Cissy Strut Transcription: Zigaboo's Beat
The Meters are THE classic example of New Orleans funk as far as I'm concerned, and a huge part of that was their drummer, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste. Their big "hit" was Cissy Strut, and it's a prime example of Zig's ability to syncopate a back beat. He's constantly playing variations on these beats, but this will give you a taste of his style. I'm no drummer, so I can't discuss techniques or even claim that these transcriptions are correct. However, I can say that these beats are all about the nuances in the feel. Ghost notes on the high hat, accents in the kick drum, and just a touch of rim on the snare hits.
As a guitarist I learn a lot from drummers. First there's the feel, and a drummer like Zigaboo could play all around the beat to really give the drum kit the feel of a marching band. On the guitar, I might try to emulate this by playing multi-voiced riffs that have a bass note right on the beat while the top line lays back.
Zigaboo also uses many variations in his beat. I can't stress that enough, and on the guitar I'll try to repeat a single note with different articulations and accents as if it were the high hat.
And finally it's all about where you put the note. Check out beat 3 of the second section below. Nothing. But by moving that kick drum over a 16th note, the beat gets really funky.
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Don't take my word for it, listen for yourself! If you're not familiar with The Meters, I highly recommend you check out their first album for some fine, fine funk music. It's been a huge influence of mine ever since I took the plunge years ago, but beyond that, it's just the kind of sound that can make you happy any time, any place.