Mike Clark: Communicating the Core Groove

220px-Mike_Clark_(musician)After last week’s Mike Clark Transcription exercise, we’re going to look at ways to break down his apparently complex method and explore how we can develop our own linear rhythms. 

Firstly, we need to be aware of the Core Groove: namely the essential elements of each bar with all of the embellishments and ghost notes removed; the basic message that Clark is trying to convey.


Here’s Bar 1 of last week’s exercise:

bar1 - Full Score

We can strip this back to a more simplified version (The Core Groove):

bar1 - Full Score copy

This bar is much easier to grasp and will probably be closer to the phrase that Clark is singing in his head as he plays. Below are all 14 bars of last week’s video transcription broken down into their simplest form:

Mike Clark - Godfather - Core Grooves - Full Score


Firstly, work through each bar slowly, then start playing the more complex original phrase, making sure to continue singing the Core Groove in your head.

Stripping back intricate grooves in this way will not only help you un crack the code of these complex beats, it will also help you to improvise linear patterns of your own. To do this, start by looping a simple groove. Once that feels comfortable, add a ghost note or embellishment. Continue to add more complexity without losing emphasis on the original groove. The key is for your patterns to sound complex and intricate whilst still retaining the groove of the initial simpler pattern.



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