DTU Groove Theory – “50 Ways”

Steve Gadd Slide

Today we cover one of the pillars of drum grooves, and one of my personal favorites – “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” from Paul Simon’s album, Still Crazy After All These Years.  You can’t throw a rock into a room full of drummers and not hit one who has not at least heard of this groove.   Not only is the “50 Ways” groove smooth, and laid back, but it’s deceptively simple.  Mr. Gadd makes it looks so easy, and while it’s not the most challenging groove, mechanically, the challenge is all in making it sound great.

Note: the backing track used in this video was used for educational purposes only.

We’ve provided the transcription of the groove as well as a practice track to play along with.  Note that the practice track isn’t exactly the music from the Paul Simon original (we don’t have the coin to distribute that!), but it’s certainly close enough to groove along to!


“50 Ways” Groove Transcription

Practice Track

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The Breakdown

The first thing you’ll notice is that this is an open-handed, linear groove.  You certainly don’t HAVE to play it open-handed, but if you want to embrace your inner Gadd, then open-haned it is!  Plus, it just makes getting to the floor tom much, much easier.

Remember to keep the HH very light.  It’s almost inaudible!  Resist the urge to lay into the hat with the shoulder of the stick, especially wit it being played in your left hand.  Instead, allow the HH stick to simply bounce on the tip.

In terms of the snare, keep in mind that Gadd is a rudimental-turned-funk drummer.  He’s got all the knowledge and chops of a DCI champ, with the heart and feel of a jazz man.  As such, you’ll need to be mindful of sticking and accents, but loosen up the snare drum diddles – almost give them a New Orleans crush.

Given this groove’s linearity (is that even a word?), the kick should feel like a continuous, flowing part of the groove.  That is, until it’s the final landing point as it is on beat 3.  When you land on beat 3, give the kick a nice, solid punch and treat that note like the second note of a samba kick pattern.  You want that sound to it.

This floor tom part is one of Gadd’s signature sounds as he frequently throws toms into his grooves.  Keep it punchy, and make sure it sounds like a stopping point!



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