If you are a drummer and checking out drum channels on social media on a regular basis, you can’t hardly have missed it: the Tears For Fears Metric Modulation Drum Challenge. The videos were all over the place for the past few weeks.

Originally presented as “How to Lose a Gig 101” or “How NOT to play a Shuffle” – because if you would pull this trick off in a live band situation, your band members probably won’t like you anymore -, the concept of the challenge is to play an (implied) 6/4 drum groove on top of the original 12/8 shuffle feel of the hit song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. Which creates a weird kind of ‘progressive rock half time feel’ groove. Transitioning from one feel to another feel, but maintaining the pulse/tempo, is called a ‘metric modulation’. Think about it as 2×3=3×2 or 3×4=4×3.

So I gave it a try a couple of weeks ago, and I’m glad to see that my submission already gained 6k views (and counting) on Youtube! Watch my video HERE

To people unfamiliar with the metric modulation concept, this might come as a very strange way to play (or think about) music: “This sounds out of time!”. But this is actually a quite common (and very danceable) phenomenon in latin/salsa music, we’re just not used to hear it in pop music! To give you a little hint: 2 bars of 12/8 will give us 2×12=24 8th notes, 1 bar of 6/4 contains 6×4=24 16th notes. Which means that if you’re laying these grooves on top of each other they’re equal in length – if you’re playing the 6/4 on half the tempo (i.e. ‘half time feel’), that is.

In most videos I’ve seen, drummers were merely just improvising in 6/4 time – which is cool!-, but I tried to take it up a notch: making smooth transitions from 6/4 to 12/8 feel and back again, ONLY by displacing my snare (i.e. the back beat). So hihat and kick stay the same throughout the song, regardless of the metric modulation! Which was actually quite harder than I thought it would be… 

I’ve uploaded a FREE drum score with a transcription of the 2 main grooves I’m playing and some additional exercises to ‘get you there’. You can download the score HERE. Enjoy & please DO try this at home! M

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