In this free drum lesson I’ll be showing you another extract from my eBook teaching the classic intro drum beat from the song “Sour Times” by Portishead.


Sour Times” Drum Beat Demonstration

View the video on YouTube HERE – Learn How To Play Drum Beat Song Sour Times Video Drum Lesson (Portishead)


Why The “Sour Times” Drum Beat Is So Great

The gorgeous, ever-so-slightly woozy, comedown breakbeat fits the dark cinematic vibe of the track like a glove. Playing it ‘for real’ takes the utmost restraint and skill.

Sour Times Drum Beat Free Drum Lesson Portishead


How To Play It

This is the first four bars of the section starting at 0:11. The right hand plays straight eighth notes on the hi-hat throughout the entire four bar example. This allows the bass drum and snare drum to move in and about the steady right hand in a syncopated manner.

The snare drum backbeat is played on beats 2 and 4 of each bar. All other snare drums (marked in brackets) are ghost
notes and are played quietly.

The bass drum plays a common rhythm, just before the snare drum on beat 2 of each bar, on the ‘+’ and ‘a’ of beats 1 and 3. The second bass drum (the ‘a’) falls in between the hi-hats. Bars 3 and 4 have just one bass drum in between the hi-hats, falling on the ‘a’ of beat 3.

A bass drum is also played at the end of bars 1 and 3, on the ‘a’ of beat 4. This bass drum flows into the next bass drum on beat 1 of the next bar before being closely followed by two more bass drum notes, mentioned above, that fall on the ‘+’ and ‘a’ of beat 1.

The ghost note snare drums that fall on the ‘a’ and ‘e’ of beats 2 and 3 are played in between the hi-hats. All four bars also have a ghost note on the ‘e’ of beat 1, again played in between the hi-hats.

The ghost notes played on the ‘a’ of beat 2 and the ‘a’ of beat 4 (for bars 1, 2 and 3 only) are played at the same time as the first of the two bass drum notes written beneath. This is technically quite demanding because the temptation is to then play these ghost notes loudly. It’s also tricky to line up the quiet left hand with the bass drum without the two notes falling out of sync with each other.

The first variation in the groove occurs in the second bar where the ghost note on the ‘a’ of beat 2 is ‘buzzed’. This means that the stick is gently pushed into the snare drum and allowed to bounce multiple times to create a buzzing sound. A normal snare drum ghost note can be played here if this is too demanding for you to play.

The next variation to notice is the open hi-hat on the ‘+’ of beat 3 in bar 2. The hi-hat is closed again on beat 4 with the snare drum. This is the same rhythm used in bar 4 for beat 3 as well.



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