Clyde Stubblefield RIP

And another left us.
The Funky Drummer, the most sampled beat in pop music.
The definition of Funk !!

For anybody who attends drum clinics...
The meaning of "in the pocket".  Relaxed and supremely accurate at the same time; that's when the magic happens and few can do it on that level.  Great loss.  RIP.

thanks for that link - so tasty!!!!

Great grooves.

FYI Pee Wee Ellis made up the riff for Cold Sweat and should have been given credit too - in fact if you listen very carefully you can hear that Cold Sweat was subconsciously influenced by Miles Davis Kind of Blue - similar note progression even if the rest of the song is very original.

And I have attended many many drum clinics but regretfully I never met Clyde. 



I think in the pocket means the beat has movement or swings.



Note how the second example grooves better - both are swung but the musicians hold their relative time better in the second example whereas the first example they follow the drummer too much and wander. Also Jim Riley (master drummer) is late on the 2 and 4 which gives it more lilt while the rhythm guitar keeps very rigid time to help create the time bending effect. The rhythm guitar locks in with the drums too much on the first example. Rhythm guitar is EXTREMELY tricky to get that perfect driving feel that grooves - hence legends like Nile Rogers have made a career from it.

So in the pocket requires setting correct time (hi hat usually) and then swinging some other parts of the beat to create the groove or lilt. The band needs to be tight and play well together to maximize the effect. A drummer can create the effect alone as in this example (delays the 4 and effective use of high hat to accent the "&")

Steve Ferrone kind of dances as he plays (trained as a tap dancer) but if you notice his beat 1 is always in the right place like a human metronome.

Shadorne, it’s possible we may be saying the same thing depending on our definition of our choice of terminology, but I have to disagree with your definition of "in the pocket". I have never heard a musician use the terms "in the pocket" "in a deep pocket" or "player x has a lot of pocket" to mean that the time "moves". Quite the contrary, it refers to a very very steady sense of rhythm with a "good feel" attitude; what some call great groove, funkiness etc. (what I referred to when I said that Stubblefield’s playing was relaxed).

I am sure you have heard a metronome produce "perfect time"; a sequence of absolutely perfectly spaced clicks. But perfect time does not mean "feel good" or "swinging" or "funky"; a metronome is after all just a machine. Think of each one of those metronomic clicks in time as a dartboard with a series of rings and a bullseye in the center. Each of those perfect clicks occupies a certain amount of space in time and there is a certain amount of acceptable latitude (rings) on either side of the rhythmic bullseye as would be defined by the very center of that click, but only as long as the player’s pulse dart stays on the "dartboard". As in darts, hitting any one of those rings can be considered hitting the target; but the closer the pulse gets to the bullseye, the more "in the pocket" it is. One of the two main things that define a player’s (not only drummers) sense of rhythm and unique time feel is wether his personal concept defines the pulse as being on the front side or the backside of the rhytmic bullseye. This is why some players have a very relaxed feel (back side) and others have a very "up" feel (front side). The other aspect of a player’s concept that defines the rhythmic feel is how the pulse is approached or set up by the figures he plays. Stubblefield was one of those players whose pulse was always, not only in the bullseye, but dead center in that bullseye and perhaps just a smidgen on the back side of the pulse (relaxed). The key was that it didn’t waver ("move"?); it was steady as a rock. Sure, the drummer can manipulate or play with the time but the PULSE generated has to be very steady to be "in the pocket". 

I originally started this thread because I noticed that 3 days after his death, NO ONE had recognized it.

I do appreciate all of the meaningful posts but to start grappling over his drumming style on this thread, seems to diminish the thought behind the post.

Maybe another post to describe his influence on music?....

"The influence Clyde Stubblefield had on music and the art of drumming"

Just my opinion.

Happy listening.
I think you are exactly right, Slaw; something that came to mind and grappled with before responding to shadorne and I should have gone with my gut feeling.  Certainly no disrespect intended towards the thought behind your post and I hope that what I wrote is a reflection, at least in part, of the respect that I have for him as a musician. 

I realized this and had trouble writing my last post for this very reason.

Now that all is good.. hopefully all of his great work will be immortalized in a thread that will exemplify the artist that he was!

Thank you for your post!

machine drummers do not sound as good as a great drummer because they are precise and have no feel or groove. 

Moving the beats around and away from the precise metronomic time is what gives the rhythm a unique pocket feel. Of course a groove once laid down must be repeated or looped so the imperfections in time from a metronome must be consistent from bar to bar (without consistency it just sounds sloppy)

I can provide more examples but regrettably I don't think a non-musician has much chance of grasping it. I encounter it all the time when playing a cover and trying to mimic a particular groove created by a drummer. The subtle adjustments in time that give a groove a particular pocket feel are one of the hardest aspects of drumming. Some tracks are done to a metronome (a lot of music theses days) and producing a machine metronomic sound can be a challenge too but it never sounds "in the pocket" as there is no feeling. Suprisingly, dynamics also play a role in pocket feel as the dynamics of each beat in a bar and where emphasis is placed will also define the feel of the groove. In the pocket drumming requires a consistent repeated dynamic variation through the bar as well. Just a simple change such as dropping the 1 or emphasizing the 3 over 2 and 4 creates a half time or reggae feel.

Would be glad to discuss this further through some other means, but I think Slaw’s wishes should be rightfully respected. I believe you have it wrong.
Thanks frogman.

With respect, it shouldn't be so much because of my wishes, it is out of respect for the artist.

His drumming style, or any disagreements as it relates to how one perceives it, is better served and would be enlightening in a separate thread.

Happy listening
Slaw, I never met Mr. Stubblefield, but I suspect he would be happy that his life caused a discussion about being "in the pocket".  I imagine he would listen, say both sides are right and then sit down behind his kit and play a groove.  Everybody would then break into a smile.

He was described as a very giving person.

Point taken. (Exactly). And that discussion is better addressed in another thread.

Would you want others to point out their interpretations of your drumming style at your funeral?

My initial post, was to me, a recognition of an artist that deserved recognition. (which I perceived would not have been given here).

A further discussion of others' thoughts on how his style should be remembered is best done on a separate discussion.

Why I'm even having to explain this point is disturbing.

I'm sorry you don't get it. I'm now sorry I even tried.

Peace.. Mr. Stubblefield..............

No disrespect to you or Clyde. Any reference to a great drummer (such as Clyde) immediately leads the musically inclined to a discussion of technique (such as "in the pocket") and comparisons (not criticisms but deep respect for what every drummer brings). I understand that this does not interest you and wish to to discuss and honour the particular person that was Clyde. I also apologize that I did not respect audiogon as an official forum for leaving obituary comments and I simply got excited to see a few here who show interest in drumming technique. I am sorry you had to explain all this but please understand it is my enthusiasm for what Clyde brought to music that got me going on a tangent and off of the proper homage that this thread is supposed to be.

Here is what I know (and I have nearly all of James Brown stuff which is a lot considering how prolific he was)

He never got paid for Cold Sweat groove. And no doubt got nothing for all the samples taken of his music. Curiously in music you can copyright a chord progression or melody such as Stairway to Heaven but NOT a distinctive drum groove! Clyde was very humble and such a great person. He was self taught & his big break with James Brown lasted 6 years on tour. Clyde was no exception - many musicians had falling outs as James Brown was a difficult character that regularly fell out with members in his band (and the band was paid very little). Prince was a big fan of his and even helped with Clyde’s health care bills.

Like Mick Jagger and others have recently made an effort to recognize the great backing singers as well as the great musicians that invented the blues, it would be wonderful to one day see a great drummer such as Clyde get the recognition he truly deserves. Clyde contributed so much to the music of the 20th century and his influence lives on today and yet he got paid so little for it. To be so humble and to have given so much and to rarely have shown any bitterness is the mark of a truly great human and artist.

It would not have taken but a few minutes to start another thread if the main purpose was to show respect.


Sorry again for offending you. My enthusiasm for Clyde and the music he helped create got the better of me. 
A great one! R.I.P.
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