Free Drum Lesson: Intermediate Lesson 7 - Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat (Single & Double Handed): Syncopated Upbeat Sixteenths

This lesson is going to look at applying sixteenth notes to the Hi-Hat played with just the right hand (one handed) and double handed (the right and left hand - RLRL).

Learning to play a sixteenth note groove with the one hand will help you develop an independence between the right hand and the Bass and Snare drum. The double handed version will allow you to play the same groove faster.

This lesson takes the ideas from the Beginner Sixteenth Hi-Hat lesson further by applying more complex Snare and Bass drum patterns. This lesson will focus on playing the upbeat sixteenth notes (the “e” and “a” within the 1e+a 2e+a counting system) between the Snare and Bass.

Grooves that use these upbeat sixteenth notes sound far more funky and syncopated than those that don't and will help you to create your own original beats.

You might find that in order to play the single handed exercises at a fast speed the right hand starts to apply accents on 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +. This is fine if its controlled and not affecting the Snare and Bass drum. This motion is known as many things but most commonly as the “Moeller” technique. This is a subject for another lesson so don't worry about the name if you haven't heard of it before.

I suggest you play the single handed version of each drum beat exercise first and then move onto the double handed version. Once you have both versions under control and up to a tempo you're happy with you could then play them together, one after the other. Try to move from single handed to double handed smoothly and effortlessly so that the “groove” isn't lost.

Practice Templates

The next four exercises are suggested patterns you could start with if you've never played upbeat sixteenths before with these Hi-Hat ostinatos.

All four exercises, if practised, will help you to play the rest of the drum beats in this lesson far easier and with more control. I suggest that you take your time with these as it can be tricky to line up the hands with the upbeat Bass drum notes, especially with the double handed version.

These exercises will also help you to hear the upbeat sixteenths notes in relation to a steady snare backbeat on beats 2 and 4.

Practice Exercise 1 (Upbeat “e”)

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

The second sixteenth note of each beat.

Practice Exercise 2 (Upbeat “a”)

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

The fourth sixteenth note of each beat.

Practice Exercise 3 (Exercise 1 and 2 combined)

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

This is now all the upbeat sixteenths on the Bass drum.

Practice Exercise 4 (Moving through every third sixteenth)

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

This is a great template to use when learning how to hear every third sixteenth note. The Bass drum alternates between the downbeat and the sixteenth upbeat and then resolves back to Beat 1 at the end.

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Grooves (Bass Drum)

Here is this lessons collection of drum grooves for you to play with that include upbeat sixteenths played on the Bass drum. Some are a little quirky and syncopated and should only really be treated as exercises. You wouldn't hear all of these grooves used within pieces of music, that's for sure!

Take your favourites further by improvising with the Bass drum pattern. Feel free to add and remove notes as you see fit...these are only suggested beats remember.

Drum Beat 1

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 2

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 3

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 4

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 5

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 6

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 7

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 8

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 9

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 10

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Grooves (Snare AND Bass Drum)

This next selection of ideas includes upbeat sixteenth note Snare drum as well as further upbeat sixteenth Bass drum placement.

When playing these grooves using the double handed technique your left hand will have to move from the Hi-Hat to the Snare drum in order to play the upbeat sixteenth notes. Be careful that the Hi-Hat's flow isn't interrupted. I find it easier to concentrate on maintaining the single stroke roll between the two hands (RLRL), make this your focus and the left hand moving to the Snare drum shouldn't affect the flow.

Drum Beat 10

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 11

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 12

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 13

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 14

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 15

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 16

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Skipping Beat 1

The final drum beats in this lesson give you an introduction on how NOT to play a Bass drum on Beat 1. This is much harder than it sounds as there is a great temptation to “ground” the groove on Beat 1 with the Bass.

It becomes even harder when you try to loop the beat, drummers become very dependant on hearing (and playing) something on Beat 1 to let them know where they are within the groove.

With a little bit of practice you will find that you don't have to play anything on Beat 1 in order to know where you are. If your internal metronome is developed enough then you can simply “feel” Beat 1 instead.

Anyway, have a go at these and see what you think. They might not be as difficult for you as I've made out.

Drum Beat 17

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 18

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 19

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Drum Beat 20

Sixteenth Note Hi-Hat Beats

Conclusion

Sixteenth notes played on the Hi-Hat create grooves that sound fast and purposefully busy. They can help fill in space that a eighth note or quarter note Hi-Hat pattern might leave behind. This is particularly useful on slow tempo tunes where the faster Hi-Hat pattern helps keep the drummer and band locked together.

The double handed versions can be used when wanting to play these grooves at faster tempos. This double handed technique is also a very useful skill to have in your bag as it can be applied to drum fills and snare accent patterns as I will demonstrate in later lessons.

Have fun with these, your ability to play upbeat sixteenth notes between the Snare and Bass drum is going to help you with all kinds of techniques, grooves and fills.