common addition is an occasional kick drum with a crash cymbal on the down beat.  Given that hitting a crash cymbal at the same time as a kick drum is considered unison playing rather than linear playing, I guess you would have to consider this next example to be selective linear drumming:
 
Example 2: 

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Now, as this is Sick Drummer Magazine, let’s break away from the funky side of things, and bring linear playing into a death metal context.  My band Malignancy recorded a song called Organic Machinery for our last record Inhuman Grotesqueries.  This song has a lot of different feels, tempo changes, time signatures, and all sorts of different ideas, like your typical Malignancy song.  To challenge myself even more when we were writing this song, I decided to throw in a bit of linear playing.  This particular part of the song can be tricky because the linear pattern is in 6/8 and starts with the kick right after a fill on the snare.  Simply starting the down beat after the fill with a lone kick, instead of a crash is a mental barrier that I had to work hard to break.  The pattern simply goes Kick RLRLR, but the challenge is in where you place the hands (ride, snare, ride, tom, tom in this case) and making it flow with the song.  Here it is the pattern a slower tempo:
 
Example 3: 

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Pretty simple right?  Well, here is the pattern in the context of the drum part for the song, and at the correct tempo. Though there is no guitar, you can still get an idea of what’s going on.  Check it out:
 
Example 4: 

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If you’d like to hear the full song, make sure you pick up a copy of Inhuman Grotesqueries.  Now, I’m going to break down the beginning of a new Malignancy song that will be featured on the next record.  This time, the pattern is RLRLRLR kick kick.  Again, what makes this simple pattern difficult is the hand placement (snare, tom 1, tom 2, closed hi-hit, tom 3, snare, snare), and the feel of the song.  Here is the pattern at a slower tempo:
 
Example 5: 

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I would like to thank you for reading and listening, and I hope these few examples will give you some ideas to help you keep your playing fresh and exciting.  Check out some of the books by Gary Chaffee, as well as the playing of the masters like Vinnie Colaiuta.  At the very least, I hope the concept of linear drumming is something you’ll keep in mind, and have fun with while jamming on your kit.  Remember, Death Metal Drumming doesn’t always have to be limited to blast beats!


 

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