Drummer Talk

Transcription – “Harder to Breathe”

Whether you love or hate Maroon 5, there’s no denying that their tunes (especially their early ones) groove – HARD, and “Harder to Breathe” is perhaps the hardest tune off 2003’s Songs About Jane album.

Note: this transcription attempts to recreate the performance as it was recorded by Ryan Dusick. There are some percussion loops that are not implemented.

Performance Notes

The biggest key to nailing this track is to dial in the huge, hard-hitting backbeat and kick that’s locked in tight with the band. All of the energy is between the kick and snare, and be sure you’re rimshotting every one of those snare hits!

One of the toughest aspects of this chart is incorporating the 16th note upbeats played with the foot on the hat.


In all likelihood, this is a percussion loop, and while we’ve left off other percussion loops, we felt it was important enough to try and pull off. You could leave those out if you’d like and just stick to straight 8ths on the ride bell.

Also, there is some thought as to what is actually being played on the ride on the choruses. On the record, it sounds like straight 8ths, but if you check out the video below, it looks like Dusick is playing accented straight 16ths. The choice is yours, but we’ve keep them as 8ths to allow for the upbeat hats.

Another item of note is the tom rim clicks on the second half of the chorus.


We’ve notated them on the top tom, but you’re free to play them on any tom – even the snare would work too! Pay special attention to the varied rhythms on those rims. These are pretty easy to hear on the recording, so if you’re looking for record-level accuracy, then be sure to nail those.  If you’re not too hung up on that, you could easily get away with straight 16ths.

This is a fun tune that’s even more fun to play live with a good band! Just remember not to let those upbeat hat notes throw off your groove. You have to let them flow. Difficulty level: 6/10



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