The Smile – Thin Thing (Drum Beat Transcription)

In the past months, I talked about The Smile’s debut album, the new project by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead, featuring Tom Skinner on drums. I’ve been obsessed with A Light for Attracting Attention since its release. The album explores a wide variety of styles, from art rock to electronica, to post-punk and progressive rock with elements of jazz, funk, afrobeat, and psychedelic rock.

One of the tracks of the album that most captivated my attention is “Thin Thing.” The drum beat is a variation of the Afro-Cuban 6/8 groove, with the snare drum played on beats 2, 4, and 6, which gives the groove an incredible driving pulse. The right-hand pattern played on the tom rim is essentially the classic 6/8 bell pattern (in case you need to understand better this concept read this article) with a variation on the second part of the groove. Instead of the dotted 8th-note, the bass drum pattern is more rock-oriented giving the overall groove a 4/4 feel.

the smile thin thing drum transcription

The same groove is played in the different sections of the song, with the right-hand part moved on the ride bell in the chorus and on the hi-hat in the interlude. Tom Skinner plays some tasty fills adding toms and cymbals in a musical way. Here’s a groove variation for the verse section, the subtle difference is the right-hand part on the upbeat of the fifth beat.

the smile thin thing drum beat variation

Playing along with the song I noticed some time signature changes, for example, before the first chorus a measure of 2/8 is added, or you can also count it as 8/8 (6/8 + 2/8). Other time signature changes are played in the second verse. In the beautiful final section, the groove opens in support of the arrangement for a classic 6/8 feel, with continuous 8th notes on the ride cymbal and the snare drum on beat 4.

The Smile – Thin Thing (Drum Groove)

In our daily practice routine, beyond the technique, independence, coordination, and so on, one of the most important things is to listen to and stay updated on new music. We should always expand our musical horizons, there’s a lot to be inspired by. Keep on drumming!


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