Tiger Bill Reviews

Jungle Drum N Bass for the Acoustic Drumset


By Johnny Rabb

A Guide to Applying Today's Electronic Music to the Drum Set

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The first time I heard about Johnny Rabb, it was in reference to him using a Drumometer to win the Guinness World Record for the World's Fastest Drummer. In case you didn't realize it, he also owns the johnnyraBB Drumstick Company. And, although his Guinness record has since been broken, Johnny has moved on to other projects. One of which is this book, Jungle/Drum 'n' Bass for the acoustic drum set, from Warner Bros. Publications.

If you're not familiar with this style of music, jungle/drum 'n' bass originally developed from Techno music. The main differences being that it's played at faster tempos and often consists of more complicated polyrhythmic textures. In this book, Johnny offers his take on these popular grooves along with examples on how to simulate the electronic sounds of jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves on the acoustic drum set.

The book includes two audio example CDs, one contains exercises from the book and the other has samples of jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves created by Johnny himself.

I examined the book in detail and here's what I found.

Setup and Sounds
Johnny opens by explaining the gear setup that he uses to produce jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves. He gets into the specifics of drum tuning, cymbal setup, and offers some good practice tips.

Various exercises throughout the book are broken up into fragments, with each being a quarter-note in length. These fragments can then be combined in various ways to provide you with endless practice material and possibilities for creating your own grooves. That's pretty cool.

Preliminary Exercises
Although Johnny himself uses more than the average number of drums in his setup, nearly all the exercises in the book require only a basic kit consisting of kick, snare, hi-hat, and ride cymbal. This means that you should already have the necessary gear to get started.

This chapter consists of basic eighth-note and sixteenth-note two-line patterns that form the basis for more complicated patterns to follow. Johnny also specifies five separate options for practicing these two-line patterns, which supplies a wealth of variations.

Eighth-Note Grooves
Covered are the basic eighth-note patterns that will allow you to simulate the sound of a drum machine.

Sixteenth-Note Grooves
The purpose of this chapter is similar to the last, except that you must now master the ability to play fast and clean sixteenth-notes between your snare and kick drum.

Basic Rolls and Buzzes
Buzzes and rolls are common elements in jungle/drum 'n' bass music. Here, you'll learn to simulate them using a single-hand buzz roll on the snare.

Unison Jungle
This section focuses on playing two parts in unison, meaning exactly at the same time. This is something that often gives beginners trouble and unison patterns come out more like flams.

Linear Jungle Grooves
Contrary to the previous chapter, these are exercises where two parts are never played at the same time. If you've ever studied linear funk patterns, then you'll already be familiar with this material.

Hi-Hat Exercises
Johnny supplies lots of hi-hat patterns that can be applied to the previous patterns in the book, greatly expanding your rhythmic repertoire.

Multiple Snare Jungle Grooves
In this chapter, you'll learn how to use a second snare in your basic setup. Now things are beginning to simulate the multiple sound sources heard in the usual electronic jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves.

Split Grooves
Here, Johnny reveals his method of simulating a human drum machine or sampler using the basic acoustic kit plus an auxiliary snare, cowbell, tambourine, or whatever sound sources you may have. Things are beginning to get interesting.

Ostinato Grooves
This one is great for the coordination. You've got to play the auxiliary snare with your left hand, while playing the basic pattern with your right hand moving between the hi-hat and main snare and your foot on the bass drum. Good luck!

Double-Bass Jungle Grooves
This chapter takes you a step further by adding double bass licks into the mix.

Johnny (very wisely) stresses listening as a key factor to improving your jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves. And to that end, he offers transcriptions from various recordings with his personal take on each one.

Advanced Sound Exercises
Johnny encourages you to get creative, as he demonstrates his approach to jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves using his favorite accessories.

Freehand Technique
Johnny says that he uses his "freehand technique" to play these exercises because it, "allows a person to play quick rhythms with one hand that would normally be played with two." However, his only description of the technique is to say that he uses the rim as a fulcrum. He then refers us to his book/video on the subject for more details.

Johnny says that he originally got this technique from drummer Kenwood Dennard and until I see Johnny's version for myself, I cannot vouch for its effectiveness, one way or the other.

What I will say is that the examples he demonstrates on the example CD are played at a tempo that should not be out of reach for anyone with good chops, whether or not they use the freehand technique.

Basic Electronics
This section gives you an idea of how to apply various electronic equipment to complement your acoustic drum setup when playing your own grooves and when writing your own music.

Putting It All Together
The final chapter of the book lists examples from the second audio CD, which demonstrate how Johnny uses the electronics introduced in the previous chapter. Johnny also includes seven original groove tracks minus drums, at various tempos, to help when practicing your own drum grooves.

This contains a listing of recordings for suggested listening along with jungle/drum 'n' bass Web resources to further your knowledge on the subject.

The Jungle Bottom Line
I like the layout of this book. It begins with the basics and builds, becoming progressively more difficult to play while the acoustically played rhythmic patterns get closer to truly simulating electronically produced jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves. Which is, after all, what the title promises.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the jungle/drum 'n' bass type style of music. And even if you're not, this book will help you improve your coordination and give you a wealth of rhythmic ideas that you can apply to any style of music. (If you add some left foot hi-hat clave patterns and stuff to the exercises in the book, it makes for a great four-way coordination study.)

The 152-page book comes with two example audio CDs and, considering that its retail price of $24.95 is less than the average cost of one drum lesson, I'd say it's a bargain.

Pick it up and start creating some of your own jungle/drum 'n' bass grooves. I'll bet it won't be long before you'll be pumping out better grooves that half of the stuff out there.

You can get your copy today at a substantial discount from:


Until next time: Stay loose.


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