Very few people understand the elusive concepts of groove and feel. Getting your head around it is a difficult task, even for trained musicians. But groove affects the way you perceive music. You just don’t know it yet.
Humans think that they attracted to the perfect and the flawless. That’s why our magazines are filled with photographs of almost plastic-looking models. But in the world of art, flaws and imperfections are what defines a masterpiece. At the most basic level, groove and feel are about flaws and mistakes.
Mainstream music is criticised on a daily basis for being “soulless”. While this criticism is a little harsh, it does hold an element of truth to it. It is created using digital music software. Using processes called quantisation and pitch correction, these programs can digitally alter musical performances to achieve perfect rhythm and pitch. This process can be compared to photoshopping the blemishes off of a supermodel. Computers allow the creator to achieve what is generally considered to be imposible in music: the perfect performance.
The best way to understand these ideas is to think of music as a wave. Groove is a consistent flow of rhythmic energy. It has crests and troughs, pushes and pulls. Groove is about feeling this energy and vibe. Groove is a feeling in your chest, when your heart beat begins to synchronise with the rhythm of a tune.
Below is a guest lecture given by extraordinary drummer, Questlove. Listen to him play the drums, and demonstrate the effect of different grooves and feels. Some drummers play with a slightly wonky, lazy feel. Others might play with a tight, driving energy. Neither is better than the other. Groove and feel is about uniqueness.
The first time you feel groove is similar to your first beer: at first you might not notice the difference. Go ahead and listen some more. Maybe you’ll try something a little more potent — some James Brown perhaps. When you eventually get it, it will change the way you listen to music forever.
Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams are bringing groove back into popular culture. The era of quantised, perfectionist pop is dying and the resurgence of soulful, groovy music is gaining momentum in a big way. We are hearing it on the radio, and we are seeing it on the Billboard Charts. So make you sure you get a hold on groove ahead of the trends. You can say you were one of the first.