Fundamental Beat Building

Beat-building is not all that different from other types of building. They all begin with a solid foundation & then continue to build from there. In this tutorial I’ll be addressing:

– what I consider to be 2 of the most fundamental beats in trap set drumming, particularly in the genres of rock, pop & country

– some of the ways in which more complex patterns are built from those 2 basic, commonly utilized, single-measure beats

The Basic Two

Example #1 - This is a very straight-forward, simple beat that has been used countless times in popular music. This type of beat is great for establishing a very solid, unwavering, almost monotonous rhythmic feel. The fact that it's so simple also makes it excellent for use in songs where other instruments (guitars, keyboards, vocals) are performing complex, busy rhythm patterns. It serves very well as a rhythmic center for the movement of the song and won't clash with other intricate parts. Be careful though....that same simplicity presents a potential pitfall for the drummer. It's so simple, continuous and consistent sounding.......that when you screw it up, it's very noticeable. The way to avoid that is..................................drum roll please......................

"practice"

You just knew I was going to say that, didn't you? Seriously though, it'll be an immense help to you in years to come if you get comfortable with these 2 beat patterns. I would recommend practicing them with a metronome. The electronic ones have headphone jacks built-in. Just plug in, select a tempo and play with the click pattern. I don't know of a better way to build a solid sense of timing in a drummer. And now, finally.......the beat.........

 

4/4 time Measure
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Bass Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

*The bold counts indicate a stroke.

Example #2 - The second of these fundamental beats is almost as widely used as the first. It's simple too, but creates a very different rhythmic feel than the first. This particular accent pattern....1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &....has been a fixture in the rock genre for as long as I can remember. Any of you who read my bio, know that's a long time - LOL. The extensive use of this pattern isn't just limited to drum beats. It's very commonly employed in the overall feel of entire sections of songs. Just for fun, during the next week or so, count how many songs you hear that sound as if they're placing more emphasis on those 2 counts.....the 1 count and the & immediately following the 2 count. I bet you'll be amazed. Anyway.....onward....the beat itself is identical to example #1, except for the placement of one bass drum stroke. That one stroke makes all the difference. Here it is..............

 

4/4 time Measure
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Bass Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Building Further Complexity Into Those 2 Fundamental Patterns

Basically, this is accomplished by either making small additions to, or slightly altering specific portions of those 2 fundamental patterns. Duh.......not exactly brain surgery, I know! Never-the-less, I would like to give you some specific examples of what I'm talking about.

Three very common variations on pattern #1 are.........

 

4/4 time Measure
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Bass Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

*As you can see, I've simply added one additional bass drum stroke just prior to the 3 count.

 

4/4 time Measure
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Bass Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

*Here, I've simply added one additional bass drum stroke immediately after the 3 count.

 

4/4 time Measure
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Bass Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

*And finally, I've added one more bass drum stroke to the pattern immediately above this one. It's placed on the final & count. When this beat pattern is repeated several times, the 3 combines with that first &..... and the final & we added, combines with the 1 count to produce the effect of 2 sets of 2 bass drum strokes each measure. Cool huh!

To demonstrate variations on pattern #2, I'm going to take things a little further. Instead of leaving it a single measure pattern, I'm going to add a second measure. The first measure will remain exactly as it is in pattern #1. Measure 2 will add some bass drum strokes onto the core structure of pattern #2. The end result will be something that offers a little more variety in movement and is generally a little more interesting. Personally, I'm a huge fan of 2 measure structures for beat patterns!. I'd even go so far as to say that the vast majority of what I end up using in my songs, have 2 measure structure. The pattern I'm going to use here, has made it's way into several big songs. Can you think of an example? Here it is............................

 

4/4 time Measure 1 Measure 2
Hi Hat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Snare Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Bass Drum 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

*Here, two additional strokes have been added to the second measure bass drum line. I know it doesn't seem like a huge change, but it's more than enough to alter the overall feel & flow of the pattern. Judge for yourself.................

Well, that's all I've got for right now. Hopefully you've found some of this information helpful. Our plan is to continue with tutorials in this format......mixing written text with brief video demonstration clips. Until next time, thanks for your time & attention.....& happy drumming!

Tom Hoffman

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About Tom Hoffman

tom_hoffman_300Tom Hoffman currently lives in the Midwestern section of the USA. He started playing drums at the age of 13. That began the first phase of his musical journey. Seven months later he joined his first band. From that moment on, he was hooked! By age 15, he was functioning as both a drummer & a singer. At 16, like many other aspiring musicians, he began teaching in conjunction with local drum shop programs. From age 20 to age 23, he was one of the founding members of a band called "Nickels". During that period, Nickels was a common fixture throughout the local club circuit. The band was also given the opportunity to serve as opening act for a number of national groups appearing at local concert venues. At age 23, for various reasons, he decided to end the first part of his musical journey. He left Nickels, sold all his equipment and stopped playing altogether.

.....anyway, onward & upward into Phase #2. Apparently, Tom never lost the itch to play an active part in music. At age 40, he was looking to scratch that itch. He had something different in mind this time though......not performance.....writing. He'd always wanted to become more involved in the creative end of things, so that was the goal this time. One small problem though.....he lacked all of the skills, knowledge and equipment necessary to make it happen. That didn't turn out to be an insurmountable obstacle though. Over the next 2 years, he went about the task of addressing his musical shortcomings. By age 42 he had achieved a reasonable level of competency as a drummer, guitarist and bass player. He had also managed to acquire a fundamental knowledge of both music theory & home recording.

Tom is now 56. For the past 14 years he's been primarily an amateur singer-songwriter, but has never lost the passion for his first love....drums. He's still an active drummer and intends to continue in that capacity. In recent years, many of his songs have achieved various levels of recognition in international writing contests. He's been a finalist, a 6-time semi-finalist and a runner-up. He has also received a number of honorable mentions, but has yet to win. "Winning" is still a work-in-progress. For anyone interested, the following link contains a detailed breakdown of the award results. Tunesmith Awards.

www.reverbnation/tomhoffman

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Louis Armstrong