Free Drum Lesson: Intermediate Lesson 1 – Drum Beats & Grooves: Eighth and Quarter Note Hi-Hat Ostinatos With Upbeat Sixteenths
The Intermediate drum lessons are aimed at drummers who have already been playing for a while and can use basic beats and fills within their playing with little difficulty.
If you are not able to play the drum beats from the Basic Drum Beats lesson then I recommend you spend some time going over these first as they will give you a good foundation for building on.
The Hi-Hat ostinatos used in these exercises are the basic Quarter and Eighth note patterns. These should be mastered first before anything else technical is attempted with the right hand.
Instead, this lesson will be focusing on the placement of the snare and bass drum as this is where the variation within a drum beat really occurs.
The exercises are written as two bar patterns. The first bar uses Eighth notes on the Hi-Hat while the second bar uses Quarter notes. You should aim to practice one bar at a time and then, when ready, try to play both bars together as one pattern.
The ability to play the same drum beat but with different Hi-Hat patterns is a very useful one, so do try and master both. You will definitely find the Quarter note Hi-Hat bars the harder of the two so be careful to count slowly while ensuring the Hi-Hat Quarter notes remain steady and even. It’s very easy to let the spacing of the bass and snare drum affect the Hi-Hat pulse, which of course, it shouldn’t.
Drum Beats – Bass Drum Upbeat Placement
These grooves will be utilising the upbeat Sixteenth note, the “e” and “a” of the “1e+a 2e+a 3e+a 4e+a” Sixteenth note counting system. This half of the lesson looks at placing the bass drum on these Sixteenth note upbeats.
You should find the Eighth note Hi-Hat bars a little easier as the snare and bass will either be falling on or in-between Hi-Hat notes. You can use the Hi-Hat as a reference when trying to place the bass drum notes. Ensure the Hi-Hat is steady and even and then simply place the bass drum either on or in-between.
The Quarter note Hi-Hat bars are harder because of the space between Hi-Hat notes. Being able to count all the sixteenths between Hi-Hats is going to help you to place the bass drum into its correct position. You must be able to feel/count the “e+a” between Quarter notes if you hope to place the bass drums correctly.
There’s no doubt that these beats are tricky at first but once learnt will give you great flexibility when it comes to playing syncopated drum beats. Learning how to place bass drums on the Sixteenth note upbeats is the first step in becoming a technical drummer.
Drum Beat 1
This is a great place to start as this beat is a very popular one. The Sixteenth note on the “a” of Beat 3 falls just before the snare downbeat on Beat 4 giving this groove a real push.
When playing the Eighth note Hi-Hat variation, remember that the bass drum on “a” falls exactly in-between the two Hi-Hat notes.
Drum Beat 2
Drum Beat 3
Drum Beat 4
This beat just sounds awesome when played correctly! The push that the bass drum gives on the “a” of Beat 2 really makes this sound funky.
You can find a very similar example of this groove being used in “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin.
Drum Beat 5
Be careful here as both bass drums are on the upbeats making the downbeat hard to hear. You have to trust the timing of your right hand in order to navigate this groove successfully.
Drum Beat 6
The bass drum can be played directly after the snare downbeats to great effect. This example uses a bass drum note on the “e” of Beat 2.
Drum Beat 7
Another groove using the “e” but this time the bass drum note is just after Beat 3. Again, be careful as the lack of bass drum notes means that the downbeat is hard to hear, don’t get lost!
Drum Beat 8
Drum Beat 9
Drum Beat 10
Three upbeat Sixteenth notes in a row can be very hard to play evenly. The Hi-Hat tends to be affected by the bass drum so play this slowly to start off with.
Drum Beats – Bass and Snare Drum Upbeat Placement
The following beats build on the previous by moving the snare drum to upbeat Sixteenths also.
To make these drum beats sound their best you could try to accent (hit louder) the snare drum backbeats on Beats 2 and 4 while the other snare drum notes are played softly. If you find this too difficult then don’t worry about it too much at this stage, there will be lessons dedicated to this subject later.
Drum Beat 11
This is a very popular way for the snare to be played and can be heard on countless recordings. Make sure that the hands are even when placing the snare in-between the Hi-Hats.
Drum Beat 12
Another very popular drum beat with two snare drum upbeats.
Drum Beat 13
This takes Drum Beat 12 and builds on it slightly.
Drum Beat 14
Drum Beat 15
The snare drum on the “e” of Beat 1 might catch you out the first time you play it so watch out for that.
Drum Beat 16
This is very tricky to play properly and at speed but sounds really cool. Have a go but don’t worry too much if you’re not perfect.
Drum Beat 17
This is just the start when it comes to creating unique and interesting drum beats. Learning how to comfortably hear and feel Sixteenth upbeats within a drum beat is going to give you a very useful and potentially creative skill.
Playing around with the upbeats of a groove creates really cool push and pull effects within a drum beat. Whole styles of music such as funk and reggae rely heavily on this effect so it’s well worth learning.
They’re hard to learn when you first start but stick with it, you really are going to want to be able to play these grooves. They just sound so great!