Step-by-step rhythmic practice using the theme music of The Walking Dead

Musical inspiration sometimes comes from unforeseen places. For the unfamiliar, The Walking Dead is a TV show about zombies (yet not really about zombies), but no knowledge of the show is necessary here. A little while ago I happened to listen more closely to the opening theme music and did some quick analysis in my head: strings playing three minor 9th chord arpeggios over one rhythmic motive (something like Gm9, Ebm9, Cm9). This is an especially common rhythm across many styles of music, making it a worthwhile study for future applications. Check out my videos Introduction to Notation & Reading and Notation & Reading Part 2 for demonstration of how to play and count these rhythms.

The very beginning of my sheet music shows the ostinato where the 16 subdivisions of the measure are divided as 6+6+4. Next to it is the simplified bass line where the 8 subdivisions of the measure are divided as 3+3+2. To deepen our understanding of this rhythmic motive, I wrote out several lines of six-note grouping variations to get familiar with. I recorded each line separately, and every rhythm was played four times. The notation PDF and audio MP3 are all downloadable.

Line A demonstrates combinations of 8th and 16th notes.

Line B introduces 16th rests.

Line C combines 16th notes with 16th-note triplets.

Line D combines 16th notes with 32nd notes.

Lines E and F are examples of how the above variations can be plugged into the 6+6+4 rhythmic template. Although not written out, I tapped my foot on the pulse while recording so that the relationship to the beat can be heard.

Line G shows the initial accent patterns against the quarter note pulse. Practicing the external pulse on your foot while playing various rhythms is one of the best ways to strengthen your rhythmic accuracy and improve tempo control. For an additional challenge, try playing these examples while using the metronome games explained in my Metronome Practice Tutorial video. As always, questions and comments are welcomed here.