This chant expands from previous Rock Chants 1, 2, and 3. The hat and snare are very basic again because they are the common thread in the basics of Western 4 beat rock/r&b/pop music. For any drummer beginning and exposed to Western Music, the basic snare and hi hat are the measuring stick. This music was made for inclusion. It’s meant to be easily understood and shared. Notice the open hat which only happens on the “and” of beat 4 every second measure. The kick drum notation using the dotted 8th tied to the 16th adds a funky touch. This very basic figure opens a new dimension and turns this basic chant (morphed from Rock Chant 1) into a Funk Chant. It serves a specific style and immediately demonstrates how a minimal shift or figure that happens every so often takes the chant into a different world. One or two notes is all it takes to create a style.
I’ve been a musician all my life. My mother Renee Morris was a professional singer since she was a teenager. When she had me she landed a gig playing the role of Mary Magdelene on the first American tour production of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar in 1970 -71. I stayed with my grandparents which is where I was exposed to the drums as an infant and toddler. Her younger brother Joey was 14 and had a drum kit. He was in bands and was a snare drummer in all of his school marching bands. Rhythm and music were always around me through my grandparents and my uncles Joey and Wayne while my mom was on the road doing Superstar. I immediately showed a sense of steady pulse to the point where my family made many 35mm home movies of me in the crib dancing, clapping and banging on the crib gate to the point where I broke it and it would no longer pull up. I climbed out the crib and went to the basement where the drums were. This was a daily thing and as natural as breathing for me. I imitated my own version of the traditional grip my uncle was using. At the time, the stick didn’t rest under my left hand index finger. Instead the stick was stationary on top of my lower index finger held down only by my thumb. He had a set of Ludwig’s I think. The snare was a little lower than my chin so I first began standing up like James McDonnell aka Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats. I hit the bass drum rim as my hi hat replacement because the real hi hat was too difficult to reach and use the foot pedal simultaneously. Because of my size, who needed a hi hat? Anyway, this went on for years until I grew tall enough to sit. My family was so astounded at my work ethic, focus and sense of metronome they invited neighbors and friends over all the time just to watch me. I remember hearing, “Sean go down and play drums for so and so..” almost every time we had company. I had two homes. One with my mom and the other with my grandparents. My mother and I lived about three miles from my grandparents so I was back and forth daily to weekly from 1976 to 1988, the year I graduated high school. My grandparents lived in a nice split level home in Hyattsville, Maryland that reminded me of the Brady Bunch house. The basement was literally the “rec room”. My other uncle Wayne was a bit of a deejay and he was always spinning the latest r&b, rock, disco and instrumental music of the time. My choice of music in 1975 was mainly Funkadelic, Al Green, and James Brown. I really had a thing for James Brown. Every instrument had its own part in every James Brown song. I began to hear him cue the band on records. The horn stabs and the breakdowns. The A and B sections were prominent and triggered by his cue-ing. Even on “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose” you can hear the horns hesitate on the first two cues he gave to the point where James says “Start over again” on the recording. That “rec room” was my musical sanctuary for years. I would meditate on music for hours and hours. While many kids played outside which I often did, I also spent a lot of my childhood watching records spin, watching the level indicator lights go up and down, and of course, listening to the music. At my mom’s place in Silver Spring, Maryland the guitar and bass were the instruments of choice because we lived in an apartment. I played drums there and defied every complaint from the neighbors and various apartment managers. I didn’t give one shit about them. I never responded to threats and ignored pretty much everyone. Consequences had no value. I breathed music. Eventually I made my mom’s place the guitar place and my grandparent’s the drum place. This served me well as a developing musician over the years. I had a library and two sanctuaries. It was more than splendid. Along with that came Kiss, more P-Funk, The Beatles and then Hendrix. Jimi really changed the game for me in 1980. I saw him in an interview years before that thinking, “Man this is a heavy cat.” He just looked heavy and I hadn’t heard his music yet. I knew I would take some serious interest in that guy when I first saw him. I think seeing him in that pimped out black hat with the feather and that light blue jacket was too cool for words. His demeanor was so together and separated from the common world too. I was in the habit of playing full songs in my head on the drums. I would mimic every tune I liked as if I was on the recording sessions themselves. I never practiced and worked on anything as a kid. My technique developed rapidly and I never really thought about it much. I just wanted to sound like everything I heard. Every style. And I did. This is why memory is very important. Little did I know then I was developing my brain to literally remember everything I heard. This was my fun. This was what I did daily like eating a meal. I would sit behind those drums and play all the tunes I thought were cool. I didn’t work on drum things. I worked on MUSIC. I listened to how all the instruments fit together, played off each other, supported the tune, the vocals, the whole nine. I noticed early on how the drums propelled everything and were the basis for the overall sound of every song and recording. Without the right drums, forget everything else. No amount of singing, guitar playing, bass playing, keyboards, horns, etc can overcome the importance of having the right drums for the right song. Without the right drums, the song doesn’t have the personality it needs for all the other elements to work together. I still “practice” this way today. I play full tunes from the drum chair pretending I am Neil Peart or Mitch Mitchell or Tony WIlliams. I pretend I am onstage with the other members of those groups playing those tunes I love so much. This lends to creating your own sound which is what I discovered years later.
This is an unusual rock chant in ¾. We break down the chant from a simple perspective by keeping the hats on all three beats. The kick lands on the first beat of the first measure and third measures. The snare lands on the first beat of the second and fourth measures. This creates the old school 50’s rock style. From there on the kick and snare are shifted and voila!
This chant is based off the basic 8th notes on the Hi hat backed by the snare on 2 and 4 again. Only this time we get into a basic funky chant with a simple bass drum pattern. The dotted 8th note tied to the 16th note gives funky propulsion to the first snare. Notice the open Hi hat on the AND of 4. This is a very basic root funk drum chant.