Difficulty LevelIn this free drum lesson I’ll be showing you an extract from the Book Greatest Drum Beats Of All Time teaching the famous drum beat from the song Cold Sweat by James Brown.

Clyde Stubblefield is one of the greatest groovers that ever did play. This drum beat is so funky it hurts! The use of ghost notes and displaced snare drum back beats is genius and gives the groove real character and movement.


 “Cold Sweat” Drum Beat Demonstration

View the video on YouTube HERE – Learn How To Play Drums Song Cold Sweat Video Drum Lesson (James Brown & Clyde Stubblefield)


Why The “Cold Sweat” Drum Beat Is So Great

The song that arguably started funk, Cold Sweat would be nothing without Stubblefield’s drums holding the tune
together. The entire band follows his rhythm, effectively playing the melody line as percussion. “Give the drummer
some!” shouts Brown, prompting Stubblefield to break it down, which he does without ever dropping the groove.

This is simply a master class in funky drum beat construction.

Cold Sweat Free Drum Lesson James Brown


How To Play It

Occurs throughout the majority of the song. The hi-hat maintains a steady and even flow of eighth notes throughout both bars.

The hi-hat in the first bar is opened on the ‘+’ of beat 3, at the same time as the bass drum is played. It is then closed again on beat 4 on its own.

The snare drum then gets played on the ‘+’ of beat 4. This throws the listeners ear, expecting to hear the snare drum fall on beat 4. This is a classic snare drum backbeat displacement technique and is used a lot in funk drumming.

The offbeat fun continues into the second bar where no bass drum is played on beat 1. Instead, the bass drum is played on the ‘+’ of beat 1. This is another classic technique used in funk drum beat constriction where beat 1 of the second bar is not played on with the bass drum.

The final bass drum occurs in bar 2, on the ‘+’ of beat 3 just before the snare drum on beat 4. This resolves the groove and brings it back to beat 1 of the first bar in a very satisfying manner.

There are ghost notes played on the ‘a’ and ‘e’ of beats 2 and 3 respectively as well as a ghost note on the ‘e’ of beat 1 in the second bar. These are really hard to hear on the recordings but can be seen clearly when Clyde performs the song live.

You really can’t get funkier than this on the drums!


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