is Groove all there is?


New member
wasn't sure how to title this... I'm curious about drummers who are involved in "non-groove-oriented" music-

I've participated in bass guitar and drum forums for years, and of course you see a lot written about 'serving the groove,' finding the pocket, ect- when you're writing about the rhythm section.

But not every style of music is "groove-oriented." Heck, groove is a hard thing to put into words anyway. But for the sake of discussion, I'd like to hear from the players to whom groove isn't the foremost consideration:

What styles of music are you involved in that don't focus on being 'danceable?'

What is your foremost consideration as a drummer?
What is your ultimate goal if not to set up a tight groove?

What drummers exemplify that kind of playing?

I don't know if that makes a lot of sense, but I look forward to any discussion on the subject. I think there are tons of players out there exploring roles outside of the typical ones, I'd like to hear from you.
Post some links if you've got some tracks online that fit this description.

p.s.= I've got nothing against the groove! I just don't think the other side gets heard from much. Is there another side?


New member
I don't think 'groove' only exists in dance music. When I was a kid I asked my drum teacher about progressive music. I said to him "does this groove" and he said "it grooves in its own way." If I recall the piece was in 5/4. So I don't think something has to be in 4/4 to groove. If one listens to Thrust it's pretty obvious that the music grooves heavily without a 2 and 4 beat.

As long as the music moves forward and the band is in time, it should groove. Of course it all comes down to the collective feel of the musicians involved. For example, there is a band with a famous drummer that to me has never grooved in its entire existence. But it's all personal. The only thing I believe destroys groove, no matter the complexity or time signature, is the drummer breaking the feel in order to do drum fills too often. For exmaple, music with a fill every four bars doesn't groove. The drummer never gives it a chance by playing too many fills.

That's my take on it anyway.


New member
I don't know if I've worded it well enough to make sense-
it's really hard to quantify this stuff and put into words.

To me, there is music that is not reliant on 'the groove.'
I would like to discuss this music, and hear other perspectives on it.

Now, maybe I'm way off here, and looking at it wrongly.
But the way I see it, for example- lots of Progressive, ambient, and art-rock type music isn't about the 'pocket' or a tight groove.
It might focus on texture, or atmosphere, or tension/conflict.

hope that clarifies it a bit. Sorry if it's still too vague


New member
Well, I don't think much of the good progressive music lacks groove. If you listen back to albums like Fragile or Close to the edge, or even King Crimson, there is a strong groove; although the back beat may not be falling on 2 & 4. Even when a song goes through changes in time signature, these sections normally groove. Collins with Genesis always grooved. Although something like Apocalypse in 9/8 was probably designed so as to show that the band was in an odd time.

I think the key to whether or not a groove grooves, is whether or not the drummer is concerned with timekeeping more than attention seeking fills. To me this is the key.

My answer isn't to proove you wrong or contradict you M, it's just my own perspective.


New member
that's cool Dale, I appreciate your input. That's what I'm hoping to get here- some feedback.

So am I reading you right; all good music has to groove, in your opinion?


New member
Yeah, I refer above to music with a repetitive form. Then there is more avant garde music such as free jazz, which is a whole other ball game.

I don't know if all music grooves, but I think it depends on the musicians. If I listen to free jazz, such as that played by Ali and Coltrane, I can hear a groove. But the groove is different to what one would get on a Motown recording.

I feel as well that the more one's ears are trained to hear complexities in polyrhythmic and music with longer complex rhythmic repetitive patterns, such as in Indian music, it can help to recognise groove.

Of course now there is a whole terminology in drumming related to one aspect of the wider world of groove. This is found in R&B style music. But looking at the subject with a wider perspective can help broaden what is becoming a rather narrow minded view. At least to me. Groove and pocket is not the sole property of R&B.


New member
Whatever it is that you play, it should have some feeling to it. Even death metal has to have some sort of grooviness to it.

I equate playing a groove with other musicians to one car towing another with a rope- too much tension, the front car drags. Too little tension, you get a very jerky ride in the rear car. Keep the tension right in the middle and you get a smooth ride all the way.


New member
THeres certain music that is based on total chaos. Music like Blood Brothers or black metal such as Emperor. A lot of extreme metal is about complete chaos with bouts of "rest," not necessarily groove. Here's an example: ... D=84219933 Click on "In The Wordless Chamber" ... its pretty much pure chaos. Now listen to "Curse You All Men." It actually has a bit of groove.

I think that people who play this kind of music, are going for the opposite of an obvious groove, more like you have to really think and listen to catch it. Kinda the same way how wine conneseurs enjoy the fact that expensive, complex wine is disgusting to most.

Heres an example of extreme metal with a VERY nice groove (and a 40 pc. orquestra: click on "Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse." Kind of like the cabernet savignon of extreme music.


New member
Oh yeah, and basically any band who's name on their logo looks like :IUE//FUIR\\|~B}\FI:FE??//S||A|\T`!A|\N will be trying their best for no groove.

Corpse paint makes me laugh everytime I see it, lol!

Chaos Machine

New member
I prefer to listen to music that is so busy that it lacks groove, mainly to further my ability to do the same thing. Bands like Necrophagist,Cryptopsy ect. However I've found that no matter what time signature one is playing in, one will always find "groove" in it. If not, a riff would only last a couple of seconds or so to keep the irratic (sp) nature of the piece being played...DAMN YOU GROOVE!


New member
Dale said:
If one listens to Thrust it's pretty obvious that the music grooves heavily without a 2 and 4 beat.

I assume you're referring to Herbie Hancock & the Headhunter's Mike Clark here. MONSTROUS groove. Billy Martin from Medeski, Martin, & Wood also grooves like crazy, while playing with the time every now and then and pushing and pulling the beat here and there. After listening to the tracks recommended by multibomber by emporer, I must say that they groove also. If you put a metronome to them, it will probably synch up. However, not all grooving music synchs up with a click. It's all a matter of the drummer's feel. A good drummer can twist time all around and still make it groove.


New member
All music GROOVES, it just depends on the feel and how strong it is.

For example, when I was 19 I was a Punk Rock drummer PUSHING the beat.
Now I've got 10yrs. as a P-Funk Cat PULLING the beat back.

Some people don't like to be pushed. Like they say: