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Mastering the Basic Beats

With the command of just a few basic rhythms, you can make your way in a rock band. The rhythms in this section cover nearly all the styles that you may encounter (and probably a few that you won’t see very often). The key to these rhythms is creating a tight, hard-driving feel. Your backbeat should be strong; the bass drum solid, and the hi-hat smooth. And, you should play all these instruments (snare drum backbeat, bass drum, and hi-hat) in synch with one another.

Rock music (and its close relatives blues, R&B, and funk) consists of a variety of styles or feels. The feel basically refers to the way that the rhythm is composed and interpreted. There are eighth-note feels, sixteenth-note feels, shuffle feels, and regular and half-time feels. I refer to these feels many times in the next few chapters, so I’ve listed them here for easy reference. The basic drumset feels are as follows:

Eighth-note feel: The eighth-note feel consists of eighth notes played on the hi- hat or ride cymbal. This is also called the straight eighth-note feel because you play the eighth notes straight (as written). You play the snare drum on the second and fourth beats of the measure.

Sixteenth-note feel: The sixteenth-note feel is similar to the eighth-note feel except that you play sixteenth notes or variations on the sixteenth note on the hi-hats or ride cymbal instead of eighth notes. You also play the snare drum on beats two and four.

Shuffle feel: The shuffle feel uses triplets as the base instead of eighth or sixteenth notes. The shuffle also uses what are called broken triplets. Broken triplets are triplets where you don’t play the second note (you play only the first and third notes). You also play the snare drum on beats two and four for the shuffle feel.

In each of the previous feels (eighth note, sixteenth note, and shuffle) you play a variety of rhythms on the bass drum, depending on the song.

When you play the snare drum on beats two and four, you are playing what is called a regular-time feel. However, the eighth-note, sixteenth-note, and shuffle feels can each be played in a half-time feel. The half-time feel essentially means that you play the snare drum half as often as in the regular-time feel. Instead of two times in a measure (beats two and four) the snare drum is played only once, usually on the three but sometimes on the four (depending on the song).

Unless I state otherwise, you play all the rhythms in this chapter with a right-hand lead. That is, you play the hi-hat (top line of the musical staff) with your right hand and the snare drum (third space from the bottom) with your left hand.

With all the rhythms in this section, experiment with how much you close the hi-hat. Applying a lot of pressure to the hi-hat pedal creates a tight, ichicki sound when you hit the cymbals, while releasing that pressure slightly gives the hi-hats a fuller, louder ichshhi sound.

Practice all the rhythms and their variations one at a time until you can play them steadily and fluidly at a variety of tempos.


drum_techniuqes/basic/mastering_the_basic_beats.txt · Last modified: 2007/07/26 12:19
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