Lessons From A Really Old Drum Tune

When I was a youngster and just getting interested in drums, the bar had been set -- likely unknowingly -- by a drummer named Ron Wilson. Wilson played with a band called the Surfaris and their single hit record was a drum feature called Wipe Out. After a creepy witch-like voice cries "Wipe Out", Wilson tears into it with 16th notes on the tom tom. The band joins in with a one-figure blues riff, and the rest is rock and roll history.

Although drums are a vital part of all modern music, it's rare to see them front and centre. So Wipe Out gets a nod for putting the drummer out there. But there are other features of the tune that are worth noting.

The basic rhythm pattern for Wipe Out is pretty simple -- one bar of straight 16ths and one bar of syncopation -- but its implications are far reaching. That bar of straight 16ths provides a lot of forward motion and quite a bit of primitive rhythm. The second bit is a structure that has been found in music for hundreds of years and is showing no signs of fatigue. There's an accent on the downbeat, another accent in the middle of the second beat and a final accent on the fourth beat. The effect is a bit like three beats where there ought to be four. Quite provocative (and also part of the important clave rhythm of Latin music). If we were to count out the pulses in 2/8 rather than 4/4, the first bar’s rhythm would come out as | 12 | 12 | 12 | 12 |. The next bar would flow out as two groups of 3 plus a group of 2 (3 + 3 + 2 = 8). Thus: | 123 | 123 | 12 |. Look around and you'll find this figure -- 123 123 12 -- almost everywhere. (For the theoretically minded, the structure is called a hemiola.)

According to Pat Connolly, bass player for the Surfaris, Wipe Out was inspired by a paradiddle ‘drum cadence’ that Wilson was working on for his high school parade band. If that's the case, then it's entirely possible that he was playing paradiddles throughout, and the easiest way to get that Wipe Out rhythm is to use groups of 2 and 3, i.e. single and double paradiddles:

    Singles: RLRR | LRLL| RLRR | LRLL
    Doubles crossing the bar line: RLRL | RR  LR | LRLL | RLRR
    More singles: LRLL | RLRR | LRLL | RLRR
    And finish with doubles: LRLR | LL  RL | RLRR | LRLL

The tune itself is 12-bar blues in its most basic form. The first 4 bars is a riff played on the tonic. The next four bars are the same riff, two bars on the fourth and two bars on the tonic. The final four bars wrap it up by playing the first bar of the riff on the fifth, repeating that on the fourth, and then finish on the tonic. Thus, the basic blues changes:

    1 | 1 | 1 | 1
    4 | 4 |1 | 1
    5 | 4 | 1 | 1
And there you have the basic form and changes for 12-bar blues.

Interestingly, Wipe Out is one of the most recognized pop music drum tunes of all time, and has been featured in more than 80 movies.


Wine of the Week for May , 2011

If you happen to want a change from well-known varietal wines, maybe you'll be interested in a couple of interesting blends.
The Knappstein Insider White 2010 - $14.95
Style: W3


Be on the lookout for forward stone fruit aromas, alongside  talc, honey, macintosh, and lime. Dry and crisp with apple/citrus flavour and just a hint of tropical fruits. Good body and very good length, this blend of riesling and gewurz and comes across a bit like pinot gris. I'd go with ravioli, quiche or sushi. (LCBO 212746)
Currently 180 LCBO stores have 6 or more bottles (according to on-line database)

Ridgepoint Monticello Bianco 2009 - $13.95
Style: W3

Canada: Niagara

Rich and complex with peach, toffee, apple, pear, and lime aromas. Medium dry with soft acidity, ripe peach and tropical fruit flavours and a silky close. Very good body and length. Serve with something fruity or enjoy on its own with the next snap of warm weather. (LCBO 218651)
Currently 68 LCBO stores have 6 or more bottles (according to on-line database)

Wine of the Week for April 11, 2011

Ca' De Riva Valpolicella Ripasso 2008 - $13.95
Style: R3

Italy: Veneto
The nose here is very full, with aromas of roses, dark cherries, all-spice and vanilla. Quite big and juicy, showing vanilla, dark berries, solid tannins, and a pleasantly bitter close. Big and long, it's scrumptious and a worthy addition to your table or cellar. Try with  roast beast, duck, or hard cheeses. (LCBO 174482)
Currently 123 LCBO stores have 6 or more bottles (according to on-line database)

Wine of the Week for April 4, 2011

Mondavi Woodbridge Moscato 2009 - $11.95
Style: W3
USA: California

A rich muscat nose showing green grapes, yellow plum, lychee and floral with traces of peach and mint. The palate is equally lush -- medium sweet with layers of grape, passionfruit, lychee and mango atop a soft acidity. Good body; very good length. An excellent offering of this under appreciated grape and style. Partner with chocolate cake, crème caramel or pork with fruit. (LCBO 199216)

Currently 196 LCBO stores have 6 or more bottles (according to on-line database)

Wine of the Week for March 28, 2011

Argento Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 - $12.95
Style: R3
Deep garnet-black cherry colour, showing an opulent nose of rich spice, plum, tobacco, and chocolate. Silky smooth on the palate with cherry/raspberry flavour, firm acidity and soft tannins. Quite big and with very good  length. A great nose here with youngish palate. Could cellar well for 2-3 years plus, but yummy right now paired with beef tenderloin, rich stews are hearty cheeses.  (LCBO 164764)

Currently 137 LCBO stores have 6 or more bottles (according to on-line database)

Wine of the Week for March 21, 2011

Two Faces of Semillon *

Jacobs Creek Semillon Chardonnay 2009 - $11.30
Style: W1


Look for lush aromas of citrus and pineapple with hints of vanilla and apple. The palate is crisp and refreshing, with gobs of mixed citrus, tropical fruits and a smokey close. Very good body and length. Try with full flavoured fish, pork or cream sauces. (LCBO 219105)
Currently 161 LCBO stores have 6 or more bottles (according to on-line database)

A Canadian Moment

Alvar Semillon Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009 - $12.95
Style: W2

Canada: Pelee Island

Rich platinum straw. 'creamy' aromas of citrus, pear and lanolin. Quite full with a sweet-and-sour impression, with a tart apple/citrus flavour. Very good body and length: the heft of a chardonnay with food friendly citrus and acidity. A good match for chicken salad or seafoods. (LCBO 215392)
Currently 130 LCBO stores have 6 or more bottles (according to on-line database)

* Semiillon  is often used to add some aroma to chardonnay and to add body to  sauvignon blanc.