Essential Grooves

by Dan Moretti, Matthew Nicholl and Oscar Stagnaro

Essential Grooves for Writing, Performing and Producing Contemporary Music
By three Berklee College professors: Dan Moretti, Matthew Nicholl and Oscar Stagnaro.

Essential Grooves packs everything you need to know about contemporary styles into a must-have reference of audio, scores, and text.

  • The book presents 41 different grooves covering all the important styles that have influenced contemporary music, each performed by live players.
  • The book/DVD download contains scores, text, and stereo mixes of the musical examples, as well as multi-track audio files of each example that all instrumentalists can use in a variety of ways.
  • Users of this book will acquire the vocabulary and gain a deep understanding of each style through the historical background provided.
  • The book's unique, license-free audio examples can be used to create custom play-alongs and original music.
  • Through Essential Grooves, the user will understand how all the instruments in the rhythm section are notated.
  • Used together, the book and the audio will help you to not only learn these styles, but also create original music based on these grooves.
  • Spiral-bound, 95 pages.

Includes sections on:

  • Soul & Motown - Classic Southern Soul, Classic Motown, Soul Ballad, Soul/Funk Transition
  • Funk - Early Funk and '70s in the James Brown style, '70s Urban Funk, Straight Funk, New Orleans Funk
  • Hip-Hop - Four different Hip Hop grooves demonstrated and notated
  • Rock - Five different Rock grooves demonstrated and notated
  • Jazz - Classic Swing, Medium Swing, two different Jazz waltz styles
  • Afro-Cuban - Danzon, Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, Songo, 6/8 Afro-Cuban
  • Brazilian Music - Samba variations, Bossa Nova variations, Partido Alto, Baiao, Afoxe
  • Afro-Caribbean - Reggae and Calypso grooves.

95 page text, plus audio CD and multi-track DVD download.

Table of Contents

Download Tracks

Get the new App from which has 23 of the groove examples in multi-track form. You can mix, solo, see the music and change the speed with pitch accuracy.


Essential Grooves is an essential book for any musician and an invaluable tool for teachers. Written by three great artists, who happen to be amazing teachers, and who fully understand the meaning of grooves. Thank you for this wonderful gift. I love it and I have already put it to use with my own writing. Now I want to go back to school.”
— Tim Ries

One of the most important strengths an improvisor needs to develop is a strong rhythmic sense. This book and audio gives the player an in depth look at 41 different grooves recorded with live players in the studio, a virtual boot-camp of styles. The multi-track versions allows you to mute and combine the parts in any way that you want. Long overdue. Wish I had it to practice with way back when...”
— Hal Crook

Finally! A book about styles that covers all of the important grooves that have influenced contemporary popular music, from the roots of soul, rock and latin music all the way to hip-hop. The players on the recordings are all well-versed in these styles and I especially like the feature that allows you to create your own play-along versions from the multi-track files contained on the DVD. The scores and background text are a must- have for the contemporary musician and I'll be recommending this one to my students for a long time to come.”
— Frank Potenza

This book accomplishes something that seems almost impossible: A great many styles of grooves are presented in a condensed form that does not shortchange the reader/player/producer. The information has been distilled to it's very essence and is invaluable to anyone who has an interest in these very popular styles of music. Dig in and dig it.”
— Larry Dunlap

Dan Moretti is an American saxophonist, educator, and author with a long-standing position at Berklee College of Music. He's gained recognition for his course "Groove Writing" and has written influential books like "Producing and Mixing Contemporary Jazz" and "Essential Grooves." Moretti has 20 albums under his belt, with his latest, "Tres Libre," charting in the top 10 RMR in 2021. Besides teaching, he actively performs globally and has collaborated with music legends such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Nile Rodgers.