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EDS Songbook Level One  Sunset – Reggae

Songbook Level One

Understanding the chart

Download and print out the score, so that you can refer to it as you follow the keyboard chart.


Start by going through the chart, step by step, looking at each section and understanding what the chart is asking you to do.

Step One

The first thing you will see is the name of the tune ‘Sunset’, and the name of the composer. The title is the important one as, if you had a number of songs to play, it is essential that you play the correct one!

Step Two

At the top left hand side, before the tune starts, you will see the note '4 Clicks'. This means that you will hear four clicks before the tune starts. This will help count you into the song.

Step Three

Next is the time signature ‘C’, which is the sign for ‘common time’ and means that there are four beats in each bar. This is familiar territory for you.

Above the first bar is the name of the first section of the song, which is the ‘Introduction’. The Introduction is four bars long and you are asked to play the same part in each of these four bars: namely, a crash cymbal on beat 1 with the bass drum playing four quarter notes all the way through the bar. This is new to you, as you are asked to play the bass drum part all the way through the song. It is typical of Reggae music and is called playing four-on-the-floor.

Step Four

Once you have played the Introduction, you go into a more traditional groove: accenting the new section (the Vamp) with a crash cymbal (straight out of Lesson 9) and then a backbeat groove. Vamps are, generally, grooves played by a rhythm section that do not have a tune. They tend to be used to introduce the rhythm before moving on to a section which expands the rhythm more melodically.

As mentioned above, the new skill here is playing four-on-the-floor; which you need to be able to do under the hi hat and snare drum parts. Practise the first bar round and round to get familiar with how it feels.

Once you have control over that groove, then look at bar 8. The variation in this bar is one which crops up regularly throughout the piece. Specifically, you play two eighth notes – one on beat 3 and one on the ‘+’ of beat 3. Practise this bar.

Small variations in grooves are very common in music. The ability to switch between different bass drum patterns is an important skill to develop. This is a typical bass drum variation you will need to be able to play. You will notice that it occurs at regular intervals throughout the song, providing a regular pattern to emphasis the changes between sections of the piece.

Step Five

Once you have the bass drum part solidly in your playing, move from the Vamp into the Verse, which is the same groove.

Notice, when you move into the Verse, that it is only seven bars long. So, make sure you count accurately.

Step Six

Moving from the Verse to the Chorus involves only a small change in dynamic, and the new section does not have a crash cymbal to announce it. Play the Chorus through for eight bars and then you move back into the Vamp.

Step Seven

There are no real changes now and you will see that the song continues with Vamp, Verse and Chorus as before. Just read ahead through the chart noting the structure of the song.

Step Eight

Now, you will come to a new section, called ‘Middle 8’. Here the song breaks away from the themes you have heard before and this provides a contrasting section in the piece. It is often called a middle eight because it is in the middle of the song and lasts for eight bars. In this instance this is exactly what happen; but often a middle eight can be longer than just eight bars.

The groove is subtly different. It does not require any snare drum as it goes into what is called a ‘dance hall’ feel. You will notice that the percussion part is playing a very syncopated rhythm. All you need to do is to keep the bass drum and hi-hat pattern nice and solid for seven bars, and then play the fill at the end of the section. This takes you into the next part of the tune.

Step Nine

The next section is the Vamp again, but it is twice as long. Here, the composer has used the Vamp to build more dynamics into the piece before moving into the next Verse.

The first half of the Vamp is just the bass, drums and a keyboard part so it has a breakdown feel. This is where the piece of music drops some instruments out and, effectively, breaks down some of the parts played. This helps build dynamics and provides the listener with a contrast — without writing a new section.

Step Ten

At the end of the next Verse is a one bar fill, on the snare drum, which uses the same rhythm as the end of the middle eight. This should not cause you any problems, but practise it carefully nonetheless.

Step Eleven

The last section is simply a Chorus to finish. Once you have played the eight bars of the Chorus then simply play the first beat of the last bar with a crash cymbal and a bass drum. Let this note fade on its own.

The note is not covered in Level 1, but is fully explained and used in Lesson 29 of the course. For the moment, all you need to know is that these notes are called ‘whole notes’ and that they last for four (4) beats: in other words, the whole of a common time bar of music. This ending is used in a number of the tunes in this songbook and is very commonly used in rock music.

Once you have played the last notes of the song you will see the word ‘Fine’, which means ‘the end’.

Step Twelve

Now, watch and listen to the multimedia files and follow the drum chart through a couple of times.

Once you have done that have a go yourself. You can play with the drums, or mute the drummer on the track so that you can play on your own. Remember to:

  1. Concentrate.
  2. Count.
  3. Look at the chart as you play.
  4. Cycle the difficult bits and practise them.
  5. Slow it down to a tempo at which you can read and play.
  6. Have fun.

Next: Sunset drum score