In this free drum lesson I’ll be showing you an extract from the Book Greatest Drum Beats Of All Time teaching the famous drum beat from the song Rosanna by Toto.


Rosanna” Drum Beat Demonstration

View the video on YouTube HERE – Learn How To Play Drums Song Rosanna Video Drum Lesson (Toto & Jeff Porcaro)


Why The Rosanna Drum Beat Is So Great

It sounds so simple but it’s so not! Few can match Porcaro for feel and this enduring pop-rock classic showcases his stunning touch wonderfully. Porcaro himself admits that he created this beat from combining the groove from Fool In The Rain by Led Zeppelin and the Purdie Shuffle, by Bernard Purdie of course (James Brown’s drummer).

What makes this beat extra special is the subtle and exciting use of ghost notes to spice up and fill out the groove. An absolute classic!

Rosanna Free Drum Lesson Jeff Porcaro


How To Play It

Occurs during all the verse’s. This drum beat is called a half time shuffle. The right hand plays the first and third note of each triplet on the hi-hat. This is the shuffle part. The half time part comes from the fact that we only have one strongly accented snare drum in each bar, on beat 3 in this case, rather than the normal two snare drum notes played on beats 2 and 4 for most other drum beats.

Ghost notes are played on the second partial of each triplet and are written inside brackets. They’re supposed to be played as quietly as possible. Notice the ghost notes after both snare drum accents on beat 3 of each bar. These require a nimble wrist in order to play a loud snare drum note followed immediately after by a quiet note.

We also have two ghost notes played at the end of the second bar, on the second and third partial of beat 4’s triplet. Notice how the right hand hi-hat lines up with the second ghost note, on the ‘let’ of beat 4.

It’s worth pointing out that the ghost note pattern used in the song is varied throughout by Jeff. Not all of the ghost notes written above are played for every repeat, Porcaro chooses to improvise with the pattern for maximum musical effect.

As a point of interest. when Jeff demonstrates this pattern he often plays a bass drum note on beat 3 of the second bar, at the same time as the snare drum. This is not played on the recording however.


Other Bars Of Interest

Rosanna Free Drum Lesson Jeff Porcaro


How To Play It

This is the pattern played at the beginning of the track, just before the vocals start. When the song first starts, Porcaro chooses to play this drum beat without ghost notes. This mature musical choice meant that the drum beat wasn’t too busy and had somewhere to build up to later in the song.


Other Bars Of Interest

Rosanna Free Drum Lesson Jeff Porcaro


How To Play It

This is what Porcaro plays on the first eight bars of the first chorus. The bass drum follows the melody of the song beautifully and creates a very technical part to play.

The bass drum part moves around the snare drum backbeat creating an independent rhythm to the steady snare drum backbeat.

Porcaro chooses to play minimum ghost notes during this section and instead focuses on the bass drum and open hi-hat parts. Notice the extended opening of the hi-hat over two beats at the end of the fourth bar.

This same idea is used at the end of the eighth bar but instead opens on beat 2 and closes on beat 4, before re-opening again on beat 4.


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