Second Line / Street Beats
is Second Line?
Have you ever been asked to play a "second line" beat
on a particular song? I know I have. Usually I cringe and realize
that, although I basically think it involves a marching style
on the snare drum, I really don't have a clue as to what to play.
Luckily my experience and musicality got me by for many years.
I learned how to fake things "very" well. :)
I asked around a bit and was surprised to learn that the history
of second line is a bit cloudy. Nobody can seem to agree on how
it evolved. I heard stories about there being a line of musicians
and staff that marched behind the mourners (second line) at a
funeral parade in New Orleans. Apparently the musicians would
play funeral marches on the way to the funeral and more livelier
pieces on the return home. Some would say that it's a secondary
rhythm section (second line) that answers the calls of a "first-line"
rhythm section in a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. The first line
would play a rhythm and the "second line" would respond
to it. Others will tell you that it's just something that comes
from New Orleans music and involves a marching snare rhythm. They'll
admit that they don't know where it comes from but they're quick
to show you an example of how they think it's played.
drum lessons, tips, and more!
on who you ask, you're sure to get some very interesting answers.
I think the most important thing is; What are we supposed to play
when someone asks us to play a "second-line" rhythm
or a second line funk beat? From a little research, here's what
I've learned so far about second line drumming:
Second line drumming is associated with the city of New Orleans.
It seems to have originated there and developed in many forms
through the years.
Second line drumming involves simple cadence type (marching) snare
Drummers like Zigaboo Modeliste and Johnny Vidacovich mixed second
line with syncopated funk, developing a style called "second-line
funk drumming". This style was popularized in many famous
bands that came from New Orleans like the Meters (see below).
Second line drumming often involves a 3/2 son clave not disimiliar
to the Bo
Diddley beat although it doesn't necessarily always follow
Second line beats are also called "Street Beats".
after reading up on things and listening to a handful of second
line drummers, I've determined that although there are a lot of
variations of second line you can play, most follow a specific
feel and style. The best way to get started would be to play a
simple Bo Diddley beat, mixing in an occasional double stroke
roll at the beginning or end of the phrase. Play the bass drum
with the accents or simply play "4 on the floor" (straight
quarter notes). Listen to some of the examples below and check
out the other resources listed.
New Orleans Jazz and Second Line Drumming Book and Cd - by Herlin
Riley and Johnny Vidacovich
Street Beats - Modern Applications
Drumming - Johnny Vidacovich, Herlin Riley, Earl Palmer &
Herman Ernest - DCI
Tommy Igoe - Video
sample, 2nd line variation (online - DrummerWorld.com)
Orleans Second Line Drumming - Street
Parade (online - YouTube.com)
Vidacovich - Going
between Jazz and Second Line (online - DrummerWorld.com)
Second Line Drummers:
- The Meters (original drummer)
Johnny Vidacovich - Astral Project
Moore - Galactic
Ricky Sebastian - http://www.strdigital.com/ricseb.htm
Earl Palmer - Big on the NOLA recording scene in the 50's. Little
Richard, Fats Domino, etc.
see more here.
I hope this
has been helpful and that you have a little more insight now into
second line drumming. We will be adding more to this page as time
goes on. We invite everyone to submit their comments, media, or
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