A few days ago as I was surfing the net I stumbled across this video on Youtube:
If you think about this drumbeat it all seems super simple: kick playing four on the floor and snare on 2&4…what could possibly go wrong?? However, if you hear closely to the “feel” of this groove, your head will immediately start to bob back and forth throughout the whole length of the song.
That particular feel is what we call “playing in the pocket”. If you try and look it up on the dictionary you probably won’t find any definition for it. Actually, no one knows what playing in the pocket really means, except that is a kind of laid back feel. And when you feel it, you’ll know it!
The great P-Funk drummer Dennis Chambers explains it like this in his DVD “In The Pocket: “When I joined P-Funk at 18 years old, the one thing I had to learn, was how to play in the pocket. I had no idea what that meant, because no one explained that to me until later… If the time is 1 2 3 4, you could play right on the beat, but that is not what George Clinton wanted. He wanted me to laid back a little bit, playing a little bit behind the beat. You can still feel the time where it is, but it had this sluggish feeling type of thing.”
Therefore pulling back the beat a tiny fraction is what gives space and makes the groove move more. This of course needs to be played together with the rest of the band. In fact, when the whole band is locked in together, that is when the playing in the pocket is happening.
Here are I have included a few videos of not only drummers playing in the pocket:
ABE LABORIEL JR (drums)
CORY HENRY (organ)
JOHN MAYER TRIO (guitar, drums, piano)
STANLEY RANDOLPH (drums)
JOE DART (bass)
MARK LETTIERI (guitar)
I have also made a “InDaPocket” Spotify playlist of 30 songs including some of favourite pocket tunes:
Feel free to have a listen and since I’m in love with this kind of feel, if you have any recommendation on pocket and how to achieve it I’d love to hear more.
‘till next time!