Difficulty LevelThis lesson continues on from the Basic 12/8 Drum Beats lesson found on this site. If you are not familiar with this lesson then I suggest you visit it now to check you are able to perform the exercises given. The grooves found in this lesson can be a little tricky, even for an advanced player!

The 12/8 time signature, as already explained in the previous lesson, can be thought of as a triplet based form of music. As triplet based rhythms are found in all forms of music it is important that you are able to perform within this time signature and that you feel comfortable navigating its triplet “feel”.

This lesson will be showing you how drum beats based in the 12/8 time signature can be manipulated and altered to sound totally unique. This will allow you to create your own triplet based rhythms to fit whatever music you happen to be performing.

Lets get started…


Utilising The Second Partial Of The Triplet

In the previous Basic 12/8 Drum Beats lesson I gave you a selection of rhythms that mainly focused on the first and third partial of each beat.

Most music, and drummers for that matter, don’t require a great utilisation of the second partial due to its awkward and unnatural sound rhythmically. The only time the second partial is really punctuated within a rhythm is when its being used in conjunction with the other partials surrounding it.

Having said that though, a musician must be able to “feel” and use the second partial for those occasions when it is required. It will also give the musician a much deeper understanding and skill within the triplet feel.

The next set of drum beats were written to utilise the second partial of the triplet both on bass drum and snare drum.

In order for you to be able to play these properly and comfortably you must build a strong internal triplet pulse. Punctuating the second partial has the effect of blurring where the downbeat occurs. If many occur in a row then the triple pulse can easily be lost. When playing these grooves make sure that you try to “feel” strongly the downbeat of each group of three notes, this will help you to navigate the bar without losing the pulse.

Here’s the drum beat examples for you try…

Drum Beat 1

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 2

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 3

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

This bar might have the effect I referred to above. Three notes on the second partial in a row really throws the listeners (and performers) ear into hearing a new downbeat. Be careful you don’t lose the downbeat pulse of the bar.

Drum Beat 4

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Notice how the first four bass drums are placed two eight notes apart from each other creating a cool effect known as a polyrhythm. This is also the first example that has a snare drum note on the second partial.

Drum Beat 5

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

The snare backbeat on Beat 2 has been moved to the second partial to great effect. This is where the triple pulse can really be lost so be careful. Try to clearly count each note…1 2 3 1 2 3 etc.

Drum Beat 6

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 7

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

This one is a real adventure in drum beat navigation. The rhythm it creates might be a little crazy but it is a great test on a drummer to perform.

Drum Beat 8

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat


Utilising The First AND Second Partial Of The Triplet

This next section will show examples of how the first and second partial of each Beat can be used together

Some will find these grooves easier than the previous as the inclusion of the first partial helps to stabilise the drummer as well helping them hear the downbeat more clearly.

Drum Beat 9

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 10

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 11

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 12

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat


Utilising The Second AND Third Partial Of The Triplet

Some drummers will argue that this is the funkiest place within a triplet to utilise. Great drummers have had a lot of fun entertaining the listener (and themselves!) by playing around with these two partials.

The way that these two partials glide into the next downbeat creates a really “slinky” groove and can be used to great effect.

Drum Beat 13

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 14

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Some more experienced players might recognise the sound of this groove as something John Bonham might have played. It sounds great!

Drum Beat 15

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 16

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

The lack of snare drum on Beat 4 makes this beat a little hard to hear and play at first.

Drum Beat 17

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat


Mixing It Up

Finally, here is a selection of drum beats that combine the previous three categories. Have fun with these!

Drum Beat 18

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 19

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 20

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 21

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 22

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 23

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat

Drum Beat 24

Intermediate 12/8 Drum Beat



Although some of these beats were a little “out there” there’s no doubt that being able to play them will give you a solid technique when playing to this time signature.

The most important thing these grooves will teach, you if practiced properly, is the ability to hear the triplet pulse no matter where the notes are being emphasised. If you can navigate all the grooves while maintaining an internal triplet pulse, i.e. you are able to feel every group of three notes, then you are on your way to becoming an accomplished player within the 12/8 time signature as well as performing any sort of triplet.


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