This chapter provides an overview of the concept of groove, investigating musical and sonic components of grooves as well as aspects related to pleasure, process, and affect. It starts out by addressing three distinct general understandings of groove: (1) pattern and performance; (2) pleasure and “wanting to move”; and (3) a state of being. The authors then propose a set of typical (rhythmic) features that seem to be common to a wide range of groove-based styles, exploring five main categories: pulse or regular beat; subdivision of the beat; syncopation; counter-rhythm; and microrhythm. Finally, the chapter presents some viable approaches to the analysis of groove, focusing on swing and anticipated beats in James Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” (1970), aspects of counter-rhythm in Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” (1967), and the extending of beats into beat bins in D’Angelo’s “Left & Right” (2000) and Rihanna’s “Needed Me” (2016).
The Oxford Handbook of Critical Concepts in Music Theory edited by Alexander Rehding and Steven Rings, 2018, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190454746.013.17